Writing a journal article

Should I care about impact factors?

If you find your work worthwhile, you will have an inherent interest that many people read it. This means you need to place your paper in the right journal (e.g. matching the topic with what else is in the journal), and preferably in a widely read journal. The impact factor of a journal is a measure of how widely cited recent articles from the particular journal are. In this sense, it does matter. In addition, a high impact factor publication will look better on your CV than a low impact one.

Although the impact factor matters, the most important thing is that you publish in a journal that is highly visible to your target audience. A certain journal might have a slightly lower impact factor than another one, but if it is still among the ‘standard leading journals’ in your field, it’s not worthwhile worrying too much about the impact factor.

Ideally, think of the impact factor as a means – to measure if a journal is widely read. Publishing in a good journal, by contrast, is the ultimate objective. The impact factor will help you make an informed decision where to submit your paper, but it should not be the only criterion.

Also see other entries under THE PROCESS OF PUBLISHING.

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