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A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONS: things you need to know about publication metrics in health professions education.

A WhitePaper Publication


About The Authors:

Authors of this guide represent a small in-house team of experts, from different disciplines and Universities in Egypt, aiming at offering a practical framework in publication metrics and pitfalls.

Editor-in-Chief: Mona El-Sherbini (Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University).
Executive Editor: Amr Moghazy (Faculty of Medicine, Suez-Canal University).
Contributing authors, from left to right:  Rania Shash (Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University), Suzan Ibrahim (Faculty of Dentistry, Ain-shams University), Salwa Oshiba (Faculty of Medicine, Menoufia University), Fatmaelzahraa Abdelhakam (Faculty of Medicine, Al-Azhar University) and Marwa Elbeialy (Faculty of Medicine, Ain-shams University).

About the guide

This document was created to provide health professionals and researchers practical guidance regarding journals, articles and author-level metrics.

Metrics criteria in publication might not tell you some issues about the quality, success or impact of a research and/or researchers. Yet, your judgement, based on academic discipline and career stage, with more insights on external factors, might contribute in influencing your decision of where and what to publish.

Through this concise white paper, a more rapid uptake of the essential advances in publication metrics and challenges would be possible. Although this applies to publication in general, the main objective is to gloss over the health professions’ education field publication.

Editor in Chief Mona EL-SHERBINI

EGYPT 2020



Understanding journals metrics

Predatory journals


Innovative Article portals

Article-level metrics


Author-level metrics

Author’s academic integrity



“We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge”

– John Naisbitt

This section introduces different terminologies used by journals in the publication process. As a matter of fact, “metrics fall in an opaque region resistant to easy measurement”. Yet, without clear metrics of journals, manuscripts would not undergo scrutiny. The time, energy, and spirit you put into your research deserves publishing in reputable journals.


Journal metrics may serve as a kite-mark of reassurance of the standards with which your submission will be handled. The metrics themselves can be subject to a great degree of change: one highly- cited paper could make a significant difference to the Impact Factor of a journal. Therefore, looking at a single Impact Factor for one year is not enough to determine the overall stature of a journal.

By looking into their citation profile and Impact Factor over the previous years, you will get a better idea of the consistency of how a journal is used. Journals that consistently receive large numbers of citations are likely to be able to support the dissemination of your research to an audience of active researchers and authors in the field: the audience you wish to reach.


It may seem like a daunting task to find a vehicle that will help you reach the broadest target audience you can. An important aspect here is the ways metrics and databases are being used in fraudulent and deceptive ways: “predatory publishing” and deceptive publishers.

Using journal citation metrics as a sole means of search (and assessment) evaluation is hazardous. This is stated by several assessment bodies, including The San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment, referred to as DORA, and the UK Research Excellence Framework.

Google Scholar works as a helpful free resource to check the citations of unfamiliar journals which claim to have high Impact Factor. Drill down into the citation counts of papers to see where their citations come from. In less reputable journals, you may find many of these citations come from the same journal, indicating some unethical practices.

The bottom-line:

Citation metrics and their databases can give some valuable reassurance about the quality of a journal and provide some insights into the audience as well as potential impact your article might achieve. It is advisable to use multiple sources to compare the information; particularly when looking at Quartile Ranges of journals. For example, a journal in Q1 of Scopus might be in Q2 of the Web of Science.

Useful links:
  2. Authors/find-a-journal/journal-metrics.html



“You Can’t Solve A Problem on The Same Level It Was Created. You Have to Rise Above It to The Next Level”

– Albert Einstein

This section introduces journals that can publish innovative topics in Health Professions Education. Alternative article metrics or “Altmetric” represent a new approach: it quantifies the reach and impact of the published research, as a proxy, for that publication’s importance for both scientists and the general public. Traditional metrics, which consider only citation count and journal name to assess impact, capture a narrow view of a work’s value and do so only after the accumulation of citations in academic literature.


“The transformative scale-up of health professionals’ education and training is defined as the expansion and reform of health professionals’ education and training to increase the quantity, quality and relevance of health professionals so as to best meet population health needs and expectations in an equitable and efficient manner and, in so doing, strengthen countries’ health systems and improve population health outcomes.”

WHO guidelines, 2013

Opportunities and strategies for educators to conceptualize and articulate their innovations for scholarly outlets, can still be disseminated through MedEdPORTAL ( or MedEdWorld (, as well as other scholarly products. To name: Journal of Graduate Medical Education, Medical Teacher, clinical teacher, teaching and learning in medicine and Academic Medicine, are just a few.

Some publishers offer additional author services, help guide you through Altmetrics and get set up with accounts in platforms.  Kudos or Impact Story, are examples that can help you manage your promotional activity of your work. The more support the journal offers their authors and assisting with promotion of articles, might be a valuable criterion for you in deciding where to submit your work.


  • Altmetric: A quantitative measure of the quality and quantity of attention that a scholarly work is receiving through social media, citations, and article downloads. Altmetric is suppored by Digital Science, visit
  • The resulting Relative Citation Ratio (RCR) is on article level and is field independent thus can provide an alternative to the invalid practice of using journal impact factors to identify influential papers.
The bottom-line:

When searching a suitable journal to submit to, the Altmetric information can work, alongside the aims and scope, to help you understand the journal’s audience, and to demonstrate different forms of impact to funders and review panels. This could be a significant complement to traditional citation metrics.

Useful links:
  1. Blanchard, R.D., Nagler, A., & Artino, A.R. (2015). Harvest the Low-Hanging Fruit: Strategies for Submitting Educational Innovations for Publication. Journal of graduate medical education, 7 3, 318-22.
  2. Liumbruno, M., Velati, C., Pasqualetti, P., & Franchini, M. (2013). How to write a scientific manuscript for publication. Blood transfusion = Trasfusione del sangue, 11(2), 217–226. doi:10.2450/2012.0247-12



“You Can Make Anything By Writing”

Clive Staples Lewis

This section introduces author’s bibliometrics as h-index and its variants. It includes the academic integrity including honesty with emphasis on major plagiarism issues with all its consequences. Furthermore, this section deals with the “art of correspondence”: literary communication to comments of reviewers, editors and academics.


Your productivity as researcher is mainly measured by your total number of articles. The impact of your research is measured by the total number of times your articles have been cited. The h-index (Hirsch index) is a combined measure of both productivity and impact. An index of h reflects your h most highly cited article(s) have at least h citations each. Publish or Perish (PoP) is a free software program that retrieves and analyses academic citations.


The essence of article writing extend beyond novelty and originality, to copy write issues and ethical consideration.

The draining obligation to generate meanings without copying word for word, to avoid similarity problems and major plagiarism issues, requires not only new skills to hone, but rigorous soft-ware programs to detect overlap in texts as well.

Furthermore, the art of correspondence indeed sounds like a long journey to explore its multifaced dimensions. This includes, but not limited to, responding to comments of reviewers or react upon receiving the decision letter of your paper.

  • Literary communication:

– You should write thoughtfully, throughout the submission process, to notify submitters the justification of what you included or excluded in your This applies to any additional resources as well.

– Writing clear and well-crafted response letters can improve your workflow and impact both quality and quantity of submissions that you would receive in the future.

  • Anti-plagiarism software:

Many publishing houses declare the policy of ‘Zero Tolerance on Plagiarism’. Recently, they started to use powerful software as an effective method to verify the origin of any future published work. For example, CrossCheck, a well-known tool in the academic community, compares manuscripts against a unique database of more than 30 million articles from over 200 publishers. These include, among others, major publishing houses as Elsevier, IOP, Nature, Springer and Oxford University Press.

Besides proprietary solutions like CrossCheck, there are public services where one can run the detection of plagiarism in copy-pasted text; even in submitted documents. Examples are plagiarism checker, and eTBLAST text-similarity based search engine. Digital watermarking methods is a tool that could be used to guarantee authenticity of the digital media.

The bottom-line:

As any index, h-index has weaknesses. The major weakness is the simple function of productivity and impact. This means that although an author might have several highly cited papers, his/her h-index will be low with longer career span. This major issue resulted in proposing other author-level metrics variants like g-index, m-index, Author Impact Factor (AIF) and Author-level Eigenfactor.

Understanding authors’ metrics in the light of academic integrity with emphasis on copyright issues and academic honesty will certainly pave your research promotion and visibility.

Useful links:
  1. Wager, E. (2011). How should editors respond to plagiarism? COPE discussion paper.