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Environmental and Geographical Science Library Guide: Journal Impact Factor

How to find information - a library guide for Environmental and Geographical Science students at UCT.

What is a Journal Impact Factor?

Journal Impact Factor (IF) is a calculation of how many times the articles in a journal are cited by others.

Usually, higher IF is an indication of higher visibility of a journal to researchers in a field. It is also a rough indication of how the journal is considered within a field of research.

Controversy

Some things to be aware of:

1. IF is a quantitative assessment and does not include qualitative information

2. Results vary among disciplines so it would be worthwhile to make comparisons within a particular discipline

3. The IF was created to assess a journal not an author. An author's work may have a larger impact beyond a specific journal.

Garfield's paper entitled The Agony and the Ecstasy - The History and Meaning of the Journal Impact Factor provides further insights into the orgin and use of the Impact Factor.

Additional info about journals

1.) The database, Ulrich’s Periodicals Directoryprovides the following info about a journal: peer reviewed or not, open access, publisher, when published  (i.e. when publications started), etc.

2.) The “Accredited Journals List” on the UCT Libraries website provides info about the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) list of approved journals.  

Locating the Impact Factor

Journal Citation Reports – Online is a database used to locate a journal's impact factor.

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To use Journal Citation Reports, follow these steps:

  1. Open Journal Citation Reports - Online via Databases on the UCT Libraries website. Dont for get to use Off-Campus Login.
  2. Select either the Science or Social Sciences Edition and the Year.
  3. Select an option to search for a specific journal, or to view a group of journals.
  4. To search for a specific journal, you may search by Full or Abbreviated journal title, title word, or ISSN.
  5. Click on the journal title to see Journal Information, Impact Factor, etc.

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For more information about Journal Citation Reports - Online:

a) click on the Information for New Users located on the top right corner of the database home page

b) view the Journal Citation Reports tutorial created by Thomson ISI.

Subject Guide

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Awot Gebregziabher
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