B-C Efficiency Factor


The Medical Journals and other agencies such as the Universities speak solely about the Impact Factor or Cite Score, but what about the Journal Efficiency?

 According to the English definition, “efficiency” is the state or the quality of being able to accomplish something with the least waste of time and effort. With respect to the Journals, that would mean to provide the submitting authors a peer-review decision with the least loss of time and delays in academic return for the submitting authors. In other words, efficiency is the measurable ability of the Journals, whether paid or unpaid, to do their duties well, successfully, and without waste and avoidable loss to the submitting authors. The efficiency of the Journals is critical because that may ensure timely disbursal of new scientific information and preventive and therapeutic solutions for use by the health agencies. Here, the efficiency should not be confused with effectiveness, since efficiency is doing things right in a timely manner, while the effectiveness is getting things done. Similarly, the argument of supposed rigor, which perhaps is not there [1] should also be not confused with efficiency, which is “doing things right in a time-bound convenient manner”.

Thus, with our vision to make the entire publication process coherent and convenient, while also to protect the right of submitting authors to have a time-bound, convenient, and efficient service from their service providers, i.e., the Journals, whether paid or unpaid, we propose “Bhalla-Cleenewerck Efficiency Factor ©” as a parameter for assessing the functional efficiency of the Journals. This Efficiency Factor© would help the submitting authors in making an informed decision about the possible submission of their manuscript for publication to a particular Journal, and would also help the Journals in their healthy commercial competition.

Why do we need to speak about efficiency?

At present, there are no reliable tests of journal quality and operational efficiency, which is unfortunate since the “state of medical journals is terrible” and quality remains a problem. There are as many as 16,000-40,000 medical journals in the world, and this number could still be an under-estimate since many for-profit Journals continue to emerge [2]. One common problem among both the new and established medical Journals is that they operate their services, to the submitting authors, without apparently adequate arrangements for ensuring efficient peer-review and decision-making process.  Individuals may get added in the peer-review/editorial board solely to fill the vacant space, who may, in the absence of any monetary gains or formal peer-review training, may not be able or available to provide a peer-review that is committed, direct, quality-based, careful, without personal bias and opinions, and without the sole vision to find faults alone. Thus, there are chances that the majority of current peer-review processes remain careless to the loss of timely scientific progress and disbursal of vital scientific work being done by the authors worldwide.
    No doubt, a manuscript submitted in North Africa took one and half years to get reviewed, or, a manuscript submitted to a Journal in Latin America, and East and North Europe took nearly seven months to provide a review, or, well-established Journals in India may brutally change their submission system during the ongoing peer-review process or may prioritize personal opinions over professional coherence. There are possibly numerous other examples of inefficiency. So, where may we draw the line to help the Journals in their duties and obligations towards their authors, based on whom they thrive?

How does Efficiency Factor© differ from Impact Factor and Cite Scores?

Both Impact Factor and Cite Score are commercial constructs run by profit-making agencies. These are possibly an attempt to lure authors in a dishonest way. Both systems have apparent issues, for instance, CiteScore includes all document types indexed by Scopus alone, and not all Journals are indexed in Scopus. Moreover, many Journals who are handled at high operational levels may not reflect in their Impact Factor. For instance, the Impact Factor of World Health Organisation’s Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública is operational “since 1922” and has an Impact Factor of solely 0.53, although it is a “flagship scientific and technical publication for disseminating information of international significance to strengthen national and local health systems within the continent”.     In addition, there are no ways to objectively determine which Impact Factor can be considered as good and which may not. Moreover, Impact factors are based on citation numbers, and others have also shown that there would always be a small group of core journals that may account for a substantial percentage of citations in a subject or a discipline, leaving most other Journals aside [3].     The Efficiency Factor © (EF©) can be quantitatively determined, as below, and the assessment could be organized at two separate levels, firstly, for the first submitted version, and secondly, for the revised submitted version. Here, we address the first scenario alone, for the moment, since the first peer-review of a manuscript is the most troubling in terms of efficiency. The scores are in Likert Scale in the range of zero to three, with zero as the minimum efficiency and three as the maximum efficiency. The overall Efficiency Factor© of a Journal, therefore, ranges from 0 to 21.