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Guide to Journal Rankings: What are Quartiles – Q1, Q2, Q3 & Q4 Journal

In the ever-evolving landscape of academic publishing, understanding journal ranking systems is crucial for researchers aiming to disseminate their work effectively. In this blogpost, we delve into the intricacies of journal ranking, shedding light on various metrics, ranking systems, quartiles, and more.

What are Journal Ranking Systems

Journal ranking systems serve as tools to assess the quality and impact of academic journals. They aid researchers in identifying reputable outlets for publication and gauging the significance of scholarly contributions.
Commonly used metrics include Impact Factor (IF), Eigenfactor Score, h-index, and SCImago Journal Rank (SJR).

Metrics Used for Journals

• Impact Factor (IF): Calculated by dividing the number of citations in the current year to articles published in the previous two years by the total number of articles published in those two years.
• Eigenfactor Score: Evaluates the overall importance of a journal based on the number of times articles from the journal are cited in the first five years after publication.
• h-index: Measures both the productivity and impact of the published work of a scientist or scholar.

Types of Journal Ranking Systems

Journal Citation Reports (JCR)

This is a widely recognized and respected journal ranking system developed by Clarivate Analytics. It provides a comprehensive and systematic evaluation of academic journals based on citation data, offering valuable insights into the influence and impact of scholarly publications within their respective fields. The main feature of Journal Citation Reports is its calculation of the Impact Factor (IF) for individual journals.

SCImago Journal and Country Rank (SJR)

Developed by SCImago Lab, part of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), the SCImago Journal and Country Rank (SJR) system provides comprehensive rankings and metrics based on citation data extracted from the Scopus database.
In addition to journal rankings, the SJR system also provides rankings for countries based on their scientific output and impact. These country rankings take into account factors such as the number of publications, citations received, and international collaboration, offering insights into the global distribution of scientific research and innovation.

Scopus Journal Ranking system

Developed by Elsevier, Scopus is one of the largest abstract and citation databases covering a wide range of disciplines. Scopus ranks journals based on various citation metrics, including citation counts, citation patterns, and the prestige of citing journals. The system considers not only the quantity of citations but also the quality and relevance of the citing sources.

Web of Science Journal Ranking system

Developed by Clarivate Analytics, Web of Science is an expansive citation index that covers a vast array of scholarly literature, including articles, conference proceedings, and books. The ranking system tracks citations from a diverse range of sources, including scholarly articles, reviews, and conference proceedings, to evaluate the influence and importance of academic publications within their respective fields. The main difference between JCR and the Web of Science rankings is that the latter are continually updated, whereas JCR data serve as a snapshot of a specific time period.

What are Quartiles?

Quartiles categorize journals into four equal parts based on their Impact Factor or other metrics, providing researchers with insights into a journal’s relative standing within its field.

Quartiles Ranking based on IF distribution

• Q1: Top 25% of journals in a particular field based on Impact Factor
• Q2: Second quartile, comprising journals with Impact Factors higher than the median but lower than the top 25%
• Q3: Third quartile, encompassing journals with Impact Factors lower than the median but higher than the bottom 25%
• Q4: Bottom 25% of journals based on Impact Factor

Advantages of Journal Ranking Systems

Let’s look at why journal ranking systems are so popular among researchers and academic leadership:
• Facilitate informed decision-making for researchers
• Enhance visibility and credibility of published work
• Provide benchmarks for evaluating academic performance

Disadvantages of Journal Ranking Systems

Despite the above benefits, journal ranking systems also have certain disadvantages:
• May prioritize citation metrics over other indicators of scholarly impact
• Can perpetuate biases towards established journals and disciplines
• Lack of standardization across ranking systems may lead to inconsistencies


Navigating journal ranking systems is essential for researchers striving to maximize the reach and impact of their scholarly endeavors. By understanding the metrics, ranking methodologies, and quartile classifications, scholars can make informed decisions regarding publication venues and contribute meaningfully to their respective fields.


What do Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 mean in journals?

Quartiles categorize journals based on their Impact Factor or other metrics, with Q1 representing the top 25% and Q4 the bottom 25%.


How can one determine if a journal is in Q1?

To ascertain a journal’s quartile ranking, researchers can consult platforms such as Journal Citation Reports (JCR), Scopus, Web of Science, or SCImago Journal Rank (SJR).

Is it worth publishing in Q3 or Q4 journals?

While publishing in Q1 or Q2 journals may enhance visibility and prestige, Q3 and Q4 journals still serve as valuable outlets for disseminating research findings, especially in niche or emerging fields.


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