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Social Revolutions: PS 4896

Search tools, sources and suggestions for the Political Science capstone course

What makes a journal important?

One of the main criteria scholars use for determining the importance of a journal is the number of times articles that appear in the journal get cited or used as references by authors of other articles.  

Citation counts become the scoring system for the importance of a journal.  That is not to say that import research does not appear in other journals. It is just that research is more likely to be noticed and influence the field when it appears in a journal with a history of publishing highly cited articles because that is where other scholars look first. 

The two databases Web of Science  and Journal Citation Reports  are the main tools for finding out what these highly cited journals are. 

In fact, Web of Science is limited to the most cited journals and is a good starting point if you want to limit your search to articles from journals with recognized importance.  PsycINFO covers many more journals-- as well as books, dissertations, and reports-- and requires that you have some familiarity with journals in a field-- and what journals are even relevant to a field.

Web of Science also has search tools from the record of an article, such as Related Records, Times Cited and Citation Map, that help you discover the invisible college of researchers interested in a topic. 

Journal Citation Reports  are the annual scorecards for the journals in Web of Science and can show you the journal titles and rankings of titles in a subject such as Psychology.