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Research metrics and publishing: Journal Quality and Metrics

Assessing journals in your discipline

Factors to consider when determining the most appropriate journals for publishing your research include:

  • Journal coverage and relevance within your field
  • Journal quality or impact, often determined by peer review and through use of metrics (citation data)
  • Editorial board and author base - standing of editors, international editors and authors
  • Journal dissemination - Where is it indexed? Is it Open Access? 

In addition, contact your Faculty's Research Office for advice on journal rankings in your discipline

Major indicators of journal quality

Indicator Details Use this indicator when ...

Journal Impact Factor (JIF)

Based on Web of Science
citation data

Calculated annually

  • JIF = the number of times articles published in the previous 2 years have been cited in the year of reporting, divided by the number of citable items.

  • also provided is eigenfactorand rank and quartile within category
  • calculated annually
  • proprietary resource, accessible via Library website (Incites Journal Citations Reports)
  • in Web of Science, access JIF from the article record by clicking View Journal Information
  • you want to determine quality based on Journal Impact Factor or journal ranking 
  • a publication is indexed in Web of Science

JIF cannot be used to compare across different disciplines











Based on Scopus citation

Calculated monthly

CiteScore = the number of times documents published in the previous 3 years have been cited in the year of reporting, divided by the number of documents.


  • All types of documents (conference proceedings, letters etc.) are included in the CiteScore calculation rather than just research papers and reviews
  • CiteScore rankings and CiteScore percentile metrics are also available
  • CiteScores freely available, underlying data only for Scopus subscribers


  • you want to determine quality based on CiteScore
  • a publication is indexed in Scopus
  • you want to include a range of documents
  • you want an alternative to JIF

SJR SCImago JournalRank

Based on Scopus citation

  • Scimago Journal Rank (SJR) is a ranking based on the transfer of prestige from one journal to another
  • calculations are similar to those of Journal Impact Factor but are normalised for fields that don't cite much, and citations are weighted on the prestige of the citing journal
  • free resource available at
  • also accessible within Scopus - click Compare Journals on the Scopus home page
  • a Journal Impact Factor is not available, and a publication is indexed in Scopus
  • you want to account for prestige of citing journals
  • investigating across different fields

Based on Journal Citation Reports & Web of Science
citation data
  • citations from highly cited journals influence the score more than citations from lesser cited journals
  • excludes self-citations
  • calculated by citation received in the year from publications in the previous 5 years
  • publications are indexed in Web of Science
  • an established researcher

SNIP (Source Normalized Impact per Paper)

Based on Scopus citation
  • SNIP is the ratio of a source's average citation count per paper and the 'citation potential' of its subject field
  • allows direct comparison of sources in different subject fields
  • publications are indexed in Scopus
  • you want to account for variations in citing patterns within disciplines
  • investigating across different fields

Avoiding poor quality journals

Predatory publishing refers to the unethical practices of publishers who make false claims about the merit of their publications in a bid to lure researchers to submit their work.

Cabells Scholarly Analytics database contains a Predatory Reports list of questionable journals.

Further tips

8 Ways to Identify a Questionable Open Access Journal

The World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) has released a document to "provide guidance to help editors, researchers, funders, academic institutions and other stakeholders distinguish predatory journals from legitimate journals."

Discipline specific journal rankings

Journals included in the following lists are considered to be of a high standard:

Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences

Ulrichsweb serials directory

Ulrichsweb is useful to:

  • identify the journal coverage in a particular discipline
  • see if a journal is refereed (peer reviewed)
  • find out where an individual journal title is indexed


Image above of journals and globe by Surachai at

Image at top of 'Quality' magnified by Stuart Miles at