Journal Citation Reports and Current Contents

By Jacso, Peter | Computers in Libraries, June 1996 | Go to article overview

Journal Citation Reports and Current Contents


Jacso, Peter, Computers in Libraries


The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) has distinguished itself for decades by providing unique information services, primarily in support of scholarly research. The three citation indexes of ISI are among the most coveted sources in academia. They have been available in print, online, and CD-ROM formats. ISI recently released two additional CD-ROM products that will delight librarians and patrons of academic and special libraries.

Journal Citation Reports

My heart leapt when I received Journal Citation Reports (JCR) on CD-ROM. In my rookie years as the director of the Computer Science Library of the International Computer Education and Information Center in Hungary, consulting JCR was a big deal. It was available only in print, then microfiche, and only at the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Whenever I needed to consult JCR I put on my Sunday best, as it was a festive event to have an appointment with JCR. I used it to check the ranking of journals in the field of computer, information, and library sciences primarily for two purposes: to justify the subscription, cancellation, and weeding of expensive serials, and to streamline the coverage of journals in our in-house abstracting/indexing services.

The pragmatic, still-elegant design of the CD-ROM version makes the evaluation and ranking of the standing of journals a cinch by such criteria as these:

* total articles published in a journal in a given year and the total cites the number of times the journal has been cited by all other journals monitored by ISI in a given year) * impact factor the average number of times articles published in a specific journal in the two preceding years were cited in a given year) (Figure 1) * immediacy index (the average number of times current articles in a journal are cited during the years it was published) * cited and citing half-life (the number of years going back from the current year that account for 50 percent of the total citations received and given by the journal in the current year, respectively)

JCR is on two CD-ROMs, one for the Science Edition (covering about 4,500 journals), the other for the Social Science edition (covering about 1,400 journals). The journals can be selected by publisher, country, or category (e.g., microbiology, microscopy, mineralogy). Alternatively, you may scan the list of journals and mark individual titles to create a custom set. The set selected then can be sorted (ranked) by all the above criteria except citing half-life. The list displayed can be printed and/or saved to a disk that would allow further processing. Background information, such as the calculation of the various indexes and factors, publisher information, and source data listing can be displayed, and, except for source data listing, printed.

The interface is among the best I have seen. As opposed to the Citation Indexes on CD-ROM, JCR has highly intuitive push-button options, pull-down menus, and pop-up windows, and a smart spreadsheet-like display format. The help system is first class. Of course, it is hardly needed, because the software is so easy to learn. JCR deserves credit for providing a list of title changes and cessations to alert the user of developments that may distort the calculation of the factors and indexes.

There are a few additional options that I would like to see in the next edition. It would be useful to be able to choose journals by two criteria simultaneously, e.g., by subject category and countries. In the cited and citing journal listing, there could be an additional option to show the distribution of citations by citing/cited journals not only in absolute numbers (Figure 2) but also by percentage. The citing/cited journals are arranged on these lists by decreasing number of cites. While this is a reasonable default value, I would like to see an option button to sort them also by journal name and impact factor. …

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