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Research Impact Toolkit: Media & Communication

Information, tools, and suggestions for documenting the significance of scholarly accomplishments in the field(s) of Media & Communication studies.

What is Journal Impact (Or, where am I publishing?)

scholarly building atop publicationThe impact factor is an indicator of journal quality.  A measure of the frequency with which the "average article" in a 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.  Try using the following sources.

Tools for Determining Journal Impact

Tutorial vectorView this tutorial on determining impact factors of journals in Journal Citation Reports for additional information.

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.).

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.

Journal Ranking Sites on the Web

Some content courtesy of Susan Ariew, Academic Services Librarian for Education at University of South Florida Library, and her Library and Information Resources Related to Promotion and Tenure guide.

Use of Journal Impact Factor in the Social Sciences