The University of Tampa Macdonald-Kelce Library

Journal Analysis

This guide reviews Web of Science, Ulrichsweb Global Serial Directory and Cabell's Directory.

Understanding A Journal's Impact

Understanding a journal's impact can help researchers find the best journals to place their work. It can also help direct students and faculty to the top journals in their field for research.

Journal rankings and impact factors are quantitative measures for journal evaluation, within its field or discipline. Interdisciplinary journals may have rankings in more than one field.

In general, the number of citations within a certain time period drive a journal’s impact factor, conferring an importance to the research published within. But it’s important to remember that although it might seem as if some of the methods of evaluation are an exact science, recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of each tool gives a broader view of a particular journal and its performance.

Keep in mind:

  • Impact factors vary greatly among different disciplines
  • Impact factors measure journals, not articles, and do not necessarily reflect the quality of any given article
  • Controversial, questionable, or even retracted articles can be heavily cited
  • Colleagues and scholars might cite themselves and each other to increase visibility
  • Review articles and editorials can sometimes be heavily cited (as opposed to original research)
  • It takes time to build an impact factor: new journals will not have high citation rates, no matter the quality
  • Very subject specific journals may not have high impact factors, even if they are well respected within their narrow field
  • Sometimes journals and articles of quality are not recognized on the scale that they deserve
  • Trust yourself, your colleagues, a respected mentor, professor, etc. in making decisions about whether or not to use an article in your research, or submit your work to a journal
  • And you can always ask a librarian for help!

Citation Impact

Citation impact quantifies the citation usage of scholarly works.[1][2][3][4][5] It is a result of citation analysis or bibliometrics. Among the measures that have emerged from citation analysis are the citation counts for an individual article, an author, and an academic journal (from Wikipedia).


In scholarly and scientific publishing, altmetrics are non-traditional metrics[2] proposed as an alternative[3] to more traditional citation impact metrics, such as impact factor and h-index.[4] The term altmetrics was proposed in 2010,[1] as a generalization of article level metrics,[5] and has its roots in the #altmetrics hashtag (from Wikipedia).

Predatory Publishing

A predatory publisher exploits the academic need to "publish or perish" with excessive costs, false or misleading claims about quality, and little regard for scholarship. 

  • Their primary goal is to make money.
  • They do not care about academic quality or peer review.
  • Often misrepresent the impact factor, the review process, and indexing.
  • The author's works are less used/cited due to a lack of scholarly acceptance and indexing.

For more information see our Guide on Predatory Publishers.

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