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Where to publish your research article   Tags: accredited, author, impact, journal, publish, scholarly communication  

Information and resources to help you make important decisions about where to publish your research.
Last Updated: Jan 6, 2015 URL: http://libguides.sun.ac.za/publish Print Guide RSS Updates

Journal Impact Factor Print Page
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What is the Journal Impact Factor?

There is much debate over Impact Factors in the scientific community, particularly with regard to the fairness of the system. However, there is no doubt that an Impact Factor is seen as a benchmark of quality of the journal in many academic communities. ISI Impact Factors are calculated from monitoring about 8,000 journals.

 Invented by Eugene Garfield in 1960 (registered and patented), the first Impact Factor launched in 1975:

  • The Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is the most well-known citation indicator, and also the most notorious. due to its misappropriation as a performance measure for individuals, academic departements and even institutions
  • As an indicator it represents the impact a journal has in relation to other journals in a specific field.
  • The calculation of the impact of a journal is based on the average number of times the articles of a journal is cited in a two year period.
  • Although there is some argument about the usefulness of this metric in the Social Sciences and Humanities, it is frequently used across all subject fields.
  • It is important to consider the impact factor of a journal because those with higher impact factors generally have higher rejection rates.
  • It is probably wise to choose a journal that does not have a high impact factor for your first attempt at publishing. As you become more established, however, you could start to target higher impact factor journals.
  • The impact factor is widely criticised by academics who disagree that the JIF should be used as a performance measurement for individuals

Examples of Impact Factors:

  • The journal Africana Linguistica has a 2011 impact factor of 2.0, which means that on average each of its 2009 and 2010 articles were cited 2.0 times in 2011.
  • The journal Pediatrics has a 2011 impact factor of 5.437, which means that on average each of its 2009 and 2010 articles was cited 5.437 times in 2011.
 

Journal Citation Reports

Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is an annual publication by Thomson Reuters. It is integrated with the Web of Knowledge and is accessible from the Web of Science . It provides information about academic journals in the sciences and social sciences, including impact factors. It was originally published as a part of Science Citation Index, and is compiled from the citation data found there.

The information given for each journal includes:

  • Basic bibliographic information of publisher, title abbreviation, language, ISSN
  • Subject categories (there are 171 such categories in the sciences and 54 in the social sciences
  • Citation information

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journal_Citation_Reports

 

Different routes to finding Journal Citation Reports

Use one of the options below to find Journal Citation Reports (JCR) where JIF is published annually:

 

Calculating JIF

The calculation of the impact of a journal is based on the average number of times the articles of a journal is cited in a two year period

E.g., the 2011 Impact factor for the journal Cell =

Number of times cited during 2009 & 2010
     –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Number of  articles 2009 & 2010

= 32.403

 

Criticism of JIF

  • Cannot compare JIF across subject fields
  • Only a limited subset of journals is indexed by ISI
    • Only uses the articles cited by the ~13,000 “ISI journals” 
    • Some disciplines are especially poorly covered
  • •Biased toward English-language journals
    • ISI has recently added several hundred non-English journals
  • Short (two year) snapshot of journal
    • Some disciplines use older material more or take time to cite new research
    • JCR now also includes the 5-year data
  • Is an average; not all articles are equally well-cited
    • E.g., look up articles that have been published in Nature, 2008, vol 453.  (WoS / Cited Ref Search / Cited Work = Nature)
  • Includes self-citations, that is articles in which the article cites other papers in the same journal
  • Only includes “citable” articles in the denominator of the equation, i.e., articles and reviews
    • Editors may skew IF by increasing the number of review articles, which bring in more citations (increases the numerator)
    • Or by increasing the number of “news” items (e.g., Science, general medical journals) , which are cited (appear in numerator) but not considered “citable” (and so aren’t in the denominator)
  • It is expensive to subscribe to the Journal Citation Reports
 

Useful reading

Garfield, Eugene. 1963. "Citation Indexes in Sociological and Historical Research." American Documentation 14, no. 4: 289-291. Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed June 10, 2013).

Garfield, Eugene. 1963. "Citation Indexes in Sociological and Historical Research." American Documentation 14, no. 4: 289-291. Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed June 10, 2013).

Mann. 2009. "The Journal Impact Factor Denominator." JAMA: Journal Of The American Medical Association 302, no. 10: 1107-1109. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed June 10, 2013).

Jarwal, Som D., Andrew M. Brion, and Maxwell L. King. 2009. "Measuring research quality using the journal impact factor, citations and 'Ranked Journals': blunt instruments or inspired metrics?." Journal Of Higher Education Policy & Management 31, no. 4: 289-300. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed June 10, 2013).

Garfield, Eugene. 1999. "Journal impact factor: A brief review." CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, October 19. 979-980. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed June 10, 2013).

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