Skip to Main Content

GR ST 536: Preparing Publishable Thesis Chapters

Support for graduate students looking for a journal to publish their work.

Journal Rankings

One way that journals are evaluated is by their metrics. Metrics are quantitative measures designed to help evaluate research outputs. Some of these metrics, such as an h-index, apply to an author. Other metrics, such as journal acceptance rates and impact factor, relate to the journal itself. While these metrics should not be used alone to assess the quality of a journal, they are one option available to you. 

Note: There are many metrics that try to measure the impact of research. None is perfect. Knowing the norms and expectations of your discipline is critically important for understanding what each metric means. 

Understanding Metrics

Beyond Metrics

Although the prestige of your scholarship and the place it's published in can be important, it's also important to maximize your research's impact in other ways. Check out our research guide linked below for more information about other ways you can share your work:

Scopus Sources

One tool that you can use to find metrics for journals in your field is Scopus. Scopus provides tools for tracking citations and author publications, but it can also be used to find journal-level metrics such as # of citations per year and impact factor. 

Be aware: not all journals are indexed in Scopus. Depending on your subject specialty, you may need to use a different tool or site to find informaton about your selected journal(s). 

To retrieve a list of journals in your subject area, Click in the "enter subject area" box on the top of the page and either start typing or browse the fields listed and select the box(es) that correspond the most closely to your subject area:

Screenshot of Scopus sources subject search box

Your results will automatically be grouped by CiteScore, but you can click on any modifier on the top of the results (% Cited, SJR, # of citations) to see how the rankings change based on the metric being applied.

Use the fields on the left side of the screen to narrow your results:

Screenshot of Filter options in Scopus Sources

You can limit by Open Access journals, trade publications, or you can choose to only display publications that have published at least x amount of documents in the past year. This may be useful for weeding out journals that do not publish regularly, or which are no longer active.

When your search is complete, you should see a list of articles with various metrics you can sort by. What do these metrics mean?

  • CiteScore: A metric developed and used by Scopus, a journal's CiteScore is calculated by dividing the number of documents published four years prior by the number of citations those documents received over the same timespan.
  • Citations 2019-22: The total citations for all articles published in the journal during the stated calendar years. 
  • Documents 2019-22: The total number of articles, reports, and other papers published within the journal during the stated calendar years.
  • % Cited: The percent of articles within the journal that have been cited at least once since publication. 
  • SNIP: Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) measures contextual citation impact by weighting citations based on the total number of citations in a subject field. The impact of a single citation is given higher value in subject areas where citations are less likely and vice versa.
  • SJR: SJR (Scientific Journal Rankings) is a metric used by Web of Science, based on the idea that "all citations are not created equal." With SJR, the subject field, quality, and reputation of the journal has a direct effect on the value of a citation.

Other Metrics

While Scopus Sources does provide a few different methods for assessing a journal, there are other metrics and methods that might be of use to you as well. A few of these are provided in the links below. 

What about Impact Factor?

A journal's Impact Factor (JIF) is a proprietary, journal-level metric owned by Clarivate (Web of Science). To have a JIF, a journal must be included in the Web of Science Core Collection

The impact factor for a journal is an annual calculation that measures the average number of times in a given year that articles published the past 2 years in a specific journal have been cited during the year being analyzed.

Therefore, the IF for a journal in 2023 would be the number of times that articles published from 2021-2022 were cited during the 2023 calendar year.

Why does having a Journal Impact Factor matter? 

In some disciplines, journals indexed by Web of Science are considered to be higher quality part, because Web of Science only covers "core" journals in each discipline. The higher the ranking, the more often they are being cited, according to their proprietary methods. Unfortunately, some interdisciplinary areas, newer fields/journals, and many journals published outside the U.S. are not covered well by Web of Science.

Profile Photo
Abbey Elder
150 Parks Library
Iowa State University