Skip to Main Content

Waidner-Spahr Library

Citation Searching: Journal Rankings

Journal Rankings

Journal Rankings are a somewhat subjective means by which academics gauge the impact, prestige, and quality of a particular journal. There are a variety of independent organizations that rank the journals. Factors that influence the ranking of a particular journal include the degree of difficulty it is to be published in a journal, the "perceived prestige" of a journal, as well as more quantitative factors, such as its Impact Factor (see right).

Journal Rankings can be useful to determine the most influential publications in a particular field. However, because the ranking system relies on citations, which take time to accrue, the rankings often reflect the influence and relevance of a journal from about two years prior to the ranking's determination.

  • SCImago Journal & Country Rank is an open access website that ranks almost 20,000 journals from the Scopus database from 1996 to present. The rankings are determined by both the number of citations a particular journal receives, as well as the relative prestige of the citing journal (their own spin on the Eigenfactor -- see right). You can sort the journals by discipline or country of origin.
  • is another open access website that ranks journals broadly defined as related to the sciences. It ranks journals by its own Eigenfactor, as well as by Article Influence (see right). takes its data from Thomson Scientific's Journal Citation Reports (JCR) which details "more than 8,000 journals in the sciences and social sciences" from Web of Science, and a total of over twelve thousand journals (see bottom of this page).
  • Additionally, Google Scholar Metrics also ranks "journals" based on the relative H-index (see right). These can be separated out into large academic categories, however it should be noted that this measurement is somewhat inaccurate. A number of the "journals" listed are in fact databases, like arXiv Astrophysics.


Recently, altmetrics have emerged as an alternative to traditional citation-based measures such as impact factor.

Altmetric Donut

Altmetrics are article-level metrics that usually take into account measures such as shares on social media, mentions on websites and in the traditional media, article views and downloads, and saves to social bookmarking sites such as Mendeley, in addition to citations in the scholarly literature.

Plum Print

‚ÄčAltmetric and Plum Analytics provide two different altmetric measures, often displayed on individual articles via the Altmetric Donut and Plum Print, respectively.

How Journals are Measured

Journals are ranked through a number of different means. Additionally, different organizations and institutions develop their own systems by which to determine relative rankings, like SCImago's SJR Indicator. Below are the most common measures used to determine journal ranking.

  • Impact Factor - Developed by Dr. Eugene Garfield, the Impact Factor of a journal indicates the average number of times articles (from the past two years, ex. 2009 and 2010) in a particular journal receives citations in a given year (ex. 2011). This Impact Factor would then be published in the following year, so 2012. The Impact Factor is therefore always reflecting one to two years in the past.
  • Eigenfactor - Founded by researchers at the University of Washington, the Eigenfactor ranks journals according to the number of citations as well as giving extra weight to citations coming from highly ranked journals. The score also reflects the volume of work a particular journal publishes, so journals which publish a higher quantity of articles will receive a high Eigenfactor score. The sum total of all the Eigenfactor scores is equal to 100. "In 2006, the journal Nature has the highest Eigenfactor score, with a score of 1.992." This should assist you in interpreting the scores.
  • Article Influence - Also developed by Eigenfactor, the Article Influence of a particular journal is determined by the average number of citations per article, as well as from which journals they came, and is similar to the Impact Factor. The Article Influence scores are "normalized" so that the mean Article Influence of a journal is 1.
  • H-index - Also known as the Hirsch index or Hirsch Number, the H-index was developed by Jorge E. Hirsch at UCSD, and is a tool to measure an individual researcher's influence on/in a particular field. It is limited to comparing scholars within the same field, since citation conventions differ so greatly between fields. The H-index is a calculation determined by the relationship between the number of publications by a particular researcher, and the number of citations for each publication. It is often favored because it measures both the quality and quantity of research being done.