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Transition from Web of Science to Scopus: Journal Citation


Journal Citation Reports (or JCR) is the source of the official Impact Factor assigned to journals based on citation counts. The Impact Factor metric and rankings are proprietary and require a costly subscription. Although USU has maintained such a subscription in the past, Clarivate Analytics only recently informed us that they will not permit us to subscribe to JCR without an ongoing subscription to Web of Science. We hope that this news is not overly detrimental to the research activity of USU’s researchers. 


Fortunately, where Impact Factor is proprietary and expensive, other authoritative metrics exist, and most are freely available online. One example is CiteScore, produced by Elsevier using their Scopus data. At, you can see the scores assigned to particular journals or view the most important titles within a disciplinary area. (Percentile scores may be the most easily understood numbers given there.)

The CiteScore rankings do not correspond directly to Impact Factor rankings due to the different methodologies involved, but in general, journals ranked highly in one have a similar position in the other. We are aware of some debate about Elsevier’s conflict of interest in both producing journals and developing the CiteScore metric (as discussed at, and if that proves disconcerting, there are still other systems for measuring impact at the journal level, such as the Scimago Journal Rank.


Note that journal-level metrics such as Impact Factor are a controversial measure of the importance of scholarly contributions. As one example of such criticisms, see “Escape from the Impact Factor,” by Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief of Nature. He recommends evaluating individual scholarly contributions on their own merit rather than using the journal as a surrogate for quality.

In the article “The Impact Factor Game,” the editors of PLoS Medicine explore the implications of the Impact Factor for publishers and authors, concluding “If authors are going to quote the impact factor of a journal, they should understand what it can and cannot measure. The opening up of the literature [through various open access developments] means that better ways of assessing papers and journals are coming—and we should embrace them.