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Research output metrics: Web of Science

A guide to bibliometrics and other ways to measure the impact of published research

Web of Science

Web of Science is a platform provided by Thomson Reuters and includes a number of different databases and services which can help track bibliometrics. Two major products in the field of bibliometrics are only available through Web of Science: Journal Citation Reports and Essential Science Indicators. These products have strong functionality for analysing bibliometrics - see below for more details.

Web of Science is multi-disciplinary but its bibliometric tools only cover titles in the sciences and social sciences. Also not all journal titles take part in JCR and ESI.

You can also get a quick snapshot from Web of Science itself, although you need to restrict your search to the Web of Science Core Collection.  When the results are displayed, you will quickly see those papers which are identified in ESI as either Highly Cited Papers or Hot Papers.  And if you click on the journal name, you will see a pop-up window which gives the 2-year and 5-year impact factors for the journal, as well as its ranking in the subject categories to which it has been assigned.


Web of Science are also introducing usage statistics, which count the number of times users click on the full record or full text for particular resources.

Journal Citation Reports

Journal Citation Reports (access via Web of Science) compiles cited references to articles to measure the impact factor and citation rates at journal and category levels. It covers 10,800 journals in the sciences and social sciences from over 2,550 publishers in 232 disciplines from 83 countries. This breaks down to over 8,400 journals in the Sciences and over 3,000 journals in the Social Sciences edition.

Journal impact factors within JCR are calculated by the following formula:
Number of Citations in JCR Year (divided by) Total number of articles published in previous two years.
An impact factor of 1.0 shows that on average the articles in the journal published one or two years ago have been cited once. It is also possible to include a 5 year impact factor and to look back at the impact factors for a number of years to see whether the journal’s impact is increasing or waning.

Data in JCR is updated on an annual basis, meaning that in a given year, data for a previous year is added to the product.


Essential Science Indicators

Essential Science Indicators (access via Web of Science) ranks scientists, institutions, countries and journals in 22 specific fields across 12 million articles from 12,000 journal titles. It includes baselines which allow researchers to analyse the benchmarks by which research impact is assessed. The authors of papers are matched to institutions and the institutions normalised. Information in Essential Science Indicators is updated more currently than JCR.

ESI identifies Top Papers which consist of two categories:

  • Highly Cited Papers – These are chosen from 10 years of data and measure citation on the basis of the field the paper was published in and when it was published.
  • Hot Papers – These are papers from the past two years that show an unusually high rate of citation in the current period.