Editorial

Christian S. Jensen
2016 ACM Transactions on Database Systems  
When assessing the excellence of a scientific article, for example, in a review, important aspects include the novelty and significance of its contribution, its scientific depth, and its mastery of the pertinent apparatus of computer science. The excellence of a researcher can be measured by his or her ability to publish in the scientific outlets with the highest reputation. In contrast, the academic impact of the content of an article can be measured by the number of citations to the article.
more » ... n some areas, it is easier to get citations than in other areas. However, when comparing two articles from the same area, one article with many citations and one article with few, the former can generally be considered as the more interesting, relevant, important, and/or impactful one. The academic impact of a researcher can then be measured by the number of citations to their articles. However, although impact as measured by citations then differs from excellence, citations are still used for the rating of journals. Notably, journals are rated according to their citation-based impact factors, and a number of publishers advertise these statistics of their journals. Further, in some countries, the impact factors of a journal play an important role when different institutions assess the excellence of the journal. If a journal is not rated highly by funding agencies then researchers who rely on funding from those agencies are effectively encouraged to publish in other journals. Likewise, if a journal is not rated highly by hiring or promotion committees then candidates are effectively encouraged to publish in other journals. Because of reasons such as these, I find that it is not advisable to simply ignore citations. A journal's two-year impact factor for a particular year n is calculated as the sum of the number of citations given during year n to each article published in the journal during years n-1 and n-2, divided by the count of articles published during years n-1 and n-2. Thus, an impact factor of 2.5 for year 2015 means that articles published in that journal during 2013 and 2014 received an average of 2.5 citations during 2015. This definition does not state explicitly which citations are counted. When considering the two-year impact factor computed by Thomson Reuters, it is not entirely clear which citations are counted. Thomson Reuters maintains a master journal list. If citations are counted only from articles published in journals on this list then only some journals are counted, and no conferences are counted. The latter is not good for computer science, where conference publication is important. Having argued that citations are important, I will argue next that many citations to results published in Transactions on Database Systems (TODS) are not counted and that TODS articles should really have many more citations. This would substantially increase the citation statistics of TODS, including its two-year impact factor, and it would thus better reflect the externally perceived excellence of the journal and its articles. A concrete example illustrates the issue. In June 2011, I and three coauthors published an article in TODS entitled "Design and Analysis of a Ranking Approach to Private Location-Based Services.
doi:10.1145/2946798 fatcat:cthnshjbkzeg7gbckzk775kkoa