Journal with impact factor

A journal with impact factor is a journal that was included in a certain bibliographical data base (Science Citation Index) some years ago on the basis of a combination of coincidences, and since then has been considered to be more prestigious than some possibly better non-impacted journals. Each year, the database operators calculate an impact factor for particular journals included in this database; this is the average number of references to one article in journals included in the database within the first two years after the publication of the article. Half of the journals had an impact factor of less than 1 in 2004; however, there were about 10 journals with an impact factor of greater than 30. The higher the impact factor of the journal, the better the articles published in it are considered to be when evaluating the performance of a scientific worker or scientific institution. Simultaneously, a substantial number of evaluators (and evaluated persons) apparently do not realize that the order of the journals would be completely different if the impact factors were calculated from the number of references, not within two years, but within four or even ten or fifty years after the publication of the relevant articles and that it is frequently not possible to statistically demonstrate a connection between the impact factor of a journal and the number of references to the individual articles published in it. (This apparent paradox is caused by the fact that the differences in average citation are mainly caused by differences in the probability of the occurrence of a few highly cited articles; most articles that are published in any journal are cited to roughly the same degree. To be more specific, 20% of biochemical or molecular biological works are apparently not cited even once even five years after publication, approximately 75% of articles in the social sciences are not cited and 95% of articles in the humanities, where there is a tendency to write and refer to books, are never cited. The main contribution of the existence of a database of impacted journals thus does not consist in its usefulness for evaluation of the quality and quantity of scientific work, but in the fact that it reduces to a certain degree the scope for establishing an increasing number of scientific journals and thus permits concentration of the sources of scientific information in the already existing journals. After a certain period of time, a new journal can be included in the database of impacted journals; but its articles must be sufficiently cited beforehand. And who would send his good article to an “unimpacted journal”?

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