Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Scholarly Publishing and Research Impact: Mid to Late Career Researcher Edition: Citation-Based Journal Metrics (Impact Factor & Beyond)

This guide to scholarly communications will acquaint researchers with knowledge and tools for better understanding and managing the creation and dissemination of their scholarly research.

Citation-Based Journal Metrics

The tools below can help you compare quantitative, citation-based metrics for journals to which you are considering sending a manuscript. ​

You may also want to look for journal rankings created by university departments or professional organizations in your field (tip: try Googling something like journal rankings in [field]). These can sometimes be tricky to track down (or may not exist at all), but if they exist and you can find them, they can provide extra data about the perception of a journal in a discipline. This can be especially useful if your field is not well covered in the tools discussed in this guide, or if you feel that these tools do not fairly and accurately represent the perceptions of your field.

Note that citation-based metrics can be useful for specific purposes, but they should not be used as a proxy measure for an individual article or individual researcher, nor do they represent the actual "quality" of a journal.



These links will jump you down this page for details on other potential metrics for evaluation and comparison:

Journal Impact Factor (JIF or IF)

Data Source: Clarivate's Web of Science database

Availability: Found through JCR: Journal Citation Reports from the SHSU Library

What It Is: Ratio comparing number of citations a given journal received from other considered journals, to the total number of “citable items” contained in that journal, such that for Year y:

Year y Impact Factor = Total # of citations in y to items published in y-1 and y-2
Total # of “citable items” published in y-1 and y-2

2-year Vs. 5-year: Default IF covers 2 years; 5-year IF also available.

Tip for Searching: Be PRECISE, e.g., & versus and; try variations or search by Title Word instead of Full Journal Title.

What It Does Measure:

  • Influence of a journal on other scholarly journals in terms of citation.
  • Comparison of journals within a field.

What It Does Not Measure:

  • Objective quality of a journal.
  • Comparison of journals in different fields. 
  • Any aspect of an individual article or researcher.
  • Influence of a journal on policy, practice, or the public.

Criticisms to be Aware of: 

The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) states: "The Journal Impact Factor, as calculated by Thomson Reuters," [now owned by Clarivate Analytics] "was originally created as a tool to help librarians identify journals to purchase, not as a measure of the scientific quality of research in an article. With that in mind, it is critical to understand that the Journal Impact Factor has a number of well-documented deficiencies as a tool for research assessment. These limitations include: A) citation distributions within journals are highly skewed [1–3]; B) the properties of the Journal Impact Factor are field-specific: it is a composite of multiple, highly diverse article types, including primary research papers and reviews [1, 4]; C) Journal Impact Factors can be manipulated (or “gamed”) by editorial policy [5]; and D) data used to calculate the Journal Impact Factors are neither transparent nor openly available to the public [4, 6, 7]."

The Oregon State Library Committee Statement on Uses and Misuses of the Impact Factor observes: "Faculty members want to publish in the best possible outlet for their work. Sometimes the journal with the highest impact factor is the best outlet, sometimes it is not. Newly emerging online and open access journals, which are not yet well-established, will inevitably be rated 'low impact.' Therefore, the use of the high-impact factor index tends to inhibit scholars, especially junior scholars, from publishing their work in alternative, less expensive publications.”


This brief video (5:28) helps to further define and explain the Impact Factor.


This video (2:08) from Web of Science Training provides a helpful "quick tour" of searching JCR.

CiteScore, SNIP, and IPP


Data source: Elsevier's Scopus database

Availability: Freely available (even though SHSU does not subscribe to Scopus)

What It Is: Citation-based ratio similar to Impact Factor, but different data source means some journals may have a CiteScore when they do not have an Impact Factor

  1. CiteScore: Ratio: number of citations journal receives in one year to documents published in the previous three years, divided by the number of documents indexed in Scopus published in the same three years. Considers "documents" beyond just journal articles, such as editorials, books, conference proceedings, etc.
  2. Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP): measures contextual citation impact by weighting citations based on the total number of citations in a subject field.
  3. Impact per Publication (IPP): ratio of citations per article published in the journal.

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR)


Data Source: Elsevier's Scopus database

Unique Approach: calculates article influence and creates rankings using an algorithm that is similar to Google’s PageRank.

Availability: includes additional graphs and details beyond the simple SJR score available at Scopus Sources (discussed above).

Cabell's Metrics

This video explains the meaning of Cabell's unique metrics and how they are derived.

Cabell's Classification Index: Contextual sense of a journal's citation rates; example below, journal is in top 10% in its field in terms of citation distribution. Clicking on the main discipline brings up specific topics and the journal's rank within each. 

Difficulty of Acceptance: Relative sense of a journal's acceptance rate within its field.

Google Scholar Journal Metrics


  • Find the h5-index for a particular journal.
  • Browse a subject area (and sub-category, if available) for top journals in rank order
  • Does not comprehensively cover all journals



Data source: Clarivate's Web of Science database

Availability: Freely available online at; also available in JCR: Journal Citation Reports from the SHSU Library.

Distinction from Impact Factor: gives different weight to individual citations, e.g., not all citations are created equal. Citations from higher-prestige journals are more highly valued than citations from low-prestige journals.

More Resources


Newton Gresham Library | (936) 294-1614 | (866) NGL-INFO | Ask a Question | Share a Suggestion

Sam Houston State University | Huntsville, Texas 77341 | (936) 294-1111 | (866) BEARKAT
© Copyright Sam Houston State University | All rights reserved. | A Member of The Texas State University System