Changes to Journal Impact Factor Announced for 2021

Read the full post at The Scholarly Kitchen.

Earlier this fall, Clarivate Analytics announced that it was moving toward a future that calculated the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) based on the date of electronic publication and not the date of print publication.

If your first reaction was “What took you so long!” you are not alone…

This discrepancy between how Clarivate treated traditional print versus online-only journals aroused skepticism among scientists, some of whom argued that long delays between print and online publication benefited the JIF scores of traditional journals over newer open access titles, and cynically suggested that editors may be purposefully extending their lag in an attempt to artificially raise their scores. Whether or not this argument has merit (their methods for counting valid citations are problematic), lag times create problems in the citation record, especially when a paper has been published online in one calendar year and print in another — for example, published online in December 2019 but appearing in the January 2020 print issue. In this case, one author may cite the paper as being published in 2019; another in 2020. Clarivate will keep both variations of the reference but link only the latter in its Web of Science (WoS) index. This is just one reason why it’s so difficult to calculate accurate Impact Factor scores from the WoS. By adopting a new electronic publication standard, Clarivate will help reduce ambiguity in the citation record. It will also make it easier and more transparent to calculate citation metrics. So, what took them so long?

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