WHAT IS IMPACT FACTOR? How is it calculated? How useful is the current system for authors? This short video gives a quick overview of these terms as they relate to scholarly publishing.
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Hi there. This is John Bond from Riverwinds Consulting and this is Publishing Defined.
Today I am to going to give an overview of Impact Factor.
Impact Factor is used by many as a stand in for the relative importance of a journal in its scholarly field. A high Impact Factor is considered good; a lower Impact Factor not as much.
The Impact Factor is calculated from the Journal Citation Report or JCR published by Thomson Reuters, a for-profit company. It was founded in 1975 and is derived from the Science Citation Index and the Social Science Citation Index. It covers about 11,000 journals, from 2,500 publishers, from about 80 different countries.
So how is Impact Factor calculated?
The Impact Factor for a journal is calculated by the total number of citations for all the articles published in the preceding two years divided by the total number of articles published in that journal during those two years. For example: if a journal has an Impact Factor of 2 in 2015, that means all the articles published in 2013 and 2014 have, on average, 2 citations each during that time period.
Impact Factors represent the previous year. That is the 2016 represent the statistics for the year 2015.
Impact Factors are used to compare journals within a specific field, and are not meant to compare journals from one field to the other.
There is such a thing as also a 5-year Impact Factor, but this is used by fewer authors and librarians and is not as common.
So how useful is the current Impact Factor system?
For many, it is coin of the realm as to where to submit an article for an author or which publication to subscribe to for a librarian. It does provide a metric for this citation-based statistic. But for many, they view Impact Factor as having faults.
Top of the list: Impact Factor can’t truly measure a journal’s importance, as it is perceived by many to do. Journals are complex and it is difficult to quantify exactly where they stand compared to other journals.
Of additional concern, is a single groundbreaking article can inflate a journal’s Impact factor for a couple of years and not really spill over and have an effect on the journal or other articles.
Gaming the system is a concern as well. Editors, editorial boards, or even authors can knowingly self-cite the publication thereby affecting Impact Factor. Thomson Reuters does not endorse this practice and they work to prevent it.
Publishing, or business decisions, to only publish review articles or “by invitation only” or by eliminating certain of content types may affect Impact Factor as well.
Impact Factor will continue to be important, while being criticized by others. But it will have to grow and evolve within the system. Author level metrics, institutional level metrics, article level metrics will ensure that this evolution happens. More on that including altmetrics later.
Well that’s it. Thank you very much. Please click here to subscribe to my YouTube channel and also click on here to see more videos about Impact Factor.
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