Impact Factor: The Complete Guide

Written by Resurchify | Updated on: June 01, 2024

Impact Factor: The Complete Guide

In this post, we explain what impact factor is, why it matters, how to calculate it, different ways to increase the impact factor of Journal, and everything you want to know about impact factor. We will also discuss how one can easily find the Journal Impact Factor.


Impact factor (IF) is a measurement used by researchers and publishers to gauge the quality of a scientific journal or book. It represents the average number of times that the publication was cited in other peer-reviewed journals in the previous two years.

In other words, it's a measure of how well-read a journal is. IF is often used to rank journals. A higher IF indicates that a journal is more prestigious than one with a lower IF.

What is Impact Factor?

Impact Factor is a widely accepted method of evaluating the performance of academic journals. It measures the average number of citations per published paper received in a journal. To calculate the impact factor, the Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports are used. The impact factor of a journal is calculated as the number of citations received in a given year to articles published in the Journal during the two preceding years.

Why does it matter?

This is the most reliable way to evaluate the quality of an academic journal. It is used by many publishers to decide which journals to publish and which journals to reject.

However, this method has its limitations. Some journals that are highly cited receive few or no citations because they have limited readership. Others that are not highly cited have high citation counts because they attract a lot of research papers. Therefore, the impact factor alone cannot be used to evaluate the quality of a journal. Impact Factor is also not used to compare the quality of journals within a subject area. For example, Impact Factor cannot be used to compare the quality of journals in physics with those in chemistry.

How does it work?

Each year, the impact factor for a journal is calculated using citation data from the previous two years. The citation data is gathered from the Web of Science database. The impact factor is then calculated based on the total number of citations received by articles published in the Journal during the previous two years. If a journal has a high number of citations, its impact factor will be high.

How is Impact Factor Calculated?

The impact factor is calculated using the following formula:

Impact Factor is calculated as a sum of all-times cited in a particular year divided by a total number of articles published in this Journal in that same year. 

If you look at the impact factor for 2021, it will be the number of citations in 2021 to the articles that were published in 2020 and 2019, divided by the total number of articles published in that same Journal in 2020 and 2019.

Example calculation:

Let A be the number of times articles published in 2020 and 2021 were cited by indexed journals during 2022.

Let B is the total number of "items citable" published in 2020 and 2021.


A/B = 2022 impact factor 

Pros and Cons of Impact Factor

It is important to note that the impact factor is a measure of the average citations per paper for a given journal, not an absolute measure of its quality. The pros and cons of the impact factor are listed here. 

Pros of Impact Factor

  • Impact factors can help you decide which journals to submit to and which journals to avoid. They are also used to evaluate academic departments and programs, and they provide information about the academic reputation of authors.
  • The impact Factor is a popular measure of the quality of a journal. If your work is published in a high impact journal, then it will be read by more people, and hence you will get more citations.

Cons of Impact Factor

  • The impact or citations of an individual article are not reflected by IF. Each article is described in terms of the Journal rather than its own statistics. An article with fewer citations published in a high IF Journal is considered more important than an article with more citations published in a low IF Journal.
  • It depends on the field. A bigger field draws more citations than a small one.
  • There are a lot of highly cited review articles. The Journal's fidelity can be affected by the number of review papers that are published.

How to Increase Impact Factor of Journal

The Impact Factor of a journal can be increased by following these suggestions. Some of these approaches are based on theory, some on practice and some on experience. If you use these methods, you can get more citations, improve its quality and increase its prominence.

  • Add a descriptive scope 

A descriptive scope is something that should be added. This will provide the readers with a brief description of the journal contents and also help them to find the articles in the Journal. Increase the number of articles published in the Journal. This will make the Journal more attractive to researchers and also provide better visibility for it. Publish the results of research articles in the Journal. This will provide the authors with an opportunity to share their research findings with other researchers, thereby increasing the impact factor of the Journal.

  • Sometimes Peer-Review helps!

Peer review is an essential component of any scientific publication process. Peer review is the critical component in the editorial process for most scientific journals. Peer review involves the assessment of the content and quality of research papers by other scientists or academics with similar interests to the authors. This process ensures the accuracy, originality and relevance of the submitted paper.

  • Aim for the right audience.

The first step is to target the right audience. The impact factor is the measure of how many times your article is cited. It is not a measure of your article's quality but rather how much value it adds to the knowledge base. So the first step is to make sure that your article is relevant to the readers. In today's world, there is a vast difference between the general public and the academic world. Therefore, your audience should be carefully selected.

  • Increase the number of articles published in the Journal

Increasing the number of articles published in your Journal will definitely help to increase the impact factor. However, if it is not possible to increase the number of articles published, then at least try to publish them in a timely manner. If you cannot do this, then at least publish them with high quality.

  • Publish good quality articles

It is not enough to have just a high number of articles, but the articles must be of good quality. Good quality means well written, well organized and properly-referenced. Poorly written articles are never cited. A poorly written article is also very difficult to understand. Be a member of the editorial board. It is a good way to increase the impact factor of your Journal. It will also help to improve the quality of your Journal as the editor of the Journal is always involved in the process of reviewing manuscripts.

  • Use citation databases

Citation databases like Web of Science and Scopus are great tools to search for previous articles published in the same field of study as yours. 

  • Increase the visibility of your Journal

It is very important that your Journal gets listed in Google Scholar or other similar search engines. If your Journal is not listed, then there is no way for others to find it.

  • Taking advantage of affiliations

Many journals are associated with many universities, colleges, medical schools, and other institutions. These associations provide a number of advantages to the journals, including: Free access to information and data from their affiliated institutions. A free subscription to the journals of their affiliated institutions. The possibility of sending out the articles in the journals at no cost. Free copies of the journals for distribution within the affiliated institutions.

  • The promotion of a few articles might help

Advertising is a big part of marketing today to get more viewers. You can place a small ad in the Journal to promote a few of your articles. This will not only help you get some citations but also will help you get a good exposure. But the main thing is that you should not go for an advertisement which is not related to your work.

  • Increase the number of issues of the Journal

Increasing the number of issues can help you to have more citations for the Journal. A journal with more number of issues is more prestigious. If you publish one issue every year, it would be great if you could double or even triple the number of issues.

  • Make your articles easily reachable

Make your articles easily reachable to other researchers. If your Journal is an open access one, then there are chances that your articles will be accessible to a lot of researchers around the world. Make sure that your articles are published online, in any form, that helps other researchers to find them easily and cite them in their own papers. For example: if you are publishing your articles in your Journal online only, then they can be easily accessed by researchers who are doing their work in their labs or from home.

  • Keep the ethics and transparency high

Keep your ethics and transparency high. Don't publish too many articles in a single issue. Make sure that your articles are properly cited. Use proper language for your articles. Keep your articles well-organized. Don't make any changes without permission from the editors. Write in simple language. Keep your readers informed about your work through your website. Try to maintain a good reputation among your readers and potential authors.

  • Review articles should be published

The authors can quickly compare various types of research carried out with the help of the review articles of good literature. It may be of interest to them and thus will attract more citations. It is possible to combine good and bad topics in an article and publish it. This will act as a one-stop point for the authors to read, understand and cite.

  • Use SEO in your articles

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important tool in the arsenal of every researcher. It helps to increase the visibility of the Journal in the search engines, thus increasing the impact factor. It is best to write articles in a way that they can be easily understood by the readers and also can get indexed by the search engines. 

  • A niche could be developed

In case your Journal targets a specific set of authors, it is again very good. You may have noticed that journals like Cell Press, Science or Nature do not have a high impact factor. They are specialized journals where the articles are mainly based on the work from a specific group of scientists. In the case of a journal like Cell Press, they target stem cell research. If you have a journal that targets a specific topic, it will be easier for the authors to cite your article in their works. It is important that you are aware of this before you start your Journal.

Moreover, many journals, such as the 'Indian Journal of Anaesthesia', the 'Journal of Postgraduate Medicine' and the 'Annals of Surgery', have developed a niche by publishing a set of articles, each related to a specific area of research. By doing so, they have increased their Impact Factor and gained more citations.

  • Be sure to keep flexible submission options

You should keep the flexible submission options, as it helps you to get more submissions. For example, if you have an open call for review, then you can submit your manuscript in any language. Moreover, if you have a specific research topic or theme, then you can also make that clear in the cover letter. You can use different submission formats like PDF, MS Word, PDF or HTML. It will make you look attractive for the editor and reviewers. Write a good cover letter. You should write a good cover letter and make it short and simple.

  • Increase the visibility of the Journal by organizing workshops or conferences 

Organize workshops or conferences to increase the visibility of your Journal. You can also make your Journal a part of these workshops or conferences. For example, if you organize an international conference, then invite some of the most prestigious journals in your field to participate. They will be able to showcase their high-quality content, and your Journal can also get citations from their papers. Get your own website If your Journal does not have a website, then you should create one. It will help you to improve your Journal's visibility and get citations.

  • Diversify your list of topics covered

This can be achieved by diversifying the topic covered in your editorial board and/or by adding new journals as a member of the editorial board. It is suggested to cover the topic related to a field of research. If your Journal covers a field where most of the papers are published from other journals, then it is important to cover the topics of these journals as well.

  • Get more citations

As a journal editor, I am sure you would like to know about the citation count of your Journal and how it compares to other journals in your field. Citation counts are an important factor when judging journals in your field, and your impact factor is one way of measuring your Journal's performance. To get more citations for your Journal, you need to do the following things: Publish more articles.

  • Write for the international Journals

Writing for international journals increases your chances of getting more citations. This is because the articles published in the international journals have a wider circulation than the local journals.


  • In a nutshell, the impact factor of a journal is a numerical index that indicates the importance of the Journal in relation to other journals in the field.
  • The impact factor is a product of the average number of citations per article published in a journal in the past two years.
  • Journal editors use the impact factor as one of many indicators to decide which journals to publish in.
  • In this post, we explained to you what the impact factor is, why it matters, how one can calculate the impact factor, what are the different ways to improve the impact factor of any journal, and other details about the impact factor.



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