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Associate Librarian and Scholarly Services Librarian

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Yen Tran
Lemieux Library Second Floor iDesk
Subjects: Education, Social Work

Journal Impact: Impact Factor

The impact factor is an indicator of journal quality. A measure of the frequency with which the "average article" in journal has been cited in a particular year, the impactor factor is calculated by dividing the number of current citation to articles published in the two previous years by the total number of articles published in the two previous years. Ultimately, the impact factor helps researchers evaluate a journal's relative importance, especially when compared to others in the same field.

Keep in mind that not all journals are ranked. For example, in literary studies, few impact factors exist for specific journals, largely because literary scholars tend to cite primary texts more than secondary ones. This makes it crucial to determine a journal's overall impact by its availability and presence.

Information Below Includes

  • Tools for determining journal impact and impact factor
  • How to choose a journal for your publications

Tools for Determining Journal Impact & Impact Factor

NOTE: Some databases require a subscription; Seattle University community has access to the following databases.

Journal Citations Reports (JCR)

Also known as InCites Journal Citation Reports. JCR allows you to evaluate and compare journals using citation data drawn from approximately 12,000 scholarly and technical journals and conference proceedings from more than 3,300 publishers in over 60 countries. JCR is the only source of citation data on journals, and includes virtually all specialties in the areas of science, technology, and social sciences.


CiteScore is the number of citations received by a journal in one year to documents published in the three previous years, divided by the number of documents indexed in Scopus published in those same three years. This is the free version.

Web of Science

Web of Science is a citation database that covers three major tools: Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index, and Arts & Humanities Citation Index. The complete database covers thousands of scholarly journals from 1975 to the present across a broad range of disciplines.


Provides bibliographic and access information for scholarly and academic publications, consumer and trade magazines, and other serial publications. Information available in Ulrich's that is indicative of journal impact includes:

  • “Academic/Scholarly” designation (an indicator of quality)

  • Refereed status (an indicator of quality)

  • Circulation statistics (an indicator of quantity)

  • Journal description and reviews

  • Indication of inclusion in Journal Citation Reports

  • Abstracting/Indexing services that provide access to the content of the journals (The more services that abstract and index a journal, the more widely disseminated the information is, and the greater the impact.).

  • Document Delivery Services (If the journal is available through document delivery services, this serves as an indicator of its importance as these delivery services chose to make available journals that have merit.).


These directories provide valuable information about journals -- called "Journalytics". Data can include access to an Altmetric Report, scite Index score, metrics on influence, and general information on submissions and review workflows. The directories also identify if journals have displayed deceptive, fraudulent, and/or predatory behaviors.


A union catalog, WorldCAT is the combined catalog of thousands of libraries worldwide. The number of libraries that own or provide online access to a journal is an indication of the impact and imporance of the journal. WorldCAT provides the truest indication of the total number of libraries that subscribe to a journal. To search WorldCAT:

  • In the "Advanced Search" tab, search by title or ISSN, and limit to "Serial Publications."

  • Identify the correct journal from the search result.

  • Note the number associted with the "Libraried Worldwide" link. Select "Libraries Worldwide" link, followed by "Display All Libraries" to receive complete library holdings.  The "Libraries Worldwide" link only displays local libraries.

  • Email, print, or export results.

  • Note: Keep in mind you may see multiple record listings of the same journal in the search result. This may be due to format differences (e.g. print, electronic) and/or differences in cataloging practices. Be sure to recognize and count those when necessary.

Project Muse

If a journal is included in Project Muse, this is an indicator of a quality publication because of its commitment to preserving journal content. Only those deemed important are included in Project Muse.


If a journal is included in JSTOR, this is an indicator of a high quality publication because specialists and scholars vote to decide which journals are key in each field. Only those deemed most important are included in JSTOR.

Choosing a Journal for Your Publications

Tools for choosing the right journal for your research:

  • Think Check Submit: Evaluation tool and considerations before you submit your work to a journal.
  • Journal matching tools: Helps you identify journals published by these publishers that may be best suited for publishing your work
  • Library resources for finding listings of journals to evaluate