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Scholarly Credentials Toolkit for TCNJ Faculty: Journal Citation Reports (JCR)

track your scholarly productivity; get help with reappointment, tenure, and promotion applications

Navigate this libguide from the TOC below or the blue tabs (and sub-tabs) above.

Recent Changes to JCR

Thomson Reuters recently introduced a vastly improved JCR user interface.

  • No changes were made to the underlying data or the way Impact Factors are calculated. All past metrics including Impact Factor and Cited Half-Life continue to be available.
  • Previously, users of JCR selected either Science Citation Index (SCIE) or Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) from the JCR homepage. This is still possible but no longer required or even recommended.
  • JCR content is based on a rolling 20-year period, but do not think of it as an historical citation archive. "The year that you select is the JCR year. All of the data that you see for journals and subject categories come from journal data published in that year. For example, if you select 'JCR Social Sciences Edition 2014', and [then] search for a particular journal, you will see the 2014 data for that journal..." (JCR Editions HELP).

Journal Impact: Journal Citation Reports (JCR)

InCites Journal Citation Reports (JCR) provides data on over 8,000 journals in science and technology and 2,600 journals in the social sciences, some of which are relevant to humanities researchers. JCR ranks journals by compiling two-year's worth of citation data from the Web of Science (WOS) Core Collection indexes, but the data are drawn from only two of three citation databases: Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index. JCR provides no metrics for titles covered in Arts & Humanities Citation Index. For many important humanities journals, therefore, it is impossible to obtain proprietary JCR metrics such as Impact Factor, Immediacy Index, and Cited Half-Life. (See the Article Impact > Web of Science (WOS) sub-tab of this guide for more information about searching the three WOS citation databases, which are not currently licensed by Gitenstein Library but can be accessed by visiting Princeton's nearby Firestone Library.)

If available, however, the Impact Factor can serve as a useful metric for measuring a journal's impact on disciplinary debates and trends. The Impact Factor is a measure of how highly cited the average article published in a particular journal is relative to others in its discipline.

Follow these steps to search JCR for a journal's Impact Factor:

  • If you know the journal name type it into the Go to Journal Profile box located at the top of the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) homepage. Select the correct journal and on the resulting page scroll down to the Key Indicators table to obtain the Journal Impact Factor for the current and any available prior years.
  • Alternately, to see a list of journals by discipline select the Categories By Rank tab on the JCR homepage. In the resulting table, click on the Category column header to sort the list alphabetically by discipline. Click on the hyperlinked number in the #Journals column to select a list of journals in the category of interest. Please keep in mind that JCR data are updated annually in the summer following the year of coverage. This means, for example, that data for the year 2016 only became available in summer 2017.
  • The Journals by Rank tab on the JCR database homepage makes it easy to look up and compare a handful of journals at once. Click on the Select Journals filter link in the left-hand column and begin typing the name of the first journal of interest. Once you have found and selected all of the journals you wish to compare, close the filters panel and click Submit.

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

To reiterate, JCR cannot be relied on to provide data for many legitimate humanities journals. Highly-regarded 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 is impossible to obtain proprietary JCR metrics such as Impact Factor, Immediacy Index, and Cited Half-Life. Other critical humanities 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 on Arts & Humanities Citation Index data. Given these drawbacks, I recommend TCNJ scholars consider incorporating Google Scholar Metrics and SCImago Journals Rankings into their journal impact analyses.

And finally, please consider the tenuousness of journal rankings. Promotion and tenure committee members looking to compare, say, two literary journals for relative impact should to some extent defer to literary scholars rather than statistical metrics such as Impact Factor and SJR Indicator. The same generally holds true across disciplines: when in doubt, consult disciplinary practitioners. For more information, see Using Journal Citation Reports Wisely (JCR Editions HELP).

Humanities Librarian

David C. Murray's picture
David C. Murray
TCNJ Library,
Room 216
Skype Contact: xpuhil