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Course Research Impacts: Finding & comparing journals

Finding & comparing journals

The Journal Citation Reports (JCR) provide information on a journal level. This information can help you decide which journals are important in your field of research or in which journal you should (try to) publish.

Here we cover:

  • About JCR
  • Finding a specific journal or specific journals
  • Finding journals in a subject category
  • Journal metrics in JCR
  • Comparing journals by Journal Impact Factor (JIF) and Journal Citation Indicator (JCI)

Please note: Use Journal Citation Reports wisely! For example: the journal impact factor - a journal level metric - is no indication for the quality or relevance of an article published in that journal.

About JCR

Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is a tool for journal evaluation, providing production and impact data drawn from over 20.000 scholarly and technical journals worldwide. It helps you to determine the relative importance of journals within a field. The most well known metric in JCR is the Journal Impact Factor (JIF).

This Journal Impact Factor was developed by Eugene Garfield in the 1960s, to help select which journals should be included in the Science Citation Index (now a part of Web of Science) - he wanted to make sure the most relevant journals were included. The impact factor of a journal is calculated by dividing the number of current year citations to the source items published in that journal during the previous two years. This ratio is used to make sure that larger or more frequently published journals (with more articles) are not favored in compared to small or less frequently published journals.

Journal Citation Reports is published annually in two editions: JCR Science Edition contains data about more than 8,000 journals in science and technology, JCR Social Sciences Edition contains data about more than 2,650 journals in the social sciences. The EUR subscribes to both editions, from 1997. Normally, the new editions of JCR are published in June of the following year.

Please note: the Journal Impact Factor is not based on the data in Web of Science! To calculate the Journal Impact Factor also citations from journals that are not included in the Web of Science are used.

Next to the Journal Impact Factor, the Journal Citation Reports provide also other journal metrics, like the Journal Citation Indicator, the number of citations, the percentage of Gold Open Access and the rank by Journal Impact Factor.

You can access Journal Citation Reports from Web of Science: you can find the link at the top of the page.

Finding a specific journal

When you know the title of the journal you are looking for, then you can enter the name in the search box on the homepage of the JCR. A list of matches appears. In some cases you see the journal title twice: that means that this journal is part of the JCR Science edition and the JCR Social Science Edition.

If you want to select multiple journals, open Browse Journals below the search box and open the Filter on the left side of the screen. There you can use the Journals option: search by title or by ISSN and select the title(s) you are interested in. Then scroll down and click Apply – the list is updated and you see journal title, ISSNs, Category, JIF etc. By clicking Customize you can add or remove metrics.

The Journal profile

When you select one journal of click on the title of a journal in the list, you go to the Journal Profile with information about the journal (like ISSN and publisher) and the journal metrics, including the Journal Impact Factor, for the current year.

When you scroll down the page, you can select additional information. Especially Rank by Journal Impact Factor is important: it shows the quartile and JIF Percentile of the journal within its own category or categories.

To see the metrics for other years, click the arrow next to the JCR year in the left upper corner and choose All years.

Finding journals in a specific category

To make a list of journals in a particular category, go to Browse Journals and use the Categories filter: mark the category or categories you are interested in, scroll down and click Apply.

You’ll get a list of the journals in the selected subject category, with some metrics. By clicking Customize you can add or remove metrics. You can use the arrows next to the header to sort the list based on the data in that column.

Journal metrics in JCR

These journal metrics are used in Journal Citation Reports:

Metric Definition Additional information
Journal Impact Factor Calculated by dividing the number of citations in the JCR year by the total number of articles published in the two previous years Citations in 2020 to items published in 2018 and 2019 divided by the number of citable items published in 2018 and 2019
Impact Factor without Self Cites Journal Impact Factor but without the citations from the journal to the journal  
5-year Impact Factor Calculated by dividing the number of citations in the JCR year by the total number of articles published in the five previous years Citations in 2020 to items published in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, divided by the number of citable items published in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015.
Journal Citation Indicator The average Category Normalized Citation Impact (CNCI) of citable items (articles and reviews), published by a journal over a recent three year period. CNCIs are calculated at the document level. The JCI is normalized for document type, publication year, and category. CNCI is based on citations in 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017 to articles and reviews published in 2019, 2018 and 2017. 
Immediacy Index Calculated by dividing the number of citations to articles published in a given year by the number of articles published in that year Citations in 2020 to items published in 2020 divided by the number of citable items published in 2020
Citing half-life The median age of the citations produced by the journal during the JCR year.   
Cited half-life The median age of the articles that were cited in the JCR year  
Eigenfactor Score Based on the number of times articles from the journal published in the past five years have been cited in the JCR year, but it also considers which journals have contributed these citations so that highly cited journals will influence the network more than lesser cited journals. See the website of Eigenfactor

 

Normalized Eigenfactor Score A rescaled Eigenfactor score: the Normalized Eigenfactor score is scaled so that the average journal has a score of 1. This makes it easier to read the scores. See the website of Eigenfactor
Article Influence Score Calculated by dividing a journal’s Eigenfactor Score by the number of articles in the journal, normalized as a fraction of all articles in all publications The Eigenfactor Score/100, divided by the fraction of all articles that each journal has published

Average JIF Percentile

Average percentile for journals that are included in more than one subject category. This is calculated by the sum of the JIF Percentile for each category divided by the number of categories.  


More information about the Journal Citation Reports and the metrics used is available in on the JCR LibGuide.

Comparing journals - Rank by Journal Impact Factor

Can you compare journals only by looking at their Journal Impact Factor? When the journals belong to the same subject category and share the same citation pattern, you can look at the ranking of the journals within that subject category.

When the journals don't belong to the same category, you can't easily compare the Journal Impact Factors. The journals will come from different subject fields with their own citation cultures.

You can however take a look at the 'Quartile in Category': in which quartile (25 %) is the journal within its category? Or look at the JIF Percentile: this metric transforms the rank in category by Journal Impact Factor into a percentile value. This helps to identify the top journals within a certain field. You can find this information on the Journal Profile - check the Rank section.

This is an example: the journals in the list all have a 2020 Journal Impact Factor of 2.000. If you want to compare them, look at the Quartile or the JIF Percentile. A JIF of 2.000 in some categories means that the journal is in the first quartile, but in other categories the journal is in the third quartile.

Title Category Journal Impact Factor - 2020 Rank in Category Quartile JIF Percentile
Philosophy & Public Affairs Ethics 2.000 20/56 Q2 65.18
Philosophy & Public Affairs Political Science 2.000 98/182 Q3 46.63
Journal of Environmental Law Law 2.000 43/151 Q2 71.85
Journal of Environmental Law Environmental Studies 2.000 104/125 Q4 17.20
Journal of Asian Public Policy Area Studies 2.000 13/80 Q1 84.38

Comparing journals - Journal Citation Indicator

In the 2021 Journal Citation Reports, a new metric, the Journal Citation Indicator (JCI), has been calculatied for 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017. The JCI is a journal metric normalized for subject category, publication year and document type.

The JCI is calculated as the average of the Category Normalized Citation Impact (CNCI) of the articles and reviews published in the journal in the prior three-year period, using a four year citation window. For example: for the JCI 2020 the articles and reviews published in 2017, 2018 and 2019 are used, and the citations received in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The CNCI is the ratio of the actual citations an article or review received, to the expected citations for documents of the same age, type and subject category. The expected citations are calculated as the average number of citaitons to documents of the same document type (article or review), publication year and subject category. 

A JCI of 1.0 means that the papers published in the journal received citations equal to the average (mean) for the category. A value greater than 1.0 menas that they performed better than expected. 

The journal profile in the JCR shows the Journal Citation Indicator trend and the rank in the subject category based on the JCI. 

Because the JCI is normalized, it is possible to use the JCI to compare journals across categories, but comparisons are best made in adjacent fields, that share similar citation patterns.

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