A technique to identify core journals for neurosurgery using citation scatter analysis and the Bradford distribution across neurosurgery journals

Venkatesh S. Madhugiri, Sudheer Ambekar, Shane F. Strom, Anil Nanda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Object: The volume of scientific literature doubles approximately every 7 years. The coverage of this literature provided by online compendia is variable and incomplete. It would hence be useful to identify "core" journals in any field and validate whether the h index and impact factor truly identify the core journals in every subject. The core journals in every medical specialty would be those that provide a current and comprehensive coverage of the science in that specialty. Identifying these journals would make it possible for individual physicians to keep abreast of research and clinical progress. Methods: The top 10 neurosurgical journals (on the basis of impact factor and h index) were selected. A database of all articles cited in the reference lists of papers published in issues of these journals published in the first quarter of 2012 was generated. The journals were ranked based on the number of papers cited from each. This citation rank list was compared with the h index and impact factor rank lists. The rank list was also examined to see if the concept of core journals could be validated for neurosurgical literature using Bradford's law. Results: A total of 22,850 papers spread across 2522 journals were cited in neurosurgical literature over 3 months. Although the top 10 journals were the same, irrespective of ranking criterion (h index, impact factor, citation ranking), the 3 rank lists were not congruent. The top 25% of cited articles obeyed the Bradford distribution; beyond this, there was a zone of increased scatter. Six core journals were identified for neurosurgery. Conclusions: The core journals for neurosurgery were identified to be Journal of Neurosurgery, Neurosurgery, Spine, Acta Neurochirurgica, Stroke, and Journal of Neurotrauma. A list of core journals could similarly be generated for every subject. This would facilitate a focused reading to keep abreast of current knowledge. Collated across specialties, these journals could depict the current status of medical science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1274-1287
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


  • Bradford distribution
  • Citable articles
  • Citation scatter
  • Core journals
  • H index
  • Impact factor
  • Neurosurgery journals


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