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To Oncotarget or not to Oncotarget

Starting from January 2018, Oncotarget is no longer listed in SCIE (Science Citation Index Expanded). This is shocking news to a lot of scientists because the journal was deemed a “rising star” in the field of molecular biology & genetics just a short three months ago by Clarivate Analytics (see the blog post here), the very company that delisted Oncotarget from their journal index products. To some people, it may not be completely surprising because earlier Oncotarget was dropped from MEDLINE, the journal index database of the US National Library of Medicine (NLM). Neither MEDLINE nor Clarivate Analytics gave specific reasons of removing Oncotarget from their indexes. Interested readers can find MEDLINE’s guidelines for deselecting journals here, and Clarivate Analytics’ criteria for indexing journals in their lists here.

For a brief period after Oncotarget was removed from MEDLINE, new articles published in the journal could not be searched in PubMed, causing some panic. However, their availability in PubMed has been restored. This is because PubMed Central (PMC), NLM’s free full-text archive, still archives all articles published in Oncotarget. On the day this is written, the latest issue archived in PMC is volume 9 issue 6, and all articles published up to that issue can be found in PubMed searches. This means that except for a 1-month or so delay, once new articles published in Oncotarget are deposited in PMC, they become searchable in PubMed and therefore are able to reach the biomedical research community around the globe. Authors who publish their papers in the journal do not need to worry that their work will become invisible. The last issue of Oncotarget indexed by MEDLINE is volume 8 issue 30 from July 2017. The only difference I can see in PubMed between papers published till then and those published afterwards is in the line summarizing journal information. Here is a line we typically see:
Oncotarget. 2017 Jun 20;8(25):39994-40005. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.18127.
It shows the date the issue was published (Jun 20, 2017), the volume (8) and issue (25) numbers, and the doi. For papers published later, this is what we see in Pubmed:
Oncotarget. 2017 Jun 15;8(37):60778-60788. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.18484. eCollection 2017 Sep 22.
Even though volume 8 issue 37 was published on Sep 22, 2017, the first date we see here is 2017 Jun 15, presumably the date the paper first appeared online. We can imagine that this might cause some confusion and citation errors. However, the correct date is listed on the PMC full-text page, so careful reading will prevent any errors.

For authors who decide not to submit their work to Oncotarget because it is now dropped from SCIE, an inevitable question is “what other journals to submit?” Below we list some journals with roughly equivalent impact factors that publish fairly frequently.
• OncoImmunology, IF 7.719, publishes monthly, about 30 papers per issue. This journal specifically deals with tumor immunology.
• Oncogene, IF 7.519, publishes 50 issues a year, primarily on cellular and molecular biology of cancer.
• International Journal of Cancer, IF 6.513, publishes twice a month, and covers a broad scope of topics, including “carcinogenesis, cancer cell biology, cancer genetics, infectious causes of cancer, tumor immunology, early detection and diagnosis, epidemiology, and cancer therapy.”
• Cancer Letters, IF 6.375, publishes 2 or 3 times a month, and covers “a broad area of basic and translational oncology.”
• Cancer, IF 6.072, publishes twice a month, and covers all oncologic specialties, but only publishes clinical research.
• European Journal of Cancer, IF 6.029, publishes 18 issues a year, and covers basic, translational, and clinical cancer research.
• Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, IF 5.764, publishes monthly, over 20 papers per issue. This journal publishes papers in drug discovery and preclinical studies.
• Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research, IF 5.189. Open access journal, publishes as papers are accepted. It covers “all aspects of basic, clinical and translational work in oncology.”

Journals below are in the same impact factor range but are in specific disciplines:
• Neuro-oncology, IF 7.786
• Journal of Hematology & Oncology, IF 6.350
• Breast Cancer Research, IF 6.345
• Journal of Thoracic Oncology, IF 6.595
• PLOS Genetics, IF 6.1

(Please retain the reference in reprint:

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