Scholarly Communication

Information for faculty and administrators on academic publishing

Changing publishing models, including the rise of open access journals, have reshaped the ways in which scholars share and use journal articles. It is important for you to understand the criteria for assessing journal quality in order to decide where best to publish your work.

What determines scholarly value? The presence of peer review, calculation of impact factor, and a journal's reputation continue to be important measures. Alternative metrics, or "altmetrics" are additional ways to assess quality and also to conduct research using an article's appearance in non-traditional, yet still important, venues such as blogs, social media, and online repositories of several sorts.

Originally created by ISI (the Institute for Scientific Information, the Impact Factor is the most widely-recognized method for attempting to gauge a journal's rank/importance.  It is particularly well-known in the Sciences and Social Sciences.

The impact factor is based on two figures:  the number of citations to a given journal over the previous two years (A) and the number of research articles and review articles published by that journal over the same two-year period (B), so: A/B = Impact Factor

Note that there is a discrepancy between the type of content counted for each factor: A = any type of content (including letters, news items, etc.), but B = research or review articles only, making the Impact Factor not a true average.

For example, the journal PLoS Biology's 2010 impact factor is 12.472.

This was calculated thusly:

5076   - total of all citations from 2010 articles to PLoS Biology articles published in 2009 (1971) and 2008 (3105)

divided by

407    - total of PLoS Biology articles published in 2009 (195) and 2008 (212)

= 12.472

The number by itself does not mean as much. If you knew that the journal with the highest impact factor has the number 94.333, you might think 12.472 was quite low. But when you look at the impact factors of all the Biology journals indexed by JCR, PLoS Biology is ranked No. 1 in the Biology subject category.

Perform an ADVANCED SEARCH in Ulrichsweb - for Subject (keyword) "psychology".

From the results screen, select/click "Cognition"

On full record for the journal, click on website link and view information on the publisher's webpage.