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Increasing Citations and Improving Your Impact Factor

What You Can Do to Increase Citations and Improve Your Impact Factor

Quantitative metrics are important in the evaluation of scholarly research as universities, governments, and funding bodies try to find ways to make their hiring, funding, and investment decisions based on measurable criteria. This has had a significant effect on journals publishing, with the well-known Impact Factor functioning as a ready-made, albeit controversial, indicator of the quality and significance of a published piece of work.

At SAGE, we will help you increase article citations without “gaming” the system with shortsighted strategies that can only compromise perceived quality. We’ll do this by providing editors with the tools to make informed decisions about types of articles and topics they might wish to invite, which potential authors to contact for relevant papers, etc. More generally, all our marketing and online activities are developed with the aim of increasing citations.

When evaluating strategies to increase citations to your journal consider the following: 

  • Recruiting papers from highly-cited authors 

    Analysis of the most highly-cited content from both your own and competitor journals reveals the authors who could be invited back or newly commissioned to publish in the journal, or to perhaps guest edit a future special issue. Ask your SAGE Editor to provide you with a list of highly-cited articles in particular journals or across your subject category. 

  • Identifying zero-cited papers 

    A percentage of articles may never be cited at all. Review which topics do not attract citations and feed this information into your publishing strategy. It is important to remember that some papers can take a long time to accrue citations and although they were not cited, that does not mean they were not read. Strike a balance between maximizing citations and serving your readership. 

  • Publishing more review articles 

    Comprehensive review articles are likely to attract a high number of readers and citations. Active recruitment of review articles is often required; you may like to consider appointing a dedicated Reviews Editor for this purpose. 

  • Publishing special issues or special collections 

    Special or themed issues on high-impact topics can attract a lot of attention and citations. Including a review article that discusses the literature can also help attract citations. For high-impact topics that don’t warrant a full issue, a digital special collection is a good alternative.

  • Article to Volume ratios 

    The number of articles or other citable items published per volume will affect the Impact Factor calculation. SAGE is on hand to advise you on how to ensure that the ratio is optimized and that Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters and ISI) is indexing your content appropriately. 

  • Reminding authors and reviewers of relevant papers previously published in the journal


    Though very high levels of self-citation (more than 20%) is frowned upon in scholarly publishing, it is perfectly common for your authors to cite work from articles previously published in the journal. Reviewers could be encouraged to check that submitted papers are making sufficient reference to the journal. Making journal self-citation a condition for publication, however, or specifying particular citations to submitting authors, is unethical and should not be done. 

  • Free access campaigns 

    Alert your SAGE Editor of any topical or otherwise potentially citable articles or special issues that could be made freely available, and then ask the author to help promote their work within their networks. Also, make sure you are signed up to receive SAGE Journal email alerts (journals.sagepub.com/ alerts) so that you are aware of when we are running any global free trials. Notify your colleagues and encourage them to read and cite the journal! 

  • Media promotion 

    Newsworthy articles may benefit from Public Relations efforts and are available on a case-by-case basis to raise the visibility of particular articles, and highlight new and important research. Contact your SAGE Editor if you accept an article that you think may draw wide public attention. We have a range of options including a press release, blog post, social media, or a media pitch to The Conversation.