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Not a Fear Factor (TechnoScholar): Impact Factor

This guide has been created to be used as part of the TechnoScholar Series of workshops for UTA faculty and graduate students. It is in the process of being updated.

What Do We Mean By Impact Factor?

Traditionally, an Impact Factor was used to evaluate how a journal is ranked, in relation to others in the field. In other words, it was a method of ranking similar journals in a field.

Currently though, an Impact Factor is now used to measure both a journal and an author's impact. The indexes or databases used to measure impact use different methodologies, and can give slighty different results. What this means is that it is prudent to use more than one source to get the true picture of a journal or author's impact.

Who Uses it and Why?

Impact Factors are used in several ways, mostly as an evaluation tool by different groups:

  • By Universities/Colleges - Departmental Chairs or Tenure/Promotion Committees use it to assess and evaluate journals in which their faculty publish, and also to evaluate the faculty member's impact in his field, normally in consideration for tenure.
  • By Researchers/Scholars/Faculty - Faculty use Impact Factor to know what influential journals exist in their field, so that they can know where to publish.
  • By Publishers - Publishers use it to determine what journals are in the marketplace.
  • By Librarians - Librarians use it as a Collection Development tool, to evaluate journals, and to see which journals are the most prestigious, with a view of adding such journals to their collection.