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EPRS 7900 Methods of Research in Education: Find Top Journals and Highly Cited Articles

Citation Analysis

Top Journals/Citation Analysis

One way to help determine the importance of an article, author, or journal in the field is to analyze the number of times that an article, author, or journal is cited. The process for doing this is known as citation analysis. The idea is that if an article, author, or journal is highly cited by others, then it must be making an impact on the field.   The most highly cited authors, articles, or journals are likely to be the top/most well known in their field. 


Citation analysis is a standard practice, and it is widely accessible with tools such as GoogleScholar Metrics and Journal Citation Reports. However, the tools used in citation analysis all have limitations.  Using multiple tools and comparing results can offer a better perspective of value within a field. Citation analysis should be a factor in determining value, but it should not be the sole factor.  As scholars, it is important that we evaluate articles, authors, and journals on their own merit as appropriate.

H Index and Impact Factor

When using citation analysis, it is important to note that the measurements are only meaningful within a given field. So comparing education related analysis to physics related analysis is not meaningful.

There are many measurements available, but the two most common are known as the impact factor and h-index.

Impact Factor

The Impact Factor measures the influence of a journal in the field.  It does this by calculating the number of times that articles published within that specific journal and within given years have been cited. Basically, an impact factor of 3.5 means that, on average, the articles published one to two years ago have been cited 3.5 times.

The h-index

The h-index measures the influence of an author in the field. (Recently, variations of the h-index have been developed to measure other factors, so check the tool you are using to be sure about what your measurements are indicating.)

An h-index of 20 means that an author has 20 papers with at least 20 cites for each paper.

The h-index originated with J.E. Hirsch.  Here's his article about it:

An index to quantify an individual's scientific research output

Find Top Journals and Higly Cited Articles using Google Scholar

Google Scholar

Locating Top Journals:

Before conducting a search, click on "metrics" in the menu above the GoogleScholar logo:

You'll see a list of top publications.  You can also click on the search option in the upper right to type in a search and then also view a category.

Finding highly cited articles:

GoogleScholar search results are weighted by word order, citation counts, and relevancy. Oftentimes, the first results are the most relevant and the highest cited works.  However, it is best to try your search in a variety of ways, and it is best to use additional tools alongside GoogleScholar to ensure that you locate the most important articles on your topic.

Find articles that cite a persons work:  After you conduct a topic search in GoogleScholar, click "cited by" after the article title in your results.

Journal Citation Reports (JCR) & Web of Science

Find journals in your field with the highest impact factor using Journal Citation Reports:

Find articles that cite a person's work using Web of Science

  • Times Cited:  Web of Science  has citation information for items within a topic search.  Look for "Times Cited" to the right of each item your results list. 
  • Sorting articles in your results list by the number of times cited:  In Web of Science, you can sort your result list by "times cited--highest to lowest"
  • Web of Science Youtube Training Channel