How to publish

What are impact factors and why do they matter?

Journal, article, and author metrics are various mathematical formulas that have been developed to calculate scholarly impact within a discipline. Most of these formulas work by tabulating the number of citations against the total citations possible in a field or journal.

The "Impact Factor" journal metric developed by Clarivate Analytics of the Web of Science Group is the journal metric most people use when discussing journal metrics, though people also use this term when they mean the larger generic concept.

The metrics of a journal may matter to you if:

  • you are required to publish in journals of a certain Impact Factor to fulfill your promotion and tenure requirements
  • you want your research to be read by all of the people who value journal metrics and read highly rated journals first

Types of journal metrics:

Journal Citation Reports

Impact factor, 5-year impact factor, immediacy index, cited half-life, Eigenfactor, Article Influence


Citations to articles from the most recent five full years, divided by the total number of articles from the most recent five full years, but weeds out journal self-citations.  It also, unlike the Journal Citation Reports impact factor, cuts across both the hard sciences and the social sciences.