Background: The journal impact factor (IF) has become widely used as an absolute measure of the quality of professional journals. It is also increasingly used as a tool for measuring the academic performance of researchers and to inform decisions concerning the appointment and tenure of academic staff as well as the viability of their departments/schools. In keeping with these IF-related trends, nurse researchers and faculty the world over are being increasingly expected to publish only in journals that have a high IF and to abandon all other forms of publishing (including books and book chapters) that do not attract IF rankings.
Issues: The IF obsession is placing in jeopardy the sustainability and hence viability of nursing journals and academic nursing publication lists (academic texts). If nurse authors abandon their publishing agenda and publish only in ‘elite’ journals (many of which may be outside nursing), the capacity of the nursing profession to develop and control the cutting edge of its disciplinary knowledge could be placed at risk.
Actions: Other means for assessing the quality and impact of nursing journals need to be devised. In addition, other works (such as books and book chapters) need also to be included in quality metrics. Nurse authors and journal editors must work together and devise ways to ensure the sustainability and viability of nursing publications.