SOWK 546: The Science of Social Work: Understanding Journal Impact Factors

Research guide for students in the course SOWK 546. Introduction to the role of scientific inquiry in advancing social work goals.

Journal Impact Factors

What is an impact factor? 

Impact factor is a measure of the frequency that the average article in a journal is cited in a certain year. You can find the impact factors of journals in the Journal Citation Reports database. An example of an impact factor is below:


For more detailed instructions and information on impact factors, please view this page: http://libguides.usc.edu/socialwork/impact

Also check out Evaluating Information Sources, for more information about impact metrics and citation counts. 

How do you find a journal impact factor?

The impact factor of a particular journal can be found in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) database. Follow the instructions below to find the Journal Citation Reports database.

  1. Go to the USC Libraries website: https://libraries.usc.edu/
  2. Under FIND, select databases
  3. Search for the database Journal Citation Reports 
  4. Select Journal Citation Reports (Web of Science) from the results

screenshot of library website drop down menu under the menu option FIND

Select Journal Citation Reports (Web of Science) from the results. Login with your USC netid and password. 


Once in the database:

Enter the name of the journal in the search box and click the search icon OR browse journals.

Select the journal title from the Master search results to access the citation report.

On the report, you can view the current year’s impact factor under Journal Impact Factor Trend.

If you would like to see previous impact factors, select “All years” to view a list of key indicators. The journal impact factor is located in the 3rd column.