Times cited: 68

Stringer, MJ, Sales-Pardo, M, Amaral, LAN.
PLoS One 3 , art. no. e1683 (2008).

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Background: The rise of electronic publishing [1], preprint archives, blogs, and wikis is raising concerns among publishers, editors, and scientists about the present day relevance of academic journals and traditional peer review [2]. These concerns are especially fuelled by the ability of search engines to automatically identify and sort information [1]. It appears that academic journals can only remain relevant if acceptance of research for publication within a journal allows readers to infer immediate, reliable information on the value of that research. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here, we systematically evaluate the effectiveness of journals, through the work of editors and reviewers, at evaluating unpublished research. We find that the distribution of the number of citations to a paper published in a given journal in a specific year converges to a steady state after a journal-specific transient time, and demonstrate that in the steady state the logarithm of the number of citations has a journal-specific typical value. We then develop a model for the asymptotic number of citations accrued by papers published in a journal that closely matches the data. Conclusions/Significance: Our model enables us to quantify both the typical impact and the range of impacts of papers published in a journal. Finally, we propose a journal-ranking scheme that maximizes the efficiency of locating high impact research.