What is CiteScore in Journal Publishing?

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What is CiteScore?

The write-up describes what CiteScore is and explains its importance as an academic publishing metric.

Journal publishing is crucial in advancing new knowledge and publicizing research. A researcher would want to write quality research or scholarly work and must find a journal with a good reputation to publish in.

Academic publishing metrics are quantitative measures used to assess the impact and quality of scholarly research publications. They provide valuable data to help evaluate journals, articles, authors, and institutions within the academic community.

Two of the most common academic publishing metrics are Journal Impact Factor by Web of Science and CiteScore by Elsevier. We will discuss other lesser-known journal metrics in another write-up.

What is CiteScore

CiteScore has recently been gaining popularity in the past few years. CiteScore aims to provide a transparent and comprehensive picture of a journal’s citation impact. This section will introduce CiteScore as an academic publishing metric, setting the stage for a more in-depth exploration of how it is calculated and used and what it reveals about scholarly influence.

What is CiteScore?

CiteScore is a metric that measures the average citations per document for an academic publication (journal, conference proceeding and book series) calculated for certain years of publication. CiteScore evaluates the impact, reputation and influence of publications indexed in the Scopus database.

The CiteScore was developed by Elsevier in 2016 as an alternative to the popular Journal Impact Factor metric.

How is CiteScore Calculated?

CiteScore is calculated by dividing the number of citations received for the current year by the total number of documents published for the preceding three years. A higher CiteScore generally indicates a more impactful and reputable journal.

Here is how CiteScore is calculated for a given journal:

  1. Let’s say we want to calculate the CiteScore for the year 2023. We would count the total citations in 2023 to all documents published in the journal in the previous three years (2020, 2021, 2022).
  2. We then divide this total citation count by the total number of documents published in the journal in those three years (2020, 2021, 2022) to arrive at the average citations per document.
  3. This average citations per document value is the CiteScore for 2023.

Say that a journal has in total 50 citations for the year 2023. The journal published 20 papers in 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively, so the total number of documents published for the three years is 60. Using these numbers, the journal has a CiteScore value of 0.83 for 2023.

The History of CiteScore

Launched in 2016, CiteScore measures the average number of citations received by documents published in a journal over three years. CiteScore allegedly provides a transparent way to compare citation impact across journals and categories.

As an emerging metric, CiteScore aims to build upon and improve traditional journal metrics to provide a comprehensive and current view of citation impact. The following sections will explore CiteScore further regarding how it is calculated, used, and interpreted within academic publishing.

Why is CiteScore Important?

CiteScore plays a vital role in the ranking and evaluation of academic journals. As researchers consider where to publish their work, CiteScore offers valuable insight into a journal’s influence and reputation within its field. Journals with higher CiteScores are often perceived as more prestigious, making them more attractive venues for publication.

For authors, targeting journals with high CiteScores can increase the visibility and impact of their research. Publications in well-ranked journals are more likely to be read and cited by peers, boosting an author’s citations and h-index. This can improve their academic profile when applying for jobs, funding, promotions, or tenure. Consequently, CiteScore strongly informs many authors’ decisions on where to submit manuscripts.

Beyond individual authors, CiteScore also affects institutions and publishers. Universities use the aggregated CiteScores of their published research to gauge productivity and research performance.

Similarly, publishers consider the CiteScores of their journal portfolio when aiming to attract manuscript submissions and subscriptions. Therefore, CiteScore has far-reaching implications for institutional rankings, as well as the business models of academic publishers.

For early-career researchers, publication in high-CiteScore journals can be particularly impactful. Building a strong publication record is key for PhD students and postdocs aiming to secure faculty appointments or research jobs.

Since CiteScore is often used as a proxy for journal quality, it can directly influence hiring and admissions decisions. This places extra importance on understanding CiteScore metrics for emerging scholars.

CiteScore has the potential to shape academic journeys and destinies profoundly. As a researcher, you should recognize this influence and strategically consider CiteScore data throughout the publishing efforts.

Pros and Cons of Using CiteScore

CiteScore has become an increasingly popular metric in academic publishing, but it has advantages and limitations like any measure. Here are some of the key pros and cons to consider when evaluating CiteScore:

The Pros

  • CiteScore provides a snapshot of a journal’s impact and visibility – It calculates the average number of citations received over three years for all papers published in a journal. This gives authors a sense of how often content in that journal is being cited.
  • CiteScore offers a free, open access metric – Its values are freely available online for anyone to view and access. This transparency is beneficial compared to other proprietary metrics like Impact Factor.
  • Covers more sources – CiteScore includes citations from a larger variety of sources, including books, conference papers, and other non-journal publications. This provides a more comprehensive picture.
  • Applicable to open access journals – CiteScore can be calculated for both open access and subscription journals, unlike some other metrics.

The Cons

  • Susceptible to manipulation – Since CiteScore counts total citations, it may be vulnerable to practices like excessive self-citation.
  • No adjustment for subject area – CiteScore does not account for differences in citation rates across subjects. Journals in fields with faster publication times may appear to have an advantage.
  • Only reflects quantity, not quality – High citation numbers may not necessarily equate to the prestige or influence of publications.
  • Short time window – A 3-year publication window may not capture long-term impact and exclude foundational older papers.

While CiteScore can provide valuable data to complement other metrics, it should not be the sole factor in assessing journal quality or impact. Researchers should use CiteScore responsibly by considering its limitations and combining it with qualitative measures to make well-informed publication decisions.

How to Access and Interpret CiteScore

Finding a journal’s CiteScore is quite straightforward. The easiest way is to search for the journal on Scopus.com, the database that calculates CiteScores. The CiteScore and other metrics will be displayed on a journal’s homepage. CiteScore is also searchable on the CiteScore Metrics page. You can search for CiteScores by subject field, category, year, etc.

When comparing CiteScores between journals, consider the following:

  • Subject field – CiteScores can vary widely between disciplines.
  • Category – Compare journals in the same category for the most meaningful analysis.
  • Changes over time – Has the CiteScore increased or decreased in recent years?

While an important metric, CiteScore has limitations. It does not account for the quality of citations or measure of actual readership. CiteScore should be considered alongside other metrics like SNIP and SJR for a complete journal evaluation.

Tips for Interpreting CiteScore

  • Context matters – Consider the journal’s field and category.
  • Track trends over time, not just the latest CiteScore.
  • Compare journals of similar scope and impact factors.
  • Use CiteScore as one metric among many in assessment.

With a basic understanding of how to access and interpret CiteScore data, researchers can be better equipped to evaluate the impact and prestige of academic journals in an informed way.


As we reach the end of this comprehensive guide on what CiteScore is, it is clear that understanding and properly utilizing academic publishing metrics like CiteScore is crucial for anyone involved in academic research and publishing.

While potentially complex, learning about metrics like CiteScore will empower authors, researchers, and readers to make informed decisions.

In particular, CiteScore provides a useful metric for evaluating and comparing journals as potential venues for publication. With a relatively straightforward calculation based on citation counts over three years, CiteScore aims to provide a more transparent and up-to-date alternative to the more established journal Impact Factor.

However, CiteScore is one tool among many that should be used responsibly to assess journal quality and fit.

Some key takeaways from our exploration of CiteScore include the following:

  • CiteScore is calculated by dividing the number of citations received by all documents published in a journal over three years by the number of citable documents published in the same period.
  • Higher CiteScore values generally indicate higher journal visibility, reach, and influence.
  • CiteScore has limitations like all metrics – it should not be over-emphasized or used in isolation.
  • CiteScore data is available online through Scopus and journal websites.

As academic publishing evolves, all stakeholders must stay current on journal evaluation metrics developments. Do not hesitate to consult journal-ranking websites, academic librarians, and scholarly communications offices to learn more about utilizing metrics appropriately.

Keep an open but critical perspective, considering the benefits and limitations of any given metric. With knowledge, we can all make informed choices that uphold rigorous, ethical, and impactful academic research and publishing.

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