Impact factors - what do they mean and what are

impact factor RSCI, impact factor Scopus, Index Copernicus, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
Alex Malov 12-05-2021

One of the most important parameters that helps in choosing a suitable journal for publication of a scientific article is its impact factor. It is this indicator that will make it possible to assess the relevance and importance of the journal, its reputation among scientists and even, more or less, the level and quality of the articles published in it.

By publishing an article in a journal with a high impact factor, you increase the chances that your paper will reach an interested audience and be cited in other papers, thereby increasing your reputation in academia.

What is Impact Factor?

Impact factor is a numerical indicator proposed to analyze the significance of scientific publications in the 60s of the last century. This index illustrates the ratio of cited articles published in a journal to the total number of articles published in the journal for a certain period of time, for two or three years. Reports, letters and lists of typos are not included in the calculation of this indicator.

To calculate the impact factor for a certain year, you can use a formula in which the number of citations (links) to an article in a given year is divided by the total number of articles published in the journal for 2 years or 5 years.

However, due to the high impact factor alone, it is impossible to determine the quality of the article. However, high-citation journals in demand have tighter editorial policies and create competition among authors, which indirectly raises the overall level of the journal and the materials it publishes.

Types of impact factors

The classic impact factor, used since the 1960s, estimates the number of citations of articles included in the Web of Science abstract base. However, citation indices can be calculated using other databases. So what impact factors are there?

Impact factor RSCI

It is used mainly for Russian academic journals, as well as for journals published in Russian. The creation of the Russian Science Citation Index was due to the fact that many domestic publications in Russia were not represented in the English-language abstract databases, as a result of which the impact factors of Russian journals turned out to be significantly lower than the English-language ones. When calculating the impact factor of the RSCI, among all papers published for the period of interest, research articles, reviews and reports are taken into account.

To calculate the impact factor of the RSCI, you can use the electronic library eLIBRARY.

Scopus Impact Factor (SJR)

SJR is a sophisticated version of the Impact Factor calculated using Web of Science. It is considered more objective, and takes into account not only the number of citations, but also the authority of the citing journal, as well as the proximity of topics. In addition, using the Scopus database, it is possible to evaluate two more citation indices - SiteScore and SNIP. The first is equal to the number of articles cited during the year, printed in the journal for the last 3 years, divided by the number of materials indexed in the database and posted during the same period. SNIP allows you to compare content from different topics.

Index Copernicus

This is scientometric indicator, calculated using the Polish abstracts database of the same name. The index allows you to track and establish the importance of scientific publications, the contribution of individual scientists and research institutions.

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

This is another online database that contains over 15,000 scientific journals. It has its own scientometric indicator DOAJ to assess the relevance of a particular publication.

Journal quartile

The impact factor of a journal can be assessed using several databases, but the analytical and calculation systems may vary depending on the base. There are 4 quartiles in total, the first of which includes the most respected and influential publications. The quartile can be calculated for journals of any narrow specialization. To do this, set a filter, rank the journals by impact factor and divide them into 4 equal parts. Quartiles will be ranked from largest to smallest. It is important to take into account that the same journal can be presented in different thematic categories and have different quartiles in each of them.