Excellent scientific citation rate for Campbell Systematic Reviews

By: Vivian Welch and Julia Littell

The Campbell Collaboration is committed to informing social policy with high-quality systematic reviews, through our peer-reviewed series of Campbell Systematic reviews. Analysis of our citation rates using Google scholar show that we have an excellent academic citation rate.

Our google scholar citation journal impact factor was 4.95 in 2017, calculated as the total citations in 2017 to each of 29 reviews published in 2015 and 2016, divided by the number of reviews. This calculation approximates the journal impact factor calculation. This bodes well for our journal impact factor, which we are currently seeking. As an indicator of our relevance, all of our published reviews were downloaded last year, with an average download rate from January 2017 to December 2017 of 448 downloads per year. Some of our reviews have had very substantial impact, with 11 reviews having more than 10,000 downloads, and 40 reviews having over 100 google scholar citations.

As an indication of our overall citation rate for reviews, our yearly citation rate (to take account of the 17 years over which Campbell reviews have been published) is 13 citations per year per review since their publication. The distribution of citation rates shows that the majority of reviews have been cited 1-4 times per year (61 reviews),28 have been cited 5-9 times per year, and 48 reviews have been cited ten or more times per year, using methods based on graphs proposed by LaRiviere et al 2016 (Figure 1). These citation rates are similar across our four groups that have published reviews in this time period: Education, Social Welfare, Crime & Justice and International Development.

We expect to grow our number of reviews with the addition of four new groups: Knowledge Translation and Implementation, Business and Management, Nutrition and Disability. Furthermore, we are now registering Methods systematic reviews, with one registered in 2017, and two more titles submitted in the last six months.

These citation rate calculations may be influenced by copublication with Cochrane and other peer-reviewed journals. Co-registration with Cochrane and co-publication of abbreviated versions in other journals has been encouraged as a way to reach broader and more diverse audiences. We are working on ways to track our citation rate without confounding with these sister publications. Campbell systematic reviews have been used in decision-making and cited in resources such as policy briefs aimed at decision-makers. While the policy impact of some reviews is impressive, we have more work to do to both document our policy influence and to reach decision-makers, as described in an editorial by Howard White (White 2018).

We are looking forward to a year of growth in authors, training and reviews. We are also welcoming new evidence synthesis products such as evidence gap maps, qualitative evidence synthesis and reviews of reviews, all of which have working groups on methods development (please see: https://www.campbellcollaboration.org/methods-update.html). These new synthesis types are being registered as Campbell Innovations. For example, nine evidence gap maps have been registered since November 2017, which is when we created this category of Campbell Innovations. We welcome inquiries from authors who are interested in registering a review with us. Please contact either the managing editor of the coordinating group of interest or myself with any questions about the process. In the words of Frederick Mosteller: “It is easy to lie with statistics but easier to lie without them.” We recognize that journal impact factor is an imperfect metric for scholarly impact. However, we do look forward to seeking and getting a journal impact factor, which we believe will help our contributors to compare their Campbell systematic reviews with other journal articles more easily. Figure 1: Distribution of Campbell Collaboration citations per review per year since 2001


*calculated as average of all citations to each review divided by the number of years since the publication of that review

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