Research Papers:

Impact factor and citation metrics in phase III cancer trials

Joseph Abi Jaoude, Ramez Kouzy, Michael Rooney, Petria Thompson, Roshal Patel, Maddie C. Turner, Marc Ghabach, C. David Fuller, Bruce D. Minsky, Cullen M. Taniguchi _ and Ethan B. Ludmir _

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Oncotarget. 2021; 12:1780-1786. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.28044

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Joseph Abi Jaoude1,*, Ramez Kouzy1,*, Michael Rooney1, Petria Thompson1, Roshal Patel1, Maddie C. Turner1, Marc Ghabach1, C. David Fuller1, Bruce D. Minsky1, Cullen M. Taniguchi1,# and Ethan B. Ludmir1,#

1 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

* These authors contributed equally as first authors

# These authors contributed equally as senior authors

Correspondence to:

Cullen M. Taniguchi, email: [email protected]
Ethan B. Ludmir, email: [email protected]

Keywords: oncology; journal impact factor; clinical trials; FDA; industry

Abbreviations: FDA: food and drug administration; IF: Impact Factor; IQR: interquartile range; RCT: randomized clinical trial; RCR: relative citation ratio

Received: April 27, 2021     Accepted: July 27, 2021     Published: August 31, 2021

Copyright: © 2021 Abi Jaoude et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Purpose: Journal impact factor (IF) is often used to measure research quality and importance. We assessed trial factors associated with the publication of cancer trials in journals with higher IF and publications receiving higher citations.

Materials and Methods: Cancer-specific phase III RCTs were screened through https://clinicaltrials.gov. We identified trials with published primary endpoints, along with their corresponding journal IF and relative citation ratio (RCR).

Results: Seven-hundred ninety manuscripts were included in our study. Trials that met their primary endpoint were more commonly published in journals with higher IF (Median IF: positive trials 35.4 vs. negative trials 26.3, P < 0.001). Furthermore, trials that led to subsequent FDA drug approvals were also published in journals with higher IF (Median IF: 59.1 vs. 26.3 in trials not leading to FDA approvals, P < 0.001). When analyzing RCR, trial positivity (meeting primary endpoint) was not associated with increased citations on multivariable analysis (P = 0.56). Lastly, publications of trials leading to FDA approvals (P < 0.001), and publications of trials in journals with higher IF (P < 0.001) were associated with increased RCR.

Conclusions: Positive trials are commonly published in journals with high IF, but do not necessarily lead to increased citations. Moreover, trials published in journals with higher IF are more likely to receive increased citations.

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