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Citation Analysis & Journal Rankings

Resources to help faculty measure journal, article and author impact factors.

Things to Remember

Journal impact factors change over time.
Journal impact factors differ greatly from one field to another so the impact factor of journals in biology may be different than the impact factor of journals in mathematics. Journal impact factors have limitations and should not be the single factor used to evaluate an authors work.

Some of the reasons for not relying on impact factor alone to evaluate the output of a particular individual include:

  • A single factor is not sufficient for evaluating of an author's work.
  • Journal values are meaningless unless compared within the same discipline. Impact factors vary among disciplines.
  • The impact factor was originally devised to show the impact of a specific journal, not a specific scholar. The quality and impact of the author's work may extend beyond the impact of a particular journal.

According to Jim Testa, a researcher for ThomsonReuters Scientific, the most widespread misuse of the Impact Factor is to evaluate the work of an individual author (instead of a journal). "To say that because a researcher is publishing in a certain journal, he or she is more influential or deserves more credit is not necessarily true. There are many other variables to consider."

(interview 6/26/2008 in Thomson Reuters blog entry)


What will you find here?

Use the resources on this page to find quantitative data for assessing journal quality. Note that such tools tend to be more useful for publications in the natural and social sciences.

What are journal rankings?

It is the quantitative analysis of peer reviewed journals used to gain a more complete picture of a scholar's impact in his chosen field. Journal rankings are based on three different measures:

  • number of publications
  • number of times an author's publications have been cited
  • the importance of the journal where the article is published, also called the Journal Ranking.

The ranking of the journal also known as the impact or importance of a journal can guide authors on whether they will choose to submit an article.  The higher the impact, the more important the journal.  Oftentimes librarians use journal rankings to make decisions about collection development.