The Excess-Tail Ratio: Correcting Journal Impact Factors for Citation Quality

13 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2012 Last revised: 15 Oct 2012

See all articles by Joel A. C. Baum

Joel A. C. Baum

University of Toronto - Joseph L. Rotman School of Management

Date Written: April 10, 2012

Abstract

Despite widespread adoption, journal impact factors suffer well-known drawbacks that limit their use in accurately and fairly assessing scientific quality. Among these are the extreme variance and skewness in the citations to articles published by a given journal, which results in the sensitivity of impact factors to a few highly-cited articles, and enables many infrequently-cited articles to ‘free-ride’ on citations to these ‘skewed few.’ To address these problems, I adjust journal impact factors according to the relative citedness of the few, highly-cited articles in a journal’s h-core and the many, infrequently-cited articles in its h-tail. I gauge a journal’s citation quality by e^2/Ct, where e^2 captures excess citations above the h^2 citations received by h-core articles, and Ct captures surplus citations received by h-tail articles that do not belong in the h-core. I employ e^2/Ct to correct raw impact factors for 25 management and economics journals. I find e^2/Ct < 1 for all but two journals, consistent with an overstatement of their quality resulting from the sensitivity of impact factors to a few highly-cited articles. Corrected impact factors also yield distinctive and more consistent journal ranking over standard 2-year and 5-year time horizons. I conclude that the ratio of a journal’s excess h-core to surplus h-tail citations is a useful complement to its impact factor, particularly given the increasing use of journal impact factors in the evaluation of scholarly output.

Keywords: h-Index, e-Index, h-Core, h-Tail, Excess-tail Ratio, Journal Impact Factor

Suggested Citation

Baum, Joel A.C., The Excess-Tail Ratio: Correcting Journal Impact Factors for Citation Quality (April 10, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2038102 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2038102

Joel A.C. Baum (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Joseph L. Rotman School of Management ( email )

University of Toronto
105 St. George Street
Toronto, ON, M5S 3E6
Canada
416-978-4914 (Phone)
416-978-4629 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/~baum

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