Evaluation criteria for Web of Science Core Collection journals

Updated August 2017


About the Web of Science Core Collection

The world’s leading citation databases provide authoritative, multidisciplinary coverage from high impact research journals worldwide. Cover-to-cover indexing of content is provided in the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), and Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCI).


About ESCI, the newest Web of Science database

ESCI was launched in 2015 to complement the breadth of literature available in Web of Science. Journals in ESCI are searchable, discoverable, and citable, allowing Web of Science users to measure a journal’s contributions in specific disciplines and to identify potential collaborators for expanded research.


  • Expands global and regional coverage across disciplines
  • Adds thousands of publishers and journals to the Web of Science
  • Captures new and emerging fields before they show influence in the larger scientific community


About selectivity

Selectivity is the principle upon which the Web of Science Core Collection was founded. The Core Collection is not static; its composition changes constantly, reflecting the evolution of scholarly topics. Our mission is to update journal coverage in the Web of Science Core Collection by identifying and evaluating promising new journals.


Submitting a journal

When a journal is submitted for evaluation, Web of Science editors consider it for all applicable databases. Journals already covered in a Web of Science database can be considered for inclusion in additional databases.

Before submitting a journal for evaluation, ensure that the publication:

  • Publishes peer-reviewed content.
  • Has an ISSN registered with the ISSN International Centre: www.issn.org.
  • Includes English-language bibliographic information and English-language cited references. (For non-English-language journals, references in Roman script are acceptable.)

Journals that do not meet these minimum criteria will not be evaluated.


Beginning a journal evaluation

Journal evaluation is a process guided by multiple criteria. Subject experts on the Web of Science editorial team conduct these evaluations.

Scheduling for the evaluation is determined by the journal’s performance. It is possible for a newly submitted journal to demonstrate exceptional quality and be accepted for SCIE, SSCI, and AHCI directly. Many titles will begin their indexing in ESCI.

If accepted and covered in ESCI, a journal remains eligible for an evaluation that can lead to indexing in SCIE, SSCI, or AHCI. The timeframe for such an evaluation depends on the completeness of data available to the Web of Science editors and the editorial needs and priorities of the Web of Science. Specific timeframes for individual journals will be discussed with the publishers.

Journals accepted for SCIE and SSCI will have a Journal Impact Factor calculated and be ranked in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR).

There is no guarantee that a journal in one database will move to any other database. Journals rejected for SCIE, SSCI, and AHCI can remain indexed in their current databases and be scheduled for a re-evaluation.

If selected, a journal’s Web of Science coverage is not static. Covered titles are curated to ensure that they maintain quality and performance, and to confirm that they remain indexed in the appropriate indexes and categories. Other changes to journals, such as title changes, are also considered by the editors to ensure proper coverage.

Journals can be de-selected if they no longer exhibit high standards of quality and publishing ethics, or if they lack a clear relevance to the products in which they are covered.


ESCI selection criteria

English-language requirements As noted in the “submitting a journal” section above.
Electronic format Evaluations require access to full-text PDFs on a journal’s website.
Evidence of peer review Publications are expected to adhere to clear and transparent peer review practices and to refrain from making false claims about these practices.
Evidence of ethical publishing practices These standards include (but are not limited to):

  • Refraining from misrepresenting the names, qualifications, or involvement of editorial board members.
  • Displaying clear and transparent statements regarding business models, such as whether the publication is subscription based or open access, and whether the publication imposes article processing charges (APCs) or similar fees.
  • Refrain from all forms of plagiarism and copyright infringement.
Enrichment of Web of Science content ESCI was created to expand comprehensive discovery of research areas of interest to scholarly communities worldwide, and to deepen regional and domain coverage.


Editorial evaluation criteria for SCIE, SSCI, and AHCI

As a journal progresses in its evaluation, the Web of Science editors apply an increasingly selective set of standards, described below. However, no one evaluation factor is considered in isolation, and each journal is evaluated on its own merits with an objective, unbiased approach.


The following include the minimum criteria required at the time of submission.


Appropriate format: This covers both the physical and editorial aspects of a journal.

  • Content type: The journal should publish mainly scholarly academic material. Features such as news items, commentaries, bulletins, charts, and advertisements are common, but they are not considered scholarly material.
  • Content delivery: Electronic format is preferred both for journal evaluation and, if selected, for content indexing. Web of Science will include print-only publications that show evidence of strong content; print-only delivery remains prevalent in the arts and humanities, for example.
  • Journals published in print format alone are not eligible for ESCI but can be considered for coverage in other collections.


Timeliness and publishing regularity: The journal should publish on time according to its publishing schedule without delays or interruptions. For electronic-only journals that publish continuously, a minimum of 20 articles per year is considered a healthy influx of contributions but does not guarantee acceptance.


Abstract: An abstract or author summary should be present for all scholarly academic material.


English-language abstract: For non-English-language journals, an English-language summary should be provided for all articles. But for certain disciplines, especially in the arts and humanities, the lack of such abstracts might not prevent acceptance.
English-language article titles and/or table of contents: For non-English-language journals, English-language translations of article titles should be provided.


References in Roman script: Cited references in Roman-character script or a transliterated non-Roman script (Cyrillic, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, etc.) are essential for processing and data capture.


Peer review: The journal should contain peer-reviewed content as well as clear evidence and description of the peer-review process.


The following criteria focus on the journal itself, independent of comparison to competing journals.


Grant support: Evidence of grant support is desirable as it helps create a greater context for the journal and functions as a confirmation of the importance of the research presented.


Journal self-citation: Defined as the number of times a journal cites itself compared to peer journals in the same research area. Journals with a wide or international scope are expected to receive fewer self-citations than a journal in a focused or narrow subject area. Highly ranked Web of Science journals receive typically 15% or fewer self-citations relative to topic area. In cases of niche topics or emerging scientific fields, a higher than usual self-citation rate may be evident.


Author and editorial board members self-citations: Web of Science editors will note if a large percentage of the journal’s Web of Science citations originate from:

  • the journal’s editorial board members
  • the authors of the journal’s papers citing their own work


Whether deliberate or not, either type of self-citation is undesirable and is considered an indication of low recognition of the journal in the community at large.


Editorial board diversity: The geographical distribution and representation of the editorial board is considered in the context of the journal’s target audience and scope. For a regional journal, or a journal in a focused subject area, less geographical diversity is expected. In addition, a majority of editors from the same institution is not desirable.


Author diversity: Similar to the editorial board evaluation, the geographical distribution of authors is considered in the context of the journal’s target audience and scope. International journals and journals in global research areas are expected to publish authors with a wide geographical diversity. A regional journal or a journal in a focused subject area might exhibit less geographical diversity in authorship. As with the standards for an editorial board, a majority of authors from a single institution is undesirable.


The following criteria focus on the journal in the context of Web of Science and in the scientific and scholarly community as a whole. Editors rely on their expertise and a profound knowledge of Web of Science data to assess the value of each journal in the context of the entire Web of Science platform.


Citation Analysis: Using Web of Science data, editors assess the citation performance of the journal such as total citations, citations to recent years, and trends and patterns within citations. This review provides a sense of the journal’s contributions to its particular field of scholarly research.


Comparative Citation Analysis: Web of Science editors use the citation analysis to compare the journal to its peers. Editors will estimate the relative performance of the journal and its position in all appropriate categories.


Subject relevance: This criterion determines if the journal is highly relevant to its particular topic area. Web of Science subject experts analyse the relationship of the journal under evaluation to journals already covered and determine the relevance of the journal to a particular area or product.


Author citations: Using Web of Science, subject experts review the citation activity of authors published in the journal under evaluation to see where else, and how frequently, these authors are cited. The number of citations to the journal’s authors is compared to author citation activity from other journals already indexed in the topic area. Differences of citation patterns by discipline are taken into consideration.


Editorial Board citations: Web of Science is used to review the citation activity of the journal’s editorial board to see where, and how frequently, the board members are cited as authors. The number of citations to the journal’s editorial board members is compared to editorial board activity of other journals already indexed in the topic area. Differences of citation patterns by discipline are taken into consideration.


Editorial content analysis: If a journal is not a meaningful addition to its Web of Science category or does not provide distinct content or a viewpoint to enhance coverage, it is unlikely to be selected. Web of Science editors are highly interested in journals with a scope in a new scientific discipline or research area; that bolster a topic or region not well covered in Web of Science; or that publish scholarly research from a novel point of view.


Target audience: A well-produced journal is configured to present a topic to a specific national, regional, or worldwide audience. This can be seen in the journal’s content, and also in the geographic variety (or uniformity) of its authors and editorial board. In this section of the evaluation, Web of Science editors compare like with like. A regional agricultural journal, for example, will be compared against a similar such journal already indexed.


Content Relevance: Web of Science editors look for the journal to publish scholarly content consistent with the journal’s declared aims and scope. A journal’s consistent focus and aim will place the journal in the appropriate product and category. A journal lacking such focus and aim is unlikely to be considered for coverage.



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