While submitting a research paper to a journal, it’s important to note that the journal you’re submitting to is the right fit for your paper. Previously, we’ve written about the criteria you should keep in mind while making this decision, but today, we’re highlighting one particular criterion: journal ranking and metrics

The open-access publication model has ensured the abundance of journals, each catered to specific subdisciplines and research interests. But the large variety of options doesn’t necessarily guarantee that they’re all of the top quality. (Of course, in some cases, this is just by virtue of the journal being new.) 

So what are the parameters that a researcher can rely on, to know the quality and influence of academic journals? Let’s find out! 


Impact Factor 

This is one of the journal metrics that rely on the number of citations that the journal has for each article. Essentially, it measures, quantitatively, how much of the journal’s publications have been used as citations in future research. The impact factor is generally calculated for two years: that is, the number of articles published in year X, divided by the number of times they have been cited in the next two years. 

For example. an impact factor report published in 2020 calculates the impact factor of a journal in 2019, based on the articles the journal has published in 2017 and 2018.

While it is the most common way to measure a journal’s influence, it has its own pitfalls. For example, it is only an average calculation, which means that a journal could get a high impact factor even if only a few articles had been cited heavily. Moreover, there is no standardization of impact factors. This makes it difficult to measure rankings across disciplines.



Eigenfactor is also another score that attempts to rank the importance of a journal. Rather than simply measuring the number of citations, it measures a journal’s influence based on its presence in academic networks. In other words, it depends upon a journal’s work being cited in other reputable journals. The closer the network is, the higher the Eigenfactor score is. It is calculated by an algorithm that ranks journals based on these criteria.

The time period considered for this calculation is five years, and the citations within a journal itself do not count.

You can look through  the Eigenfactor database here.


SCIMago Journal Ranking (SJR)

This system of journal ranking accounts of both of the criteria mentioned above: it considers citations credited to a journal, as well as where they come from.  Every citation is given an SJR value based on the amount and sources that it has been cited it. So the more prestigious the sources are, the higher the ranking will be.

The SCIMago calculation goes like this: Number of citations in a journal in X year, divided by the number of articles published in the previous three years.

It is similar to Eigenfctor in that both use network theory to arrive at their calculations.



The h-index, unlike the aforementioned methods of ranking, is an author-level metric. It essentially is an indication of how active an individual researcher is in their field.

A researcher receives an h-index number if each of their publications has been cited more than their total number of publications. For instance, if a researcher has published 24 articles, each of which has been cited at least 24 times, then their h-index number is 24.



We hope this introduction to journal metrics helps you navigate the vast world of academic publishing. Keep following PaperTrue for regular articles on academic writing and publishing.