Modern Impact of Surgery Journals: Associations Between Impact Factor, H5-Index, and Altmetric Score

Russell Seth Martins, Nabil Wasif

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: While impact factor (IF) remains the “gold standard” metric for journal quality, newer metrics are gaining popularity. These include the H5-index and journal Altmetric Attention Score (AAS). We explored the relationship between the IF, H5-index, and AAS for core general surgery (GS) and subspecialty journals. Methods: For all GS and subspecialty journals with a Clarivate IF, H5-index (January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2021) and journal AAS were obtained. Journal Twitter presence and activity was sourced from Twitter and the Twitter application programming interface. Spearman's correlations were assessed for numeric variables. Results: A total of 105 journals were included, around half (49/105; 46.7%) of which were core GS journals. Median IF was 2.48 and median H5-index 19. Journal IF demonstrated a strong correlation with H5-index overall (r = 0.81), though this ranged from r = 0.95 (P < 0.01) for vascular surgery to r = 0.77 (P < 0.01) for plastic surgery journals. AAS was moderately correlated with the IF and H5-index (r = 0.59 and 0.62, respectively; both P < 0.01). R2 values ranging indicated that 66% of the variation in the H5-index and 35% of the variation in AAS was explained by the IF. Just over half the journals had a Twitter account (54/105; 51.4%). Journals with a Twitter account also had a significantly higher IF, H5-index, and AAS than those without a Twitter account (all P < 0.01). AAS was moderately correlated with Twitter activity (r = 0.59) and Twitter followers (r = 0.69). Conclusions: Across GS and subspecialty journals, journal IF correlates strongly with the H5-index and moderately with AAS. However, only 35% of variation in AAS and 66% of variation in the H5-index is explained by the IF, indicating that these metrics measure unique aspects of journal quality. The future growth of surgical journals should be geared towards improving across multiple metrics, including both the conventional and the contemporary, while leveraging social media to improve readership and eventual academic impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Altmetric attention score
  • Citations
  • Journal metrics
  • Social media
  • Surgical research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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