Answered By: Laurissa Gann
Last Updated: Dec 14, 2016     Views: 156271

The higher the impact factor, the more highly ranked the journal is; however, opinions vary widely as to what constitutes a "good" impact factor.  Although there is no one "right" answer to this question, the chart below offers some context, in terms of how many journals achieve the various ranking levels.

In 2012, the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) database assigned impact factors to 8,411 journals.  The table below shows the number and percentage of journals that were assigned impact factors ranging from 1 up to 30, for both one-year and five-year periods.  As shown, only 21 journal titles, or 0.2% of the journals tracked by JCR, have a 2012 one-year impact factor of 30.  Only 158 journals have a 2012 one-year impact factor equal to or greater than 10, which is the top 1.9% of journals with impact factors.  8,217 journals have a 2012 impact factor below 10.

Search the JCR database for impact factors.  Results in the JCR database can be sorted in various ways, including by impact factor and other measurements.

Comments (6)

  1. Thank you for this explanation. It is very helpful. I had no idea how the IF score was distributed among the journals, even though I've been writing in them for years.
    by Monika Wahi on Jun 22, 2013.
  2. Thanks for the chart. It is highly comprehensive and helpful for beginners like me.
    by Soma Sinha Roy on Dec 02, 2013.
  3. Eh...the number of journals in the 1 year column add up to 12,539.
    The number of journals in column 2 add up to 13,130.
    The number of total journals cited in the paragraph above is 8,411.
    This oversight makes the rest of the data here suspicious. Too could be interesting if corrected/validated.

    ... Response from the MD Anderson Librarian...
    In reference to the comment by Eric on Aug 4, 2016, the number of journals tracked in the JCR database from 2012 are 8411. The total for each row of journals by impact factor is 8411 (1yr + Rem) for both the 1-year or 5-year impact factor.

    You should not add each column as the numbers are cumulative.

    For example, the row of journals with a 2012 impact factor of 1, includes all the journals of impact factor 1 or more which is 5140 journals. There are 3271 journals with an impact factor of less than one, for a total of 8411 journal tracked in JCR for that year.
    by Eric on Aug 04, 2016.
  4. Another way of describing this table is a discrete CDF - or a discrete Cumulative distribution function (the reason the values of the column grow). In statistics, a CDF yields a graphical representation of fairness. Basically, you can tell how fair a process is by the curvature of the continuous CDF. See Lorenz curve problems or unfair coin toss problems to see why.
    by Analee Miranda on Feb 09, 2017.
  5. I was wondering if anybody here knows what the peer consensus paper review format/framework would be for a NIR spectroscopy review paper. I am unsure where this information can be found. I know for an electrical engineering paper the framework used is the IEEE.
    I was told to check out the impact factor of some papers but am not sure what constitutes a good impact factor.
    by Paul Crimmins on Mar 27, 2017.
  6. In 2016, the NEJM says their impact factor is 59. Is this possible? Do journals have IF that are greater than 30 today?

    ... Response from the MD Anderson Librarian...

    Yes, the NEJM has a 2015 impact factor of 59.558. There are 25 journals tracked by Journal Citation Reports that have an impact factor of 30 or higher.
    by Yvette Schlussel on May 22, 2017.

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