Pt. 1: 18 Ways to Increase your Journal Impact Factor

This is part one, of a series focused on how to increase your journal impact factor. Part two will focus on marketing strategies and tactics you can use to increase your journal impact factor. To be notified, at release time, of the series parts sign up below.


What is a Journal impact factor?

A Journal Impact Factor is a measure of the yearly citation rate of articles published in a journal. It demonstrates the relative importance of a journal in a given field. Nature had a JIF of 40 in 2016, which means on average, Nature was cited 40 times for every new article published New journals receive their first impact score two years after the first publication, it is important to plan a strategy to elevate your JIF. 

Are impact factors good indicators of scientific quality?

Not for individual articles, but they are indicators of the quality of the overall publication in terms of how often its articles are cited. Impact factors are generally accepted as an indicator of the journal’s standing.

The importance of journal impact factors for professionals

Journal impact factors remain an important metric and are used during many procedures, for instance for the selection of well-fitted candidates for Ph.D. positions, academic grants, promotions and the establishment of scientific collaborations. Therefore, researchers are adapting their publication strategy, in order to establish higher chances to promote their careers.

If you have a low impact factor, what can you do?

A Journal Impact Factor often affects readers’ and contributors’ awareness of its publications. The traditional approach to improving your impact factors is, of course, publishing quality publications. But there are other simple ways to increase your journal impact factor.

Three venues to approach to increase your journal impact score: submission, editorial, and reader. Focusing on these areas will help the foundation of your publication’s strategy. 

On the submission side

Make the submission process streamlined for authors.

A straightforward review experience will encourage authors to submit their work. A few ways to simplify the process include allowing multiple file formats, detailed instructions on formatting, quick, meaningful initial feedback, clear communication and thorough editors.

Demonstrate how your impact factor will rise. If your journal is relatively new, authors are likely to be wary of submitting to your publication. However, if your editorial board members or publisher are well known and publicized, the author may be more likely to submit their work.

Publish Position Papers which define the standards in the field.

Position Papers are a helpful resource for scientists to improve the practices and assessment of their work. Additionally, Position papers have the potential to become standard references, and therefore receive a good number of citations themselves.

Publish Methods Paper.

After review papers, methods paper are the one, which potentially receives a high citation number, as professionals who are using the scientific method are obligated to cite it. Therefore, methods paper have a high impact on the journals impact factor.

Publish more review articles. Comprehensive review articles attract a high number of readers and citations. Active recruitment of review articles may be required, but in many cases, review articles are more heavily cited than the original articles.

Eliminate or limit fees.

Fees are often the deciding factor in submitting to lesser known publications.  Consider lowering or eliminating your fees to encourage submissions.

Choose special issue topics wisely.

While special issue topics might make quite an impression, sometimes they are so specialized that they do not attract the needed interest. Always make sure that special issue topics are broad enough to be wide of interest.

Keep a good balance.

Balance the need to drive metrics with the needs of the reader’s community. Especially case reports tend to receive a low number of citations, however, they can help you to attract and keep your followers community.

On the editorial side

Improve impact through revision feedback.

Offering poignant, targeted feedback designed to increase the paper’s impact will not only improve the authors’ arguments but increase the overall publication’s impact.

Consider potential citation rate.

Think about types of papers that might attract more citations (e.g., reviews, special issues, etc.) and use this citation potential as a criterion for acceptance.

Choose to publish quality over quantity.

A journal requires a certain number of publications per year in order to receive an impact factor. However, higher quality publications will receive more citations. And your impact factor is a ratio of citations to publications.

Invite contributions from prominent scientists.

Articles and guest-editing from widely-respected scientists will drive traffic to your publication. Actively pursuing scientists in your niche will have a better outcome than waiting for them to submit to your publication.  

Manage the editorial team.

If you are using the services of guest editors, who are responsible for the review and acceptance of papers, it is advisable to pair them up with one of the regular editors who are familiar with the established standards

Avoid unethical methods.

There are a lot of unethical methods, which will potentially increase the impact factor, but in the long run, can ruin the reputation of the journal. Publishers need to be aware of those techniques and avoid them as if discovered, it will lead to a negative impact on your impact score.

  1. Asking editors or authors to cite journal publications in their own work, regardless of relevance.
  2. Collaborate with other journals or journal editors to cite each other’s work.

On the reader side

Make articles free and open access.

Readers want to be able to readily find the information for which they are searching. If that information is behind a paywall, they are less likely to pursue it. Make some of your articles free or easily accessible.

Find a niche.

Specializing in a topic within a field will allow you to build prominence in a single area, rather than competing with the established more wide-reaching publications. You should be the go-to resource when readers search for your topic. However, the concentration lies on the publishing of papers across subfields, which will enable a broad specialized interest group.

Make articles easier to find.

Borrow the methods applied to the improvement of search rankings on Google, Amazon, and other online marketplaces. Apply these methods to your content as well as to the search engines used to find your material. Make sure your articles are easily found and are made to be searched by these methods.

Provide articles in different formats.

Besides scientific literature search engines like PubMed, Google remains one of the most popular search engines. It is possible to increase visibility in Google by providing open access to the articles in different formats, like HTML, PDF, and XML.

At the end of the day, be fast

Journals have a notorious reputation for taking a long amount of time. Make sure your entire process is streamlined from submission to publication. This will encourage authors to submit, editors to participate, and readers to engage regularly.

With the implementation of the above tips, tricks, and hints, you should see a measurable increase in your journal impact factor and establish a valuable reputation amongst your user base.

The next part in the Ways to Increase your Journal’s Impact Factor series will focus on additional in-depth marketing strategies and tactics you can deploy to impact your audience reach. Stay tuned by signing up below. 



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