The road to Journal Citation Reports 2021: New content and a new metric

This is the first in a series of updates to provide information on the launch of the 2021 Journal Citation Reports release. You can read about Journal Citation Reports 2022 here.

Nearly 50 years into its run as the world’s most authoritative source for transparent, publisher-neutral data and statistics, Journal Citation Reports (JCR)™ from Clarivate continues to evolve, adapting to the changing landscape of scholarly publishing and evaluative metrics.


Unifying content in the JCR

The month of June will see the new 2021 JCR release, featuring the latest refinements and additions to the journal intelligence platform’s existing store of resources.

The first of these enhancements will expand the JCR’s coverage of journal literature to reflect the full breadth of research covered in all the journals in the Web of Science Core Collection™. Although our JCR metrics already include citations recorded in journals covered in the Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCI)™ and the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI)™, those two indexes and their journal content have not been fully covered in JCR – until now.

The journals covered in AHCI and ESCI have met the same rigorous quality criteria, applied by our expert in-house Web of Science editors, for coverage as the publications covered in the Science Citation Index™ and the Social Sciences Citation Index™. Therefore, AHCI and ESCI – and their content from trustworthy, Web of Science-selected journals – merit complete coverage in the JCR.


In addition to rounding out the JCR’s journal coverage, the inclusion of all material from AHCI and ESCI represents a unification of content and policies across the Web of Science, InCites Benchmarking & Analytics™ and JCR – putting everything on a common path.


AHCI and ESCI journals will not be awarded a Journal Impact Factor

Along with the news about the addition of AHCI and ESCI content to JCR, we must report that journals from these indexes will not receive a Journal Impact Factor (JIF)™ in the JCR.

The reason for this is the JIF calculation is only applied to the most impactful or significant journals within the sciences and social sciences – that is, those that have met our selection criteria for both quality and impact and are indexed in Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE)™ and/or Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI)™. Specifically, the four impact criteria (comparative citation analysis; author citation analysis; editorial board citation analysis; and content significance) are designed to select the most influential journals in their respective fields, using journal-level citation activity as the primary indicator of impact.

In terms of a potential JIF for AHCI journals, the criteria above do not precisely apply, because citation behavior and dynamics in the arts and humanities are distinctly different from other main research fields. As the AHCI product page points out, “Compared to the clinical, natural and social sciences, the arts & humanities may differ significantly regarding the type of content that is considered to be of scholarly importance, norms for reviewing content, and citation behavior.”

Therefore, although the Web of Science editors apply the same impact criteria to all our journal collections, the selection process places less emphasis on journal-level citation activity in the arts and humanities. This is why AHCI journals have never received a JIF.

As for the journals covered in ESCI: Although they have demonstrated the high levels of editorial rigor and publishing best practice required to pass our 24 quality criteria, these journals do not meet our four impact criteria. Thus, we do not calculate a JIF for ESCI journals.

As part of our collection curation process, we monitor all ESCI journals and those that develop sufficiently high levels of journal-level citation activity are re-evaluated for inclusion in SCIE, SSCI and/or AHCI.


Introducing the Web of Science Journal Citation Indicator

Along with its wider coverage, the next JCR release will unveil a new metric, adding still more depth, insight and context to the JCR’s range of measures – well beyond a single JIF score. The “Journal Citation Indicator” will be the subject of our next blog, where we will include a comprehensive description of this new metric, along with its underlying methodology.

Meanwhile, another new development: The expanded coverage in the 2021 JCR release will introduce Early Access articles, reflecting the earliest availability of new research as it appears in the “version of record” prior to official publication. This blog series examines this new feature in detail.

In all, these refinements to the new JCR exemplify the constant, ongoing work at Clarivate to develop and curate our data tools, collections and responsible metrics.


Find out more about Journal Citation Reports, publisher-neutral journal intelligence trusted by publishers, institutions and researchers.