Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recurring Reference Questions: What is a Journal's Impact Factor, and How Can I Find It?

An Impact Factor (IF) provides a quantitative assessment of a journal's influence or impact. Thomson Scientific (now Thomson Reuters Scientific) offers the Impact Factor via Journal Citation Reports (JCR). According to Thomson Reuters, the Journal Impact Factor is the frequency with which the “average article” in a journal has been cited in a particular year. A journal’s Impact Factor is determined by dividing the number of citations in the JCR year by the total number of articles published in the two previous years. A Journal Impact Factor of 4.0 means that, on average, the articles published in that journal within the past three years have been cited four times. There must be at least two years of data in order to calculate the Impact Factor.

Using Impact Factors (IF) Wisely:

As Thomson Reuters indicates on their Information About page, one should not depend entirely on JCR data to evaluate a journal because:

  • IF only includes journals indexed by Thomson Reuters Scientific (ISI).

  • IF does not evaluate individual researchers.

  • Journals can only be compared within the same discipline. Citation results vary widely across disciplines.

  • The number of articles found in journals include both research and review articles. "Citation counts in JCR do not distinguish between citations to letters, reviews, or original research articles, even though only original research and review articles are used in IF calculations."

  • Title changes or changes in format of a journal affects the IF.

  • Some Additional Methods for Constructing Impact Factors:

    Google Scholar - From the Advanced Search screen, enter author and title information to obtain cited references. Publish or Perish may be used to track an author's impact using Google Scholar.

    eigenfactor.org - Ranking and Mapping Scientific Journals

    Journal Ranking - Center for Journal Ranking (CJR)

    To Find Journal Citation Reports:

    Go to the Mildred F. Sawyer's home page, and select "Databases by Subject." Choose "Business and Management" or "Social Sciences" and click on Journal Citation Reports in the list.

    To Utilyze JCR:

  • From the opening screen, select an option.

  • View journals by Subject, Publisher, Country/Territory. The default option is subject categorySearch for a specific journal.

  • Search for a specific title.

  • View all journals in the JCR edition and year you selected. (The Sawyer Library has the Social Sciences edition from 1998 forward).

    For example, if searching by Subject Category, select the subject from the second screen, and choose data sorted by journal title, total cites, impact factor, or other options provided from the drop-down menu. Use the Information for New Users button for more detailed information and instructions.

    [FIND Journal Citation Reports in our "Databases by Subject" Lists for Business and Management and for Social Sciences]

    • Wednesday, November 5, 2008

      Notable Ebook - Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture

      We are happy to offer a new edition of a valuable 6 volume encyclopedia, via our easy-to-use electronic reference platform, Gale Virtual Reference Library. The set is the Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture (2008). This new edition adds nearly 600 entirely new topics over the award-winning first edition of 1996. It also replaces some 150 obsolete entries and provides substantial revisions to hundreds more. According to the publisher, Scribner's/Gale, Every one of the 5,700+ entries "has been reviewed for currency of content and bibliography. An entirely new illustration program features over 100 full-color photographs in addition to hundreds in black-and-white. National statistics have been conveniently tabulated for every one of Latin America's 37 countries. New content addresses research on prehistoric environments and cultures, U.S. Haitian interventions, the consequences of NAFTA and increased Mexican immigration, the troubled aftermaths of Pinochet's Chile and Fujimori's Peru, truth and reconciliation commissions, and the still-contested legacy of the Mexico City massacre of 1968. New leaders like Brazil's Lula da Silva and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez are profiled along with hundreds of other rising figures in politics, letters, and the arts. Newly commissioned master essays synthesize current knowledge on such major regional themes as Democracy in the Americas, Hemispheric Affairs, and the Hispanic Impact on the U.S."

      Because the resource is cultural, too, you will find entries on film and festivals (like Carnival), and author profile entries (like the one on Jamaica Kincaid), in addition to the many on more social science and history-related topics like indigenous peoples, public health, and U.S. policies towards Latin America, like the "Big Stick Policy."

      If you go directly to the page for the Encyclopedia, simply look for the yellow search box to the left of the page and enter the topic you are hoping to find. Then click the box below to search specifically "within this publication." And because the search delves into fulltext, if I search "samba," I get not only entries on Samba, and Samba Schools, but also related articles on Popular Music and Dance and on great Samba artists like Sinhô and Clara Nunes.

      And remember, if I don't click that "within this publication" box on the opening screen, GVRL will actually check all of its other collections for my topic. In the case of "Samba," I get a variety of entries, including several from Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, as well.

      We hope you find this new encyclopedia useful. And the great thing about eReference is that it is not only easy to search, but also available 24/7 to any current Suffolk student or faculty with an internet connection.

      [FIND the Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture by searching the title in our Online Catalog, or through the Gale Virtual Reference Library link in Databases by Subject, E-Books category.]