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Quality Issues and Standards
June 5, 2002

Association of Journal Quality Indicators With Methodological Quality of Clinical Research Articles

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Institute for Health Policy Studies, School of Medicine and Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy (Mr Lee, Ms Schotland, and Dr Bero), and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Dr Bacchetti), University of California, San Francisco. Ms Schotland is now with the Department of Psychology, New York University, New York.

JAMA. 2002;287(21):2805-2808. doi:10.1001/jama.287.21.2805

Context The ability to identify scientific journals that publish high-quality research would help clinicians, scientists, and health-policy analysts to select the most up-to-date medical literature to review.

Methods To assess whether journal characteristics of (1) peer-review status, (2) citation rate, (3) impact factor, (4) circulation, (5) manuscript acceptance rate, (6) MEDLINE indexing, and (7) Brandon/Hill Library List indexing are predictors of methodological quality of research articles, we conducted a cross-sectional study of 243 original research articles involving human subjects published in general internal medical journals.

Results The mean (SD) quality score of the 243 articles was 1.37 (0.22). All journals reported a peer-review process and were indexed on MEDLINE. In models that controlled for article type (randomized controlled trial [RCT] or non-RCT), journal citation rate was the most statistically significant predictor (0.051 increase per doubling; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.037-0.065; P<.001). In separate analyses by article type, acceptance rate was the strongest predictor for RCT quality (−0.113 per doubling; 95% CI, –0.148 to –0.078; P<.001), while journal citation rate was the most predictive factor for non-RCT quality (0.051 per doubling; 95% CI, 0.044-0.059; P<.001).

Conclusions High citation rates, impact factors, and circulation rates, and low manuscript acceptance rates and indexing on Brandon/Hill Library List appear to be predictive of higher methodological quality scores for journal articles.