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Library Services

Journal impact factors and immediacy index
What is a Journal Impact Factor?

It is a ranking that assists in assessing the academic importance of a journal in science and
social science disciplines.

How does it work?
Journal impact factors are calculated according to how often on average, over two years,
articles in a particular journal are cited in other journal articles. An Impact Factor of 1.0
means that, on average, articles published one or two years ago have been cited one time.
There is a simple formula that is used to calculate this. The example below would apply to a
journal’s impact factor for 2009.

Number of citations in 2009 to articles published in 2007 and 2008 = journal’s impact factor for 2009
Number of articles published in the journal in 2007 and 2008

The higher the impact factor, the more prestigious the journal is considered to be.

Where do I find out about journal impact factors?

Impact factors for science and social science titles are published as part of the Web of
Knowledge database, under the title Journal Citation Reports. This can be accessed via
the eLibrary. It is possible to search for individual titles, or to see impact factors for groups of
journals in a subject area.

What about Arts and Humanities titles?

These are more difficult. There isn’t a comprehensive impact factor system as there is for
science and social science. Some consider that a journal is of good repute if it is included in
the Arts and Humanities Citation Index Journal List. The most recently published list can be
accessed via

Perceived drawbacks

There is a view that journal citations can be skewed either by authors heavily citing their own
work, or by large numbers of people questioning apparently badly researched findings.

Impact factors cannot be compared across disciplines. The rate of publication and citation
varies widely between disciplines. The size and frequency of a journal also influences its
impact factor.

the immediacy index can provide a useful perspective. or have a low international appeal. may not be included.Impact factors only apply to journals as a whole and cannot be used to rate individual articles or authors. There are fairly stringent rules surrounding the journals that are included in JCR. Many publications that publish infrequently or late in the year have low immediacy indexes. For example. However. Impact factors accumulate over time. The immediacy index is calculated by dividing the number of citations to articles published in a given year by the number of articles published in that year. See separate information on the H-index. therefore it is difficult to rate the impact of a new journal in this way. June 2011 . Because it is a per-article average. those that routinely publish late. Immediacy index The immediacy index is the average number of times an article is cited in the year it is published. the immediacy index tends to discount the advantage of large journals over small ones. It shows how fast articles are cited following their publication. frequently issued journals may have an advantage because an article published early in the year has a better chance of being cited than one published later in the year. For comparing journals specializing in cutting-edge research.