A lot of people hate journal impact factors (IF). The hatred arises for many reasons, some of which are logical. For example, Thomson Reuters ISI Web of Knowledge® keeps the process fairly opaque, so it’s sometimes difficult to tell if journals are fairly ranked. Others hate IF because it does not adequately rank papers within or among sub disciplines. Still others hate the idea that citations should have anything to do with science quality (debatable, in my view). Whatever your reason though, IF are more or less here to stay.
Yes, individual scientists shouldn’t be ranked based only on the IF of the journals in which they publish; there are decent alternatives such as the h-index (which can grow even after you die), or even better, the m-index (or m-quotient; think of the latter as a rate of citation accumulation). Others would rather ditch the whole citation thing altogether and measure some element of ‘impact’, although that elusive little beast has yet to be captured and applied objectively.
So just in case you haven’t already seen it, Google has recently put its journal-ranking hat in the ring with its journal metrics. Having firmly wrested the cumbersome (and expensive) personal citation accumulators from ISI and Scopus (for example) with their very popular (and free!) Google Scholar (which, as I’ve said before, all researchers should set-up and make available), they now seem poised to do the same for journal rankings.
So for your viewing and arguing pleasure, here are the ‘top’ 20 journals in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology according to Google’s h5-index (the h-index for articles published in that journal in the last 5 complete years; it is the largest number h such that h articles published in 2008-2012 have at least h citations each):
- Ecology Letters 83
- Biological Conservation 58
- Conservation Biology 57
- Journal of Applied Ecology 54
- Ecological Applications 53
- Journal of Ecology 52
- Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 51
- Journal of Biogeography 47
- Diversity and Distributions 44
- Global Ecology and Biogeography 44
- Biological Invasions 40
- Biodiversity and Conservation 40
- Ecological Indicators 40
- Ecography 38
- Landscape Ecology 37
- Conservation Letters 35
- Journal of Vegetation Science 33
- Journal of Wildlife Management 32
- Conservation Genetics 29
- Basic and Applied Ecology 28
You can play with other subdiscipline rankings if you wish. Perhaps these can assist you in making that important decision about where to submit your important scientific work.