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Recently we submited an abstract to a conference. For that conference, publishing a proceeding paper afterwards is optional. I prefer to publish our paper to a 'higher level' conference proceedings half year later or a higher IF journal. But my supervisor does not care about IF much, he told me when people read or evaluate the paper, they care about the research itself instead of where it was published.

I wonder if impact factor is a key consideration in choosing where to publish?

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    I assume you are a PhD student - as a post-doc, my advice is to start looking at what is required for your dream job. Examples: in artificial intelligence, R&D companies typically request candidates to have publications in high-ranking conferences like Neurips/ICPR/etc. To become a professor in my univ, you need journal publications - IEEE transactions are highly reputed (even if IF is low), MDPI are considered trash, IF and quartile are important as well. If you want to finish your PhD and go into industry as a senior, HR might prefer to see master's supervisions. It depends on your goals. Commented May 8 at 7:59
  • Honestly, unless the future conference is super-high-profile, like a Gordon Conference or some such, I wouldn't even consider holding off publication in a conf proceeding in favor of holding it for a future proceeding. This would be much more of an issue if the alternative to the proceeding were a peer reviewed article in a high-profile journal. Commented May 8 at 14:47

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But my supervisor does not care about IF much, he told me when people read or evaluate the paper, they care about the research itself instead of where it was published.

Most people don't care about impact factor

I would agree with your supervisor that most people do not care about impact factor. Read any government policy or news article citing a research paper and you'll find that all journals are generally cited with equal authority (sometimes even if they're not peer-reviewed). Industry hiring teams also don't generally care about (or even know about) impact factor.

Even many research papers don't make a distinction when citing other papers, choosing whatever research supports the story they want to tell.

Some potentially important people do care about impact factor

However, there are some people that care very much about impact factor. And those people are often in the position to heavily influence the trajectory of your academic career. (tenure-review committees, grant committees, hiring committees in academia, etc...)

The question you have to decide is whether you care much about impact factor. The answer to that depends upon your career goals.

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    I think industry hiring probably does not care about impact factor qua impact factor, but I'd expect many (e.g.,) biotech teams would be more impressed with a Nature paper vs. Frontiers, or ML teams to prefer someone with a NeurIPS track record vs. a small regional conference.
    – Matt
    Commented May 8 at 16:14
  • @Matt a definite possibility, though I think it would depend on the careers of the team members. The ML teams I've been on spent little to no time in academia outside of their undergrad / masters work, and had relatively little experience with publishing. More research-heavy teams likely have different experiences.
    – lfalin
    Commented May 8 at 16:23
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Impact factor IS important. But it is not the only thing that is important.

Cutting edge, novel research is more often than not published in higher IF journals. Though certainly, many good works, and even novel works are published in lower IF journals (but they are the anomily, not the norm otherwise those journal IFs would be higher). What is important to distinguish is why the higher IF journals have a higher IF and why the lower ones don't. You should aim your work at a journal that will reach your intended audience specifically, and also your related audience so that your work can have both specific and broader reach. Another factor is that IF reflects a two year cycle, whereas some areas of research require more than that to replicate experiments, thus leading to a slower adoption of the exciting work towards new publications... but there are other factors such as 5 year, etc...

For example, a journal that publishes on a broader scope topic (e.g. Nature, Science), is naturally going to have the broadest readership. Similarly, a journal that routinely publishes reviews and perspectives will have a higher IF because those articles are often cited with substantially higher frequency than research articles.

Specialized journals will have lower IF because they cater to a narrower audience. Similarly, specialized journals which publish no, or fewer reviews, will have an even lower IF. What you want to avoid is just low-ranked journals within that subtopic as that sends the message of overall lower quality of work (whether or not that may be true).

So for example, your Ph.D. in underwater basketweaving has produced an exciting manuscript and you have some options.

#1 Journal of the American Weaving Society (a prestigious high IF flagship journal covering weaving of all types of objects in all types of environments). If your findings are substantially exciting for your subfield, with general findings suitable for a broader audience, send it here!

#2 Basketweaving Letters (a specialized journal with good IF dealing only with basketweaving; a flagship journal for the basketweaving community) Probably a good place to submit because the right audience will read it (both aquatic and terrestrial basketweavers).

#3 Journal of Aquatic Crafts (a broad journal for all arts and crafts underwater, sometimes, but rarely they publish basketweaving, but the IF is high). May be suitable and seemingly prestigious, but less likely to reach your target audience, so in the end your work may not get the right exposure.

#4 Central European Journal of Underwater Basketweaving (a low-medium IF journal that is very specific and often publishes relevant but derivative works of underwater basketweaving) Maybe try to aim higher with your very exciting result so that it gets both broad, and specific community exposure and is reflective of the intended (or perceived) impact of the work.

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    "Cutting edge, novel research is more often than not published in higher IF journals." [Citation needed]
    – Anyon
    Commented May 8 at 15:59
  • @Anyon it is implicit by the fact that the works are on average highly cited, which leads to the higher IF. It is more difficult to publish "the 9th observation of something" in Science, than it is to publish "the first observation of something". It may well be that the 9th observation of said phenomena is done more rigorously, and the article itself is better written, but is it cutting edge? Does cutting edge work get published in lower IF journals. Of course it does, but it may well get ignored due to a restricted audience, and by the perception of lower importance.
    – R1NaNo
    Commented May 8 at 16:32
  • My, perhaps more cynical, take is that the high-impact-factor journals are excellent at what they do, which is to publish splashy results that attract citations within the 2-year window. I remain unconvinced, however, that they publish the majority of "cutting edge, novel research", in part because they are so selective, in part because some topics, especially theoretical ones, just don't attract citations quickly enough for their purposes.
    – Anyon
    Commented May 8 at 21:00
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People might not care about impact factor per se, but they might indeed care about the associated reputation of that impact factor.

In my field, some journals are known by name to be highly reputed journals in the field, with a lot of quality research regularly published in them. This comes with an associated high impact factor. This might benefit your career but not because people might recognize the impact factor but just the journal by name because of reputation.

Your supervisor is right in saying people care about the quality of research that they read. But I can say with certainty, that more often than not, their impression on what they read is influenced by where they read it.

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