Social Work *: What are journal impact factors?

Library resources for the social work profession.

What is a Journal Impact Factor?

What is a journal impact factor? 

Journal impact factors measure the importance of a particular journal in a field and take into account the number of articles published per year and the number of citations to articles published in that journal. The impact factor is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year. Impact factor is used for journals only.


Find Journal Impact Factors (JIF)

Use the options below to find journal impact factors:

  • Use the Journal Citation Reports database. Follow the instructions on this guide
  • OR search for the journal by doing a Google search
    • Go to
    • Enter the title of your journal. For example: Social Work Research
    • The first result should be the website for that journal. One the homepage, try to find the impact factor. 
  • **Not all journal websites will list the journal impact factor. This is just one option. 

How is the impact factor calculated?

Impact factor = # of citations to all items published in that journal in the past two years
(divided by)
# of articles and reviews published over those past two years referencing those citations

For example, if a journal has an impact factor of 1.0, this means in the indexed year each article published was cited on average 1 time in the previous two years in that journal.