• Journal impact factor;
  • scientometrics;
  • citations;
  • causal model;
  • sustainable strategy

For a journal manager, boosting a journal's impact factor is an important objective. The impact factor is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal is cited in a given period. The dynamics of impact factors are caused by the interplay of several concepts, such as seniority of authors and reviewers, journal policies, online availability of journals and quality of contributions. This paper's objective is to discuss three strategies to sustainably improve both a journal's impact factor and its underlying resources. To this end, a journal's assets and resources are captured in a structural simulation model, which is used for strategy experiments. The paper offers three insights: It provides a dynamic hypothesis about the causal structures underlying a journal impact factor; it highlights the fact that the levels and growth rates of the crucial resources, authors and reviewers, must be developed in dynamic correspondence. Finally, developing the stock of high-quality reviewers requires time and resources but is more stable than the stock of authors and, hence, has a higher potential for guiding the journal into a regime of sustainable development. Limitations and future paths are discussed.

Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.