“This is truly the decade of the journal and one should seek to limit their number rather than to increase them, since there can be too many periodicals.”
Neues medicinisches Wochenblatt fur Aerzte (1789)

For every generation of scholars, the problem of information overload has always seemed insurmountable. The annual launch of new journals has often been seen as a contributing factor to the burgeoning literature, rather than a consequence of it. Bibliometric analysis of a newly launched journal can demonstrate how it contributes uniquely to the community it serves and paves the way for the dissemination of research, which, particularly in the case of biomedical journals, can ultimately save lives.

Mitochondrion was launched in June 2001 as the official journal of the Mitochondria Research Society. In recent years, malfunctions in mitochondria, microscopic cellular compartments, have been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases (including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease), mental health issues (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), epilepsy, stroke, heart disease and diabetes.

“In the decade before the journal was launched, more than 45,000 mitochondria articles were published across thousands of journals,” explains Mitochondrion’s Editor-in-Chief Dr. Keshav Singh (figure 1). “It was a great challenge keeping up with important developments related to mitochondrial research and medicine. Since 2001, Mitochondrion has provided a common platform for the scientists and clinicians who work in diverse scientific disciplines but have an interest in mitochondria.”

Fig 1

Figure 1 - Number of articles and reviews on mitochondria from 1991 to 2000.
Source: Scopus

Crossing the disciplinary divide

Mitochondrion’s stated mission (1) is “to provide a rapid and dramatic advancement in our understanding of the basic science of mitochondria, mitochondrial pathology and in badly needed therapies for mitochondrial diseases.” Since its launch, the journal has published over 300 articles and reviews, including a special issue on Mitochondrial Medicine in 2004, containing 38 papers on all aspects of the field. The rapid and sustained accumulation of citations to the journal’s articles (figure 2) demonstrates the clear need for a journal focused on this key area and is a testament to the publication’s quality.

Citations from such prestigious basic research journals as Molecular Cell, Journal of Biological Chemistry and Nature Genetics and clinical journals such as The Lancet further reinforce the success of the journal in crossing the disciplinary divide. “The future of mitochondrial research is bright,” says Singh. “The field is one the fastest growing disciplines in biomedicine. There is still so much to learn about mitochondria including fusion, fission, distribution and their role in many diseases.”

Bibliometric analysis of Mitochondrion has demonstrated that it was launched in response to an existing need, and since then has provided an important conduit for communicating research outcomes to the wider scientific community.

Fig 2

Figure 2 - Number of articles and reviews in Mitochondrion and the number of citations to them, from 2001 to 2006. Source: Scopus

References:

(1) Singh (2001) “Mitochondrial me and the Mitochondrion journal”, Mitochondrion, Vol. 1, No.1, pp. 1-2.
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