Cited Reference Searching & Journal Rankings: Journal Citation Reports - Impact Factors and Rankings

How to locate articles and other documents that have cited a previously published document. Also how to determine where a journal is ranked in relation to others in its field.

Journal Citation Reports

Journal Citation Reports (JCR), accessed via the Additional Resources link in Web of Science, includes data that can be used to evaluate and compare over 8000 scholarly journals in the sciences & technology, and 2600 in the social sciences. It can be used to show the:

  • most frequently cited journals in a field
  • highest impact journals in a field
  • related journals in a field
  • citation characteristics for a subject category.
  • detailed citation, impact and ranking data on individual titles

JCR is published in two editions, the Science Edition and the Social Sciences Edition.  Both are updated annually.

Impact Factors

Frequently requested information from JCR is a journal's Impact Factor which represents "the average number of times articles from the journal published in the past two years have been cited in the JCR year."  It is calculated by dividing the number of times a journal is cited in the JCR year, by the number of articles published in the journal in the previous two or five years. Below is the Impact Factor calculation for PLOS Biology for 2008:

Illustration of the impact factor for PLOS Biology for 2008

JCR provides Impact Factors for both two-year and five-year time periods to accommodate discipline differences.  Impact Factor numbers vary considerably by discipline, being higher, for instance, in fields with rapidly evolving knowledge.  Thus, the Impact Factor number for a specific journal is more meaningful when viewed in relation to those of other journals in the same category or field.  In addition, Impact Factors can be manipulated to some extent by publishing choices made by journal editors, e.g. publishing a greater number of review articles which tend to be more frequently cited, or requiring authors to cite other articles from the same journal.  Finally, Impact Factors do not represent the value of individual journal articles.

Using Journal Citation Reports

Access Journal Citation Reports (JCR) from the Libraries' Databases tab, alphabetical listing or from the Additional Resources tab within the Web of Science database. 

Step 1. On the Home page the default settings are to search for Journal by Rank, the latest year data and in both Science and Social Science editions. Start typing the full title of the journal in the box and JCR will display titles in their database that match.  Click on a title if a match appears, e.g. Journal of Affective Disorders. The ability to download the data is at the top of every screen.

Step 2.  The journal entry includes publication information, the journal's subject categories and data for several years.  1-year and 5-year Impact Factors and EigenFactor scores are among the Key Indicators provided. 

Step 3.  To view the journal in relation to other journals in its Subject Categories, click on the Rank button below the Key Indicators chart.  This displays the Rank, Quartile, and JIF Percentile by category.

Step 5.  To see all the titles in this journal's categories, click the hot linked category at the top of the screen:

Step 6.  The titles in that category will be displayed in Impact Factor order.

Step 7.  To print or save this list, click the download button at the top of the page and use either CSV or XLS formats.