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    Figure 2. Two- (A) and five-year (B) impact factors from the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) from 2017 to 2021 from Clarivate. JASA, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.
James H. Miller (JHM): What is your view of impact factor and other measures of journal effectiveness, and what is The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA) doing to increase its effectiveness in the competi- tive publications environment that exists today?
James F. Lynch (JFL): The first thing people ask when they learn that I’m editor of a journal is, “What’s its impact factor (IF)?”
Whether they’re right or wrong, a large number of people believe that the IF is the primary metric by which a jour- nal should be judged. And although that is frustrating to most journal editors, it is an opinion that should be critically examined. So, let’s do so.
The calculation of a two-year IF for a journal is simple. It is the total number of citations in a particular year “to items published in the previous two years, divided by the total number of scholarly items (these comprise articles, reviews, and proceedings papers) published in the jour- nal in the previous two years” (Clarivate, 2020). Citations can be self-citations from the journal or “from different journals, proceedings, or books indexed in Web of Sci- ence” (Clarivate, 2020).
The IF shows that the journal’s papers are being read and cited by the active research community. This is impor- tant to universities and research laboratories; when you’re hiring or promoting faculty or research staff, you want these people to be in active, fundable, and visible areas.
The two-year IF is more prominent than the five-year IF because it better matches the shorter time scales of cutting-edge research (see JASA’s two-year IF in Figure 2A). The five-year IF measures more leisurely, but still academically impactful, research (see Figure 2B).
One “merit” of the IF is that it provides a simple tool for evaluating the academic record of people outside your own expertise. The dangers of using such an over- simplification, both of journal quality and of a person’s professional worth, are obvious, but this doesn’t stop people from employing this approach.
Now, let’s turn to some of the “downsides” of the IF.
The biggest downside, from a journal’s point of view, is taking the IF as the only metric of journal quality. Indeed, some institutions forbid their faculty or employees from publishing in journals with a low IF, which hurts both the journals (as a negative feedback loop) and the people who feel that they’d prefer publishing in them.
JHM: Because of the downsides of the IF, are other lesser known metrics in use?
JFL: In fact, a major point to make is that the IF is just one metric out of many! Let’s look at other metrics and believe me there are multitudes! We’ll only discuss a few.
Let’s start with a metric that is actually an “IF on ste- roids,” which is the Immediacy Index. This “ the
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