Should impact factor and citation index be integrated by the clinical factor?
An interesting emphasis is placed on counting citations that a paper receives (either directly with the actual number of citations or indirectly with the impact factor of the journal where the paper appears). A different, qualitative method for assessing the importance of a paper in clinical medicine (the clinical factor, CF) is presented in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. The CF is the degree and extent to which a journal provides information to the clinician that may improve his/her practice. Citation analysis can do very little for identifying the CF. Richard Balon, in a forthcoming issue of the journal, will try to select the papers that were published last year in psychiatric journals and that he subjectively perceived as having high CF. The CF is what we are pursuing the most. In medicine in general, and in psychiatry in particular, there has been a progressive disappearance of papers with CF. Psychiatrists are constantly reminded that genetics and neurosciences are going to transform and improve their practice. Biomarkers are considered to be the stairway to such a shift and leading journals are pursuing this perspective. Nothing has really come in the past 2 decades, as exemplified by the field of psychiatric genetics or the epidemic of research on dexamethasone suppression tests in the 1980s and1990s, but we may be really close. In the meanwhile, pharmaceutical medicine is taking full advantage of the clinical vacuum, providing direction with massive doses of propaganda. Psychiatrists, however, may also realize that substantial advances have taken place in clinical assessment and treatment, even though they may pass unnoticed. A different clinical psychiatry is available and can be practiced now. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics will continue to pursue the CF by encouraging new assessment and treatment strategies in mood and anxiety disorders, where standard approaches are largely unsatisfactory; by supporting clinimetric instruments that may allow a better integration of psychosocial factors in clinical medicine; by unraveling the essential ingredients of the psychotherapeutic process; by providing a forum for innovative thinking at the interface between behavioral and medical sciences and by hosting contributions that special interest groups would not allow to appear in other journals.