Impact factor of Journals

Impact Factor (IF) in Journals

  • IF is a measure of a journal's relative importance in its field, introduced by Eugene Garfield.
  • It is not linked to the quality of peer review or content, but rather the average number of citations to articles published in various media.
  • Journals with higher IFs are considered more important than those with lower ones.
  • The highest IF is the one that publishes the most commonly cited articles over a 2-year period.
  • IF applies only to journals, not individual articles or scientists.
  • The IF of a journal is calculated annually by Thomson Scientific for those journals it indexes and published in Journal Citation Reports.
  • The IF for biomedical journals can range up to 5-8%.
  • The calculation of IF for a journal where a person has published articles is a contentious issue, but Eugene Garfield warns against making personal judgments.

The impact factor (IF) is a metric used to assess the influence of an academic journal.

 It essentially reflects the average number of times articles published in a particular journal are cited within a specific time frame (usually two years) by other scholarly publications. Here's a breakdown of how it works:


The impact factor for a given year is calculated by dividing the number of citations in that year to articles published in the journal during the previous two years, by the total number of citable items published in those two years.

For example, if a journal has an impact factor of 5, it means that, on average, articles published in that journal over the past two years were cited 5 times each in the current year by other scholarly publications.

Impact and Limitations:

  • Higher Impact Factor: Generally, journals with higher impact factors are considered more prestigious and influential within their field. This can be a deciding factor when choosing a journal to submit your research for publication, as publishing in a high-impact journal can increase the visibility and reach of your work.
  • Limitations: It's important to recognize that impact factor has limitations. Here are some to consider:
  • Field-Specific: Impact factor can vary significantly across different academic disciplines. A high impact factor in computer science might not be as impressive in a field like literary studies.
  • Citation Practices: Citation practices can differ between fields. Some fields naturally generate more citations than others, which can skew the impact factor.
  • Article Age: Impact factor is an average and doesn't reflect the citation rates of individual articles. Newer articles may not have had enough time to be cited extensively.
  • Focus on Citations: Impact factor solely focuses on citations and doesn't necessarily reflect the quality or originality of the research itself.

Alternatives to Impact Factor:

While impact factor remains a widely used metric, other journal evaluation methods are gaining traction. Here are a few examples:

  •  CiteScore: This metric, calculated by Elsevier's Scopus database, is similar to impact factor but considers citations to a journal's articles over a four-year window.
  • Eigenfactor Score: This metric takes into account the prestige of the citing journals, giving more weight to citations from high-impact journals.
  • Altmetrics: This approach looks beyond traditional citations and considers mentions of the research on social media, news outlets, and other online platforms.

Choosing a Journal:

When selecting a journal for your research, consider impact factor alongside other factors like:

  •     Journal Scope: Does the journal's area of focus align with your research topic?
  •     Target Audience: Who are the intended readers of the journal?
  •     Submission Guidelines: Does your research adhere to the journal's formatting and content requirements?
  •     Publication Timeline: How long does the journal typically take to review and publish articles?


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