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GR ST 529: Preparing Publishable Thesis Chapters

Writing support for graduate students

JCR Definitions


SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Journal Citation Reports (JCR)

Most of us have heard of "Impact Factor," but what is it?

When we talk about a journal's Impact Factor, we're talking about a proprietary name and method that is unique to an annual publication called Journal Citation Reports, also known as JCR, and recently rebranded as InCites Journal Citation Reports.

Help using InCites JCR!

Some of the navigation features on InCites JCR are not intuitive. Check the tabs here for easy steps on how to get started!

JCR is comprised of records pertaining to thousands of journals in the sciences and in the social sciences. Halfway down JCR's left menu, you'll see a Select Edition choice. SCIE means Science Edition (for science & technology disciplines) and SSCI means Social Sciences Edition.  Both are selected by default. Select the relevant edition for your subject area.  

InCites JCR Edition

Click the next tab in this tutorial to continue!

1.  Choose Select Categories on JCR's left menu - this allows you to drill down to a list of journals in specific subject areas / disciplines.

2.  Choose subject area of interest from the list by selecting adjacent box.  

JCR Subject selection


Note: There is no "submit" or "save" button! 

Just make your selection and move on to the next step.



3. Scroll down now to find Submit button at the bottom of JCR's left menu, and click.   

You should now see a list of journals in your selected subject area. The default organization is by journal Impact Factor, sorted from highest to lowest impact.  You can sort your list by any column you like, using the Indicator label you wish to sort by.  You can also select any journal on the list to see its metrics for the past 10 years or so. 

Note: If you want to search a different subject, you'll need to first use the left menu's Clear button at the bottom of the page, next to the Submit button.

When you click on a specific journal in your JCR search results, you can view the past 10 years or so of that journal's metrics.  You can also view journal table of contents for a recent issue.You can browse individual articles' abstracts and metrics.  This can give you an idea of the types of articles that journal publishes.

Click the next tab of this tutorial for next steps...

1.  With a subject list of journals onscreen (see previous tab for how-to), find and select Customize Indicators link at top right corner of your list.

2. Select / deselect the indicator(s) you wish to see.

3. Do not click Save button - Instead, click the X in top right corner! (If you choose Save, you will be prompted to login with your Web of Science account. Unless you are a power user, you may not have / need to have an account.)

InCites JCR Customize Indicators

Presto! You should now see your choice of Indicators in the inset JCR window that shows your journals list. Note you may have to scroll left-right and up-down in that window to see your entire list. (The window cannot be expanded!) Once again, on your list just click the Indicator label you wish to sort by.

Click the next tab of this tutorial for last page!

When you search journals by subject, you can select several journals on your list and compare them with each other with the Compare Selected Journals link at the top left in your list.  You'll then need to make a few more selections to indicate HOW you with to compare them.

Note: First, use the Clear button at the bottom of the left menu to clear any previous searches / search results.

Next, once again on the left menu, choosing Trends (under Select Comparison - see the *  below for a description of Quartile search) is a very useful way to see how / if journal performance has changed over the years. For example, you might see that a newer journal is steadily gaining in importance over the years. Under Years, note that you can choose more than 1 year if you wish.  At the bottom of the left menu, choose the Metric you want to compare, such as JIF (Journal Impact Factor, Immediacy, etc), then once again Submit.

JCR Select Journals

Alternatively, if you already know the names of journals you wish to compare, there's no need to pull together a subject list first.  Just go directly to JCR's left menu and in Select Journals, type in the names of the journals you wish to compare. When you're done, click Submit at the bottom of the left menu.

* Select comparison also lists Quartiles: Journals in a particular subject area are ranked by Impact factor (IF), and then the list is divided in four groups: Quartile 1 represents the top 25% of the journals in terms of highest IF. Q2 is the top 26%-50%, Q3 51%-75%, and Q4 76%-100%. You may select WHICH quartile you wish to see / compare.

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There are so many metrics that try to measure impact and prestige of scholarship and research articles. None is perfect. You'll need to decide which ones are important for you to pay attention to, and which you can do without. Knowing the norms and expectations of your discipline is also critically important.

"Obviously, a single number can never give more than a rough approximation to an individual's multifaceted profile, and many other factors should be considered in combination in evaluating an individual."
J.E. Hirsch (2005) H-Index: An Index to Quantify an Individual's Scientific Research Output, PNAS Online, vol. 102 no. 46.

"Well, "good" depends on several variables. First, what is her field of study? What's considered "good" in Clinical Medicine (84) is different than what is considered "good" in Mathematics (19). Some fields simply publish and cite more than others."
Impactstory Team (March 26, 2014). Four Great Reasons to Stop Caring So Much about the H-Index.

Your Librarian

Abbey Elder's picture
Abbey Elder
150 Parks Library
Iowa State University