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Metrics and Impact: Journal metrics

What are journal metrics used for?

Journals metrics are measures used to evaluate the quality of a journal.

Some commonly used metrics are the:

In Australia, the ERA journal list is also used as a quality measure. Other quality measures such as inclusion on other curated lists (Australian Business Deans (ABDC) Journal Quality List), indexing, peer review status, citation metrics, subject rankings and acceptance rates can be found here.

Journal metrics are used in grant applications, when staff are applying for promotion and when identifying potential journals in which to publish.

Google Scholar also released their own ranking system in April 2012, called 'Google Scholar Metrics'.

Impact Factors (Clarivate Analytics)

InCites Journal Citation Reports banner

Journal Impact Factors (JIF) are found in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) database.

The Journal Citation Reports database is used to determine the relative importance of journals within their subject categories:

  • Uses Web of Science Core Collection data
  • Around 12, 171 journals covering the sciences and social sciences
  • Includes a five-year impact factor
  • Updated annually (usually June/July)

Learn the basics about JCR from this Clarivate guide

  1. Not all journals have impact factors. They must be indexed in  Web of Science to have an impact factor
  2. A journal has only one impact factor, but it may be listed in more than one category
  3. A journal impact factor should not be looked at in isolation, but in comparison to other journals in the same category
  4. Impact factors vary across disciplines 
  5. A five-year impact factor may also be used in some disciplines.

Impact factors can be used to:

  • Identify journals in which to publish
  • Identify journals relevant to your research
  • Confirm the status of journals in which you have published.

But is it a good number? To state that the "Internet and Higher Education” has an impact factor of 7.178 is not meaningful.

It is more useful to say that the journal ranks fifth of 264 journals in the field of Education & Educational Research in the Social Sciences Citation Index, and so is in Quartile 1 (top 25% of journals in its field).

It is recommended therefore that the impact factor for a journal is not looked at in isolation. Rather, the impact factor of a journal should be compared to the impact factors for other journals within the same subject category.

Scopus Journal Rankings

Scopus has a Compare sources link Screenshot of the Compare Sources link which allows you
to compare the performance of up to ten sources such as journals and conference proceedings. The main measures are:

CiteScore metrics – The CiteScore calculation is based on the number of citations to documents (including articles, reviews, conference papers, book chapters and data papers) by a journal over four years, divided by the number of the same document types indexed in Scopus and published in those same four years. Article in press documents are not included in the CiteScore calculation and it is primarily used for journals. For more information on CiteScore look at the How are CiteScore metrics used in Scopus

SNIP allows researchers to compare the citation impact of sources within different subject fields.

To find either CiteScore metrics and/or SNIP metrics:

  • Connect to Scopus
  • Select the Sources link (in the top menu bar)
  • Then type in the source title eg "Internet and Higher Education" and select Search
  • Click on the source title in the result list to see details eg "Internet and Higher Education"

SJR is defined as the average number of weighted citations received in the
selected year by the documents published in the selected journal in the
three previous years. It is a measure of prestige.

The SCImago Journal & Country Rank (SJR) was developed from information
contained in the Scopus database from 1996. Journals can be searched for
individually or via broad subject area (27 areas) or subject category (313 categories),
allowing you to see where a journal is ranked within its own subject/discipline
area. SCImago is an alternative to Clarivate’s Journal Citation Reports, which uses Web of Science citation data.

For more information look at the Research Quick Guide below.

SJR is also available via the Scopus Compare sources function,
however country ranking functionality is not available.

Journal h-index

Journal h-index is one measure of the quality of a journal and can be calculated using data from Google Scholar, Scopus or Web of Science.

As with the impact factor, journal h-index does not take into account differing citation practices of fields (unlike the weighted SJR and SNIP) and so is best used to compare journals within the same field.

Scopus logo - Navigates to Scopus database

  • Connect to Scopus
  • Enter the journal title eg "Internet and Higher Education" and select Source Title from the drop-down menu
  • Set the desired publication window using the Date Range limit
  • Select Search
  • Check that the target title is the only journal listed under Refine > Source Title in the left-hand side column - if not, tick the box next to the target title and Limit to
  • Select all documents from the result list (to access this see drop-down options for the checkbox above the list of results)
  • Select View Citation overview
  • H-index appears to the right-hand side of the screen

Web of science logo - Navigates to Web of Science database

From Search > Web of Science Core Collection:

  • Enter journal title e.g. "Internet and Higher Education" and select Publication Titles from the drop-down menu
  • Set the desired publication window using the Publication Date limit
  • Select Search
  • Check that the target title is the only journal listed under Refine Results > Publication Titles in the left-hand side column - if not, tick the box next to the target title and Refine
  • Select  Citation Report

 h-index appears to the right of the screen

SCImago Journal and Country Rank uses Scopus data to compare journals and countries. It is freely available on the web.

  • Enter the Journal Title in the search box to view information on an individual title, including its subject area, subject category and h-index
  • The Journal Rankings tab allows you to retrieve a list of journals within a subject area or category and order by h-index

Go to Google Scholar and select Metrics

A screenshot of the Metrics menu option on Google Scholar

  • Click on the magnifying glass to bring up the search box. Type in the title of the journal - you may need to try more than one spelling (e.g. with or without ampersand, alternate title, abbreviated title) the h5-index and h5-median will appear if available
  • Select the hyperlinked h5-index number to view the h5-core (articles cited at least h times) and to see if the journal is in the top 20 of a subject category
  • The Google Scholar h5-index is based on a five year publication window, 2016-2020. To calculate h-index based on a different range of years use Harzing's Publish or Perish

If your journal title does not appear:

  • Try alternate spellings
  • The journal may not be indexed by Google Scholar
  • Records for the journal may be present in Google Scholar, but the h-index may not have been automatically calculated (e.g. where there are fewer than a hundred articles in the five-year period). In this case Publish or Perish software can be used to calculate the h-index

To find out more see:

Cite counts on Staff Home Pages

Cite counts display on Staff Home Pages when the output has been cited one or more times in a database. Cite counts from Web of Science and Scopus are refreshed daily as part of a scheduled process. Altmetric scores are refreshed around May and November. BIP (Business Intelligence and Planning) manage the University’s Altmetric subscription.

Grant guidelines and journal metrics

Some granting bodies stipulate what information should/should not be included in their applications. For example in the case of journal based metrics such as Journal Impact Factors or the use of lists such as ERA these are not to be used in the NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) Investigator Grants 2021 (see Guidelines V1.0 page 26) (login required). Please refer to the relevant grant application guidelines or seek clarification from your relevant grant developer.