JCR 2022


A preview of the Journal Citation Report (JCR) 2022


A summary of academic citations from the previous year’s Web of ScienceTM coverage is released annually as part of the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) release. It’s a glimpse of an ever-changing world of research.

Journal Citation Report (JCR)

As we near the end of the month and the publication of this year’s JCR, we’ve taken a look at potential influences on the released metrics. According to the latest available figures, the Web of Science Core Collection has 145 million referenced references and 35,000 publications (journals, books, conference proceedings) as of 2021.

It was only in 2020 that the JCR included Early Access material for the first time, and that COVID-19 suddenly emerged as a brand-new, critically important area of research. The 2020 data discussed in last year’s publication was exceptional because of these variables. From 2019 to 2020, more journals had a rise in their Journal Impact Factor (JIF) than at any other point in the previous decade (see Figure 1).

fig1 JCR 2022
Figure 1. Yearly Journal Impact Factor (JIF)

It was determined that Early Access material was responsible for around 10% of the JIF citations. Everything else was explained by an increase in the total amount of information released in 2020. Compared to the previous year, there were more publications and citations in the 2021 JCR. Researchers in the field of information science was seeing the intensity of research in the face of this worldwide disaster, not simply papers concerning COVID-19 (for instance: here, and here).

Is there a “return to normal” following the dramatic changes in 2020? Alternatively, will the flood of COVID-19 research and the addition of Early Access material to JCR metric computations continue to have new effects?

To begin, let’s talk about how Early Access material is measured. Prior to the final assignment in a finished volume/issue, information that is designated as “Version of Record” for indexing purposes by Web of Science is considered “Early Access.” For the next year’s JCR release, we stated that we would be the first to integrate Early Access material, even though we had been receiving it from a growing number of journals and publishers since 2017. Each subsequent year of Early Access material from 2020 ahead was included in our strategy, even as we expanded our participation in partnering publishers and journals. The JCR will correctly represent how researchers are utilizing the literature if new publications are quickly included. A new source of citations for JIF numerators last year was Early Access as a result of the prospective strategy, which helped drive up JIFs over the whole JCR.

In terms of the Journal Citation Reports in 2022, what would this mean?

Some or all of the journals examined this year are influenced by three primary factors:

This is the first time that Early Access material will be included in the journal impact factor’s tally of Journal Impact Factor (JIF)

As a result, the number of citations in the JIF numerator will continue to rise as Early Access content continues to grow.

The impact of COVID-19 on academic publication and society as a whole has yet to be fully felt.

Let’s take a closer look at this.

JIF (Journal Impact Factor) denominators will be updated to include Early Access material from 2020 data for the first time.

The 2020 citing corpus was included in the 2021 JCR release for metrics computation as information published as a Version of Record in 2020. As a result of the time change, over 180,000 more 2020 citing items were added (representing around 11% of the 2020 citing contents) and 1.2 million more references were added to either 2019 or 2020. (less than 10 percent of the total citation count to those years). These items have already been included in an issue in 2021 or 2022, however, they are still considered 2020 material. Additional items processed as Early Access in 2020 will be included as part of the denominator of the JIF for 2021 for journals that have been offering Early Access material in 2019. This might lower their Journal Impact Factor compared to the previous year, depending on the proportional number of Early Access articles.

In addition, the JIF’s numerator will include more 2021 citation materials thanks to the ongoing growth of Early Access content.

JIF numerator citations are increased when Early Access material is processed according to its earliest Version of the Record Date, and the impact is widely dispersed among journals. During the year 2021, we continued to grow the journals and publish Early Access material for those publications. The amount of Early Access material available rose by 56% between 2020 and 2021. This year’s JCR stats include more than 330,000 Early Access citations with approximately 3 million references to 2019 or 2020.

As a result, the denominator and numerator now have two competing sources of influence: 2020 Early Access material and 2021 Early Access content. JIFs may be decreased or increased by one or the other of these two effects.

From 2010 through 2021, the annual variations in JIF (see Figure 1) show how uncommon the 2020 numbers were as compared to both the previous year, as well as what is expected in the next 12 months. Almost the two-year period from 2019 to 2020, the JIF in over eighty percent of journals increased. In the last decade, only 55% of journals had an increase or no change in their JIF from the previous year. It is unusual, though not unprecedented, for 66% of journals to have had a rise in their JIF from 2020 to 2021.

Figure 1 shows a year-to-year comparison of JIF from 2010 to 2021.

For journals with no change or an increase in JIF, green bars reflect the %; for journals with a fall in JIF, purple bars show the percentage.

According to the Journal Impact Factor (JIF), this year’s growth in JIF was less than the previous year’s. Some journals have seen remarkable gains in JIF, although there are some significant outliers.

The impact of COVID-19 on academic publication and society as a whole has yet to be fully felt.

We found 10,100 journals with a 2021 JIF > 2.000[1] and concentrated on journals with a JIF at least twice the value of 2019. Infectious disorders, immunology, and basic biomedical sciences had the fewest number of journals (105 out of 222), whereas general medicine had the most (222 out of 222). There are a few journals in these fields with JIFs that are 10 times greater than they have ever been previously.

Extracted from journals outside of medicine and biomedical research, the most frequently referenced publications related to several facets of the COVID-19 situation – from the impact of lockdowns on social/economic inequality to the impact of supply chain disruptions on agriculture. Although these substantial changes have been reflected in the JCR’s collection and presentation of this material, the journal continues to give a distinct perspective on how researchers have evolved.

Everything in life was influenced by the worldwide pandemic, which was a catastrophic event. As a result of COVID-19’s proliferation, the world of academic publication has been forever altered. Covid-19’s impact on the academic community stretches well beyond medical treatment and medical research, with repercussions that will last for years or decades.

SDG 3: Health and well-being are a vital part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and Clarivate is completely dedicated to it. This shows how broad and important it is. We are delighted to be a member of the worldwide research community working together towards a sustainable society, learning from the COVID-19 epidemic, and showing the critical linkages between research as highlighted in the Web of Science.

It’s possible to use Journal Citation Reports to learn about patterns in the citation effect of your work. More information may be found on this page.

To avoid bias, we didn’t include journals with JIFs below 2.0 since they overstate the impact of tiny changes in citation rates on JIF percentage changes.

Credits: Clarivate.com

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