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Citation Analysis for Promotion & Tenure — Journal Rankings

This guide covers resources for conducting citation analysis, finding impact factors and journal rankings.

Analyzing Journals Using JCR, Scopus, SJR and Google Scholar Metrics

Using Journal Citation Reports to Analyze Journals:

  1. Go to Journal Citation Reports database.
  2. Choose the Science (SCIE) and/or Social Sciences Edition (SSCI)  and the Year. Enter the journal title in the Journal Profile search box or Select Journals to search for a specific journal, or to view a group of journals.
  3. To search for a specific journal, you may search by Full or Abbreviated journal title, title word, or ISSN. 
  4.  Click on the hyperlinked journal title to see more information on the journal including:
    Impact Factor, Immediacy Index, 5 year Impact Factor, Total Cites, Cited Half-Life, Cited Journal Graph,etc.

Searching for Journal Impact Factors by Subject:

  1. Go to Journal Citation Reports
  2. Choose the Science (SCIE) or Social Sciences Edition (SSCI)  and the Year. 
  3. Select Category. Select one or more subject categories. You have an option of sorting your results by impact factor, total cites, Eigenfactor, Immediacy index etc.
  4. You will then get a journal summary list page that shows the impact factor of the journals in your selected category or categories. For additional analysis and explanation of impact factor and other metrics, click the journal's title.

Analyzing Journals Using Scopus:

  1. Go to Scopus and click on Sources on top menu.

    scopus sources
  2. Enter the journal title that you want to analyze. You can also search by ISSN and publisher. If you wish, you can also use Browse Sources to search for journals by subject area.
  3. Click the Search button to retrieve a list of journal titles.
  4. Select the title of the journal you want to analyze by clicking on it. Add more titles if you want to compare journals. You can add up to ten journals.


scopus metrics

Source details page lists basic source information and journal metric scores for Scopus journals, book series, conference proceedings, and trade publications. Title, subscription, and publishing information appears at the top of every source information page. You also have the option to set up alerts, access the source's home pave, plus view metric scoring for the source.

View  Scopus Journal Metrics: Journal metrics allow you to directly compare journals, regardless of their subject classification. CiteScore, SJR (SCImago Journal Rank) , SNIP (Source Normalized Impact per Paper).

CiteScore tab: CiteScore calculates the average number of citations received in a calendar year by all items published in that journal in the preceding three years.

CiteScore rank & trend tab provides a view of the source's rank and percentile for each subject category that it belongs to.

Scopus content coverage tab provides detailed information regarding Scopus use of a source and what content is included for you as a Scopus content subscriber.

scimajojr logo

SCIMago Journal  & Country Rank is a database that provides a measure of the scientific prestige of scholarly sources: value of weighted citations per document and is inspired by Google's Page Rank algorithm. It is a free source that uses data from Elsevier's Scopus database and includes journal indicators developed from the information contained in the Scopus database since 1996.

The SCImago site has a number of indicators, including SciMago Journal Rank (SJR) , h-Index, Total Documents, Total Documents (3 years), Total References, Total Cites (3 years), Citable Documents (3 years), Cites per document (2 years) and Reference per Document. Journals may be ranked by major subject areas, more specific subject categories, SJR, h-index, etc. 


sicmagojr sample search



Google Scholar Metrics provides information about  journal rankings and ratings by various metrics.  Browse the top 100 publication titles in 9 different languages, or search by broad subject research areas and numerous subcategories. Scholar Metrics uses those articles published between 2013 and 2017 and citation from all articles indexed in Google Scholar as it was in July 2018 


image of google scholar metrics link

Google Scholar Metrics

Coverage of Publications (as of March 2019 from Google Scholar)

Scholar Metrics currently cover articles published between 2013 and 2017,  both inclusive. The metrics are based on citations from all articles that were indexed in Google Scholar in July 2018. This also includes citations from articles that are not themselves covered by Scholar Metrics.

google scholar top publications

Since Google Scholar indexes articles from a large number of websites, we can't always tell in which journal a particular article has been published. To avoid misidentification of publications, we have included only the following items:

  • journal articles from websites that follow our inclusion guidelines;
  • selected conference articles in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering;
  • preprints from arXiv and NBER. For arXiv preprints, we compute metrics for individual collections, e.g., "arXiv Superconductivity (cond-mat.supr-con)".

Furthermore, we have specifically excluded the following items:

  • court opinions, patents, books, and dissertations;
  • publications with fewer than 100 articles published between 2013 and 2017;
  • publications that received no citations to articles published between 2013 and 2017.

Overall, Scholar Metrics cover a substantial fraction of scholarly articles published in the last five years. However, they don't currently cover a large number of articles from smaller publications.

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Journal Impact Factor

Journal Impact Factor:  What is it and How is it Calculated?

An offshoot of citation analysis is Journal Impact Factor (JIF) that is used to sort or rank journals by their relative importance. The underlying assumption behind Impact Factors (IF) is that journals with high IF publish articles that are cited more often than journals with lower IF.

Impact factors may be used by:

  • Authors to decide where to submit an article for publication.
  • Libraries to make collection development decisions
  • Academic departments to assess academic productivity
  • Academic departments to make decisions on promotion and tenure.

Where to find Journal Impact Factors?

The most notable source for journal impact factors is the annual publication called the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) published by Thomson Reuters.

How is the Journal Impact Factor Calculated?

Thomson defines impact factor as, “The journal Impact Factor is the average number of times articles from the journal published in the past two years have been cited in the JCR year. The Impact Factor is calculated by dividing the number of citations in the JCR year by the total number of articles published in the two previous years. An Impact Factor of 1.0 means that, on average, the articles published one or two year ago have been cited one time. An Impact Factor of 2.5 means that, on average, the articles published one or two year ago have been cited two and a half times. Citing articles may be from the same journal; most citing articles are from different journals.”

A journal's impact factor for 2015 would be calculated by taking the number of citations in 2015 to articles that were published in 2014 and 2013 and dividing that number by the total number of articles published in that same journal in 2014 and 2013. Below is how Thomson calculated the 2015 impact factor for the journal Academy of Management Review :

jcr sample calc

Thus, the Journal Impact Factor of 7.288 for the journal, Academy of Management Review for 2015 indicates that on average, the articles published in this journal in the past two years have been cited about 7.288 times.

Factors to Consider

Things to Consider when calculating Impact Factor: 

Publication Date: The impact factor is based on citation frequency of articles from a journal in their first few years of publication. This does not serve well the journals with articles that get cited over a longer period of time (let's say, 10 years) rather than immediately. In other words, journals in rapidly expanding fields such as cell biology and computing tend to have much higher immediate citation rates leading to higher IFs than journals in fields like Education or Economics.

Journal Impact Factor not Article Impact Factor: Citations to articles in a journal are not evenly distributed. In fact, some articles in a journal may not be cited at all but a few highly cited articles could lead to a high IF. Therefore, the IF does not accurately reflect the quality of individual articles published in a journal. Also, journals with more issues and articles can have higher Impact Factors which could be misleading as it does not really reflect the quality of articles.

Review Articles: Review articles (which tend to receive more citations), editorials, letters, and news items are not counted in article total but if cited are counted as citations for the journal. This leaves room for manipulation of ratio used to calculate impact factors leading to inflated impact factors in some cases.

Clinical Journals: Clinical journals usually have low citation counts. This puts such journals at a disadvantage with research journals in the field that have higher citation counts.

Uneven Coverage: The Journal Citation Reports focuses much more on disciplines where the primary means of publishing is through journal article. It provides less coverage to areas in Social Sciences and Humanities, where books and other publishing formats are more prevalent.