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Manage Your Research Identity and Track Your Impact

This guide describes how to build a researcher identity online through the use of unique IDs and social media profiles. It also describes online tools for tracking the impact of your research.

Journal Impact

The impact of particular academic journals can be measured by the number of times their articles are cited and where they are cited.

Journal impact measurements reflect the importance of a particular journal in a field and take into account the number of articles published per year and the number of citations to articles published in that journal. 

Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is the most widely used impact metric for journals, although there are many other metrics available. Developed in the 1970s as a way to help librarians decide which journals to purchase, the use of this metric has changed and expanded greatly since then. Impact factors are released every year for journals indexed in certain Web of Science databases.

The impact factor of a journal is calculated by dividing the number of current year citations to the source items published in that journal during the previous two years.


Limitations of journal impact

There is a large body of research pointing to the flaws and inappropriate uses of the impact factor and other journal level metrics (e.g. CiteScore). Some key criticisms include:

  • citation distributions within journals are highly skewed: for example, one "blockbuster" paper or highly cited item such as a review can artificially inflate the metric.
  • Journal Impact Factors can be manipulated (or “gamed”) by editorial policy. For example, editors may encourage prospective authors to cite other items published in the same journal.
  • data used to calculate the Journal Impact Factors are neither transparent nor openly available to the public.

The Declaration on Research Assessment, to which the University of Calgary is a signatory, explicitly recommends eliminating the use of journal based metrics in funding, appointment, and promotion considerations.

How to Find Impact Metrics for Journals

Journal Citation Reports  a comprehensive resource for journal evaluation, using citation data drawn from over 21,000 scholarly and technical journals. The home page allows you to easily search by journal, by category, by publisher, or by region.

June 2023: Journal Citation Reports releases new data about impact factors every year in the spring. 2023's release contains significant differences, which are summarized here:

  • Journals indexed in the Emerging Sources Citation Index are now assigned journal impact factors (JIF). As such, over 9,000 journals received their first JIF in 2023.
  • Impact factors are now calculated to one decimal place, not three. This results in many more "ties" between journals.

More information about the changes can be found on the Clarivate blog.

More Reading

McKiernan, E. C., Schimanski, L. A., Muñoz Nieves, C., Matthias, L., Niles, M. T., & Alperin, J. P. (2019). Use of the Journal Impact Factor in academic review, promotion, and tenure evaluations. eLife8, e47338.