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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter July 11, 2022

Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine: enjoying the present and assessing the future

Giuseppe Lippi ORCID logo and Mario Plebani ORCID logo

Almost 10 years ago, in an editorial published in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), we celebrated an important event in the history of the journal, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of its founding [1]. At that time, we included a representative figure, showing how much the prestige, popularity and value of the journal had increased since its origins, reaching a remarkable impact factor (IF) value of 2.15 in 2012. Who would have guess then that the IF of CCLM may have then reached a value exactly fourfold higher (i.e., 8.49) ten years later? Even more importantly, this increase significantly exceeds that of other journals in the Web of Science (WoS) category of “MEDICAL LABORATORY TECHNOLOGY”, as clearly shown in Figure 1, so that CCLM has now reached a podium position in this category, surpassed only by Clinical Chemistry (IF: 12.167) and Translational Research (IF: 10.171), while CCLM was only seventh in 2017.

Figure 1: 
Trend of impact factor (IF) of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), median if of the web of science (WoS) category of “MEDICAL LABORATORY TECHNOLOGY” and the ratio between these two variables.

Figure 1:

Trend of impact factor (IF) of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), median if of the web of science (WoS) category of “MEDICAL LABORATORY TECHNOLOGY” and the ratio between these two variables.

The reasons for such a considerable increase in the IF of CCLM may be many, sometimes unpredictable and imponderable. The thoughtful awareness and proactive recognition that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) would have become “something” really serious has led to the publication of a series of articles in the early-2020 that, altogether, have certainly contributed to increasing the number of citations and thus the IF of the journal [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]. But CCLM is not only COVID-19. Other important articles, which attracted many citations and contributed to increasing the IF, dealt with laboratory stewardship of bacterial infections [7], reference interval determination [8] and cancer biomarker discovery [9], in a long list of valuable contributions that combined original articles, up-to-date reviews, commentaries and letters to the editor. It is noteworthy that a detailed analysis of all articles that have contributed to this success has revealed - almost surprisingly - that nearly half of all highly cited papers were actually “original articles” rather than “reviews” or “opinion papers”, two categories that have more than others contributed to attracting citations in the past. Another important aspect that needs to be emphasized here, is that this great improvement in the IF value is largely independent of self-cites, since only 7% (922 out of 12,899) are self-citations. Regarding the geographical origin of the articles, the top countries contributing to CCLM in the past three years were Italy, US, Germany, China and The Netherlands.

Our sincere thanks go first and foremost to all our authors for their respectable papers, but we also wish to acknowledge the great work of all our reviewers, our board of associated editors, our editorial board and, last but not least, to the invaluable skills of our editorial office in Berlin. However, our thanks also go to all our readers, because we must always bear in mind that the ultimate mission of a medical journal is to disseminate scientific knowledge and to contribute to the improvement of (laboratory) medicine.

It is also noteworthy that in the last 2 years CCLM has published a number of official documents of the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM) [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], of which CCLM is the official journal. It has also published the Abstracts of EuroMedLab Munich 2021 [16], and a number of official papers from functional units of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) [17], [18], [19].

Now the two very obvious questions are … would we be able to maintain the IF of CCLM at this high level? What are the future plans of the journal? There is no reliable answer to the first question, since we do not have a crystal ball and, as expected, the logic of the IF is often unpredictable and imponderable, also due to the fact that the algorithm used for its calculation has changed in the past, and may be further changed in the future. It is then common experience that the perception of editorial board’s assessment of articles’ success is sometimes fallacious. This is reflected by the fact that some interesting articles – for which we would have predicted a high number of reads and citations – have in fact been overlooked by the scientific community, while others – originally considered less attractive – have achieved great and unpredictable success. We are, after all, human, and our ability to predict the future (thus including journal success) is limited.

Regarding the future plans of the Journal, we can already say that the pipeline is quite attractive. We have planned a number of special issues on specific topics in laboratory medicine, and we have also planned a special issue to celebrate CCLM’s 60th anniversary, that is scheduled for publication in the first quarter of 2023. On the other hand, we cannot ignore the fact that the achievement of such a remarkable value of the IF will likely have a considerable impact on increasing the number of future submissions, an aspect that needs to be carefully managed to avoid the collapse of associate editors, editorial office and reviewers. We have already partially renewed and rejuvenate the editorial board of CCLM and we will probably need to do so in the future by recruiting young and enthusiastic people, who can actively contribute to managing the peer-review process. This will also lead to a more rigorous selection of manuscripts, to avoid a long backlog of articles, either accepted and still unpublished or published “ahead of print”. Borderline scoping papers will need to be forwarded to other journals in the field (e.g., to “sister journals” like Journal of Laboratory Medicine, Diagnosis and Advances in Laboratory Medicine) and the board of associate editors will certainly need to apply more stringent evaluation criteria in terms of study design, sample size and article drafting. We ask all our contributors to understand that an increased number of submissions will lead to a further increase in the current rejection rate, which is already 85%. Our commitment remains to publish articles of high quality in all fields of modern laboratory medicine and to provide a forum for updating knowledge, which should translate in better quality of laboratory services and enhanced patient care.

In conclusion, we would like to thank again all those who have actively contributed to achieving such an outstanding success of CCLM.


Corresponding author: Prof. Giuseppe Lippi, Section of Clinical Biochemistry, University Hospital of Verona, Piazzale L.A. Scuro, 10, 37134, Verona, Italy, Phone: 0039-045-8122970, Fax: 0039-045-8124308, E-mail:

  1. Research funding: None declared.

  2. Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.

  3. Competing interests: Authors state no conflict of interest.

References

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Published Online: 2022-07-11
Published in Print: 2022-08-26

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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