How to Find Academic Journal Rankings
Academic journal quality is important to consider when submitting an article. Journals have varying levels of prestige, and higher quality journals may help academics improve publication-related metrics that facilitate academic success. Higher values in some of these metrics may translate into higher article visibility, greater grant funding awards, and higher likelihood of receiving a promotion, including tenure. However, some have argued that the logic behind some ranking calculations is circular, as they are linked with the number of publications. How to find article journal rankings and other alternatives to relying on academic journal rankings alone are discussed below.
Metrics for Journals, Articles, and Academics
Academic metrics are available for many areas, including journals, articles within the journals, and academics themselves. These categories are discussed below.
Academic Journal Rankings
One of the most popular ways to rank academic journals is by its impact factor , which is a measure of the average number of citations for a given article within an academic journal. One criticism of the impact factor is that academic journals that publish reviews will have higher impact factors, as review articles are more highly cited than most others.
Eigenfactors are an additional value assigned to academic journals. They are calculated based on the articles published within a journal and the total number of citations from articles published within the journal. Larger journals that are well-cited will have higher eigenfactors than smaller journals, even if they are also highly cited. The journal Nature , for example, maintains a high eigenfactor score.
Metrics for Articles
An article influence score is a metric for a single article within a journal. This value is related to the eigenfactor value and calculated by dividing the Eigenfactor by the total number of articles published within a journal. The article influence score is a measure of the average impact per article. Values above one are indicative of high impact articles and those below one are considered lower impact articles.
Metrics for Academics
The h-index is a measure meant to account for both academic output and impact. It evaluates the number of an individual’s publications with a citation number greater than the number of her publications. For example, someone with 10 publications cited at least 10 times would have an h-index of 10.
Another metric used to quantify an academic’s output is the g-index . This metric was developed in 2006 to help account for an author’s publications with higher impact. The g-index weighs articles that are highly cited more than those with fewer citations. While useful, the g-index is not as widely accepted as is the h-index.
The i10-index is a comparatively simpler metric for evaluating authors and is only used by Google Scholar. It is calculated as the number of publications with more than 10 citations. Although it is a freely accessible, simple scoring system, a major limitation of using this value is that it is only measured by Google Scholar.
Where to Find Academic Journal Rankings
Several cost-free tools are available to help find academic journal rankings. To find Eigenfactors, article influence scores, and citation scores, online tools provide lists showing the top ranking journals. These sites also allow users to search for specific journals within their databases.
The impact factor of a journal can be found using the Journal Citation Reports. To find eigenfactors and article influence scores, academics can use the search window at eigenfactor.org. Similarly, Google Scholar publishes a list of the top academic journals based on the h5-index, which is a measure of the number of articles within the journal and the citations for those articles within the last five years. For example, a journal with an h-index of 50 and 50 articles over the last five years must have at least 50 citations per article. Within Google Scholar, users may search for metrics for specific journals.
Scopus gives users a simple "CiteScore" for assessing journal rankings. Over a four-year period, the number of citations generated from a given journal divided by the total number of articles within the journal is its CiteScore.
SCImago Journal and Country Rank (SJR) is a database that utilizes data from Scopus. The SJR software gives users information and rankings, including impact factor, citation score, and scope. SJR also provides journal ranking data based on the country of origin of the journal. Moreover, the software provides several graphical representations of journal data, making it one of the most comprehensive and user friendly of all journal ranking software.
Academics may also be interested in the values that are assigned to them based on their article output. Researchgate is one website that gives academics an estimate of their h-index. Similarly, Google Scholar provides an h-index, i10-index, and total citation counts. To access these values, search an individual’s name, and those with profiles in Google Scholar will have a link to their metrics.
Alternative Approaches to Journal Rankings
While academic journal rankings may be useful, researchers have argued that individual publications play a large role in assigning values to academic quality. For example, an author’s publication number is highly correlated with her h-index. Specifically, there is a .95 correlation between publications and h-index values.
Mathematicians have also argued that reducing a researcher to a single value may be overly simplistic. An h-index is only one factor that gives limited information about an individual’s academic career. Academic quality may not be easily determined by numerical values.
In addition to submitting to journals with the highest numerical quality, academics may aim to find the best match for their articles. That is, they could find journals that are in close alignment with their specific topic.
Several advantages come with this approach. One is turnaround time. Journals with the highest numerical rankings may have a slow review process, and timing is critical for academics at early career stages. Delayed review times stifle academic advancement for young academics who may need to quickly publish in hopes of getting to the next stages of their careers. Journals with special interests often have faster review times.
A second advantage of finding a well-fitting journal to submit to is the readership. Because the journal is more focused, readers may be more likely to be within the author’s field and cite the paper when they publish, possibly resulting in a higher likelihood of research impact via citations.
Freely accessible, online software is available to help academics find the best fitting journal for their article. A couple of these are listed below.
Academics should consider academic journal rankings when submitting their articles to a journal. Publications in highly ranking, prestigious journals may result in better career-related outcomes, including more grant funding and higher chances of promotion. However, factors other than academic journal rankings, such as journal match, are also worth considering.