Addiction Biology- An Editor´s Perspective on Publishing

Sandra Helinski

Rainer Spanagel

Institute of Psychopharmacology, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany


The worldwide productivity in publishing scientific papers is enormous. Approx. 30.000 journals are publishing 1.5 million papers generated by 15.000.000 scientists per year. Thus, only very few scientists (< 1%) manage to publish a paper every year. The Science Citation Index (SCI) contains about 26 Mio. „source documents“ and releases annual citation analyses. On average, a work is cited twice and 50% of all publications are never cited. Just 3 papers have received more than 100,000 citations, putting them well ahead of the rest. These TOP 3 all cover biological lab techniques, and the most cited paper ever authored by Oliver Lowry and colleagues (1951) entitled “Protein Measurement with the Folin Phenol Reagent” has been cited according to WEB of Science more than 327,000 times. The impact of a scientific publication is determined by the number of citations it receives. Although an increasing impact of multimedia and social media in scientific publications can be measured it is the number of citations a paper receives over time that determines its academic impact. What is the role of scientific journals to publish high impact papers? Eugene Garfield first determined the Journal Impact Factor (IF). In a given year, the impact factor is the number of citations received per paper published in that journal the two preceding years. E.g. a journal published 100 articles in 2013 and 2014. In 2015 (citations year) these articles were cited 1.000 times, hence the IF for this journal is 10. Although most editors believe that it is important to receive a high number of citations for their journal the logic of this simple formula is that the number of published papers per year is equally important, at least for an established journal. This inverse relationship had a major impact for example on the IF of Addiction Biology. Due to a high backlog of unpublished papers the journal had to double the number of publications per year over the last 5 year which had a negative consequence on the IF. However, new special issues on hot topics such as “Sex and gender differences on addiction research” as well as a new editorial team will help to maintain Addiction Biology as the leading journal in the field.