On the Meaning of Numerical Value of Journal Impact Factor
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Journal Impact Factor (IF) created years ago as a device supporting the selection of source publications for Science Citation Index , has been later used to evaluate journals, scientists, and even scientific institutions. Being an object of a widespread criticism, it is, however, willingly used by some evaluators and money distributors. Although the impact factor is considered to be a measure of the journal influence, it is neither clearly stated what is the target of this influence, nor whether its value shows the degree or extent of this influence. The author tries to answer these questions analysing the selected data recorded in four annual files of Journal Citation Reports (2000-2003) and two editions: Science and Social Sciences. There are 6 pairs of journals taken into consideration representing the following subjects: immunology, chemistry, physics, economics, management, as well as information science & library science.Each pair consists of a journal having the highest IF whithin its subject category and a title receiving the highest total cites. Four individual ones are used to calculate Inter-journal Impact Factor values. Results of the analysis show that the numbers presented as impact factor of individual journals neither can measure their influence on the development of particular discipline, nor be a measure of their influence on other journals. The most influenced by these numbers seem, however, to be authors being under the pressure of evaluation and publishers under the pressure of profitability.
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