What Is a Good Impact Factor?
Impact factor (IF) can be defined as the frequency with which a particular number of articles from a scientific journal are cited within the last few years. Impact factor help reveal the importance of a journal. Impact factors can also be used to rank the available literature in a specific field of research (“What is considered a good impact factor?” 2017). For example, if any selected articles have been cited numerous times, the journal that has published those articles is more likely to be highly ranked.
Medical research is a challenging path characterized by multiple milestones. Scientific publishing is often the last obstacle researchers need to overcome. In the end, reporting the findings, including negative results, fosters interoperability and transparency. To measure research success, impact factors have become vital indicators of scientific progress.
How to Calculate Impact Factors?
The calculation of impact factors follows clear rules, and it’s usually done on a two-year basis (“Measuring Your Impact: Impact Factor, Citation Analysis, and other Metrics: Journal Impact Factor (IF)” 2018). The impact factor of a publication can be calculated via the following formula: A divided by B. In other words, to calculate the 2018 impact factor of a journal, researchers will need two factors: A) the total number of 2018 citations to all of the papers published by a given journal in 2016 and 2017; and B) the total number of citable research pieces published by the same journal between 2016 and 2017 (“Impact factors: arbiter of excellence?” 2003).
It’s interesting to mention that Eugene Garfield initially created the impact factor calculation to evaluate all articles available for listing in Current Contents. Note that as impact factors cover the previous two years (before the year of interest), these indexes show the influence a journal may have during the first two years of publication.
Where to Find Impact Factors?
One of the most prominent places that provide impact factors and ranking is the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) (“What is considered a good impact factor?” 2017). The platform covers articles in various areas of research, such as science and technology. It includes various indicators, such as cited half-life, source data listing, different categories, publisher information, citation counts, and of course, impact factors. Eigenfactors can also be employed, which can show how often a journal is likely to be used by researchers. The JCR database tracks the impact factors of more than 12,061 journals. Impact factors range from 0 to over 10. Note that in 2016, only 213 journal titles, which is around 2% of all articles, received a high ranking, of 10+ (“What is considered a good impact factor?” 2017).
Impact factors and number of journals
As a matter of fact, the online procedure is pretty straightforward. For instance, a researcher can enter the title of interest in the JCR base, and compare scores and rankings (“How do I find the impact factor and rank for a journal?”):
Another alternative tool is the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) (“Measuring Your Impact: Impact Factor, Citation Analysis, and other Metrics: Journal Impact Factor (IF)” 2018). The tool uses the information stored in the broad platform Scopus, which contains more than 15,000 journals, 4,000 publishers from all over the world, and 1,000 open sources.
On top of that, every year, a report with impact factors is published by Clarivate, formerly known as Thomson Reuters.
The History of Impact Factors
In today’s digital era, research and technology mix in one. It’s a fact that digital solutions benefit science. From online recruiting to healthcare apps, researchers and patients profit from the implementation of technology. However, people often forget that only a couple of decades ago the only way to access research sources was via literature search of printed pieces. Interestingly enough, journal impact factors were originally designed to help librarians track literature searches and purchase new journals. To be more precise, impact factors were initially designed as bibliometric indicators by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) (“Impact factors: arbiter of excellence?” 2003). The first time impact factors appeared in practice was in 1963. Back then, impact factors were widely used in libraries to track subscriptions and record shelving data. However, many issues still have no answer: is the impact factor index relevant in libraries when many individuals reshelve books by themselves?
Slowly, impact factors have become vital indicators that have started to influence job applications and shape funding decisions. Although these indexes do not represent the quality of a particular article, impact factors are widely used to assess literature and report excellence. In fact, many investigators provide impact factors next to their work when applying for a job or funding (“Impact factors: arbiter of excellence?” 2003). However, experts and committees agree that the focus should be o