Unveiling Journal Citation Reports, Part 1: Your Guide to Evaluating Scholarly Impact

Unveiling Journal Citation Reports, Part 1: Your Guide to Evaluating Scholarly Impact

In our latest blog post, we delved into the complexities of the Web of Science Core Collection and its citation indexes. Building on that foundation, we now turn our focus to another indispensable resource for the academic community: Clarivate’s Journal Citation Reports (JCR). This tool is crucial for researchers and institutions alike, offering in-depth insights into the publishing landscape.

The History of the Journal Citation Reports (JCR)

The Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is an annual product released by Clarivate, typically in late June. Its primary objective is to assess and rank scholarly content available in the Web of Science, utilizing citation data. Since its inception in 1975., JCR has been a primal resource for the academic community. Initially published as an extension of the 11th edition of the Science Citation Index (SCI), JCR has evolved into a globally recognized standalone product.

A key feature of the Reports is the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) metric. The JIF offers insights into the frequency of citations of articles in a specific journal by other scholarly publications. This metric is a crucial tool for evaluating the prestige of journals and is highly regarded in the scholarly world.”

2021 Transformation

In previous years, the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) primarily focused on journals listed in the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE) and the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). The 2021 edition, however, marked a significant expansion. It included titles from the Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCI) and the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), broadening the scope and covering a wider spectrum of research within the Web of Science Core Collection. This change increased the content coverage by over 70%.

In the same year, a redesigned, fully interactive user interface was presented. The introduction of new features like graphs and charts made data exploration more intuitive and accessible.

Furthermore, Clarivate introduced a new metric, the Journal Citation Indicator (JCI). Kate Heaney, Lead Product Manager at the Web of Science, described the JCI as a versatile “tool for assessing journals in fields with different citation patterns and longer timeframes”. This addition reflected a broader trend at Clarivate, emphasizing a more comprehensive approach in evaluating academic journals. It highlights the importance of using the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) alongside other data when assessing academic titles.

What’s New for 2023

In July 2022, Clarivate announced further enhancements to the Journal Citation Reports. For the 2023 edition, the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) has been extended to include all journals within the Web of Science Core Collection. This expansion encompassed titles indexed in the Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCI) and the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), resulting in additional journals receiving their first-ever JIF.

Moreover, Clarivate has decided to round the Journal Impact Factor to one decimal place. This change is another step towards encouraging users to consider other indicators and descriptive data when evaluating journals. No modifications were made to the metrics from previous editions of the JCR.

Understanding the Journal Citation Reports (JCR)

JCR offers an extensive analysis of journals, subject categories, publishers, countries, and regions. Its data tracks performance, measures impact, and aids in making informed decisions about publication strategies, library acquisitions, and grant applications.

1) Research assessment:

  • JCR data enables universities and research institutes to evaluate scholarly output and identify strengths and weaknesses in various departments and research domains. This includes performance assessment of individual researchers, influencing faculty recruitment, promotions, and resource allocation.
  • Libraries utilize JCR for prioritizing subscriptions and library acquisitions, ensuring that collections at their libraries offer access to high-quality and influential publications.
  • Furthermore, JCR metrics are instrumental for securing funding from government agencies and other grant providers, as they demonstrate the impact of journals in which researchers have published.

2) Partnerships and submission opportunities: 

  • JCR aids in fostering collaborations by allowing institutions to identify potential partners with complementary expertise and strong research profiles.
  • JCR enables researchers to compare journals in the same field, track citation trends, and identify frequently cited titles, guiding them in making informed publication decisions.

3) Rankings:

  • JCR metrics are also utilized to create institutional rankings. They assist in evaluating the scholarly output of academic units within organizations, providing a quantitative measure of their influence within a country, region, or on a global scale.
  • Publishers rankings – additionally, academic institutions often choose publishing partners based on the prestige and profile monitored through JCR.


The Journal Citation Reports (JCR) serve as a valuable tool for navigating and evaluating the publishing landscape. They provide data that helps assess the influence and quality of scholarly journals, as well as the research output of institutions. Metrics like the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) enable researchers to make informed decisions about submissions, playing a crucial role in building a strong research reputation within academic organizations.

Indexing Services at Sciendo

At Sciendo we strive to provide the best indexing experience for our publishing partners. Our Specialists verify the performance of titles we collaborate with, offering guidance for improvement. With our expertise, you can better prepare your journal to meet formal requirements of Clarivate and apply for inclusion in products of the Web of Science Core Collection.

Take the opportunity to optimize your journal’s visibility and impact with Sciendo. Contact us to find out more about our indexing services.

Further reading

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