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Transparent, timely and newly improved: making CiteScore work for you

August 16, 2017 | 4 min read

By Christopher Tancock

Two men pushing two pieces of a puzzle together

How to use CiteScore to track your journal’s current – and future – performance


Since its release in December 2016, many observers have been following Elsevier’s new metric with great interest and the recent (June) release gave it a first serious road test. What improvements have been made, how can you use it to gain deeper insights into your journal and why have several publishers started to use CiteScore to measure the impact of their own publications? Read on to find out…

A new kind of metric

CiteScore is a new standard in impact metrics that gives a more comprehensive, transparent and current view of a journal’s influence. Forming part of the basket of metrics powered by Scopus, CiteScore measures impact by calculating the average citations per document that a title receives over a three-year period. The fact that it covers a longer period than some other metrics allows for a balanced approach to both faster and slower moving disciplines whilst the inclusion of all document types in the numerator and denominator makes the calculation complete, consistent and less prone to manipulation.

One of the hallmarks of CiteScore is its transparency: both the calculation behind the score and the data used are freely available to anyone. This clarity is welcomed by its users who are not only able to see what the calculation is for a journal but also, for example, which exact articles are most responsible for the score and which papers haven’t contributed towards the end result. Trust has therefore built up in the system and this perhaps explains why indicators of awareness of this young metric, even at this early stage, are very encouraging.

For example, the editorial team of Public Healthopens in new tab/window; a journal published by Elsevier on behalf of the Royal Society for Public Healthopens in new tab/window, were pleased to see the 2016 CiteScore of their publication was higher than that of competitor journals that have a greater focus on publishing editorials and discussion pieces. Emma Bruunopens in new tab/window, Publisher at Elsevier for Public Health, commented that “the CiteScore is a good leveller as it measures the holistic citation impact of an entire publication – since the CiteScore counts all article types as citable, whereas other traditional metrics exclude most short form content.”

Introducing the CiteScore Tracker

Particularly useful for journal editors; CiteScore Tracker’s capabilities mean an end to the days of anxious nail-biting during the long wait for the annual release of traditional impact metric scores. With CiteScore Tracker, editors can see any change to their journal’s performance on a monthly basis, allowing early identification of shifts and – crucially – giving time to act in order to influence journal activity towards the desired outcome.

Despite its relative youth, CiteScore has already been active in iterating improvements to its offering. One of these involves the above-mentioned openness of the underlying data. Anyone can now register to view the data and editors can thus point interested parties directly towards the “workings out” for their latest score. Another advance involves how title changes are handled in the system, something that has negatively affected journals measured by traditional metrics on occasion. Whereas it might take five years to smooth out a title change via traditional metrics, CiteScore now looks at the documents from both the new and old titles of a publication if relevant to give the most accurate CiteScore value and the metrics are given to the new title asap.

For many journals, in fact, CiteScore may be the only robust metric available to their publishers and editors. Recent analysis by Elsevier identified 216 journals from 70 publishing houses which ranked in the top 10% of the most-cited journals in their subject category with no critical journal metric other than CiteScore. As the only fast and readily available metric available to these journals; CiteScore serves as a vital role in securing just recognition for these titles as highly-influential publications.

For many, the openness reflected in CiteScore’s way of working and its approach to robustness mean that it has already become a serious alternative to traditional metrics. Indeed, several publishers are already using it to showcase their publications’ metrics. Editors are already embracing the tracker capabilities to steer their journals in the right direction at the earliest sign of a problem. There are further improvements and capabilities planned but for the time being we encourage you to check out the capabilities for yourself and see what CiteScore can offer you.

CiteScore is available for free on in new tab/window.