Impact Factor and alternative metrics


Facts & figures

  • A total of 1,681 Springer journals are listed in the 2016 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports® (JCR).
  • Virchows Archiv (The Official Journal of the European Society of Pathology) continually publishing since 1847 is our oldest journal listed in the JCR.
  • 40 Springer journals were added to the JCR 2016 and have an impact factor for the first time.
  • 52% of Springer journals increased their impact factor from 2014 to 2015.
  • Over half of Palgrave Macmillan’s JCR 2016 listed journals enjoyed an increased impact factor (with an average increase of 30%). These high-quality journals within business & economics, humanities and social sciences are now part of the Springer journal portfolio.
  • A total of 185 BMC journals are listed in the JCR 2016; 9 for the first time and 92 with increasing impact factor. One BMC title, Microbiome, had a very strong entrance with an inaugural impact factors of 9, and four journals rank 2nd in their category: BMC Medical Ethics; Genetics Selection Evolution; Particle and Fibre Toxicology; Malaria Journal.
  • A total of 34 SpringerOpen journals are listed in the JCR 2016; 8 for the first time and 17 with increasing impact factor. 

The Impact Factor – An introduction

The Impact Factor is considered the number 1 ranking value for scientific journals and has become a substantial part of any journal development discussion.

Introduced in the late 1950s by Eugene Garfield and published since the 1960s by the Institute for Scientific Information® he established (now Thomson Reuters), the yearly Impact Factor developments are now reported in the Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports®.

Impact Factors are a benchmark of a journal's reputation and reflect how frequently peer-reviewed journals are cited by other researchers in a particular year. The Impact Factor helps to evaluate a journal’s relative importance, especially when compared with others in the same field.

Calculation of the Impact Factor

The Impact Factor is basically the average number of citations counted in the Impact Factor year Y for articles published in the previous two years. Citable articles are somewhat loosely defined. In general, they include original research articles and review articles. They may also include editorials, if the editorial contains a lengthy reference list.

Springer's Impact Factor journals by subject

Click on your subject of choice to get a full list of Springer journals with an Impact Factor. In addition to the Impact Factor each journal homepage offers detailed information, such as instructions for authors, a direct link to online submission and sign-up for the Table of Contents Alert.

Alternative journal metrics

A number of journal ranking metrics have emerged over the last years in an effort to broaden the evaluation of scholarly journals. This list is a brief introduction to some of the more popular metrics.

  • 5-year journal Impact Factor: In 2009 Thomson Reuters for the first time released the new 5-year journal Impact Factor in addition to the standard 2-year journal Impact Factor . The 5-year journal Impact Factor is the average number of times articles from the journal published in the past five years have been cited in the JCR (Journal Citation Report) year. It is calculated by dividing the number of citations in the JCR year by the total number of articles published in the five previous years. The controversy around the Impact Factor tradition has not been able to deter the Impact Factor from rising to the most important quality assessment tool in scientific journal publishing. It has to be noted that the value of the Impact Factor cannot be compared among different scientific disciplines. For instance Microbiology journals have, on average, much higher Impact Factors than Mathematics or Engineering journals. The citation patterns in these disciplines are entirely different, therefore the numerical values of their Impact Factors also differ significantly and comparisons would not yield appropriate results.
  • Eigenfactor: Similar to the 5-Year Journal Impact Factor, but weeds out journal self-citations. The citation frequency as well as the prestige of the journals is taken into account. The type of publication and the citation patterns of different disciplines are not considered. Covers over 12,000 journals worldwide, including Open Access journals and over 150,000 conference proceedings.The Eigenfactor only uses data from journals indexed by Thomson Reuters. Learn more about the Eigenfactor.
  • Google Scholar Metrics: Google Scholar Metrics summarize recent citations to many publications. You can browse the top 100 publications in several languages, ordered by their five-year h-index and h-median metrics.Scholar Metrics currently cover articles published between 2007 and 2011 (both years included). More information about Google Scholar Metrics.
  • SJR - SCImago Journal & Country Rank:  It includes the journals and country specific indicators developed from the information contained in the Scopus® database from 1996. This metric doesn't consider all citations of equal weight; the prestige of the citing journal is taken into account.In general, self-citations are not included in the calculation. More information about SJR.
  • SNIP - Source-Normalized Impact per Paper: SNIP measures a source’s contextual citation impact by weighing citations based on the total number of citations in a subject field. It helps to make a direct comparison of sources in different subject fields.SNIP especially considers the frequency at which authors cite other papers in their reference lists, the speed at which citation impact matures and the extent to which the database used in the assessment covers the field’s literature. More information about SNIP.

Publishing ethics


Researchers should conduct their research from research proposal to publication in line with best practices and codes of conduct of relevant professional bodies and/or national and international regulatory bodies. In rare cases it is possible that ethical issues or misconduct could be encountered in your journal when research is submitted for publication.

Ethical responsibilities of authors

This journal is committed to upholding the integrity of the scientific record. As a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) the journal will follow the COPE guidelines on how to deal with potential acts of misconduct.  

Authors should refrain from misrepresenting research results which could damage the trust in the journal, the professionalism of scientific authorship, and ultimately the entire scientific endeavor.  Maintaining integrity of the research and its presentation can be achieved by following the rules of good scientific practice, which include:

The manuscript has not been submitted to more than one journal for simultaneous consideration. 

  • The manuscript has not been published previously (partly or in full), unless the new work concerns an expansion of previous work (please provide transparency on the re-use of material to avoid the hint of text-recycling (‘self-plagiarism’)).
  • A single study is not split up into several parts to increase the quantity of submissions and submitted to various journals or to one journal over time (e.g.  ‘salami-publishing’).
  • No data have been fabricated or manipulated (including images) to support your conclusions
  • No data, text, or theories by others are presented as if they were the author’s own (‘plagiarism’). Proper acknowledgements to other works must be given (this includes material that is closely copied (near verbatim), summarized and/or paraphrased), quotation marks are used for verbatim copying of material, and permissions are secured for material that is copyrighted. 
  • Important note: the journal may use software to screen for plagiarism.
  • Consent to submit has been received explicitly from all co-authors, as well as from the responsible authorities - tacitly or explicitly - at the institute/organization where the work has been carried out, before the work is submitted.
  • Authors whose names appear on the submission have contributed sufficiently to the scientific work and therefore share collective responsibility and accountability for the results.
  • Authors are strongly advised to ensure the correct author group, corresponding author, and order of authors at submission. Changes of authorship or in the order of authors are not accepted after acceptance of a manuscript.
  • Adding and/or deleting authors at revision stage may be justifiably warranted. A letter must accompany the revised manuscript to explain the role of the added and/or deleted author(s). Further documentation may be required to support your request. 
  • Requests for addition or removal of authors as a result of authorship disputes after acceptance are honored after formal notification by the institute or independent body and/or when there is agreement between all authors. 
  • Upon request authors should be prepared to send relevant documentation or data in order to verify the validity of the results. This could be in the form of raw data, samples, records, etc. Sensitive information in the form of confidential or proprietary data is excluded.

If there is a suspicion of misconduct, the journal will carry out an investigation following the COPE guidelines.  If, after investigation, the allegation seems to raise valid concerns, the accused author will be contacted and given an opportunity to address the issue. If misconduct has been established beyond reasonable doubt, this may result in the Editor-in-Chief’s implementation of the following measures, including, but not limited to: 

  • If the article is still under consideration, it may be rejected and returned to the author. 
  • If the article has already been published online, depending on the nature and severity of the infraction, either an erratum will be placed with the article or in severe cases retraction of the article will occur. The reason must be given in the published erratum or retraction note. Please note that retraction means that the paper is maintained on the platform, watermarked “retracted” and explanation for the retraction is provided in a note linked to the watermarked article.
  • The author’s institution may be informed.

Compliance with ethical standards

To ensure objectivity and transparency in research and to ensure that accepted principles of ethical and professional conduct have been followed, authors should include information regarding sources of funding, potential conflicts of interest (financial or non-financial), informed consent if the research involved human participants, and a statement on welfare of animals if the research involved animals.

Authors should include the following statements (if applicable) in a separate section entitled “Compliance with Ethical Standards” before the References when submitting a paper:

  • Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest
  • Research involving Human Participants and/or Animal
  • Informed consent

Please note that standards could vary slightly per journal dependent on their peer review policies (i.e. double blind peer review) as well as per journal subject discipline. Before submitting your article check the Instructions for Authors carefully.

The corresponding author should be prepared to collect documentation of compliance with ethical standards and send if requested during peer review or after publication.

The Editors reserve the right to reject manuscripts that do not comply with the above-mentioned guidelines. The author will be held responsible for false statements or failure to fulfill the above-mentioned guidelines.

Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest

Authors must disclose all relationships or interests that could have direct or potential influence or impart bias on the work. Although an author may not feel there is any conflict, disclosure of relationships and interests provides a more complete and transparent process, leading to an accurate and objective assessment of the work.

Awareness of a real or perceived conflicts of interest is a perspective to which the readers are entitled. This is not meant to imply that a financial relationship with an organization that sponsored the research or compensation received for consultancy work is inappropriate.

Examples of potential conflicts of interests that are directly or indirectly related to the research may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Research grants from funding agencies (please give the research funder and the grant number)
  • Honoraria for speaking at symposia
  • Financial support for attending symposia
  • Financial support for educational programs
  • Employment or consultation
  • Support from a project sponsor
  • Position on advisory board or board of directors or other type of management relationships
  • Multiple affiliations
  • Financial relationships, for example equity ownership or investment interest
  • Intellectual property rights (e.g. patents, copyrights and royalties from such rights)
  • Holdings of spouse and/or children that may have financial interest in the work

In addition, interests that go beyond financial interests and compensation (non-financial interests) that may be important to readers should be disclosed. These may include but are not limited to personal relationships or competing interests directly or indirectly tied to this research, or professional interests or personal beliefs that may influence your research.

The corresponding author collects the conflict of interest disclosure forms from all authors. In author collaborations where formal agreements for representation allow it, it is sufficient for the corresponding author to sign the disclosure form on behalf of all authors.

Examples of forms can be found here.

Examples of disclosures

The corresponding author will include a summary statement in the text of the manuscript in a separate section before the reference list, that reflects what is recorded in the potential conflict of interest disclosure form(s).

TopicExamples of disclosures
FundingFunding: This study was funded by X (grant number X).
Conflict of InterestConflict of Interest: Author A has received research grants from Company A. Author B has received a speaker honorarium from Company X and owns stock in Company Y. Author C is a member of committee Z.
If no conflict exists, the authors should stateConflict of Interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

1) Statement of Human Rights

When reporting studies that involve human participants, authors should include a statement that the studies have been approved by the appropriate institutional and/or national research ethics committee and have been performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

If doubt exists whether the research was conducted in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration or comparable standards, the authors must explain the reasons for their approach, and demonstrate that the independent ethics committee or institutional review board explicitly approved the doubtful aspects of the study.

The following statements should be included in the text before the References section:

Ethical approvalEthical approval: All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
For retrospective studiesEthical approval: For this type of study formal consent is not required.

2) Statement on the Welfare of Animals

The welfare of animals used for research must be respected. When reporting experiments on animals, authors should indicate whether the international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals have been followed, and that the studies have been approved by a research ethics committee at the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted (where such a committee exists).

For studies with animals, the following statement should be included in the text before the References section:

Ethical approvalEthical approval: All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
If applicable (where such a committee exists)Ethical approval: All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.

If articles do not contain studies with human participants or animals by any of the authors, please select one of the following statement:

Ethical approval: This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.
Ethical approval: This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.
Ethical approval: This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

All individuals have individual rights that are not to be infringed. Individual participants in studies have, for example, the right to decide what happens to the (identifiable) personal data gathered, to what they have said during a study or an interview, as well as to any photograph that was taken.

Hence it is important that all participants gave their informed consent in writing prior to inclusion in the study. Identifying details (names, dates of birth, identity numbers and other information) of the participants that were studied should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, and genetic profiles unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the participant (or parent or guardian if the participant is incapable) gave written informed consent for publication. Complete anonymity is difficult to achieve in some cases, and informed consent should be obtained if there is any doubt.

For example, masking the eye region in photographs of participants is inadequate protection of anonymity. If identifying characteristics are altered to protect anonymity, such as in genetic profiles, authors should provide assurance that alterations do not distort scientific meaning.

The following statement should be included:

Informed consentInformed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
If identifying information about participants is available in the articleInformed consent: Additional informed consent was obtained from all individual participants for whom identifying information is included in this article.

Springer’s Guide on Publishing Ethics

In order to safeguard the quality of its publications, Springer has updated the policy on Publishing Ethics. In line with the philosophy of the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE) we follow the principle that we have a prime duty to maintain the integrity of the scientific record. By providing Springer’s Guide on Publishing Ethics, we aim to optimally assist Springer Publishing Editors as well as Editors-in-Chief, Editors, Reviewers and Authors with this task.

Please find the complete document on Publishing Ethics here.

Fighting plagiarism, piracy and fraud

Springer has created a taskforce to ensure that Springer content is handled as we have intended, because plagiarism, piracy and journal subscription fraud are the most regular threats to the author’s content.

Springer will assist with the detection of plagiarism by using CrossCheck or help to undertake further necessary action via the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE).

If you take notice of any unethical irregularities to Springer content, please get in touch with us.

Predatory journals and references

When using sources for your research, please be aware that material could have been published in questionable, scholarly, usually Open Access journals. These “predatory” journals include the variety that seek to attract potential authors with flattering spam e-mails assuring rapid publication on the basis of the Journal’s highly esteemed reputation in the field. Too often, these journals have exactly the same or very similar names to those of well-established journals. Springer recommends authors to assess carefully whether an article published by a “predatory” journal should be referenced. Please note that several abstracting & indexing services, including Thomson Reuters, are taking ethical publication seriously by examining the content, practices, and websites of these “predatory” journals.

If you would like to learn more about learned (Open Access) publishers and publications please visit the following links:

OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association)

DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)

COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics)

Interactive course

Take a free COPE e-learning class on how detect, prevent and handle misconduct.

Open access at Springer


What is open access?

Open access makes your work freely available online for everyone, immediately upon publication, and does not require a journal subscription to read the article. Springer offers a variety of open access options for you to publish your research.

No matter which option you choose, all open access publications are subject to high-quality peer review, editorial and production processes. You retain the copyright to your work and you can easily comply with the open access mandates of your institution or funding body, as all open access publications are published under a Creative Commons license.

Authors' rights at Springer

At Springer, we fully understand that access to your work is important to you and to the sponsors of your research. We are here to help you comply with the open access requirements of your funding body and are fully transparent about your rights. Springer is listed as a green publisher at the SHERPA/RoMEO database, as we allow self-archiving of the articles that are published in our subscription-based journals.

Visit our authors' rights website for more information: Author rights

Open Choice

Springer’s Open Choice program allows you to publish open access in our subscription-based journals. The majority of our journals offer the Open Choice option, enabling you to make your article freely available online in exchange for an open access publication fee. All Open Choice articles are published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license and you, as the author, retain the copyright to your work.

Visit our Open Choice website for more information: Springer Open Choice


SpringerOpen is Springer's portfolio of peer-reviewed, fully open access journals and books across all areas of science, technology, medicine, the humanities and social sciences.  SpringerOpen journals and books are made freely available online to everyone, immediately upon publication. Authors retain the copyright to their work and they can easily comply with open access mandates as all publications are Creative Commons licensed.

SpringerOpen journals charge a publication fee, which varies from journal to journal. However, many of our journals are fully sponsored by a society or institution so authors do not have to pay an article-processing charge (APC). We also offer an open access membership program, which allows institutions to cover some or all of the APC for their affiliated researchers when they decide to publish in a SpringerOpen journal.

For SpringerOpen books the publication fee varies depending on the number of pages per book. Authors at member institutions are entitled to a 15% loyalty discount on the publication fee.

Visit our SpringerOpen website for more information:

Open access funding

Open access publishing is not without costs. Publishers defray these costs through publication fees that are levied at the beginning of the publication process and vary depending on the respective journal/book and discipline. If a publication fee is charged the author is responsible for making or arranging the payment.

However, in most cases authors can rely on their institutions and funders, who cover the publication costs in different ways, e.g. by establishing an OA fund, making it part of their general funding or by paying the fees as part of a membership model.

Visit our open access funding page for more information: Open access funding

Do you have any questions?

Please contact the author helpdesk for questions on:

Rights, permissions and licensing


Rights & permissions

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Although publishers generally hold the copyright of works appearing under their imprint, it is also courteous to request permission from the author of the piece concerned; publishers often grant permission subject to the author’s approval also being obtained.

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  • Any previously published material from which a direct quotation is used of a length which totals more than 5% of the whole, or which totals more than 250 words in any single excerpt or more than 500 words in total (note: each publisher sets their own quotation lengths, so number of words can differ from publisher to publisher)
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Copyright and plagiarism



Copyright act

In most countries of the world, authors enjoy protection of their intellectual property that appears in books, journal articles and parts thereof, such as illustrations, plans, tables and animations. Protected works include literary and scientific works, such as writings, speeches and computer programs. Only personal intellectual creations are protected.

The person who writes one of the aforementioned works is defined as the creator/author. Co-authorship applies if two or more persons create a work together.

Notice of Copyright is printed in general on the verso of the title page of a book or on the header or footer of a journal article. Notice of Copyright provides information regarding the date of first publication of the work and the holder of copyright. Proper notice of copyright helps to protect the integrity of the work and to fight copyright infringement.

Contents of copyright

Moral Rights cover an author’s authority to decide whether his work should be published and whether the published work should bear the author’s name.

Exploitation Rights entitle an author to decide whether copies of the work should be reproduced (Right of Reproduction) and whether these copies should be offered to the public (Right of Distribution). Right of Reproduction is the right to make copies of the work, irrespective of method or number. Right of Distribution is the right to offer to the public the aforementioned produced copies.

Copyright licences

Authors are free to publish their work by themselves or transfer the exploitation rights to a publisher; e.g. Springer. In order to be entitled to make use of these rights, the publisher asks the author to sign a publishing agreement granting the publisher the sole right to reproduce, publish, distribute and make available to the public the work in print and electronic format. Authors and the publisher should always define their relationship in a publishing agreement. Springer offers a large variety of such contracts for all kind of works. Authors should contact their Springer publishing editor for more details.

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Consequence of having granted exclusive rights to Springer indicates also that an author agrees not to release with another publisher any publication similar to the work published with Springer.

Authors retain, in addition to uses permitted by law (e.g. U.S. Copyright Law, Section 107, Fair Use; German Copyright Act, Section 51, Fair Dealing) the right to communicate the content of the work to other scientists, to share the work with them in manuscript form, to perform or present the work or to use the content for non-commercial internal and educational purposes.

Limitations on copyright

To the extent required by the purpose, it is permissible to reproduce, distribute and publicly communicate single works that have already been published, included in an independent scientific work in order to clarify their contents. The limits of fair dealing will vary according to special circumstances. Acknowledgement needs to be given to the original source of publication. Omission of a sufficient acknowledgement constitutes an infringement of the copyright of the cited work.

Under certain circumstances, it is permissible to make single copies of a work for private, non-commercial use; e.g. for personal scientific use or for teaching in non-commercial institutions of education. These copies may be neither disseminated nor used for public communication.

Duration of copyright

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Once this term has expired, however, legal rights to the work also expire. After that, the work becomes part of the public domain and can be used freely.

Related rights

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Photographs are also protected by copyright. Copyright protection expires 50 years after the publication of the photograph.

Inheritance of copyright

Copyright may be transmitted by inheritance. The author’s legal successor shall have the rights enjoyed by the deceased author according to the arrangements of local copyright laws.

Infringement of copyright

Copyright is protected both domestically and internationally according to the laws and treaties of each nation. Nevertheless, copyright infringements often do occur.

Springer takes care of an author’s right and undertakes any necessary steps to protect these rights against infringement by third parties.

Any person or legal entity that infringes on the copyright of a Springer author will be urged to cease and desist from the wrongdoing and provide detailed information about the infringement.

Moreover, destruction of all copies unlawfully manufactured and distributed will be required.

Springer's journals copyright transfer statement

You will be asked to sign the Copyright Transfer Statement (CTS) FOR (NON-Open Access) journal articles online during the MyPublication process.

Self-archiving policy

Springer is a green publisher, as we allow self-archiving, but most importantly we are fully transparent about your rights.

Publishing in a subscription-based journal

By signing the Copyright Transfer Statement you still retain substantial rights, such as self-archiving:

"Authors may self-archive the author’s accepted manuscript of their articles on their own websites. Authors may also deposit this version of the article in any repository, provided it is only made publicly available 12 months after official publication or later. He/ she may not use the publisher's version (the final article), which is posted on SpringerLink and other Springer websites, for the purpose of self-archiving or deposit. Furthermore, the author may only post his/her version provided acknowledgement is given to the original source of publication and a link is inserted to the published article on Springer's website. The link must be provided by inserting the DOI number of the article in the following sentence: “The final publication is available at Springer via[insert DOI]”."

Prior versions of the article published on non-commercial pre-print servers like can remain on these servers and/or can be updated with the author’s accepted version. The final published version (in PDF or HTML/XML format) cannot be used for this purpose. Acknowledgement needs to be given to the final publication and a link should be inserted to the published article on Springer’s website, by inserting the DOI number of the article in the following sentence: “The final publication is available at Springer via[insert DOI]”.

When publishing an article in a subscription journal, without open access, authors sign the Copyright Transfer Statement (CTS) which also details Springer’s self-archiving policy.

Publishing open access

If you publish your article open access, the final published version can be archived in institutional or funder repositories and can be made publicly accessible immediately.


For your information: plagiarism prevention with CrossCheck

Springer is a participant of CrossCheck, a multi-publisher plagiarism detection initiative to screen published and submitted content for originality. CrossCheck consists of two products: a database of scholarly publications (CrossCheck) and a web-based tool (iThenticate) to check an authored work against that database.

Various Springer journals use the service to detect instances of overlapping and similar text in submitted manuscripts. Results returned by the software may be used as a criterion for the analysis of the manuscript by the editorial board and may eventually result in a rejection due to plagiarism, duplicate and/or redundant publication.

Contact the author helpdesk

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