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Impact Factor - How to get |


How To Get Impact Factor


July 24, 2012
The progress of science wouldn’t be
possible without scientific journals, which play a key role in reporting
new research findings. With thousands of scientific journals published
today, obviously of various quality – there is a need – for authors,
readers, librarians or funders alike – to have a reliable instrument for
measuring a journal’s importance and relevance to the academic
The most common method of evaluating journals uses bibliometric citation analysis – and its most universally used instrument is impact factor, which is calculated and published by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), now part of Thomson Reuters.  Impact Factor
is determined by averaging the number of citations a journal receives
and the average number of times that articles within the journal are
referred to by other articles. Simply put, the more often a journal’s
articles are cited, the higher its impact factor.
The Impact Factor (IF) is the oldest,
most renowned and extensively used index for measuring the quality of a
journal, but having said that it does have its flaws and can be
manipulated, so it needs to be treated with some precautions.
Nevertheless, at least from the 1970s it remains the chief quantitative
measure of the quality of a journal, especially in STM – scientific,
technical and medical fields (not so much in social sciences – and for
journals in the arts and humanities impact factors are not calculated at
It goes without saying then, that one of
the main goals of journal editors is to get the impact factor in the
first place and then to increase its value systematically.
How to get Impact Factor (IF)
The first goal can be achieved by
submitting a journal for Thomson Reuters’ review. Once it is accepted
for coverage in one of citation indices (Science Citation Index Expanded
or Social Sciences Citation Index), it usually receives its first
impact factor only three years later! Of course, being selected for
coverage is not an easy task. Each year, Thomson Reuters editorial staff
reviews over 2,000 journals and only around 10-12% of them are accepted
for coverage. That is why avoiding rejection, which results in not
being able to re-apply for the following 2-3 years, is paramount to any
publication. Taking that on board – a journal needs to meet specific
selection criteria, such as:

  • Basic Publishing Standards. A journal must be published
    on time (that is, according to its stated frequency). It is of
    essential importance, as Thomson Reuters reviews three consecutive
    current issues, which need to be sent one at a time as they are
    published. The journal also has to follow international editorial
    conventions (informative journal titles, fully descriptive article
    titles and author abstracts, complete bibliographic information for all
    cited references, and full address information for every author),
    publish full text – or at the very least, bibliographic information – in
    English, have cited references in the Roman alphabet and be

  • Editorial Content. Thomson Reuters editors look
    especially for journals which will enrich their database. If the topic
    is already adequately addressed in existing coverage, a journal may be
    rejected. That is why there must be some good rationale for the journal
    to exist. In other words, a journal needs to have unique features and be
    distinguished from other journals in the field.

  • International Diversity. Thomson
    Reuters checks whether the authors, editors, and editorial advisory
    board members are from around the world. They also verify if the journal
    reflects the global context in which scientific research takes place.
    It must be mentioned however, that to provide a well-balanced coverage
    in each category, Thomson Reuters seeks to cover the best regional
    journals as well.

  • Citation Analysis. Thomson Reuters looks for citations
    to the journal itself (it captures all cited references from each of
    over 12,000 journals covered, so citation information is available on
    journals not covered as well as those that are covered), the level of
    self-citations (which generally shouldn’t be above 20%) as well as
    citation record of the contributing authors and editorial board members
    (especially in case of relatively new journals, which don’t have an
    expanded citation history of yet).
More information on how to prepare and submit a journal for a review can be found in the article The Thomson Reuters Journal Selection Process.
How to increase impact factor
Getting an impact factor is hardly the
final stage of journal’s development. Most often editors aim to increase
its value each year as much as possible. There are number of ways to
achieve that goal, like some editorial policies
which are adopted specifically to alter the impact factor of a journal.
Unfortunately, many of them, although not illegitimate per se, are at
least questionable and arguably lack academic integrity.
In general, the best, most direct and
powerful way to increase the number of citations and – as a consequence –
the value of impact factor is to attract high quality articles. That is
definitely easier said than done, especially for journals with low
impact factor which are not as attractive for potential authors as the
ones with high impact factor. However, there are some steps that the
editors may undertake in order to help themselves in that regard:

  • Grow number of submissions, then grow quality and keep volume.
    The editors can invite researchers working in the same field to publish
    in the journal or organize special (focused) issues. Having grown the
    number of submissions, the editors can reject more submissions which are
    of lesser quality. They can make sure that the best, potentially highly
    cited papers are published fast. They can invite high-class specialists
    in the field as authors and members of the journal Editorial Advisory
    Board and solicit for review articles reflecting the hottest and the
    latest results in the field (this kind of papers generally attracts more

  • Grow journal’s visibility. There are a lot of ways to
    make a journal more visible. The editors can make sure that it is
    covered by maximum of abstracting and indexing services, which are one
    of the most used sources of scientific information. They can look for
    reviewers as broadly as possible and reach for world experts in the
    field. They can inform scientists working in the similar field and,
    being potentially interested in this article about its publication,
    inform cited authors that they have been cited by the journal’s articles
    as well as providing additional information about each of the article’s
    authors using similar keywords. They can also promote the best articles
    using social media (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, academic social
    networking sites, etc.)

  • Publish in Open Access. Although not all researchers agree, many studies
    suggest that open access articles are cited more often than articles
    published in subscription model. It is doubtlessly caused by the fact
    that the authors are free from the constraints of selective
    accessibility to subscribers only. It is especially valid in case of
    researchers from countries with lower income, who don’t always have
    access to the literature in their field. While open access might not
    boost citations much in the developed countries, it surely results in
    greater impact in the rest of the world.
Editors’ view

Most editors we asked for opinion agree
that the key to getting and increasing impact factor is attracting high
quality papers. “Particular contributions are  discussed at Editorial
Board meetings; so acceptation of the paper is collective decision, to
assure high paper quality”, says prof. Viliam Novak, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Hydrology and Hydromechanics (IF 2011: 0,340). Ms. Agnieszka Rozewska, Editorial Office Manager of International Journal of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science
(IF 2011: 0,487): “We select carefully all submitted manuscripts – both
by initial evaluation and complex external reviewing process. Papers
selected for publication are then subject of in-depth editorial work,
language verification included”. “The number of rejected manuscripts
increased, we avoid the local papers and manuscripts without needed
impact”, adds RNDr. Eva Chorvátová, Managing Editor of Geologica Carpathica
(IF 2011: 0,787). Some editors go even further: “We are not publishing
spontaneously submitted manuscripts anymore. We ask outstanding
physicists to write reviews and tutorial papers instead. It means any
submitted manuscript is processed exclusively by an invitation only.
This, of course, requires our significant effort to select and convince
scientists to accomplish our aims”, reveals Dr Andrej Gendiar, Managing
Editor of Acta Physica Slovaca (IF 2011: 2,167).
Journals’ internationality is no less
important. “We carefully selected the editorial board, with good
international impact”, says Prof. Gregor Serša, Editor-in-Chief of Radiology and Oncology
(IF 2011: 0,912. “We aim at increasing the number of authors from
abroad – to the level of 30-50% at least – for example by soliciting
papers from renowned scientists all over the world”, adds Prof. Romuald
Zielonko, Editor-in-Chief of Metrology and Measurement Systems (IF 2011: 0,764)
Many editors point also at role of
journal’s availability: “We ensured that full text of our papers are
available in open access and proper metadata format so they can be
indexed in appropriate services and search engines”, says Ms. Marta
Bitner, Technical Editor of Archives of Metallurgy and Materials
(IF 2011: 0,487). “Published papers are quickly indexed in important
databases, which is easier as electronic version of the journal is
hosted on professional platform MetaPress”, underlines Ms. Rozewska from
International Journal of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science.
According to Prof. Romuald Zielonko from Metrology and Measurement
Systems, decision about publishing in open access had the greatest
influence on increasing journal’s impact factor.
This guest post was written
by Marzena Falkowska. A graduate of the Institute of Library and
Information Science, University of Wrocław, Marzena is the Manager of
Abstracting & Indexing at De Gruyter. 
This entry was posted on July 24, 2012 by Kamil Mizera and tagged , , , .

Impact Factor - How to get |

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