What are the top 10 academic journals

Journal Ranking- How and where magazines are ranked


Anna Milena von Gersdorff is an online marketing expert who heads the GWriters blog as well as all publications, changes and special promotions on our website. In addition, she is responsible for all public relations and communication with our media partners.

The ranking of scientific journals is crucial. On the one hand for the quality of the work - the higher a journal is ranked, the higher the quality of the research result of the respective paper can be classified - and on the other hand for the work with the literature, e.g. with a view to identifying a research gap (link to the blog research gap). The journal rankings are essentially based on citation analyzes - the more frequently a journal is cited, the greater the importance (the so-called impact) of the journal in the subject - or (less widespread) on surveys among researchers.

Quality and reliability: magazine

The following questions should be answered in the following article:

  • What is a journal ranking anyway?

  • How do I know my magazine quote is reliable and of good quality?

  • Why is the journal ranking important for my scientific work?

  • How is a journal ranking created and which ones are there?

  • How do I find out the ranking of a journal and how do I work with it?

  • What are "good" and "bad" journal rankings and what is a summary?

What is a journal ranking anyway?

So-called rankings of journals (Scientific Journal Rankings (SJRs)) reflect the quality of a journal. These rankings are awarded by independent bodies and show the quality of publications in the journals. The following applies: the higher a journal is ranked and the more you refer to highly ranked journals in your scientific work, the better the quality of your work in the end. Because the quality of your work is not only determined by the text itself and the methodology used, but also crucially by the quantity and quality of the sources. The simple formula applies: at least 1 to 1.5 new sources per scientific page and a focus on the sources on standard literature and (current) articles from highly ranked journals to ensure that the sources are up to date.

Why is the journal ranking important for my scientific work?

In addition to the aforementioned responsibility for the quality of work, magazine rankings also influence the choice of research topics. In other words, the higher the ranking - the higher the ranking - the relevant and current questions on the respective research topic are dealt with in the corresponding articles. You can find research gaps and current research statuses on the topic with the help of rankings. So the following applies: limit your search to highly ranked journals!

Ranking: scientific journals

The journals relevant for scientific work can be found in the relevant databases - in particular EBSCO, ScienceDirect, JSTOR. The journals usually indicate which ranking they have. The ranking of social and economic sciences journals is based on surveys and citation analyzes. Through the surveys among researchers, the journals are assigned to different categories. These categories determine the rankings of journals. Citation analyzes also determine the magazine ranking. The more frequently a journal is quoted, the higher its place in the journal ranking.

Poll-based scientific journals ranking

How is magazine ranking created? Where are survey-based magazines ranked? The VHB-Jourqual of the Association of University Teachers for Business Administration (VHB) eV: The journal ranking is created by asking the members of the association at regular intervals to classify the journals in the categories “A +”, “A”, “B”, “C "," D "and" E ". All ranked journals can be found in the overall list of the VHB jourqual sorted alphabetically. Journals with the ranking “A +” and “A +” are particularly relevant for business research, and some universities also allow “B” journals for research or use. Here is an example on the subject of magazine reviews:

The following table shows how the journals' ratings of journals come about. In the column "Distribution of votes" you can find the individual results of the surveys of the VHB members, which are then weighted and combined into an overall rating:

Citation analysis based journal ranking

How does the citation of scientific journals or authors influence the journal ranking? This is exactly the question we are going into in more detail. In the following you can see how journals based on citation analyzes are weighted and in which databases these results are published.

Vwl: Journal Ranking

  • The Handelsblatt Ranking (the “Handelsblatt Assessment”) for economics: The basis of this ranking is the authors' publication activity in journals, which are weighted. The values ​​required for this can be found in the “Journal Weights List”. The result is a value that is essentially based on the “SCImago Journal Rank” (SJR). This represents the number of citations that an article receives, the prestige of the journal and the citation habits. The more points an author receives, the more significant the publications he has published. Here's an example:

The ISI Web of Knowledge Index as a Journal Citation Report

  • The ISI Web of Knowledge Index as a “Journal Citation Report” (JCR) from the Clarivate Analytics database: Here, the Journal Impact Factors (JIFs) of the journals are shown directly based on the authors' so-called H-Index. The authors' H index is the most popular index of an author's productivity. It indicates how often ("h-times") the authors were cited in relevant publications. This index can be read e.g. from the Web of Science Core Collection, from Scopus or from Google Scholar Citations. Here is an example of the H value from authors; this link then leads directly to the relevant articles:

The SCImago Journal Rank

  • The mentioned SCImago Journal Rank (SJR): This is an interdisciplinary database that presents a ranking that relates to the visibility of the individual journal. The results are based on citations from over 34,100 titles from more than 5,000 publishing institutions. Here's an example:

The European Reference Index for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The Journal Impact Factor

  • The Journal Impact Factor (JIF): “Journal Citation Reports” are published by the University of Hamburg. On this basis, the questions can be answered why citing a journal is of great importance in scientific work, how often a particular journal has been cited, from which journals a journal was cited, how quickly and for how long after the publication of an article from this journal this is cited and which other journals were cited by a journal. The JIF then indicates the average citation rate of the articles in a journal in one year. According to this, the JIF is a signal for the importance of a journal within its subject area, but it cannot reflect the quality of an individual article, as it only ever relates to the entire journal.

In summary: what are “good” and what are “bad” journal rankings?

It's similar to the magazines. If you look at the 25 best-selling general-interest magazines in Germany, Spiegel is in first place, followed by Stern in second place and Bunter in third place. This also applies: the more the magazine is sold, the “better” it is, ie ever more readers are interested in the content. It is very similar, at least with the rankings based on citation analyzes. If the author you have researched appears in several specialist journals, he is "popular", i.e. his publications are considered to be of high quality or make an important contribution to relevant research in the subject. It is a little different with the rankings based on surveys - such as the VHB ranking. Here, the author is not considered, but the magazine itself. But this can also be compared with the general-interest magazines. Experts rate the quality of the magazine. In both cases, the higher the ranking - of the author or the journal - the higher the quality of the literature and the sooner it should be used in your scientific work. Focusing on the journal impact factor is always a good choice here! This factor is always recalculated for a year.

Journal with several subject areas

Furthermore, if a journal can be assigned to several subject areas, it is also ranked multiple times. The following example shows the index for the Quarterly Journal of Economics:

In 2019, as one of the best-ranked journals, the journal had an index of 36,220 for the first quartile and the authors cited there had a total H-index of 246. The top 5 journals have factors of more than 6; that is 4.9 percent of all journals observed by JCR. There can be no value for 2020 until 2021.

In general it is said that an impact factor of 10 or more can be described as "excellent", a factor of 3 is rated as "good" and an average value is below 1. A factor of 1 in this case means that - on average - the article in question was cited once in the past and the year before in another source. The formula for calculating the index is therefore: number of citations in the reference year on all publications in the previous two years / number of articles in the previous two years.

Journal Impact Factor calculation

Are you interested in learning how exactly the calculation is carried out? The following YouTube video shows this very well:

So why should one cite high quality sources or journals?

Working with high quality sources improves the quality of your work significantly. You can therefore significantly improve the quality of your work with top-rated magazines. The worse the ranking of the journals or authors with whom you work in your scientific work, the worse the result of your work will be. So work with high quality magazines! Further tips on literature research can be found under "Finding scientific sources". The scientific ghostwriters from GWriters can also help you to create a template for your scientific work or can support you in researching current and high-quality sources. The authors know the status quo in research, can contribute research ideas and have access to the databases and know how to deal with the H-Index and JCR! They also give tips for designing a template. Get an idea of ​​the achievements of our authors and take a look at the achievements that GWriters can offer you. A ghostwriter has the task of accompanying you through the entire process of creating a template - from finding the topic to the complete scientific work. You will find more information here.

In summary, what is the best way to go about finding high quality sources?

  1. Research authors and / or literature using our research tips.

  2. Have you found a relevant journal or an earlier article? Then you need to check the journal or article of the author for its quality. In the first autumn it is best to call it the VHB-Journal and look for the magazine. In the second case it is called the Journal Impact Factor or, for the author, the H-Index. The best way to do this is to use Google Scholar. This is the easiest way. You can find out exactly how it works at mediaTUM.

  3. In your new research you can then find more and more sources that you compare with information from magazines that you have already found. The more articles you have pending magazines, the more destroyed your work will be!