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Journal quality

A publication's reliability, integrity and quality needs to be considered when identifying where to publish. Evaluate publications in terms of the following attributes:

  • peer review
  • citation analysis indicated by impact factor or other ranking
  • international editorial board
  • international author base
  • coverage by an abstracting indexing service

This information is usually included on the journal's website.

Journal metrics use citation data to rank and compare scholarly journals. Citation analyses are based on the premise that number of citations is an indication of the importance of a journal.

The status of a journal is commonly determined by two factors:

  1. popularity e.g. number of citations a journal receives
  2. prestige e.g. sources of a journal’s citations.



  • Individual articles should never be judged solely on the Impact Factor or other metrics for the journal in which an article is published.
    • All journals have a spread of citations, and even the best journals have some articles that are never cited.
    • Citation counts alone do not indicate the quality of the citations or the publication e.g. a work may be highly cited because it is controversial; this can distort the impact factor of a journal.
  • Analyses are limited to the journals listed in the database you are using e.g. JCR results are limited to the journals in the Thomson Reuters database, explaining why many journals do not have an Impact Factor.
  • JCR calculations are based on a 2 or 5 year citation window compared with 4 years for Scopus calculations. A shorter citation window favours rapidly moving fields whereas a longer citation windows favours fields which build citations more slowly.
  • Citations may be biased e.g. English language and review journals tend to be cited more frequently than works in other languages; authors may frequently cite their own work or the work of their colleagues.
  • Review journals tend to have higher impact factors than original research journals in the same field because they tend to be cited more frequently.
  • Only research articles, technical notes and reviews are “citable” items. Editorials, letters, news items and meeting abstracts are “non-citable items” and so do not contribute to Impact Factors and other metrics calculated from citation data.