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Quality impact factor (QIF) of an academic journal is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in that journal. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field, with journals with higher impact factors deemed to be more important than those with lower ones. The Concept of impact factor was first devised by Eugene Garfield, the founder of the Institute for Scientific Information. We use same calculation which was developed by Thomas Reuter.

Calculation

In any given year, the impact factor of a journal is the average number of citations received per paper published in that journal during the two preceding years. For example, if a journal has an impact factor of 3 in 2008, then its papers published in 2006 and 2007 received 3 citations each on average in 2008. The 2008 impact factor of a journal would be calculated as follows:

2008 impact factor = A/B.

where:

A = the number of times that all items published in that journal in 2006 and 2007 were cited by indexed publications during 2008.

B = the total number of "citable items" published by that journal in 2006 and 2007. ("Citable items" for this calculation are usually articles, reviews, proceedings, or notes; not editorials or letters to the editor).

(Note that 2008 impact factors are actually published in 2009; they cannot be calculated until all of the 2008 publications have been processed by the indexing agency.)

New journals, which are indexed from their first published issue, will receive an impact factor after two years of indexing; in this case, the citations to the year prior to Volume 1, and the number of articles published in the year prior to Volume 1 are known zero values. Journals that are indexed starting with a volume other than the first volume will not get an impact factor until they have been indexed for three years. Annuals and other irregular publications sometimes publish no items in a particular year, affecting the count.

Criticism about Thomas Reuter's Impact Factor :

Numerous criticisms have been made of the use of an impact factor. For one thing, the impact factor might not be consistently reproduced in an independent audit.[5] There is a more general debate on the validity of the impact factor as a measure of journal importance and the effect of policies that editors may adopt to boost their impact factor (perhaps to the detriment of readers and writers). In short, there is some controversy about the appropriate use of impact factors

Editorial Policies :

A journal can adopt editorial policies to increase its impact factor. For example, journals may publish a larger percentage of review articles which generally are cited more than research reports. Thus review articles can raise the impact factor of the journal and review journals will therefore often have the highest impact factors in their respective fields. Some journal editors set their submissions policy to "by invitation only" to invite exclusively senior scientists to publish "citable" papers to increase the journal impact factor Journals may also attempt to limit the number of "citable items"—i.e., the denominator of the impact factor equation—either by declining to publish articles (such as case reports in medical journals) that are unlikely to be cited or by altering articles (by not allowing an abstract or bibliography) in hopes that Thomson Scientific will not deem it a "citable item". As a result of negotiations over whether items are "citable", impact factor variations of more than 300% have been observed.  Interestingly, items considered to be uncitable—and thus are not incorporated in impact factor calculations—can, if cited, still enter into the numerator part of the equation despite the ease with which such citations could be excluded. This effect is hard to evaluate, for the distinction between editorial comment and short original articles is not always obvious. For example, letters to the editor may refer to either class. Another less insidious tactic journals employ is to publish a large portion of its papers, or at least the papers expected to be highly cited, early in the calendar year. This gives those papers more time to gather citations. Several methods, not necessarily with nefarious intent, exist for a journal to cite articles in the same journal which will increase the journal's impact factor. Beyond editorial policies that may skew the impact factor, journals can take overt steps to game the system. For example, in 2007, the specialist journal Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica, with an impact factor of 0.66, published an editorial that cited all its articles from 2005 to 2006 in a protest against the "absurd scientific situation in some countries" related to use of the impact factor. Coercive citation is a practice in which an editor forces an author to add spurious self-citations to an article before the journal will agree to publish it in order to inflate the journal's impact factor. A survey published in 2012 indicates that coercive citation has been experienced by one in five researchers working in economics, sociology, psychology, and multiple business disciplines, and it is more common in business and in journals with a lower impact factor. However, cases of coercive citation have occasionally been reported for other scientific disciplines

Responses :

Because "the impact factor is not always a reliable instrument", in November 2007 the European Association of Science Editors (EASE) issued an official statement recommending "that journal impact factors are used only—and cautiously—for measuring and comparing the influence of entire journals, but not for the assessment of single papers, and certainly not for the assessment of researchers or research programmes". In July 2008, the International Council for Science (ICSU) Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the Conduct of Science (CFRS) issued a "statement on publication practices and indices and the role of peer review in research assessment", suggesting many possible solutions—e.g., considering a limit number of publications per year to be taken into consideration for each scientist, or even penalising scientists for an excessive number of publications per year—e.g., more than 20. In February 2010, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) published new guidelines to evaluate only articles and no bibliometric information on candidates to be evaluated in all decisions concerning "performance-based funding allocations, postdoctoral qualifications, appointments, or reviewing funding proposals, [where] increasing importance has been given to numerical indicators such as the h-index and the impact factor".This decision follows similar ones of the National Science Foundation (US) and the Research Assessment Exercise (UK). In response to growing concerns over the inappropriate use of journal impact factors in evaluating scientific outputs and scientists themselves, the American Society for Cell Biology together with a group of editors and publishers of scholarly journals created the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). Released in May of 2013, DORA has garnered support from thousands of individuals and hundreds of institutions who have endorsed the document on the DORA website.