Journal Impact Factor is only one metric by which journals can be compared. What are some other ways to determine a journal's impact, quality, or relevance?
How many patents cite a journal? You can find this out at Lens.org, a free agglomeration database which harvests bibliographic data from PubMed, Crossref, and other sources. Or how about public policy documents, government reports, and statutes?
Interested in reviewing journal quality? One way is to browse the journal's contents. Review the subject matter, and note its relevance to your work. Pick a sampling of articles and study their research methods sections -- do the methods seem rigorous? You can also check the journal's editorial policies around rigor. Does the journal employ statistical reviewers, if relevant?
Cabell's Journalytics and Predatory Reports give a number of potential factors to review while evaluating journals. Does a journal falsely claim to be indexed in an academic database? Is there a clearly stated peer review policy on the journal website? Does one managing editor appear to be the editor for dozens of journals? Is the editorial board listed?
All these and more are questions a researcher should ask when comparing journal impact, quality, and relevance.
In this tutorial, we’ll be using Journal Citation Reports (JCR) from Clarivate. JCR has two metrics of interest, journal impact factor (JIF) and the journal citation indicator (JCI).
Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is a Clarivate metric. In any given year, the impact factor of a journal is the average number of citations received per paper published in that journal during the two preceding years. The impact factor is based on two figures: the number of citations to a given journal over the previous two years (A) and the number of research articles and review articles published by that journal over the same two-year period (B), so: A/B = Impact Factor (JCR). There is also a separate 5-year JIF, which applies the same formula for citations to a given journal over the previous five years, rather than two years.
Journal Citation Indicator (JCI) is a three-year average of a field-weighted metric called CNCI, itself a ratio between number of citations to a journal and the number of expected citations to a journal. How the expectations are calculated is a black box which Clarivate does not reveal. The end result of the JCI is a number which is supposed to be comparable across disciplines. If a journal is given a JCI of 1.0, it is exactly the global average for citation impact. If a journal is given 2.0, it’s impact score is twice the average. In other words, Clarivate frames having a higher than 1.0 JCI as desirable.
There are many other ways to evaluate journal quality other than simply using these metrics – please see the Considerations and Context section for more. For now, we’ll look at how to retrieve and compare JIF.
First, connect to Journal Citation Reports. Sign in with your Clarivate credentials (the same ones used to sign into Web of Science) to create saved Favorites lists.
Go to Journals at the top and search for a journal name, Click Enter when your desired result appears, or click “see 1 result”. For our purposes, this is better than than clicking the name of the actual journal when it appears; clicking it would open a new window with information about the journal itself.
Check off the correct box. Your boxes will stay selected until you consciously choose to deselect them at the bottom. So, if you like, you could just get through your list of up to 50 journals for comparison and add them all to a Favorite list at once.
Once you have selected all the journals you’d like to compare, click the Add to Favorites list button. Make a new list if applicable.
If your journal doesn’t come up by name, try using ISSN instead. Search for the journal online or in Franklin Catalog to find their ISSN. Both print and e-issns should be listed for a journal, so it shouldn’t matter.
To view the compared list, go to My Favorites, and click on your list.
You should be able to compare attributes between all of the journals on that list, including journal impact factor.
For additional analysis, you can compare four journals at once using the Compare feature at the bottom of the screen, after the selection phase. This provides both JIF and JCI, but also additional visualizations based on OA, quartiles, etc.
If you don’t know what journals you’d like to compare, but just want to compare a number of journals in a given category, go to Categories at the top, drill down to a category of interest, and click on the number of journals to view their comparison. You can also search for categories in the main search box.
You’ll have the option to explore journals within a category in either the ESCI, the Emerging Sources Citation Index, or a more longstanding index, like the SSCI (Social Sciences Citation Index), SCIE (Science Citation Index-Expanded), and the AHCI (Arts and Humanities Citation Index).
Here you can sort based on JCR, JCI, total citations, or %OA gold. You can also change the JCR year using the filters on the left. If you click on Customize toward the top of the table, you can see other metrics, such as article influence score, normalized Eigenfactor, 5-year JIF, JIF without self-cites, and more. You can also customize which metrics you’d like to see on the screen at once.
You can also click on any one journal name to look at all of these metrics with visualizations for that one journal.