Posted by: bluesyemre | June 5, 2021

What is CiteScore and why should you care about it?

The 2020 CiteScore metrics have just been released — but what’s it all about?

The 2020 CiteScore metrics have just been released, and they’re being more widely used than ever. For researchers, librarians and authors, these metrics contribute to a more comprehensive, transparent and current view. They’re part of an “array of metrics” that aim to provide a more nuanced understanding of what impact means for research and journals.

So why should this matter to you? If you’re a researcher, an author, a librarian or – on different occasions – each of the above, the increasing prevalence of CiteScore provides insights into the citation impact of nearly 26,000 titles. Here are some key reasons CiteScore is good news for the research community:

1. It’s agnostic. CiteScore is a publisher-agnostic journal metric. Many publishers are displaying it, including Elsevier, Emerald, Frontiers, Hindawi, Inderscience, MDPI, SAGE, Taylor & Francis and Walter de Gruyter. The wide use of CiteScore makes it more useful as a tool for comparing journals, understanding their impact and making decisions accordingly.

2. It’s robust. CiteScore’s robustness is reflected in its methodology, which we enhanced last year based on user feedback. Only peer-reviewed publication types (articles, reviews, conference papers, book chapters and data papers) will be included in both the citation numerator and publication denominator, making the comparison between journals more robust. Furthermore, publications in the four years up to and including the calculation year are now being included. This means that CiteScore can be calculated for journals with just a single year of publication, giving new journals – including many Open Access (OA). and China-focused journals – a first indication of their citation impact one year earlier.

3. It’s fair. CiteScore excludes so-called Articles in Press (also known as early access articles) to ensure a level playing field for all active publications in Scopus. Only a limited number of large publishers deliver these data along with their final version articles. However, Articles in Press data is available in Scopus for individual articles and researchers, for example, via their Author Profiles.

4. It complies with the responsible metric principles of the Leiden Manifesto and DORA. Since the last CiteScore release, Elsevier signed the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and endorsed the Leiden Manifesto. As such, we’ve revised CiteScore to align with the principles reflected by these. For example:

  • Principle 10 of the Leiden Manifesto says that indicators must be scrutinized regularly and updated if necessary. CiteScore was launched in 2016, and by 2020, we had revised it based on expert and user feedback.
  • Principle 4 says that data collection and analytical processes should be open, transparent and simple; the CiteScore calculation approach has always been publicly available, with no methodological black boxes.
  • Principle 5 states that those evaluated must be allowed to verify data and analysis, and as such, the underlying data are freely available for verification purposes without a subscription to Scopus.
  • Principle 8 calls for the avoidance of misplaced concreteness and false precision. CiteScore was previously shown to two decimal places, but since only one decimal place is justified, this is how it is now reported.
  • Principle 9 calls for the recognition that metrics may have systemic effects and that a suite of indicators is always preferable; CiteScore appears as part of a set of several CiteScore Metrics which give further context and are also supplemented by two sophisticated journal-level citation indicators known as SNIP and SJR.

5. It’s comprehensive: CiteScore is based on Scopus, the world’s broadest abstract and citation database, and is available for all serial titles, not just journals. More than 26,000 journals are included — 13,000 more than receive a Journal Impact Factor.

6. It’s current: CiteScore Tracker is updated monthly. New titles will usually have CiteScore metrics the year after being published in Scopus.

7. It’s transparent: The underlying data and methodology we use are freely available for verification purposes for you to interrogate, and indeed you can even calculate a journal’s CiteScore yourself. No Scopus subscription is required.

8. It’s free: CiteScore metrics (and additional metrics such as SNIP and SJR) are freely available at If you run a journal and it’s listed in Scopus and therefore has a CiteScore rating, the score can be easily displayed on your own webpages via an API or widget. For librarians, we have a comprehensive LibGuide.

Hans Zijlstra

Written by

Hans Zijlstra

Hans Zijlstra works as a Research Metrics Product Manager in Elsevier’s Research Products department in Amsterdam. He is responsible for developing journal and article metrics with the aim of improving Elsevier’s service to researchers, librarians, publishers and funders.

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