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Impact Factor and Other Ways of Assessing the Research Value of a Journal: Home

Various ways to assess the research value of a journal.

Measures of research impact


An Impact Factor is one measure of the relative importance of a journal or scientist to science and social science literature and research.

Each index or uses a different methodology and produces slightly different results, revealing the importance of using several sources to judge the true impact of a journal's or scientist’s work. 

Careful use of these impact data is essential, and should be based on a thorough understanding of the methodology used to generate impact factors. There are controversial aspects of using impact factors:

  • It is not clear whether the number of times a paper is cited measures its actual quality.
  • Some databases that calculate impact factors fail to incorporate publications such as textbooks, handbooks and reference books.
  • Certain disciplines have low numbers of journals and usage. For this reason, one should only compare journals or researchers within the same discipline.
  • Review articles normally are cited more often and therefore can skew results.
  • Self-citing may skew results.
  • Some resources used to calculate impact factors have inadequate international coverage.
  • Editorial policies can artificially inflate an impact factor.

Which measure do you use?

   Journal citation   



Measure of journal(s) impact X X
Includes theses & popular magazines X
Considers quality of citing journal X

Adjusts for disciplinary patterns, permitting cross-discipline comparisons 

Measure of author impact X
Uses 2 years of data X
Uses 5 years of data X
Uses all published years/articles X

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