Impact Factors for Robotics Journals

Impact factors for robotics journals

This article is specifically for folks in academia... When writing a journal paper, targeting the right venue is an important consideration.  There are lots of factors that go into this decision: audience, prestige, historical topics of interest, turn-around time, open access, etc. Discussing all the considerations in detail is too taxing and is probably not actionable (it's too dependent on your research and goals). But I thought I'd share... I'm tracking the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) impact factors for various robotics journals.  In very general terms, the impact factors can give you a rough approximation of journal quality and help you target your publications.  You can find a historical plot of robotics journals' impact factors (along with the latest values) below.  I'll try to keep these up to date.

 

Update 12/6/2015: I no longer believe that the ISI Impact Factors are the best ranking system for academic publications. A few reasons: (1) ISI rankings are proprietary and hidden behind a paywall that I no longer have access to; (2) their data may not be the best nor the most comprehensive; and (3) I don't have the will or drive to track the rankings.  Instead, I recommend looking at Google's academic journal and conference rankings, which you can search by keyword. Here are a few results for robotics as of today's date:

Google rankings of academic publications

As a bonus, you can track your own publications (and H-index) using Google Scholar too!  Here's mine.

 

 

Update 11/3/2011: Jan Peters from TU Darmstadt's Intelligent and Autonomous Systems group also maintains a historical account of robotics (and machine learning) journals' impact factors, complete with discussion and analysis.  He also has a page that discusses AI / Machine Learning / Robotics conference quality (a pseudo-ranking).

 

Current Data (2010 end-of-year results, valid through 2011):

 

Impact Factors for Robotics Journals


 

Impact Factor  

Journal Name

4.095 International Journal of Robotics Research (IJRR)
3.593 Journal of Field Robotics (JFR)
3.063 IEEE Transactions on Robotics (TRO)
2.187 IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine (RAM)
2.033 Autonomous Robots (AURO)
1.845 Bioinspiration and Biomimetics
1.313 Robotics and Autonomous Systems
1.254 Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing
1.032 Journal of Bionics Engineering
0.939 Robotica
0.879 International Journal of Humanoid Robotics
0.757 Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems
0.655 Industrial Robot: An International Journal
0.653 Advanced Robotics
0.326 International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems
0.206 International Journal of Robotics and Automation

 


 

Discussion:

 

You'll notice that some journals are not represented in this list; these are the ones listed in ISI's "robotics" category and do not include diverse fields related to robotics (eg. machine learning or computer vision).  Sometimes these other domain-specific journals may be a better fit for you work, so consider them too!

As of right now (November 2011, so 2010 end-of-year rankings), the top robotics journals by impact factor are IJRR (4.095), JFR (3.593), TRO (3.063), RAM (2.187) and AURO (2.033).  This isn't too surprising.  Drastically over-generalizing: IJRR is the dominant "theory" venue; JFR for long-term (real-world) deployments; TRO for  applications, systems, and sensing; RAM for a more general-purpose audience; and AURO for autonomous systems. Many of the journals also have "special issues" that focus on a particular topic and have blinding-fast turn-around times.  These are a great option when they're available!

Still... the robotics journals pale in comparison to  the "top" scientific publications: Science (31.377) and Nature (36.104).  Every now and again, we'll see a really nice robotics paper crack into one of these venues -- usually with a more biological bent.

But on the plus-side, it looks like robotics is generally trending up. Plus, I think a lot of momentum isn't accurately reflected in this graph.  There has been quite an uptick in publications at conferences (eg. ICRA, IROS, RSS, HRI, etc).  Much like computer science, robotics conference papers are highly-regarded on their own -- plus you get to travel!   More seriously, now that IROS / ICRA are ~15 simultaneous tracks... I don't understand why some of the major journals (particularly the IEEE ones) haven't teamed up to create a "journal" track at the conferences.  This would give researchers in more traditional fields (eg. EE, ME, BME) the best of both worlds: a journal paper to appease their home schools and a chance to present to self-selecting peers (networking and travel!).  Get on that IEEE folks!  ;-)

 

Anyway, this topic is particularly salient for me right now -- I'm currently writing journal paper(s) using my dissertation material.  I hope you find the data useful.  Oh yeah, I wrote a glorious python script to (semi-)automate the impact factor parsing from HTML, so this should be pretty easy to update in the future.  If this post gets out of date, just let me know!

 

Comments

Nice analysis, Travis. I'm sharing the link with some IEEE folks. Just wondering, what about IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering?
—Erico

Erico,

Good question.  So... the journals that I've presented here belong specifically to ISI's "Robotics" category.  They also have a "Automation and Control Systems" category that contains a lot of journals (~60) that prominently feature robotics topics.  Just a few of the IEEE ones:

  • IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (IF=2.699)
  • IEEE-ASME Transactions on Mechatronics (IF=2.577)
  • IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technologies (IF=1.430)
  • IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering (IF=1.396)

 

I spent  a lot time developing my Python script to parse the (manually-downloaded) HTML pages and generate beautiful plots... Under normal circumstances, I'd probably release the underlying database of impact factors, but this is strictly prohibited by ISI's acceptable use policy.  I don't want to abuse ISI and run afoul of their legal team. However, I might be able to make my source-code available to people for their own analysis.  People would need to have their own (university?) login credentials to access the ISI website (eg. here).  Seriously... they should already have this capability given their extensive database.  It's kinda disappointing that so many useful databases are locked behind paywalls.

—Travis Deyle

Hey Travis,

You had promised that you would link to the page...

http://www.ias.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de/Miscellaneous/JournalImpactFactors

Which we have been maintaining them for the last three years (and where you got the values form 2004 from).

BTW: The ISI data is not saying a lot! If you look at my page, you will also find the SCOPUS data which is way more informative as it tells you *WHY* TRo and IJRR are having such a weird fight for the first place. 

I would also not list JFR in there as it is a renamed journal, which has a statistical effect in the ISI data that pushed its impact factor up for about five years and will then drop tremendously.

A bigger question though is, though, why are robotics conferences sooo bad? See here:

http://www.ias.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de/Miscellaneous/ConferenceQuality

Best wishes,

Hey Jan

You never responded to my email request for the raw data... :'-(

When I didn't hear back from you, I forged ahead un-aided. So... to get my own data I went to ISI and manually downloaded all the impact factor HTML pages for all the journals (in both "Robotics" and "Automation and Controls" categories) dating all the way back to 1999, and then parsed the HTML files to extract the IFs.    I have them all stored in a nice, big cPickled Python dictionary file that I used to generate my plots.  Here's a sample:

u'1552-3098': {2005: {'ifact': u'1.486', 'jname': u'IEEE T ROBOT'},
2006: {'ifact': u'1.763', 'jname': u'IEEE T ROBOT'},
2007: {'ifact': u'1.976', 'jname': u'IEEE T ROBOT'},
2008: {'ifact': u'2.656', 'jname': u'IEEE T ROBOT'},
2009: {'ifact': u'2.035', 'jname': u'IEEE T ROBOT'},
2010: {'ifact': u'3.063', 'jname': u'IEEE T ROBOT'}},

 

In fact, you can tell I didn't use your data because... the TRO ISSN (above) database entry didn't exist in 2004.  In 2005 TRO was created as a split-off from Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering (TASE), IIRC.   

I wrote the article right after doing all that, and citing your stuff totally slipped my mind.  That's unacceptable -- I still should have provided a link to your stuff (and I didn't know about the conference links, that's cool!)  I'll add 'em up above.  

—Travis Deyle

Oops, my data actually goes back to 1997.  If we look at the plot of the same papers going back that far, we can see the HUGE increase in the last few years. 

Historical Impact Factors for Robotics Journals

 

—Travis Deyle

Hello really god job.

I am wondering if there is any statistics of the timeline that shows the process of the acceptance of a paper. For example IJRR accepted a paper at leat a year and at most 2 years, and may be average. 

Thanks.

—Anonymous

Great job & discussion. What about open-access publishing like http://www.frontiersin.org, any data about robotics? 

Thanks from GRB: http://webbrain.com/u/12fX   

Hey thanks for the sane collection of data. I sometimes have difficulty to get ISI working. (shame on me)!

And for the nitpicking about your comment, I think TRO was IEEE Trans. Robotics and Automation before 2004. Anyway thanks again!

—ilayn

 Hi there Travis!

Thanks so much for this really valuable and useful post regarding the IFs.

A real masterpiece i would say.

 

—Syamimi

Hey Travis,

Nice info !! Using some of this in the new RoboGrads website of GT :)

Thanks

—Tapo

Nice job!

But it seems to be outdated. As you said, it should be easy to update. Could you do this later?:)

Thanks!

—Young

This is realy helpful and valuable!

Can't wait to see an updated version lol

Thanks for sharing~

—Po-Jen

Great work and thank you! Wondering if the results are going to be updated for 2012 year end.

—Karan

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