A Featured Journal Interview
According to a recent analysis published by
ScienceWatch.com, BMC Evolutionary Biology is
having a growing impact among journals in the field of
Biology & Biochemistry. The journal's citation record
Reuters includes 608 papers cited a total of 2,819
times between January 1, 1998 and April 30, 2008.
Published by BioMed Central, BMC Evolutionary
Biology is an online, open-access, peer-reviewed
journal that has been publishing articles on "all
aspects of molecular and non-molecular evolution of all
organisms, as well as phylogenetics and palaeontology"
In the interview below, we
talk with publisher Dr. Matt Cockerill about the history and
citation record of the journal.
Did you expect BMC Evolutionary Biology
to become highly cited, or is this surprising to you?
Not at all. Articles published in our open-access journals get a lot of
visibility, and many of the top researchers in the field of evolutionary
biology are strong advocates of open access and choose to publish in our
journals. We've therefore been pleased, but not surprised, by BMC
Evolutionary Biology's strong Impact Factor.
How would you account for the increased citation rate of
BMC Evolutionary Biology?
Evolutionary biology is a field that has been profoundly affected by
genomic and computational approaches. BioMed Central's experience was that
authors in fields such as bioinformatics and genomics were amongst the
first to embrace publication in open-access journals, probably because Open
Source software and openness with respect to data sharing are both deeply
ingrained in those communities. We are now seeing that culture of openness
spreading into adjacent fields, such as evolutionary biology, and this in
turn has ensured that BMC Evolutionary Biology has been able to
attract a substantial number of high-quality articles.
Was there a change in policy or editorial direction that
might account for this?
"Another key goal for the journal is
to make it easier for researchers to share
not just their results, but also the datasets
that were analyzed to produce those
Actually, it wasn't so much a matter of our editorial policy, but the fact
that BMC Evolutionary Biology was not tracked by Thomson Reuters
until 2004, so it did not receive its first Impact Factor until June 2007,
even though it had been one of the most highly cited evolutionary biology
journals for some time.
What historical factors have contributed to the success
of BMC Evolutionary Biology?
When an area of research undergoes rapid and profound change it provides an
opportunity for new journals. Researchers often find that the scope and
editorial policy of existing titles does not keep pace with developments in
their field. BMC Evolutionary Biology certainly benefited from
this. Being an online journal, with rapid peer review, unlimited color
figures, and immediate publication on acceptance certainly gave it an
advantage compared with traditional journals operating to print production
schedules. Strong support from our international Editorial Board and
Associate Editors has also been vital to the success of the journal.
Have there been specific developments in the fields
served by BMC Evolutionary Biology that may have
As discussed above, the growing importance of genomic and computational
methods has no doubt played a significant role. The increased focus on "Evo
Devo", i.e. understanding evolution in terms of modifications to
developmental programs, is another trend which is changing the field and
making it more interdisciplinary.
How do you see your field(s) evolving in the next few
As the cost of whole-genome sequencing falls, meta-genomics will continue
to grow in importance, as will the study of variation within individual
species by the sequencing of the entire genomes of hundreds or thousands of
individuals. This variation within a species is the crucial ingredient that
makes natural selection possible, and so the prospect of a much fuller
picture of this variation at the genomic level is hugely exciting for
What role do you see for your journal?
BMC Evolutionary Biology will continue to publish high-quality
research in evolutionary biology, and break down barriers between different
fields. Another key goal for the journal is to make it easier for
researchers to share not just their results, but also the datasets that
were analyzed to produce those results. We are working with the research
community to define appropriate standards and recommendations to facilitate
the sharing of such data.
BMC Evolutionary Biology
Dr. Matt Cockerill,
BioMed Central, publishers
BMC Evolutionary Biology's most-cited paper
with 98 cites to date:
Hedges SB, et al., "A molecular timescale of
eukaryote evolution and the rise of complex multicellular
life," BMC Evol. Biol. 4: art. no. 2, 28 January
Essential Science Indicators from
BMC Evolutionary Biology was named a
New Entrant in
Biology & Biochemistry in August 2008
Keywords: open access journals, evolutionary biology,
genomics, computational approaches, data sharing, Open Source