Skip to main content
Login to LibApps

Citation Research and Impact Metrics

What You Need to Know

The Journal Impact Factor (JIF), using citation data from the Web of Science database, is the original journal ranking product. The full JIF information is found in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) database which also includes Eigenfactor rankings and a five-year JIF. Selected JIF information can also be found in the Web of Science database.

Important Points:

  • Because the JIF is based on raw citations counts, comparing JIFs in different disciplines penalizes journals in fields with naturally low citation numbers.
  • JIF is only assigned to journals indexed in the Science Citation Index (SCI) and Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) in Web of Science. Journals indexed in the Arts and Humanities Index are not assigned a JIF.
  • To compare journals across subject areas, JCR provides a JIF percentile and quartile ranking both of which normalizes the raw JIF. Either the quartile or the percentile ranking can be used for comparison purposes depending on whether a broader rank (quartile) or a more finely tuned rank (percentile) is desired.
    • The quartile is given as either Q1, Q2, Q3, or Q4 where Q1 indicates that the journal is in the top 25% of its subject category while Q4 indicates it is in the bottom 25% of the journals in that category.
    • For the percentile figure, the scale runs from 100 (highest rank) down to 1 (lowest rank).
  • JCR uses approximately 11,000 journals indexed in the Web of Science database to obtain its source data.
  • The JIF formula uses articles citation counts from the 2 previous years but also offers a 5 year JIF.
  • JIF eliminates front matter (editorials, news, letters to editors, etc.) in its calculations; consequently, journals with a lot of front matter, which is generally not cited, fare much better in the JIF ranking than the CiteScore ranking. At issue here is how JIF defines front matter and is it consistently applied across all the journals.
  • JIF assigns journals to 1-4 different subject categories.
  • Data is available for 1997 to the last full year; annual data usually appears at the end of June. For recently introduced journals, a JIF will not be available until after its third year of publication.


  • Go to the Journal Citation Reports database
  • In the upper left-hand corner of the screen, enter the journal's title in the search box, and click on the search icon (magnifying glass) to the right

  • On the journal's full record page, scroll the screen down until you see the link for "Rank" in the lower left of the screen

  • Click on "Rank"

  • A table is displayed showing the journal's Rank, Quartile, and JIF Percentile for each subject (going to the right) and each year (going down)

Hours and Locations