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Citations, Altmetrics and Researcher Profiles: Journal evaluation

A guide to the key tools for examining research impact, as well as setting up and managing your research profiles.

Evaluating journals


Journal rankings and impact factors are quantitative measures for evaluating the performance of a journal in its field.

However, there are many different factors that influence the impact of a journal. Measuring impact it is not an exact science and should be used with an understanding of its limitations:

  • metrics measuring journal impact cannot necessarily be compared across different subject areas
  • different subject areas have different citation rates and behaviour
  • review articles may attract more citations irrespective of their quality
  • good quality articles and journals may go uncited
  • colleagues may cite friends to increase their visibility
  • the quality of a particular article cannot necessarily be judged by the journal it is published in

Quantitative measures of impact are often used in the Sciences, Medicine and Social Sciences but are not a useful measure of quality for Arts and Humanities journals.

Major evaluation tools

Many journals only have their citations counted by Elsevier or Thomson Reuters. Neither tool is able to produce a complete count of citations. Journal rankings may, therefore, vary significantly between the two tools.

You should check all tools and carefully select the measurement you think best represents a journal.

Specific disciplines

How do I...


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