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Citations, Altmetrics and Researcher Profiles: Journal impact

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

Evaluating journals

Journal level metrics can be used to identify quality academic journals in your research field. Like other impact measurements journal impact has 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.

General journal evaluation tools

Journal Impact Factor (JIF) from Journal Citation Reports (JCR):

  • Uses Web of Science citation data
  • JIF measures the average number of times an article has been cited in the past two years in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) year.
  • Impact factor varies across research fields


  • Uses Web of Science and Journal Citation Reports data
  • Measures the total number of citations a journal receives over a five-year period.
  • The Eigenfactor algorithm allows for better comparison across disciplines than the Journal Impact Factor by considering not only direct citations to a journal but also where the citations have come from and adjusting to citation patterns across different subject areas.


  • Based on Scopus data
  • Calculates the average number of citations per document that a (journal) title receives over a three-year window.
  • Includes all types of documents, not just research papers.


  • Uses Scopus citation data
  • Compares journals and country scientific indicators.
  • SCImago may have better coverage of Humanities & Social Sciences journals  It is a free resource.


UlrichsWeb global series directory 

  • Provides detailed information on more than 300,000 periodicals including publisher, language, abstracting & indexing coverage, full-text database coverage, subject area and reviews written by librarians.

Google Scholar metrics

  • Lists the top 100 publications using data from Google Scholar.

Discipline specific evaluation tools

Clarivate Analytics Arts & Humanities Citation Index

Clarivate Analytics do not publish journal citation reports in the arts and humanities, so no impact factors are available for journals in these disciplines. However inclusion of a journal in this list is widely regarded as an indication that the journal is of the highest standard.

Social Science Citation Index

Clarivate Analytics Social Science Citation Index

Australian Public Affairs Information Service

For Australian journals in the humanities and social sciences, inclusion in this list is widely regarded as an indication that the journal is of a high standard.

European Reference Index for Humanities

Expert Panels review and rank journals proposed by the various ESF Member Organisations as well as by editors and publishers. 14 disciplines are covered: Anthropology, Archeology, Art Architectural and Design History, Classical studies, Gender Studies, History, History and Philosophy of Science, Linguistics, Literature, Musicology, Pedagological and Educational Research, Philosophy, Psychology, Religious Studies.

MLA Directory of Periodicals

As journal ranking information is limited for humanities journals alternative metrics may need to be found. One such metric is the rejection rate for a publication. -- In the MLA Directory click on Search and then Directory of Periodicals. Next enter a journal and Search button. If found, click on the journal title to bring up the full Directory entry. The difference between Articles Submitted Per Year and Articles Published Per Year gives the rejection rate.

ABDC Journal Ratings List

The Australian Business Deans Council rankings for journals business, economics and law. Ranking relies on citation metrics, other reputable journal quality lists and discipline experts. Journals are ranked in A, B or C categories.

InCites Essential Science Indicators (accessed from the black navigation bar at the top of Web of Science)

An analytical tool from Clarivate Analytics offering data for ranking scientists, institutions, countries and journals.

With Essential Science Indicators, you can:

  • Analyze research performance of companies, institutions, nations, and journals. 
  • Identify significant trends in the sciences and social sciences. 
  • Rank top countries, journals, scientists, papers, and institutions by field of research. 
  • Determine research output and impact in specific fields of research. 
  • Evaluate potential employees, collaborators, reviewers, and peers.

Science citation index expanded

Journals in the Science Citation Index are typically high impact titles in many of the science disciplines.


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