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Assessing Journals & Publishers

A guide focused on assessing journals and book publishers for publication

About Impact Factors

What are Journal Impact Factors?

Impact Factor as measured in ISI’s Journal Citation Reports is “a measure of the frequency with which the ‘average article’ in a journal has been cited in a particular year.”  The idea is that the collective citation frequency for articles in a journal title is an indicator of journal quality and importance.  While this may be true to some degree, one needs to keep in mind that there are other factors that influence citation frequency.  One factor that stands out is that JCR tracks only about 7,000 journal titles, and the titles that are tracked change through time.  Another concern is that the number of people who research and publish in a given discipline or subject varies as does the quantity of publications.  This influences the impact factor value.  Also, the ‘fit’ of ISI subject classification to subject content in a given journal title is necessarily variable.  So, impact factor can be used to measure a title’s popularity.  However, use of the measure as a research quality indicator needs careful consideration.

How are they used?

Journals are often measured by their Significance and Selectivity. Is this journal significant to the field? Sometimes the top journal in the discipline is not the right place to publish one's research. Check out the journal for fit and for significance to the researchers who are working specifically in similar research areas. Where are other researchers publishing? Where can one's research receive the proper attention? Also look into how selective the journal is in its publication. Do they accept any manuscript they receive or only a small percentage? How long is the review process? You may have to contact the publisher or editing board to find out this information.

Further reading:

Print Resources

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