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Course Research Impacts: Finding & comparing journals

Finding & comparing journals

The Journal Citation Reports (JCR) in Web of Science 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

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

About JCR

Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is a tool for journal evaluation, providing production and impact data drawn from over 10.000 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.

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

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.

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 in the left upper corner. 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, use the Select Journals option: search by title or by ISSN and select the title(s) you are interested in. Then close the screen, scroll down and click Submit – the Journal by Rank list is updated and you see rank, journal title, total cites and Journal Impact Factor. With Customize Indicators you can add metrics to the list.

TIP: If you search by ISSN, make sure you use the ISSN of the paper edition of the journal in question. JCR doesn’t use the e-ISSNs.

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 Key Indicators, including the Journal Impact Factor, ordered by year. When you click a number, you will get a pop-up with additional information about the calculation and the underlying numbers.

At the bottom of the Journal Profile you can select additional information. Especially Rank is important: it shows the quartile and JIF Percentile of the journal within its own category.

Journal Relations visualizes the citing and cited data relations between the selected journal and the top 20 journal in the network of the journal for the most current version of the JCR.

Finding journals in a specific category

To make a list of journals in a particular category, use the Select Categories option: mark the category or categories you are interested in, close the screen, scroll down and click Submit.

You’ll get a list of the journals in the selected subject category, Total Cites, and some indicators: Journal Impact Factor and Eigenfactor Score. You can add indicators after clicking Customize indicators and change the sortation by clicking the column labels.

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 Cites in 2017 to items published in 2016 and 2015 divided by the number of citable items published in 2016 and 2015
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 Cites in 2017 to items published in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012, divided by the number of citable items published in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012
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 Cites in 2017 to items published in 2017 divided by the number of articles published in 2017
Cited half-life Calculated by finding the number of publication years from the current JCR year that account for 50% of citations received by the journal 50 % of the citations to the journal are published within the cited half-life
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

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  2017 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 - 2017 Rank in Category Quartile JIF Percentile
Annual Review of Linguistics Linguistics 2.000 18/181 Q1 90.331
Chemotherapy Oncology 2.000 175/222 Q4 21.396
Chemotherapy Pharmacology & Pharmacy 2.000 173/261 Q3 33.908
Journal of Social Marketing Business 2.000 79/140 Q3 43.929
New Left Review Political Science 2.000 45/169 Q2 73.669
New Left Review Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary 2.000 15/98 Q1 85.204