How a Single Paper Affects the Impact Factor: Implications for Scholarly Publishing

« Because the Impact Factor (IF) is an average quantity and most journals are small, IFs are volatile. We study how a single paper affects the IF using data from 11639 journals in the 2017 Journal Citation Reports. We define as volatility the IF gain (or loss) caused by a single paper, and this is inversely proportional to journal size. We find high volatilities for hundreds of journals annually due to their top-cited paper: whether it is a highly-cited paper in a small journal, or a moderately (or even low) cited paper in a small and low-cited journal. For example, 1218 journals had their most cited paper boost their IF by more than 20%, while for 231 journals the boost exceeded 50%. (…) »