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Citation Analysis: Journal Rankings

Tutorial-Impact Factor

For a quick introduction to the topic of Journal Impact Factor, see a tutorial from Ebling Library for the Health Sciences.

Ranking by Percentile

Because impact factors vary among disciplines, one cannot meaningfully compare two journals in different disciplines using impact factors. For this reason, it is helpful to see how a journal ranks based on other journals in the subject category.  First find the journal to see what discipline or subject category/categories it falls within.  Then find the total number of journals in the subject area.  Subtract the ranking of the journal from the total number of journals and divide by the number of journals in the subject area minus 1.  Thus you will find the percentile ranking. 


n=number of journals in the subject category

n-rank/n-1 x 100 =percentile


Quantitative analysis of journals is a way traditional peer review may be augmented to gain a more complete picture of a scholar's impact in his chosen field. Three measures can be used:

  • number of publications
  • number of times an author's publications have been cited
  • the importance of the journal where the article is published, or the Journal Ranking.

Knowing the impact or importance of the journal can help in decisions about where an author will choose to submit an article. Libraries and librarians also use journal rankings to make decisions about collection development.

The established source for journal rankings is Journal Citation Reports, (Science Edition or Social Science Edition) a database that can be accessed through Web of Science or Web of Knowledge. Journals may be searched by individual title, by date, or by subject category. In contrast to Eigenfactor, journals may belong to more than one category.  See the Web of Knowledge Using Journal Citation Reports page for instructions on extracting journal rankings information from this source.

In addition to Journal Citation Reports, there are some other sources for journal rankings. These are listed in a page entitled Alternative Sources for Journal Rankings under the Journal Rankings tab on this LibGuide.


Much of the content of this guide is based on a guide created at University of Michigan Library and which can be viewed here. Thank you to the group that created that guide and allowed us to make use of the content for our own guide.