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Citations, Altmetrics and Researcher Profiles: Journal evaluation

A guide to the key tools for measuring and describing your research performance, 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. You can also refer to the "quality" of the journals in which you have published in grant or promotion applications. Like other impact measurements, journal metrics have their 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
  • Many quality journals are not included in the mainstream journal rankings which are generally restricted to English language journals of international interest, and may have limited coverage of humanities and social sciences journals.

Journal evaluation tools

Journal metrics and ranking from the Journal Citation Reports (JCR):

  • The Journal Citation Reports use Web of Science citation data
  • Journal Impact factor (JIF) measures the average number of times an article has been cited in the past two years in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) year.
  • Check how a journal ranks against all of the other journals in its subject category(s) based on Journal Impact Factor. Journals that rank in the top one (Q1) or two (Q2) quartiles in the JCR are considered quality or impactful journals.
  • The Journal Citation Indicator (JCI) is a field-normalised metric. It measures the citation performance of a journal's articles and reviews against the expected citation rate of the category(s) where the journal is placed.

Eigenfactor metrics

  • aims to use recent advances in network analysis to develop novel methods for evaluating the influence of scholarly periodicals, for mapping the structure of academic research, and for helping researchers navigate the scholarly literature.
  • 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
  • CiteScore 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.
  • Not field-normalized, and different citation behaviour of researchers in different fields affects the values so should be used for comparison across fields.
  • Use the CiteScore percentile ranking within a subject field. 

SCImago Journal Ranking 

  • Uses Scopus citation data
  • The Scimago Journal Ranking indicator (SJR) was designed to weight the citations received by a journal according to the prestige of the citing journal, also taking into account the thematic closeness of the citing and the cited journals. 
  • See how a journal ranks against other journals in the same subject category based on the SJR. Journals that rank in the top one (Q1) or two (Q2) quartiles in the Scimago Journal Rankings are considered quality journal or impactful journals.
  • SCImago may have better coverage of Humanities & Social Sciences journals than Web of Science.  It is a free resource.

UlrichsWeb global series directory 

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

Directory of Open Access Journals

  •  Indexes almost 17 500 peer-reviewed, open access journals covering all areas of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, arts and humanities. Open access journals from all countries and in all languages are accepted for indexing.
  • DOAJ Seal is awarded to journals that demonstrate best practice in open access publishing. Around 10% of journals indexed in DOAJ have been awarded the Seal. There are seven criteria which a journal must meet to be eligible for the DOAJ Seal. These relate to best practice in long term preservation, use of persistent identifiers, discoverability, reuse policies and authors' rights.

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

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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