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The Top 5 Exercise Journals

September 26 2010

Most folks and even exercise science experts are unaware of how journals are rated and how these rating affect on the quality of the studies published .

top exercise journals

Which are the top 5 exercise & sport journals?

1. Journal of Applied Physiology (3.73)
2. Medicine and Science in Sport & Exercise (3.70)
3. American Journal of Sports Medicine(3.60)
4. Exercise & Science Sports Reviews (3.62)
5. Sports Medicine (3.11)

The popular Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research is ranked 34 (1.457)! Their secondary journal Strength & conditioning Journal is ranked 64!
* These are 2009 ranking and subject of category is “sports science”

What are these journal rankings based on?

These ranking are based one the most popular bibliometric indicator called the Journal Impact Factor. The journal Impact Factor was first published in 1961.

  • Journal Impact Factor =  The number of times an article in a journal is cited in the past 2 years divided by total number of articles published by that journal in past 2 years

What are the limitations?

There are number of limitations for this ranking system. Some of them are:

  • Subject Area: The raking differs a lot based on the subject area. Exercise field’s highest ranked journal has an IF of 4 while basic life science (or fundamental) journals like Nature or Cell has an IF of 40. So comparisons should not be made across subject areas.
  • Publication Type: You can easily see that review articles has a lot more citations. Hence journals which only publish review articles will always be rated high.
  • Editorials, Letters & Meeting Abstracts: These are included in the numerator but only articles and reviews are included in the denominator. So these letters and editorials can raise the IF of the journal considerably without publishing any major articles.

So why do people still rely on impact factor:

Impact Factor is extremely important in the research circles.

  • Scientific Career: Promotion and tenure in most universities depends on how many of your articles you publish are in high IF journals.
  • Librarians: With the price of journals on the rise and so many journals to pick from, librarians need a ranking system bases on objective measures.
  • Editors: They need to a objective criteria to see if they are meeting the standards.
  • Quality articles: This may not be always true, but the journals with the highest Impact factors are very hard to get accepted in and hence the quality of the articles are always top notch.

Usually getting an article published in Nature or Cell is a dream for most researchers. Some of the researchers (atleast the ones I worked with) doesn’t even bother reading articles published in low impact journals.

Practical application

  • Next time when you are reading an research article (not just exercise journals), it is a good practice to look up the Impact Factor of the journal in which it is published.
  • The quality of research articles in journals with high IF is usually pretty high.
  • Journal articles should not solely be judged on the journal in which they are published.

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Related Articles

Karky | Mon September 27, 2010  

Journal of applied physiology has more than just exercise related topics. Is that score for the entire journal or do they somehow calculate it based on the different categories within the journal?

And journals like nature, new england journal of medicine, etc, also have some exercise articles, I’m guessing it would be better to get your article on exercise published there than in the journal of applied physiology?

Anoop | Mon September 27, 2010  

Hi Karky,

Thanks for the comment. And some of them do. J Appl Phy is in the physiology category too.

Nature publishes more of multidisciplinary sciences (basic life science). The prequisite for publishing in jornals like Nature, Science and Cell are the paper should have some major impact in the field. Even if you have the perfect study, you won’t get it in. It is like getting a nobel prize almost to get your paper published int these prestigious journals.

New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA are medicine journals. If there is an exercise topic, it is usually related to disease. They are the top clinical journals. The IF of NEJM is around 47! But they publish some crap too. It is extremely hard to get published in these journals. The peer review consist of some elite researchers and are too picky.

It is time to get your Ph.D, Karky. You will be good one.

Karky | Tue September 28, 2010  

I hope so. Just started my masters this semester. After that I’ll see what I can do about that Ph.D

Robin | Sun October 03, 2010  

Great info! I have never heard about it before. Thanks for the article.


Amir | Mon December 13, 2010  

How can I subscribe to these journals?

Anoop | Tue December 14, 2010  

Hi Amir,

thanks for the comment.

There should be a subscription button on their website! just jk

It is really expensive to subscribe to these journals. the best thing you can do is to find a library and they should have most of these journals subscribed.

I think Journal of Applied Physiology, the articles are free after a year.

Amir | Fri December 17, 2010  

Thanks Anoop. I should have been more clear smile

Im in Pakistan - and I dont even we have libraries smile

And yes, it is pretty darn expensive. Alas.

Anoop | Fri December 17, 2010  

Hi Amir,

i do think most journals have their articles free after 6 months of publication. If you need articles that is not free, just email the author and they will send it you. That’s what I do at times.

You can try a public library too. Hope it helps.

SLT-A77 | Mon November 14, 2011  

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What do you think?



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