Part II: Identifying Appropriate Scholarly Journals
Some are More Equal
How do you determine the impact of a journal? One measure is how often the journal is cited in scholarly literature compared to other journals in the field. Sophisticated metrics have been developed to determine the impact factor of a journal.
If you’re looking for the impact factor of a particular journal title in the areas of science, technology, or the social sciences, or to compare all the titles within a given field, you can search the Journal Citation Reports ® (JCR). This database is available in many academic libraries and will help you find:
- Most frequently cited journals in a field
- Hottest journals in a field
- Highest impact journals in a field
- Leading journals in a field
- Most published articles in a field
You can get an overview of the JCR and learn about its features by taking the online tutorial on the publisher’s website.
Even if you don’t have access to the JCR, you can find impact and ranking numbers on the websites of many academic journals. An easy way to locate a journal’s website is to use PubList.com, an online directory of periodicals that you can search by Title, Description, Publisher and/or ISSN. The site is free but you must register to access it.
For example, the website for the New England Journal of Medicine reports that its most recent (2004) JCR impact factor was 38.57. Likewise, the Acta Zoologica website lists its JCR ranking in 2004 as 38/112 titles in Zoology, with an impact factor of 1.089.
The publisher of the Journal Citation Reports ® provides the following explanation of the Impact Factor of a journal:
The measure of the frequency with which the "average article" in a journal has been cited in a particular year. The impact factor will help you evaluate a journal’s relative importance, especially when you compare it to others in the same field. It is calculated by dividing the number of current citations to articles published in the two previous years by the total number of articles published in the two previous years.
(from the Thomson Scientific website tutorial on the Journal Citation Reports ®, http://thomsonscientific.com/tutorials/jcrweb3/. Used with permission).