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Scholarly Credentials Toolkit for History Faculty: Journal Impact

Selected tools for evaluating academic productivity in the discipline of history

Journal Citation Reports

Thomson Reuter's Journal Citation Reports (JCR) provides statistical data "about 1,700 leading international social sciences journals" across disciplines. JCR rates journals by compiling two-year's worth of citation data from Web of Science (WOS), but the data are drawn from only two of three Web of Science (WOS) citation databases: Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index. No journal data are available from the titles covered in Arts & Humanities Citation Index. For many important humanities journals it is therefore impossible to obtain such proprietary JCR metrics as Impact Factor, Immediacy Index, and Cited Half-Life. When present, however, the Impact Factor can provide hard data on a journal's relative impact on disciplinary debates and trends. See the Article Impact tab of this guide for more information about searching the three WOS citation databases.

To reiterate, JCR cannot be relied upon to provide data for all legitimate history (humanities) journals. Many important titles such as Film History: An International Journal, are not covered by any of the three WOS citation indexes and therefore will not appear in JCR. For such titles it will be impossible to obtain proprietary JCR metrics such as Impact Factor, Immediacy Index, and Cited Half-Life. Other important history titles such as Civil War History and William and Mary Quarterly are covered by the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, but as indicated above cannot be found in JCR because JCR does not draw upon Arts & Humanities Citation Index for any of its data. Given these drawbacks, consider incorporating SCImago and Google Metrics into your journal analysis (see below). I also recommend that anyone looking to compare two historical journals for relative importance defer to some extent on the disciplinary knowledge of historians, any of whom can provide guidance on the relative importance of various history journals.


Thomson Reuters recently introduced an improved user interface for Journal Citation Reports (JCR). Some points to keep in mind:

  • No changes were made to the underlying data or the way Impact Facots are calculated, and all past metrics, e.g. Cited Half-Life, will continue to be available.
  • Previously, users of JCR had to select Science Citation Index (SCIE) or Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). This is no longer required or recommended. Search both together for the best results.
  • JCR data is based on a rolling 10-year period and is not, therefore, a deep historical database.
  • As always, JCR data is updated annually in the summer following the year of coverage, meaning, for example, that data for the year 2013 became available in summer 2014. 

The top 10 history journals in 2013, ranked by JCR Impact Factor:

  1. American Historical Review (Impact Factor = 1.293)
  2. Cliometrica (1.036)
  3. Nation and Nationalism (.667)
  4. Comparative Studies In Society and History (.618)
  5. Environmental History (.611)
  6. Journal of Global History (.585)
  7. Journal of Victorian Culture (.525)
  8. Memory Studies (.509)
  9. Journal of Modern History (.5)
  10. Journal of the History of Sexuality (.487)

For comparison, here were the top 10 history journals in 2012:

  1. Cliometrica (Impact Factor = 1.615)
  2. Journal of Global History (1.023)
  3. American Historical Review (1.000)
  4. Comparative Studies in Society and History (.800)
  5. History Workshop Journal (.725)
  6. Memory Studies (.648)
  7. Scandia (.643)
  8. Labour-Le Travail (.633)
  9. Social Science History (.622)
  10. Historical Social Research-Historische Sozialforschung (.613)

Follow these steps to search JCR:

  • From the JCR homepage make certain "Journals by Rank" is selected (it should be by default).
  • Click "Select Categories" in the left-hand column and then check the box next to "History" in the resulting pop-up window. Click "X" to close the window.
  • Click the "Submit" button.
  • Obtain additional information about each title including a full description and all rankings with definitions by clicking on its title in the results list. Likewise click a journal's Impact Factor to obtain more information such as the ratio of articles cited to articles published for the last two years.

SCImago Journal Rankings

The SCImago research group is located at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), University of Granada, Extremadura, Carlos III (Madrid) and Alcalá de HenaresSCImago Journal & Country Rank provides journal rankings based on three-year's worth of citation data from SCOPUS, a major Elsevier scientific abstracting and indexing database. Unlike JCR, SCImago is a free database, open and accessible to all regardless of institutional affiliation. Its journal rankings are based on the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) indicator, a refinement of Google's PageRank algorithm. SJR understands journal prestige "as a function not of just the quantity of citations received but of a combination of the quantity and the quality" (The SJR Indicator: A New Indicator of Journals' Scientific Prestige).

Selected SCImago journal rankings by subject and country of journal origin in 2013:

Google Scholar Metrics

On April 1st, 2012 Google announced a new Google Scholar service: Google Scholar Metrics. "Scholar Metrics summarize recent citations to many publications, to help authors as they consider where to publish their new research."

"To get started, you can browse the top 100 publications in several languages, ordered by their five-year h-index and h-median metrics. You can also search for publications by their titles, and then compare the publications that are of interest to you. Finally, if you wish to see which articles in a publication were cited the most and who cited them, click on its h-index number to view the articles as well as the citations underlying the metrics." See, for example, Google's estimation of the top 20 History journals, heavily weighted toward the history of science; or its top 100 Spanish journals. See also Luis Rodriguez Yunta's blog post titled Las Revistas europeas de Estudios Latinoamericanos en los indices de citas (part 1 and part 2). According to Google, "Scholar Metrics are currently [as of April, 2014] based on our index as it was in July 2013."

Ulrichsweb

Ulrichsweb -- the web interface for the longstanding Ulrich's Periodicals Directory in print -- provides comprehensive information about hundreds of thousands of journals, including both active and ceased titles. Search for a journal by keyword(s) or ISSN. Limit your results to place of publication, journal topic, refereed designation, etc. Each journal record includes the following information:

  • ISSN number, a unique journal identifier (necessary for a "clean" search in WorldCat, see below)
  • Number of subscriptions (indicator of quantity)
  • Refereed designation (indicator of quality)
  • Subject classification and description of content and topics covered
  • Abstracting and indexing sources (indicator of quality and accessibility, i.e. the more services there are indexing a journal, the more it is seen and used by researchers; see also the note about CUFTS, below)
  • Indication of inclusion in ISI's Journal Citation Reports (JCR) database (indicator of quality, though many important journals are not included in JCR, see above)
  • Reviews of the journal (indicator of uniqueness and relevance, but keep in mind that library-oriented reviews are often not welcomed by tenure committees)

The open-source CUFTS provides information about indexing sources and full-text availability for thousands of journal titles.

WorldCat

WorldCat is a library catalog that contains tens of millions of records contributed by member libraries. In addition to journals, the database describes books, manuscripts and archival materials, maps, scores, videos, and many other material types held by thousands of libraries around the world. WorldCat provides the truest indication of the total number of libraries that subscribe to a journal.

Search WorldCat by the journal's current ISSN number, if known. A title search can of course also be performed but will potentially return dozens of records for the same journal, reflecting among other factors all of the journal's name changes over time. If you do not know the ISSN number use Ulrichsweb, discussed above, to obtain it. Even a "clean" ISSN search can result in more than one record for a particular journal title. This is because thousands of libraries contribute records to WorldCat. Often these libraries have chosen to catalog a single source slightly differently, resulting in one, two, or more records for the same item.

Follow these steps to search WorldCat:

  • Choose the "Advanced" search option.
  • In the options labeled "Limit type to", click on "Serial Publications". This eliminates results that include books compiled from the journal's articles.
  • Enter the ISSN number in the first blank line labeled "Search for". In the corresponding search type field (displaying "Keyword" by default), click on the down arrow and choose "Standard Number" as the search type. Execute the search. 
  • As discussed above, more than one record could display. Again, this reflects the different cataloging information libraries provide to the database. Total up the number of "Libraries Worldwide" for each record that you feel reflects the journal title in question. You might also wish to take note of which types of libraries -- academic, public, or special -- are subscribing to the journal.

Guide Author

Rebecca Lloyd
Contact:
Paley Library
Room 319
215-204-4250

JCR Deep Dive

In addition to the attached PowerPoint, Thomson Reuters makes available several streaming video tutorials including a JCR Quick Tour and explanations of Impact Factor, Immediacy Index, and so on.

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