The relative importance of most academic journals is measured by what’s called their “impact factor,” or IF. Impact factor in an academic measure is simply a measure that reflects the average number citations made in various media, online and academic journals and similar publications to recent articles published in the subject journal. Essentially, an academic journal with a high IF is one that many publications and expert cite. Academic journals possessing a high impact factor are deemed more important, and thus deserving of more attention and consideration, than journals having lower impact factors. Academic journals that are indexed in the “Journal Citation Reports,” an annual publication, are assessed for IF annually. Some high impact factor journals and my experience with them make for an interesting tale.
High Impact Factor and Selectivity
Academic journals with a high IF, by their nature, can afford to be more selective, especially as they seem to attract more submissions from more authors and researchers eager to see their works widely cited. If you can land an academic research paper in the proper academic journal, meaning one with a high impact factor, your own peer reviewed and accepted article may be cited more frequently, for one. Managing to place one of your papers in the right high-IF journal, then will draw more attention to your work, and with more attention may come more research funding from various government and private foundation, as well as industry, sources.
Of course, the downside to submitting a paper to a high impact factor journal is also, maddeningly enough, the very same selectivity that attracted you to it in the first place. Peer review may be measurably more difficult in high IF journals and take longer than is the case at academic journals possessing lower impact factors. But chancing not only rejection as well as a lengthy wait when submitting an article or paper to a high-IF journal is sometimes worth it, because journals with high impact factors also seem to enjoy a longer citation life cycle as regards accepted and subsequently published article. In other words an article you place in an academic journal scored with a high impact factor may be cited by others for quite some time, improving the potential for your renown and your ability to attract research funding. But never lose sight of that fact that selectivity among high impact factor journals may subject you to a high degree of anxiousness, questions from journal reviewers and editors and an assortment of helpful “suggestions. At least, that’s been my experience so far.
Low Impact Factor and Better Treatment
No one in the academic world, at least no one of respectable reputation, would ever say that an academic journal with a lower IF rating is any less valuable than one with a higher IF. There was also once a motto by a very large American car rental agency: “We’re number 2. We try harder.” Meaning they worked that much harder to attract customers, owing partly to their desire to escape second place and supplant the number 1 car rental agency. In certain instances, dealing with lower-IF academic journals when submitting a paper or article for publication is like experiencing the solicitude put forth by a competitor car rental agency trying to take over the number 1-rated spot. Lesser impact factor journals may work harder to attract quality articles and papers in order to improve their IF, and will work more collegially with authors and researchers, or at least promise to, in order to attract quality work.
They May be Lower Impact Factor for a Reason
Of course, there’s sometimes a good reason for why a particular academic journal may possess a lower impact factor rating than similar or peer journals out there. Perhaps a low-IF academic journal just isn’t interested in leaving its comfortable little niche, or in risking a carefully grown, though somewhat obscure, reputation by promoting its published articles outside of a select coterie of individuals? It happens.
I’ve also submitted papers and articles to both high impact factor journals and low-IF journals and experienced sometimes completely different treatment at the hands of a high- and then a low-IF journal. But I’ve also experienced superior treatment at a low-IF journal and, at best, studied disregard at a high-IF journal, and vice-versa. There sometimes seems to be no rhyme or reason to the academic journal article submission and publication system.