Monday, 22 September 2014

What is Impact Factor - A Brief Discussion

What is Impact Factor?
How would you segregate an average article from a whole bunch of informative pieces that appear relevant in every sense of word in a journal? Check the number of counts that goes in favour of the article. This implies the number of times the article has been repeatedly cited in Journal Citation Reports (JCR). In the 1920’s, science librarians used to count raw citations with the purpose of saving money and shelf-space. Of course, the aim was to determine which journals made the best bet in their respective fields. However, this approach only met with modest success.  When Eugene Garfield, the founder of the Institute for Scientific Information formulated the impact factor, the intention was absolutely clear – determine how ubiquitous the article is on the basis of citations it receives.

The Impact Factor – How does it work?

The impact factor is an objective measurement of a journal’s quality, expressed in terms of numerical figures which are easy to understand.  The impact factor is a parameter for highlighting the relative significance of a journal within its specific field.  It indicates the frequency with which an article appears in the JCR.
 The impact factor acts a measuring medium for the number of citations received by articles in a particular journal. If a published article is cited one time, it denotes an impact factor of 1.0. Similarly, if the article is cited two and half times, it implies an impact factor of 2.5. Journals with high impact factors are notable than those with low impact factors. Apart from listing impact factors, the JCR also does the job of listing and ranking the journals in reference to their defined fields.

Impact Factor – Why do we need it?

How can we evaluate journals without overlooking their volume and frequency with which they are published? A big journal often tends to outweigh the small journal in terms of citable content. Most of us would wonder as to what should be done to restore parity between big and small journals related to the same field.
 The Impact Factor comes into picture. It is an invaluable tool for evaluating journals. It offers a level playing ground for both big and small journals because it mitigates the scope for absolute citations which could have gone in favour of big journals. The impact factor also offsets the advantage that frequently published journals may have over less frequently issues ones or olden journals over the newly launched ones.
 The impact factor does not foster comparison across different fields because citations would vary in numbers. Citations received from the mathematicians are bound to be more than those received from the biologists. Journals with high impact factors are the first choice for many.  They are extensively endorsed by authors, researchers, readers, scholars and academic librarians. Publishing work in a leading journal with high impact factors can be a turning point in the career for budding scientists. Scholars and researchers can showcase their work in prominent journals to attract critical acclaim and recognition.

Impact Factor – How to Calculate?

For One year Impact Factor Calculation:

A = Total number of articles published in 2005 year = 212
B = Total number of citation achieved in 2006 year for the articles which was published in 2005 year = 200
Impact Factor = B / A = 200 / 212 = 0.943
For Five year Impact Factor Calculation:
 A = Total number of articles published in 2005-2010 year = 1132
B = Total number of citation achieved in 2011 year for the articles which was published between 2005-2010 year = 1452
Five Year Impact Factor = B / A = 1452 / 1132 = 1.282
Calculation Reference Link :  The Thomson Reuters Impact Factor