Highlights of the 2022 Journal Citation Reports

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Highlights of the 2022 Journal Citation Reports

At the end of June, Clarivate released the 2022 Journal Citation Reports (JCR). JCR is an important annual publication in the scholarly communication industry and is eagerly awaited for the scientometric information it provides about academic journals—especially journal impact factors (JIFs). Since it is a publisher-neutral resource, these metrics are often heavily relied on when evaluating journals. Researchers, research organizations, and libraries use them to judge the quality of journals, and publishers use them to promote their journals to the academic community.

Here are some of the key features of the 2022 report:

  • Journal coverage: JCR is based on journals listed in the Web of Science Core Collection. Until last year, JCR covered natural sciences and social sciences, but now, it also covers the top journals in the arts and humanities. The 2022 report includes 12,828 science journals, 6,691 social science journals, and 3,092 arts and humanities journals.1
  • Citation coverage: The data in the report covered Web of Science citations from 2021, including 2.7 million citable items (original articles, reviews) and 145 million cited references indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection.2
  • JIF calculation: For 2021, the JIF for a journal was calculated as a ratio between the following:
    • Numerator: Total number of citations the journal received in 2021 for articles it published in 2019 and 2020
    • Denominator: Total number of citable items published by the journal in 2019 and 2020
  • New entrants: Over 190 journals have received their first JIFs.3
  • Other metrics: JCR provides metrics other than JIF, which can be used as supplementary or alternative ways to evaluate journals. Two of these are
    • Journal citation indicator: This metric was introduced last year to account for discipline-wise differences in publication and citation frequencies. It is essentially a discipline-normalized JIF that can offer a more effective way to compare journal quality across fields than the JIF does.
    • Immediacy index: This is the number of citations received by a journal in a specific year divided by the number of articles it published in that year. It can be a useful performance indicator for new journals that have been included in JCR but which have not yet received JIFs.
  • Inclusion of early access content: Sometimes, journals make a version of record available early, before the article is finally published in an issue. A policy change this year was to include citations to the early access content as well. If an article had an early access date in one calendar year (say, 2019) and a final publication date in another (2020), the early access date was considered.4
  • JIF suppression: If the citation pattern for a journal is observed to be aberrant, the JIF of the journal is suppressed for one year (i.e., the JIF of the journal is excluded although the journal title itself may still feature in the report). In the 2022 report, the JIFs of three journals were suppressed.To decide whether a JIF should be suppressed, Clarivate examines different types of citation distortion: journal self-citation (far too many articles published in a journal cite other articles published in the same journal) and citation stacking (articles in journal A cite those in journal B far too often, and vice versa).4 From 2023 onward, JCR will consider one more type of distortion to suppress a JIF: journal self-stacking (the majority of a journal’s citations within the JIF window are to its own articles).
  • Effect of COVID-19: COVID-19 caused a massive global shift in research focus—a shift reflected in JIF trends as well. Last year’s report already showed an unusual increase in the number of journals whose JIF increased within a single year (2019 to 2020).2 This may have been driven by the amount of COVID-related work being published and cited in that period. This year too, the JIFs of some journals in fields related to medicine and public health are 10 times higher than they were before.2 All of the seven journals that crossed a JIF of 100 for the first time published a large number of COVID-related articles.5 COVID-19 is expected to continue influencing citation and JIF patterns in the near future.


  1. Clarivate. Web of Science Journal Citation Reports 2022 Infographic. Web of Science Group https://clarivate.com/webofsciencegroup/web-of-science-journal-citation-reports-2022-infographic/.
  2. McVeigh, M. Journal Citation Reports 2022: A preview. Clarivate https://clarivate.com/blog/journal-citation-reports-2022-a-preview/ (2022).
  3. Clarivate. First time Journal Citation Reports inclusion list 2022. Web of Science Group https://clarivate.com/webofsciencegroup/first-time-journal-citation-reports-inclusion-list-2022/.
  4. Clarivate. Journal Citation ReportsTM: Reference Guide. https://clarivate.com/wp-content/uploads/dlm_uploads/2022/06/JCR-2022-Reference-Guide.pdf (2022).
  5. Nandita Quaderi. Journal Citation Reports 2022: COVID-19 research continues to drive increased citation impact. Clarivate https://clarivate.com/blog/journal-citation-reports-2022-covid-19-research-continues-to-drive-increased-citation-impact/ (2022).

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Published on: Jul 07, 2022

Mriganka writes, reviews, and plans educational or informational content aimed at researchers worldwide
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