Which migration journal has the highest Impact Factor?

Published 30 September 2015 / By Carlos Vargas-Silva

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In March 2013 I joined several friends to launch the Migration Studies journal. We had been working hard on the concept for over a year, but doubts always remained. Would top researchers submit papers to the journal? What about young upcoming scholars? Would they risk submitting their research to a brand new publication? Can a new journal have a significant impact on migration research? It has been over two years since that moment and it is now possible to provide some answers to these questions.

One obvious way to explore the influence of a journal is to see how it compares to other journals in the field. The most popular metric to compare journals is the ISI Impact Factor. This is a measure of the frequency with which the 'average article' in the journal has been cited in a given year. It is an imperfect measure, but so are all other available measures.

There are three other journals listed in the ISI 'Demography' category with the word 'migration' in the title: International Migration (IM), International Migration Review (IMR) and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (JEMS). Some other listed journals such as Population, Space and Place also publish a lot of migration related research, while others such as the Journal of Refugee Studies focus on a particular type of migration. But these three journals (IM, IMR and JEMS) are the ones publishing exclusively on migration and about all types of migration, and all have been in existence for a long time, so we have good data as a basis for comparison (both IM and IMR recently celebrated their 50th anniversaries). These three journals provide the best comparison for Migration Studies.

Figure 1 shows the Impact Factor of these three migration journals since 2010. In the past, IMR had the highest Impact Factor, but has been surpassed by JEMS in recent years. In fact, the gap between these two journals increased over the last year. Meanwhile, IM has being in third place for the whole period and with a noticeable negative trend in its Impact Factor. In that sense, JEMS is the migration journal with the highest official ISI Impact Factor.

Figure 1


As a new journal Migration Studies is currently awaiting its first Social Science Citation Index listing. However, Oxford University Press (OUP) has followed the same methodology to estimate the impact factor of Migration Studies in 2014. As shown in Figure 1, the estimated Impact Factor is way above the other three journals. If Migration Studies were officially listed (currently in process) it would have the highest Impact Factor among these migration journals. Impact Factors go up and down over time, so it is impossible to be certain about future dynamics, but it seems like a great start for a new journal.

For those of you who have not been able to read articles from Migration Studies, here is your chance. For a short period of time OUP has made a large selection of articles from the journal available for FREE. This includes three of my favourites:

What determines attitudes to immigration in European countries? An analysis at the regional level by Yvonni Markaki and Simonetta Longhi

The effect of income and immigration policies on international migration by Francesc Ortega and Giovanni Peri

Happiness and 'economic migration': A comparison of Eastern European migrants and stayers by David Bartram