Definition: The journal impact factor measures the importance of a journal by calculating the times its articles are cited.
How Impact Factor is Calculated: The calculation is based on a two-year period and involves dividing the number of times articles that were cited by the number of articles that are citable.
Experts stress that there are limitations in using impact factors to evaluate a scholar's work. There are many reasons cited for not relying on impact factor alone to evaluate the output of a particular individual. Among these are the following:
According to Jim Testa, a researcher for ThomsonReuters Scientific, the most widespread misuse of the Impact Factor is to evaluate the work of an individual author (instead of a journal). "To say that because a researcher is publishing in a certain journal, he or she is more influential or deserves more credit is not necessarily true. There are many other variables to consider." (interview 6/26/2008 in Thomson Reuters blog entry)
To use Journal Citation Reports, follow the steps below:
For more information about Journal Citation Reports, you can:
CWTS Journal Indicators
Indicators have been calculated by Leiden University’s Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) based on the Scopus bibliographic database produced by Elsevier.
A free and searchable database, Eigenfactor covers the natural and social sciences and "also lists newsprint, PhD theses, popular magazines and more." The Eigenfactor is now included in Journal Citation Reports. It continues to be listed here for use on its own.
The website includes an interactive mapping function that shows the relationship of branches of science to each other based on the size of the field and the citations generated by the journals of the field. Rather than the "soft" categories used in Journal Citation Reports, where a journal may be located in one or more categories, Eigenfactor uses a hard category where a journal can only fit in one discipline.
Google Scholar Metrics
Ranks publications in Google Scholar by analyzing the last five years of journal articles from websites that follow Google's inclusion guidelines as well as conference articles and preprints from a small number of manually identified sources. Excludes publications with less than 100 articles during the five-year period and those with no citations. The metrics provided are the h-index, h-core, h-median, h5-index, h5-core, and h5-median.
Harzing.com - Journal Quality List
Compiles rankings of journals from various sources in the areas of Economics, Finance, Accounting, Management, and Marketing.
SCImago Journal & Country Rank (SJR)
A free source that uses data from Elsevier's Scopus database. Includes a "compare" feature that compares journal citation among countries. There is also a "map generator" that shows citation relationships by country. The SJR indicator aims to measure "the current 'average prestige per paper'" of research journals and is one of a new set of journal rangings based on eigenvector centrality (Gonzalez-Pereira 2009) .
Thanks to Linda Shackle and Lydia LaFaro of Arizona State University for sharing their citation guide information! This guide includes content adapted with their permission.