If you are a seasoned researcher, you already know the answer to this question; however, if you are just starting out in the field of research, you might not understand the importance of things such as “impact factors” and other measures of a journal’s influence on those in your discipline. Here, we provide the information on the most influential journals of 2017.
The more a journal is referenced, the greater its reputation for being professionally sound and providing current research results. Given the plethora of articles published each year among the thousands of journals worldwide, an inordinate number of references to a small number of journals are certainly indicative of their impact on the research community. Measuring citations to a particular journal is one way to assess its influence. It should be noted that these metrics do not necessarily measure the quality of the published work; it is mainly a quantitative measure.
There are several indices to measure journal impact, such as the Journal Impact Factor, Immediacy Index, Eigenfactor, or H-Index; however, the most influential is the Journal Impact Factor. This metric appears to be used more often and is listed on the journal’s homepage.
The Impact Factor is calculated using simple math by dividing the number of citations by the number of articles; however, according to another article, journals are also evaluated using other measures. Good scores in these specific measures also help to build the journal’s impact. These include specific standards in the publishing industry, such as its peer-review protocols and the diversity among contributors and those on its board of directors. The journal must also build a certain level of readership loyalty by ensuring such things as consistency and credibility in its published works.
So, who assesses a journal’s impact?
Journal Citation Reports
Since 1973, Clarivate Analytics has assessed a journal’s influence by evaluating the statistical information on that journal (e.g., citation data and other metrics using the Web of Science citation index). Each year, Clarivate Analytics releases its Journal Citation Reports to provide information on the most powerful journals in the world. These journals are highly regarded as having the most valuable information in specific fields of study and the best Impact Factors. The Journal Citation Reports 2017 was released in June 2017 based on 2016 statistics and represents more than 11,400 journals, 81 countries, and 236 disciplines.
As an example of the type of results provided, the 2017 report identifies the top five research fields that are concerned with climate change. According to statistical information, the top journal across those fields and with the highest average Impact Factor percentile (99.734) was Nature Geoscience. Nature was followed by Nature Climate Change (99.427), Energy & Environmental Science (99.340), Trends in Ecology & Evolution (99.042), and Land Degradation & Development (98.719) as numbers two through five, respectively.
To a researcher involved with such a controversial subject or any scientific and academic research, having information on which journals have the most up-to-date information is extremely important. Whether they agree with the premise, the information is readily available to them.
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