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Original Article Explosive increase and decrease in articles, citations, impact factor, and immediacy index during the COVID-19 pandemic: a bibliometric study
Sang-Jun Kimorcid

DOI: [Epub ahead of print]
Published online: June 26, 2024
Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Daejeon, Korea
Corresponding author:  Sang-Jun Kim,
Received: 29 November 2023   • Accepted: 18 December 2024
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This study investigated how Journal Citation Reports (JCR) metrics changed during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020–2022), with the aim of sharing this information with stakeholders in the publishing community.
In total, 7,689 journals listed in the JCR-Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE) from 2016 to 2022 were selected. Data were analyzed using pivot tables in Microsoft Excel. We calculated the compound annual growth rate to investigate changes in JCR-SCIE articles, citations, the journal impact factor, and the immediacy index during the COVID-19 period.
A marked increase was noted in the number of articles and citations during the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2022. This surge was primarily driven by a significant rise in COVID-19–related articles. Consequently, four JCR metrics exhibited a sharp increase in 2020, followed by an unusually steep decline in 2022. Articles, citations, and the journal impact factor reached their highest recorded levels in 2021, while the immediacy index saw its most significant growth and intense citation activity in 2020 before experiencing notable decreases in 2021 and 2022. Our findings indicate that there was an unprecedented and dramatic shift in these four JCR metrics during the COVID-19 period, with current trends suggesting a reversion to historical compound annual growth rate levels.
The journal publishing and scientific communities should consider these explosive changes when applying JCR metrics to evaluate articles and endeavor to mitigate the adverse effects of the unusual concentration of articles and citations during the COVID-19 period. These results constitute valuable information to be shared among researchers and stakeholders within the journal publishing community.

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