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Maximize Your Research Impact

Easy as 1-2-3:

Step 1: Identify the right journal

First, think about which journal has the appropriate scope and audience of researchers interested in your research. The more your research is read; the more it will be used and cited by others.  Journal home pages and more experienced colleagues can provide guidance.

Second, identify which journals publish research similar to yours.

One can do a keyword search related to your topic in many databases such as Web of Science, Compendex, and EBSCO databases such as EconLit. The results are automatically ranked by journal title, usually in a column beside the results.  Contact the subject specialist librarian for your department if you have any search questions.

Third, evaluate the journal impact factor which tells you how often the average article published within the last two years has been cited. The journal impact factor and many other journal-level citation metrics can be found by searching Journal Citation Reports, which uses Web of Science citation data.

Several things should be kept in mind regarding the journal impact factor (JIF):

  • It is a general indication of the impact of the journal, not a measurement of the quality or impact of any specific article.
  • JIFs cannot be directly compared across disciplines or subfields because citation cultures and patterns differ widely across research areas.  When journals within a subject category are sorted by JIF, their rank is an important consideration.
  • The goal should be to reach researchers who will actually read and use your research, not necessarily to publish in the highest impact factor journal within your general discipline. You may get excellent exposure in a more focused, specialty journal, one that might be more affordable to your readers.

What if a journal is not listed in the Journal Citations Reports.

Although only Journal Citation Reports (JCR) provides the official Journal Impact Factor, other web sites provide similar metrics using web-based citation data:

  • - Mostly uses data from JCR to rank journals in much the same manner as Google ranks websites. Metrics are provided for a few titles not in JCR.
  • Scimago Journal Rank - A citation weighting scheme using Scopus (Elsevier) data.  It provides data for a number of journals not in JCR.
  • Google Scholar Metrics for Publications – One can browse the top 100 journals by language and search individual journals, but there are no rankings by disciplines.  The site reports the h5-index for titles.

Fourth, consider journal affordability. Check the subscription price, especially for institutions and the number of libraries maintaining current subscriptions using WorldCat, a master catalog of North American library holdings.

Do you really want to publish in a journal that most readers cannot afford to read? Your research can’t have high impact if it’s not readily available. lists a number of affordability metrics including cost per article and cost per citation.

Fifth, find out if there are good peer reviewed open access journals in your field using the Directory of Open Access Journals. There may be an article processing fee, but your work can be freely read by any researcher in the world.

Many studies have indicated that open access articles are downloaded twice as frequently and cited anywhere from 10% to over 100% more than equivalent articles published in subscription journals where your article is locked behind a pay wall. More details at our library’s Open Access Publishing site.

Step 2: Increase the visibility/discoverability of your scholarship

  • Reserve your right to post an open access (OA) preprint, final manuscript, or published version of your article.
  • By posting (archiving) an OA copy to an institutional/disciplinary repository, researchers without access to a subscription can find and read your work since OA repository documents are indexed by search engines such as Google Scholar and OAIster. Most publishers allow OA archiving, but read the author agreement before you sign it to know what rights you retain.

    SHERPA/ROMEO provides a concise summary of the archiving permissions retained by authors in each publisher's author agreement. It is searchable by journal title and publisher. For more information, visit the Archiving Your Scholarship and the Protect Your Copyright  (author rights) sections of our web site.

  • Be sure to use your full name and standard institutional name/address to assure easily identifiable citations to your work.
  • Pay special attention to writing a descriptive title and an informative abstract.

Step 3: Track citation-based metrics for your articles

There are many tools that track citations to your work and calculate standard metrics for tenure/promotion dossiers and other career purposes. Resources include personal profiles, subscription databases, and free web services. For example:

Personal Profiles

  • ORCID – a new, broadly supported researcher profile that creates a unique author identification number. By creating an authoritative publication list associated with your id number, you can minimize confusion with other researchers with similar names.
  • ResearcherID – an older id system associated with the Web of Science (WOS). Your ORCID and ResearcherID profiles can easily be linked. Citation counts for publications in ResearchID are automatically updated from WOS.

Subscription Databases (UB)

  • Web of Science – the premier citation database covering journal articles from all disciplines, including social sciences and humanities, despite its name.
  • SciFinder – a broadly based science database focusing on chemistry, life, environmental, materials sciences, and physics. Citations since 1996 are recorded. There is no citation report feature.  

Free Web

  • Harzing’s Publish or Perish - By far, the best free web tool that uses Google Scholar data to calculate many citation metrics. Citations to and from all forms of scholarly material are captured, including articles, conference papers, book chapters (especially important to the Humanities and Social Science disciplines), patents, and technical report. Hence, metrics may be higher than Web of Science. Downloads for Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.
  • Google Scholar My Citations – Only tracks your own publications.

It is important to identify the best citation resources for your field. Getting an accurate, complete citation count is a complex process requiring in-depth knowledge of the underlying database. Please contact your departmental library liaison to discuss your specific needs.