My advisor asked me to publish in an SCI-indexed journal with better impact factor (say more than 1). I found a journal with impact factor as 1.2. But the journal says that its present impact factor is based on 2015 journal citation report (JCR). It does not mention anything the year 2016. I couldn't find their name listed in 2016 report too. But I found a journal with impact factor .4 in 2016 report. My questions are

  1. Is the Impact factor valid only for a year?
  2. If I publish my work in a journal that says having an impact factor (in the year 2015), can I claim it when I publish in 2017?

3 Answers 3


Some theoretical background regarding the impact factor:

The impact factor released in the summer of year X ist the impact factor X-1 which means, it takes into account all references of the papers published in year X-1 citing papers published in the years X-2 and X-3.

Currently, in spring 2017, the latest impact factor was released in summer 2016 and it's the impact factor 2015. It has analyzed all references of the papers published in year 2015 citing papers published in the years 2014 and 2013.

To make a long story short, the current impact factor of a journal says nothing about the current journal and especially nothing about one single article recently published in this journal.


Before answering the question directly as asked, I would like to add few personal comments:

  1. This has been a growing culture for Ph.D. research in many developing countries including India to focus on Impact Factor of a journal before submitting the work.

  2. However, although it makes sense to say about your publication by quantifying the quality of the journal based on so-called "SCI Impact Factor", it is not wise at all.

  3. The Impact Factor is an evaluated value of a function that takes into account all publications till that year under that journal. So, Impact Factor alone is misleading to say that "I have published my work in Journal of X which has an impact factor of 5.095"

Now coming to your questions:

Impact factor is valid only for a year

Yes. Unless the computation results in the same value for the following years.

If I publish in a journal which says having an impact factor (2015), can I claim it when I publish in 2017?

No. Actually, you can not claim anything based on this impact factor. If I were to ask you about it, I would ask you this question: "Did your paper contributed anything to the 2015 impact factor?" If your answer is "NO". You can not claim it.

People may disagree with my answer. My answer is based on my personal understanding in the field of CS and Applied CS.


Since impact factors change from year to year, you typically report the impact factor during the year that the paper was published, when referencing your own article from that journal. Past impact factors often indicate what the future impact factor will be, but is not a guarantee. So, (if impact factor is important) you should base your decision on the last known impact factor.

Also remember (for the future - your advisor suggested a higher impact factor and I'm guessing he or she is a co-author?) that there are great journals without impact factors, but they are specialized to a specific segment of a field. So, publishing in such journals will increase the visibility of your paper with your target audience and may be a high quality journal, but the topic is very specific and the impact factor of the journal will most likely not increase.

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