Science & Technology

This Indian scientific journal has just attained a milestone of sorts; here is how

The articles published in ‘Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants’ are now cited more than three times by authors around the world, according to a new rating

By Varun Kheria
Published: Wednesday 06 July 2022

Professor N Raghuram, one of the editors-in-chief of the PMBP

India is a powerhouse when it comes to science research in the developing world, but its scientific journals haven’t been successful enough to reflect this fact; until now. Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants (PMBP) has become the first Indian scientific journal to have an ‘impact factor’ over 3 in the annual Journal Citation Reports that are released by the analytics firm Clarivate at the end of June.

Impact factor is an indicator of the importance of a journal to the field it belongs to. It is a measure of the frequency with which articles published in the journal are cited globally in the period of a year.

PMBP received an impact factor of 3.023. This means that the articles published in it are cited more than three times by authors around the world.

This is a huge step for the journal because growth in impact factor for any journal works on a positive feedback loop.

Having a better impact factor at the start of a year means the journal will attract better authors. This will lead to the articles in it having a higher citation value as they will be more useful for researchers in that field. This in turn will further increase the impact factor of that journal.

Springernature is the company that co-publishes and distributes PMBP. They have over 2,400 scientific journals in publication around the world.

The journal’s two editors-in-chief are N Raghuram, from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi and RP Singh, from Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow.

RP Singh, PMBP’s longest serving editor-in-chief:

PMBP came a long way since 1995. But its growth in the last five years has been phenomenal, whether in publishing frequency, number of articles or impact factor.

“From the highest cited Indian journal in all areas of plant and agricultural sciences last year, PMBP has now topped all Indian science journals, barring one or two in niche specialties,” he added.

One of the biggest factors responsible for PMBP’s success according to Raghuram is their system of peer reviewers.

“We have more than a thousand peer reviewers across 40 countries from all over the world. They are all people who are already well established within their own disciplines within plant science, and who have proven expertise in certain areas,” he said.

Raghuram said when these reviewers evaluated articles submitted to the journal, they brought in a higher bottom line, a higher quality consciousness, and a higher level of rigour and expertise.

“They are the ones who advise us on whether we should accept or reject a paper and that has been our biggest asset because they won’t compromise on any paper which is given to them,” he added.

PMBP has been able to attract more authors since it has always been ahead in matters of journal turnover. The first thing that Raghuram did when he joined was make the journal a quarterly rather than a half-yearly publication.

“No author would want to wait for six months to see their article in print. The moment we were able to get enough incoming articles, we had more choices to accept or reject them and were able to fulfill the requirement of 10-15 articles per issue and maintain our frequency. The moment we did that for 5 years as a quarterly, I then pushed it into being a bimonthly,” Raghuram said.

As of today, even though all other plant journals of Indian origin are in the quarterly range at most, PMBP is still pushing forward and is now a monthly publication.

PMBP has had an idea of what it wanted to be ever since it was first established.

“We were the only plant science journal which in 2005 declared that we will be a broad scope journal covering all areas of plant biology because we wanted to develop our journal as the single unified face of Indian plant biology to the world,” Raghuram said.

Its other unique selling point was it kept a global readership in mind.

“We deliberately never called PMBP an Indian journal because right from its inception, we have always felt that journals should never have a country tag associated with them. We have always considered ourselves to be producing an international journal of Indian origin,” Raghuram said.

He added PMBP’s hope was “that Indian publishing professionals (authors, editors, companies, and publishers) look at this new benchmark of 3 and start thinking about how to make 3 a new normal for Indian publications as an achievable target.”

“The question now is – can we push it further? Go beyond an impact factor of 3?” he said.

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