Journal Impact Factor



  • Easily applicable
  • Is variable; for example, the analysis period can be expanded
  • Helps to compare journals in a discipline

The journal impact facot ror JIF is an indicator for journals. It measures the resonance a journal generates in science. It is commonly viewed as a criterion for quality. However, this is disputed.

The journal impact factor is published annually for journals in the Web of Science (formerly ISI) database. It provides information about how often an article in a certain journal was cited on average.



  • Only provides an excerpt of all citations
  • Doesn't allow for inference about the quality of individual work
  • Not suitable for evaluating individuals
  • Subject to manipulation

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Why isn't the JIF suitable for evaluating individual pieces of work or authors?

This particularly has to do with the skewed distribution of citations. Numerous investigations show that the majority of citations are only attained by a few publications. The vast majority of pieces in a journal achieve just a few to very few citations. As a result, the correlation between a journal's JIF and the resonance of an individual piece is very weak. (Marx & Schier, MPI).

How can the journal impact factor be manipulated?

There are diverse ways to manipulate the JIF. In publishing circles, this is referred to as impact engineering.

In order to increase the JIF, the number of citable articles is typically kept low and the number of citations pushed higher and higher in various ways.

Thus, it is possible for the publisher of a journal to strategically increase self-citations. Anonymous investigations show that publishes compel authors to cite articles from their own journal if their work is to appear in it. Furthermore, publishers themselves can cite the articles from their own journal in the editorial of an issue, thus raising the number of citations. You can find additional information on this topic in the article The top-ten in journal impact factor manipulation fromn Falagas, Matthew E. et al.