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HighWire Impact Vizor™ Case Study: Analyzing the performance of a journal section

In a panel session “The Many Pragmatic Uses of Impact Vizor” at the 2016 HighWire Fall Publishers Meeting, publishers were invited to share how they used Impact Vizor to answer questions about their publishing programs with the HighWire community.  

Publishing decision:  Should we continue to publish the “Brief Communications” section of our journal?


  • The publisher of a major biomedical science journal was concerned that papers in its Brief Communications section did not serve the journal and its readership as effectively as fulllength research articles.
  • The publisher’s instinct was to discontinue the section and cease accepting publication of these shorter papers. Doing so would free up editorial and reviewer time to focus on research that is more highly cited and therefore would meet the expectations of and be of greater interest to the readership.
  • The publisher needed to review and interrogate the underlying data to validate the assumptions regarding citations. This analysis would help inform a decision and provide evidence for the decision to the editorial board.


  • Prior to using Impact Vizor, indepth citation analysis of the two different types of papers was problematic – separating out citation data by article type was a labor-intensive manual process, normalizing the data by year of publication would have required significant effort, and counting citations restricted to a time-period was problematic.
  • Using the Section Performance Analyzer (SPA) in Impact Vizor, the editor could quickly normalize citations by year and directly compare the amount of cites to Brief Communications articles against fulllength papers in the same time-period.
  • In Impact Vizor, this information is identified as an “impact metric”– a score that averages citations for an individual article over two years.
  • Once the analysis was created using the “Cites per Article, Sectionto-Section Comparator,” data were exported to Microsoft Excel for additional manipulation.
Fig. 1: Impact Vizor Section Performance Analyzer Viewer: "Cites/Article Section-to-Section Comparator"
Fig. 1: Impact Vizor Section Performance Analyzer
Viewer: “Cites/Article Section-to-Section Comparator”


  • The results of the analysis showed that, overall, the Brief Communications papers were not cited as frequently as other papers. The analysis suggested that editorial resources might be better deployed to publishing more full length papers.
Fig. 2:  Comparison of Impact Metrics:  Brief Communications versus regular manuscripts
Fig. 2:  Comparison of Impact Metrics:
Brief Communications versus regular manuscripts
  • The decision was made to discontinue the Brief Communications section.


  • Average citation per article increased because the journal published fewer papers and the citations to those papers were higher on average.

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