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Journal Rankings   Tags: research, scholarly_communication, scholarly_publishing  

Last Updated: Jun 23, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Academic journals are one of the main ways that scholars disseminate the results of their research and create new knowledge. As of 2010, it has been estimated there are over 28,235 refereed journals. Of these, nearly 21,000 are available online. (1) There are various methods to evaluate the relative rankings of academic journals, including citation indexing, acceptance rates, expert rankings, etc. Journal rankings are by defintion aggregate measures and do not address the quality of any individual article.

Citation Indexing at the Journal Level

One way to evaluate a  journal's influence is to look at  how often articles in its pages are cited in subsequent research, known as citation indexing.These include Journal Imact Factor (JIF), Eigenfactor, and SCImago. In general, journal ranking using citations is more prominent in the sciences, followed by the social sciences.

Journal Citation Reports (Library subscribed) calculculate rankings for over 8,400 science journals and 3000 social science journals.Its core measure, the Journal Impact Factor (or JIF), is derived by dividing total articles by total cites per year. The immediacy index index shows average citations during the first year of publication, giving a sense of how fast a field is moving. For further details, see JCR training videoos, JCR Quick Reference or JCR tutoriial

Eigenfactor  measures a journal's importance to the scientific community, by giving higher rankings to journals that produce more articles (other things being equal). Article Influence, their alternative to impact factor, measures the average influence of each article within a journal over the past 5 years - with a mean score of 1.0. Eigenfactor removes potential biases such as self-citing, and unlike JCR, takes into account where citations appear. You can search by journal name, ISI category (inlike JCR journals only have one category), and year.  It also produces  gender composition of scholarly publications. Maps of Science, and visualizations of information flows in science..

SCImago Journal and Country Rank  uses the SJR indicator  to rank the visibility or prestige of journals in the Scopus database from 1996 onward. SJR is calculated from weighted citations over three years. H-index is based upon the number of articles produced and the citations they receive.Journal subjects include arts and humanities, in addition to business, social sciences, and science. SCImago also generate country rankings and  comparisons of countries or journals.

Google Scholar Metrics is a free alternative  to JCR and Scopus.Google Scholar ranks top 100 journals in various subject categories, and allows you to click through to find the most highly cited articles in each journal. It uses h-index, which increases with the number of influential papers, and is less likey to be skewed by a few very highly cited articles.

Citation Indexing of Articles

  • Web of Science
    How do I?
    Includes Science, Social Sciences, and Arts & Humanities Citation Indexes.
  • Google Scholar
    When you search for an article or book in Google Scholar, you will see the number of cites. The cites may differ from Web of Science because it includes books as well as journal articles. Also,Google Scholar does not reliably "dedup" citations.

Acceptance Rates

Acceptance rates (also called rejection rates) can be used to measure the selectivity and popularity of a journal. It is a ratio of the number of articles submitted to the number of articles published.

MLA Directory of Periodicals (Library subscribed) covers journals in language, linguistics, literature, folklore, pedagogy, or film. MLA provides information on articles published versus articles submitted, which can be used to calculate acceptance rates. It contains submission information, including number of reviewers.

UlrichsWeb Global Serials Directory (Library subscribed) provides detailed information for over 300,000 periodicals.. Reviews, description, circulation, table of contents, and abstracting and indexing databases can help provide a snapshot of journal quaility. UlrichsWeb allows you to to search journals by subject area, referee status, and whether it is included in JCR. Some acceptance information may be available.

Cabell's Directory of Publishing Opportunities (Library subscribed) covers business, education, and psychology journals. the Cabell's Classification Index ranks journals as premier, significant influence, high influence, qualified or novice. You can also search by acceptance rate, type of review, number of reviewers, fees, and publisher



(1) Tenopir, Carol, Regina Mays, and Lei Wu. "Journal Article Growth And Reading Patterns." New Review Of Information Networking 16.1 (2011): 4-22. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts. Web. 2 May 2012.



Last updated March 24, 2014.. For more information, please contact

Alternative Metrics

Alternative metrics use measures of influence other than citation indexing to show post-publication impact. These may include article views or downloads (increasing found on the journal's home page), how often an article has been saved to a citation manager such as Mendelay or Zotero, or mentions in social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, or blogs.
  • has a list of apps, including ImpactStory.
  • Altmetric Explorer (subscription required, free to librarians) consolidates and reports on the attention paid to journals and articles
  • ScienceWatch covers research fronts, hot topics, and highly-cited authors.
  • Researchgate  or can help raise the visibility of your research. You can also use Researchgate to share research articles among authors.
  • Google Scholar Profile - Login with your gmail account, then click my library, then my citations, and you will be prompted to set up a profile
  • Worldcat Identities  - OCLC automatically generates  a summary page for every name in Worldcat. This may include you, especially if you have authored a book.
  • ORCID - Identify yourself with a unique research ID
  • ResearcherID
  • SSRN

Expert Rankings and Journal Quality Lists

Expert rankings are usually limited to a specific domain and are compiled by those knowledgeable in the field. Variables such as awareness, perceived quality, citations, readership, and editorial judgment may be used to compile these lists.

Faculty of 1000 (subscription required, first month free)  use post-publication peer review to recommend the most important articles in biology and medical journals, including "hidden jewels" in specialist journals.

European Reference Index for the Humanities (free) categorizes humanities  journals by readership, influence and visibility. Subject areas include Anthropology,  Archeology, Art, Classical Studies,  Gender Studies, History, Philosophy of science,  Linguistics, Literature, Musicology, Pedagogical and educational research, Philosophy, Psychology and Religious Studies. ERIH is not a ranking system but vouches that included academic journals meet stringent benchmarks including peer review. It classifies journals as INT1 (high visibility/influence), INT2 (significant visibility/influence) and NAT (mainly for a national audience).  ERIH concentrates on European publishers and includes non-English language journals. For further information, please see ERIH FAQ. Note: In 2014, ERIH is scheduled to be transfered to  Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD).

The International Guide to Academic Journal Quality (free) will be an authoritative guide to journal quality in business and management. It will be updated every three years. As of March 2014, a new list is expected shortly.

For specific subject areas, it may be worthwhile searching the academic literature or the web to see if  there have been journal rankings compiled. Some examples include

  • B. McKercher, R. Law, T. Lam (2006). Rating tourism and hospitality journals. Tourism Management, 27(6). full text
  • Gerda Gemser, Cees de Bont, Paul Hekkert, Ken Friedman, Quality perceptions of design journals: The design scholars’ perspective, Design Studies, Volume 33, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 4-23, ISSN 0142-694X.

Subject rankings


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