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Journal impact factors

A journal impact factor is a statistical measure that is used to evaluate and compare journals. Impact factors can and do influence where researchers, in the sciences particularly, publish. However, the journal ranking - the relative position of the journal in the discipline - is also considered to be important. When considering publishing options. For example, the journal Social Science and Medicine had an impact factor in 2005 of 2.619. However this is fairly meaningless when viewed on its own. When considered in the context of related journals (category Social sciences, biomedical) this journal is ranked second in a list of 27 journals.

Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is the key source of impact factors. By tabulating and aggregating citation and articles counts, as indicators of how frequently current researchers are using particular journals, JCR provides data on

  • The most frequently cited journals in a field
  • The highest impact journals in a field
  • Largest journals in a field

JCR covers 7,500 scholarly and technical journals in science, technology and social sciences. However not all journals have impact factors, either because they are new titles for which measures are not yet available, or because they are not included in the journals covered by JCR. JCR provides Information for new users, including Using journal citation reports wisely, in a link from its homepage.

Need more help?

  • Publishing your research, The Faculty of Business and Law have written a detailed webpage that includes information on scholarly journals, peer review and journal rankings journals.