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In 2018, Clarivate Analytics, publisher of the Web of Science Journal Citation Reports (JCR), suppressed publication of the 2017 Journal Impact Factor (JIF) for three of the four journals that it then indexed in the academic field of history of economics. Clarivate judged one of the journals, History of Economic Ideas (HEI), to be the “donor” of citations that distorted the impact factors of the European Journal of the History of Economic Thought (EJHET) and the Journal of the History of Economic Thought (JHET). The other journal, History of Political Economy (HOPE), was not included in that judgment. Our purpose is to define the JIF, summarize the controversy that gave rise to this symposium, and discuss methodologically and historically some of the problems with the use of citation indexes in general and the JIF in particular. We show how these problems pertain differently to the scholarly field of the history of economics than to economics in general. In so doing we also introduce the following five articles of this symposium.