Impact Factors: Some getting started information

While conducting scholarly research you’ve probably seen mentions of ‘impact factors’. We’ll use today’s post to provide a little more information and to link you out to some great resources to learn more.

Generally speaking, impact factors are measures (using varying metrics but often citation counts) that suggest the ‘importance’ or ‘significance’ of either an author, article, or journal. Various stakeholders like to use these impact factors as proof that either their work or their journal or their institution, etc. is valuable to the research community.

There are many types of impact factors and each is calculated differently. There are measures for authors which use formulas based on how many articles they’ve published and how many times each of those articles have been cited. There are other measures for journals which might look at how often a typical article in that publication is cited each year, and so on.

A couple common author-level impact measures include:

  • H-Index: An author-level metric used to calculate an individual scholar’s research impact.  Check out this guide from Boston College to learn more.
  • Altmetric: As described on the Altmetric website, “Altmetrics are metrics and qualitative data that are complementary to traditional, citation-based metrics. They can include (but are not limited to) peer reviews on Faculty of 1000, citations on Wikipedia and in public policy documents, discussions on research blogs, mainstream media coverage, bookmarks on reference managers like Mendeley, and mentions on social networks such as Twitter.”  Check out our blog post about Altmetrics for more info.

What gets a little complex, of course, is whether these formulas/calculations are accurate measures of something like ‘impact’. Some of the formulas will include self-citations which can skew results. Others have argued that citation counts do not reflect the full ‘impact’ of a work. There is a recent movement in ‘altmetrics’ to track impact in other spaces such as social media, as mentioned above, to give a more complete picture of how a work is being used and discussed.

Some tools, like Google Scholar’s author profiles, will include a list of author-level citation metrics. You can view this data on an author’s profile page and if you hover over the name of the metric you can reveal a definition of how it was calculated:

Screenshot of author profile

There can be a TON to know about impact factors and citation metrics and some of it can get quite complicated. UC Irvine  has a wonderful LibGuide which provides a lot of this information is easily digestible chunks: http://guides.lib.uci.edu/c.php?g=334451&p=2249950.

The University of Illinois also has a great guide which covers journal impact factor in particular: http://researchguides.uic.edu/if/impact. Lastly, Elsevier has put together a nice list of various impact measures and their formulas: https://www.elsevier.com/authors/journal-authors/measuring-a-journals-impact.

Next time you see a journal advertising its impact factor, or you’re trying to understand the influence of a scholar’s research in their field, consider drawing on some of these tools to gain better insight into what those impact factors and influences might mean.

Happy Searching!

I have a citation…..now what?

You’ve all been there.  Read a great article, found some awesome resources in the citation list….but….how can you easily determine if the articles in those citations are in the Fielding library?

We’ll show you two options to help make this task simpler, so you can focus on continuing to read and research.

We’ll walk though our examples today using this citation:

  • Catalano, A. (2013). Patterns of graduate students’ information seeking behavior: A meta-synthesis of the literature. Journal of Documentation, 69(2), 243-274. doi:10.1108/00220411311300066

 

Option 1: Check Our Access to the Journal First

 

Why It’s Good:  Most Reliable Method
What You Won’t Like:  Not the Fastest

How to Do It:

  • Identify the journal name in the citation.  In this case, the work is published in the Journal of Documentation.
  • Connect to the library website and click on the link labeled ‘Journal and Book Titles’.
  • Select the E-Journals Only tab at the top of the screen, then set the drop-down menu to how you would like to search.  We typically recommend using the ‘title contains all words’ option as it is the most flexible.
  • Input your search information (this will correspond to whichever search method you’ve chosen) and press search.  Here’s a screenshot of how I would look for this title:
Screenshot of title search.

Click image to enlarge.

  • Your search result(s) will offer three key pieces of information: a) It will tell you whether we have access to the journal, b) You will see the publication dates to which we have full-text access and c) You will see what database stores the journal’s content (sometimes there will be more than one).  Here’s a screenshot of my results:
titleresults

Click image to enlarge.

  • In this case, we can see that we do have to this journal in a few different databases. We have access to full-text published from 1997-present in the Emerald Management database. Or, we can access articles published between 2001 and 1 year ago in either ABI/Inform or ProQuest Education Journals.
  • Since our citation is for an article published in 2013, we can use any of the databases  to reach the article. Let’s click on ‘Emerald Management 120″.
  • Once you connect to the journal, it’s just a matter of “drilling down” to the volume   and issue you need. This will look different depending on the database, but you will   typically either see a link to ‘all issues’ or the back issues will be listed on the page already. In my case, I need Volume 69, Issue 2 from 2013:
volumeselect

Click image to enlarge.

  •  After you select the issue you need, you can just scroll down until you see the article you want to access.

Option 2: Use Google Scholar via the Library

Why It’s Good: Extremely fast
Why You Won’t Like It: Sometimes it doesn’t link properly

How To Do It:

  • From the main library website click on the ‘databases’ link.  You will need to scroll through the alphabetical list to select ‘Google Scholar’.
  • Copy and paste the full article title into the search box. *Note, most of the time you will not need to put the article title in quotation marks.  However, if the article title is fairly general (i.e. “a theory of management”) or if you do not immediately find a match, try putting quotes around the title and searching again.
googlescholarsearch

Click image to enlarge.

  • On the results page, look to the right of the matching article title. If you see a handy little “Full-Text @ Fielding” link that more than likely means we have the article (remember, occasionally this method won’t work right).
googlescholarresults

Click image to enlarge.

  • Click on the ‘Full-Text’ link to be redirected to the article within Fielding’s library subscriptions.
  • Ideally, in a few seconds you will then be connected straight to the article:
googletofulltext

Click image to enlarge.

Why doesn’t it always work?  Well, this is just an unfortunate reality of indexing millions of digital documents. Most of the time, you will be linked without trouble.  However, sometimes there is an error (either because we don’t really have the article, it was not indexed correctly, etc. etc.).

If you receive an error using this method. the best thing you can do is use Option 1 to check our access to the journal. The great thing about these digital works is that there are always multiple routes you can take to access them.  If one option does not work, test another so you can confirm whether or not we should have the document. If we don’t have access, then you’ll know you can request a copy through interlibrary loan.

Happy (re)searching!

Throwback Thursday: Cited Reference Searching

We first brought you this post about a nifty strategy called ‘Cited reference searching’ 8 months ago now.  This strategy remains so useful and relevant to all fields of study, we thought it only made sense to offer you a brief refresher!

As your scholarly research becomes more narrowly focused, you will no doubt begin to have more and more trouble finding articles related to your topic. While this is wonderful in that it means you are conducting unique research (Yay!), it is not so wonderful in that it can be difficult to find the requisite sources to complete your lit review (Boo!).  So, where do you go from here?

crossroads

Image by Lori Greig. CC license here.

One wonderful strategy for tackling this problem (or any research, really) is ‘cited reference searching’.  If you are unfamiliar with the term, it simply means looking at which authors/publications have cited an article (or book) related to your field of study. Following citation chains helps you track the scholarly conversation while at the same time freeing you of the need to think of the exact search terms which might elicit such results.

The Fielding Library has a number of resources which can assist you with this type of searching: Google Scholar, Social Sciences Citation Index, and many of the individual databases (such as those made by ProQuest).

Social Sciences Citation Index is a database dedicated exclusively to this type of research. It’s worth becoming familiar with, but requires a bit more depth than a handy blog post can supply. Check out the Fielding Cited Reference Searching LibGuide to learn all about it, Google Scholar, and PsycINFO!

Let’s take a look at a simpler example using Google Scholar.

Imagine you are deep into your research on adolescent involvement in community organizations, but you’re having trouble discovering additional articles. You do have a citation for a wonderful article published in 2008…so why not see who has cited it since?

You head over to Google Scholar, being sure to connect via the library so you can see what results we have in our collection. When you land on the search page, simply copy and paste the full article title in the search box and press search:

citedref

Below the article title/description, you will see a convenient little ‘cited by’ link (if the article has been cited). Simply clicking on this link will then display the list of citing articles. Even better, while viewing the citing articles, you can select to ‘search within’ them to find those most related to your topic:

searchwithin

‘Search within’ is a wonderful tool, particularly when you are viewing lists of dozens or even hundreds of citing articles.

As a quick recap, one of the greatest benefits of cited reference searching is that it frees you from the difficult task of predicting which search terms will find the best results. For example, an article came up in my Google Scholar results list about ‘neighborhoods and HIV’. While this certainly sounds related to community organizing, it may not have come up in a keyword search if those exact words (‘community’ and ‘organizing’) were not used in its abstract.

A final word to the wise: citation numbers are only numbers without context. An article could have been cited 97 times because it provides wonderful contributions to the field, or because 97 other authors wholly disagreed with its content. Context is key with citation numbers!

Happy Searching!

Cited Reference Searching (Or, The Savvy Researcher’s Strategy)

As your scholarly research becomes more narrowly focused, you will no doubt begin to have more and more trouble finding articles related to your topic. While this is wonderful in that it means you are conducting unique research (Yay!), it is not so wonderful in that it can be difficult to find the requisite sources to complete your lit review (Boo!).  So, where do you go from here?

crossroads

Image by Lori Greig. CC license here.

One wonderful strategy for tackling this problem (or any research, really) is ‘cited reference searching’.  If you are unfamiliar with the term, it simply means looking at which authors/publications have cited an article related to your field of study. Following citation chains helps you track the scholarly conversation while at the same time freeing you of the need to think of the exact search terms which might elicit such results.

The Fielding Library has a number of resources which can assist you with this type of searching: Google Scholar, Social Sciences Citation Index, and many of the individual databases (such as those made by ProQuest).

Social Sciences Citation Index is a database dedicated exclusively to this type of research. It’s worth becoming familiar with, but requires a bit more depth than a handy blog post can supply. Check out the Fielding Cited Reference Searching LibGuide to learn all about it, Google Scholar, and PsycINFO!

Let’s take a look at a simpler example using Google Scholar.

Imagine you are deep into your research on adolescent involvement in community organizations, but you’re having trouble discovering additional articles. You do have a citation for a wonderful article published in 2008…so why not see who has cited it since?

You head over to Google Scholar, being sure to connect via the library so you can see what results we have in our collection. When you land on the search page, simply copy and paste the full article title in the search box and press search:

citedref

Below the article title/description, you will see a convenient little ‘cited by’ link (if the article has been cited). Simply clicking on this link will then display the list of citing articles. Even better, while viewing the citing articles, you can select to ‘search within’ them to find those most related to your topic:

searchwithin

‘Search within’ is a wonderful tool, particularly when you are viewing lists of dozens or even hundreds of citing articles.

As a quick recap, one of the greatest benefits of cited reference searching is that it frees you from the difficult task of predicting which search terms will find the best results. For example, an article came up in my Google Scholar results list about ‘neighborhoods and HIV’. While this certainly sounds related to community organizing, it may not have come up in a keyword search if it those exact words (‘community’ and ‘organizing’) were not used in its abstract.

A final word to the wise: citation numbers are only numbers without context. An article could have been cited 97 times because it provides wonderful contributions to the field, or because 97 other authors wholly disagreed with its content. Context is key with citation numbers!

Happy Searching!

Google Scholar & The Library

Everyone can certainly agree that Google Scholar is a wonderful tool for easily discovering scholarly articles.  However, many students are surprised to learn that you can enhance Google Scholar’s capabilities if you connect to it through the Fielding Library.

That’s right.  When you connect to Google Scholar via Fielding’s list of databases, you can then see which of your search results is available full-text in Fielding’s library!  This simple step can save you loads of time and help you obtain articles you may have thought you couldn’t access.

So how do you connect through the library? It’s easy!  Just follow the link to ‘databases’ on the library website, then click on ‘Google Scholar’ in the alphabetical list.

This trick works great both when searching for known items and when conducting keyword searches.  We’ll take a look at both so you can see what we mean.

Known Item

Let’s say you want to find this particular article in Google Scholar:

Garrett, M. T. (1999). Understanding the “medicine” of Native American traditional values: An integrative review. Counseling and Values, 43(2), 84-98.

The simplest thing to do will be to search for the article’s full title.  Here’s what happens when I do not connect to Google Scholar via the Fielding Library:

googlenotlibBummer!  No links to full-text.

Now, look at the same search when I have connected to Google Scholar via the link in Fielding Library’s list of databases:

googleinlibNotice anything different?  Yep–now there’s a link to the right of the title which says ‘Full-Text @ Fielding’.  When I follow this link, I’m redirected to the article within our library:

googlefulltext

 

Now I do not have to go back into the library and search for this citation to see if we have access. With one quick click, I’m connected.

Keyword Search

The same holds true for conducting keyword searches in Google Scholar.  For instance, I conducted two identical searches for ‘Native American Health’: one without connecting via the library, and the other having gone through the library.  Take a look at the results pages:

Not Through Library

keywordnotlib

 

Through the library

keywordinlib

 

 

That’s all there is to it.  If you’re someone who prefers to search using Google Scholar, or if you’re trying to locate the full-text of an article, we highly recommend connecting through the library to take advantage of this additional functionality.

Happy Searching!