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Measuring Research Quality and Impact - Research Guide

Journal Quality and Impact

Journal Quality

It is essential to be able to demonstrate that your research is published in journals that are high quality, relevant to your field of research and will have a demonstrated impact on future research and practice. This is especially important when the research output of Murdoch University is being assessed as part of the ERA process.

Factors to consider when determining the most appropriate journals in which to publish your research include:

  •  Relevance to your field of research and reaching the desired target audience
  •  The integrity and quality of the journal, and its editorial team and contributors
  •  The circulation data for the journal
  •  Journal impact, which is often measuring using metrics and journal rankings

Journal level metrics can be used to identify quality academic journals in your research field, but like other impact measures journal impact metrics do have limitations:

  •   Some metrics measuring journal impact cannot be compared across different subject areas
  •   Different subject areas have different publication and citation rates and behaviour
  •   Review articles may attract more citations regardless of their quality
  •   Good quality articles and journals may not be cited
  •   Articles may be self-cited or cited by colleagues to increase their visibility
  •   The quality of a particular article cannot necessarily be judged by the journal in which it is published

Metrics, impact factors and rankings should not be the only criteria used to determine journal quality and impact.

Note: As journal metrics and rankings change over time and different metrics tools report the same metric based on different data, when reporting journal metrics and rankings you should always specify which tool you used and the date the metric or ranking was recorded.

Warning: Use only reputable journal metrics tools that are recommended by Murdoch University Library. There are a number of unethical publishing companies that provide misleading or fake journal metrics.

Journal Metrics and Rankings

The impact of a journal can be measured using a number of metrics, including JIF, SJR, CiteScore, SNIP, and h-index, as well as total citation count.

The following tools can be used to calculate the impact of a journal:


SCImago is a metrics tool is based on data from Scopus. Journals can be analysed as part of a subject area or subject category, or individually.

To see how an individual journal is ranked within a subject area and category; use the Journal Rankings link and select the relevant area and category. The results list will list the journal in the subject area in descending order of prestige, based on a metric called the SJR (SCImago Journal Rank).

SJR is a prestige metric based on the number of citations received by a journal in a particular year and the prestige of the journals that make those citations. SJR is a normalised score which allows the comparison of the impact of articles within a subject area and across disciplines.

Individual journals will also be assigned to a Quartile. The Quartile indicates how the journal performs in relation to other journals in the same subject area with Q1 indicating that the title is in the top 25% of journals in that subject category. Multidisciplinary journals may attain different Quartile metrics for each of their different subject categories. Ideally, you want your articles to be published in journals that are ranked in either Q1 or Q2 for your field of research.

To analyse an individual journal, click on the journal title (either from the journal search results or from the journal ranking list) to obtain an individual profile which includes time series tables and charts to analyse significant indicators and metrics of journal quality and impact.

The individual journal profile includes:

  • The title of the journal
  • The country of publication
  • Subject area
  • Subject category
  • Publisher
  • Publication type
  • ISSN
  • Coverage
  • The scope of the journal
  • Indicators and metrics

Indicators offered for each journal include:

  • Total cites
  • Self-cites
  • Citations per document (4, 3 and 2 years)
  • External cites per document
  • Cites per document
  • International collaboration
  • Citable documents
  • Non-citable documents
  • Cited documents
  • Uncited documents

A series of tables and graphs detail these indicators from 1999 to 2017. At the top of every table or graph, there is a plus symbol that you can click for an explanation of the indicator.

In addition to these indicators, the journal profile also indicates the rank of the journal with a subject   Quartile and two journal metrics: h-index and SJR



Scopus is a multidisciplinary bibliometric database of peer-reviewed academic journals, books and conference proceedings.

There are two ways to find impact metrics and rankings of journals indexed by Scopus:

1. Using the Scopus Sources List

The Scopus Sources list is located above in the blue Scopus database banner.

The Sources list provides a range of metrics which can be used to evaluate a journal:

  • SJR (SCImago Journal Rank) is a prestige metric based on the number of citations received by a journal in a particular year and the prestige of the journals that make those citations. SJR is a normalised score which allows the comparison of the impact of articles within a subject area and across disciplines.

  • CiteScore calculates the average number of citations received in a calendar year by all items published in that journal in the preceding three years. The calendar year to which a serial title’s issues are assigned is determined by their cover dates, and not the dates that the serial issues were made available online. CiteScore and CiteScore percentile should not be used to compare journals from different subject areas as they are not field-normalised.

  • SNIP (Source Normalized Impact per Paper) uses Scopus data and measures contextual citation impact by weighting citations based on the total number of citations in a subject field.

The Sources list also provides a percentile ranking within a subject area and a range of indicators of journal impact, including documents published in the preceding three year period, citations in the past year, and percentage of documents cited.

2. Using the Scopus Compare Sources tool

The Compare sources tool can be accessed from the Scopus Search screen. It is a customisable tool which will allow you to compare up to 10 Scopus sources on a variety of metrics and indicators, including SJR, CiteScore, SNIP, citations, documents, percentage of documents not cited, and percentage of review articles published.

The Compare sources tool is available in both a Chart and a Table view. The Chart displays information in a line graph, with separate graphs for each metric or indicator. The Table lists metrics and indicators in one consolidated table.


Other journal resources

Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory provides information for over 300 000 journals from all disciplines. Peer reviewed journals, open access journals, and electronic titles are all included. Ulrichs can be browsed to identify journals in a subject area. Circulation data indicates the extent a journal's readership.

Prestige Journal Lists

As journal metrics and ranking information is limited in some areas of research, other measures of prestige may need to be found.

In some fields of research, the publication of articles in journals that are included in lists of respected journals in that field may also be an indication of quality and impact.

Some prestige journal lists include:

  • ABDC Journal Quality List - The Australian Business Deans Council rankings for journals in business, economics and law. Ranking in this list is based on citation metrics, other reputable journal quality lists and the opinion of discipline experts. Journals are rated in A, B or C categories and this list is aligned to the ERA Field of Research codes
  • Australian Public Affairs Information Service - Lists high quality Australian journals in the humanities and social sciences
  • ERIH PLUS (European Reference Index for the Humanities) - This list includes journals in core humanities areas of research published in any European language
  • Journal Quality List is a compilation of economics, finance, accounting, management and marketing journal rankings from various sources - compiled and edited by Professor Anne Harzing
  • Web of Science Core Collection (Clarivate Analytics) - Includes the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), and Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI). Inclusion of a journal in the Web of Science Core Collection is widely regarded as an indication that the journal is of high standard.