What are journal impact factors?

The impact factor (IF) of an academic journal is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in the journal. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field, with journals with higher impact factors deemed to be more important than those with lower ones.

Science 2012 Impact Factor 31.03

Nature 2012 impact factor 38.597

Since prestige refers to a person’s or in this case, an entity’s, perceived image or reputation, it’s highly subjective.

However, a concrete way of measuring these journals’ reputation might be looking at their impact factors. An academic journal’s impact factor reflects the average number of citations received by recently published articles in the journal.

In 2012 Science had an impact factor of 31.03 while Nature’s 2012 impact factor was 38.597.


Kathlyn Stone

Kathlyn Stone is a Twin Cities, Minnesota-based writer who has covered general news, and business, international trade, and health care news and policies for public and professional audiences.