journal impact factor (IF)
07.12.2022 •

How Important Is the Impact Factor to the Materials Science Community?

The field of materials science has seen remarkable growth over the last two decades. As governments around the world focus efforts on transitioning to clean economies, materials scientists have come to the fore, developing more efficient ways to use finite resources, taking advantage of renewable energy sources, and tackling other major socio-economic challenges.   

This explosion in growth is reflected in the research output of the field. According to Clarivate Analytics, in 2003 around 29,000 research articles were published in multidisciplinary material science across 177 journals. In 2019, 129,000 research articles were published in 314 journals. More than four times the number of articles were produced in 2019, than a mere 16 years earlier. 

In such a rapidly expanding field, it can become very difficult for researchers and librarians to stay informed of the most important developments. However, there are a range of metrics that can be used to help direct attention.  

Perhaps the three most common metrics used in materials science are the journal impact factor (IF), citation count, and altmetrics. While the latter two focus on the reach of a particular article, the first provides a measure of how often the recent publications of a particular journal are cited. This allows for a rough comparison between journals within a particular field. 

Wiley's Materials Science portfolio is well-represented within the newly released Impact Factor List: Advanced Materials (27,398), Advanced Energy Materials (25,245), Advanced Functional Materials (16,836), Advanced Science (15,840), Small Methods (12,130) and Small (11,459) are all well-respected journals and the resulting impact factors suggest that work published in these journals may strongly influence the future directions of the field.

However, many other factors should be considered when assessing the influence and impact of a journal. Especially in recent years, there has been an increasing trend towards open access publishing in materials science. One of the ways in which our editorial teams have responded to this shift in the community has been the launch of new open access journals. These journals – many of which are too young to have IFs – are a crucial element of the teams' strategy for growing the platforms for materials science publishing to accommodate researchers' needs. Wiley has a number of agreements in place with institutions and funders to help authors publish open access and ensure compliance with open access policies. You can visit our affiliation policy and payments page to check whether your institution or funder is eligible.

In 2020, the Materials Science Team launched the new open access journals Small Science and Nano Select. Moreover, the team is launching the new AdvancedXResearch Portfolio of open access journals with the titles Advanced Energy & Sustainability Research, Advanced Photonics Research, and Advanced NanoBiomed Research.

Tracking the development of IFs over the years is another technique for assessing trends within materials science. For example, Solar Energy and Sustainability are growing fields with a high quantity of publications within materials journals. This is also reflected by the newly assigned IF for Solar RRL (7.527) and Advanced Sustainable Systems (4.869).

Healthcare Materials is another quickly expanding field, with the 3D printing technique recently receiving increasing attention. Wearable sensors for healthcare monitoring are challenging biomaterial engineers, and nanomaterials for immunotherapy is a continuously thriving subtopic in the healthcare materials world.

The growing nature of this field is also reflected by the highest percentage jump in IFs within our portfolio. Advanced Healthcare Materials received an IF of 7.367 and Macromolecular Bioscience, 3.416. And as such, the editorial teams expect that younger titles Advanced Biosystems, Advanced Therapeutics, and Advanced NanoBioMed Research will serve the needs of these research communities.

In the Materials Science and Physics team at Wiley we are always striving to increase the reach of work that is published with us. While high journal IFs are one part of this equation, it is also important to give research work a community-facing platform. Research that is widely read in the general community might not push up a journal's IF, but it can present opportunities that are not possible through traditional academic communication.

Our news website "Advanced Science News", combined with our significant social media presence, gives work published with us as broad an audience as possible. The sharing of work through these nontraditional platforms is reflected in the altmetrics scores of articles. But, more importantly, increasing the reach of a particular manuscript increases the chances of that work finding applications, or sparking new collaborations. Which, after all, is the primary goal of the work that we as editors do every day.

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