The International Society of Protistologists, which publishes the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, calls on Clarivate (owner of Web of Science) to reinstate the Journal Impact factors of Zootaxa and the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM). These were recently suspended due to allegedly high self-citation rates.

Discovering and scientifically describing the world’s biodiversity – taxonomy – is a critical and central endeavor in Biology, including all forms of Microbiology.  Zootaxa and IJSEM are among the journals most specifically dedicated to this vital work.  In particular, IJSEM is recognized as the venue of record for descriptions of new taxa by the International Code of Nomenclature for Prokaryotes.  Best practice includes careful comparisons with other taxonomic studies, to avoid errors such as re-describing already identified species.  Because of this, it is inevitable that these journals will have relatively high self-citation rates; it simply reflects the specialized and important roles these journals fulfill in the field.

Not having a Journal Impact Factor would dramatically impact submissions to these journals by researchers, many of whom cannot publish in journals without impact factors, or are explicitly or implicitly discouraged from doing so.  This will only hurt the efficiency and quality of the scientific process.  We are sure this is the opposite of Clarivate’s intention when using measures like self-citation to evaluate journal quality.  Therefore, we urge Clarivate to update its approach to accommodate the realities of citation patterns in journals that play important roles in the description of new taxa within their domains of biology.

Chairperson of the Committee on Nomenclature, Taxonomy, and Systematics
Department of Biology
Dalhousie University
1355 Oxford Street, P.O. BOX 15000,
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4R2, Canada
President of the Society
Science & Technology Department
Bryant University
1150 Douglas Pike
Smithfield, RI 02879, USA
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology
Department of Cellular Biology
University of Georgia
350 B Paul D. Coverdell Center
500 D.W. Brooks Drive
Athens, GA 30602, USA
President-Elect of the Society
Biological Sciences
Mississippi State University
312 Harned Hall, 295 Lee Blvd
Starkville 39762, MS, USA

This statement was approved and is fully supported by the Executive Committee of the International Society of Protistologists

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