General considerations

The Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and the Science Citation Index (SCI) are digital databases for indexing academic journals in the social sciences and sciences, respectively. Journal titles are collated and stored in these databases as a means of comparing journal information within and among research disciplines. As an author, you can search the database to find information on journal titles when deciding what journal may be most suitable for your research (http://ip-science.thomsonreuters.com/cgi-bin/jrnlst/jloptions.cgi?PC=K). The indexing system is operated by the data analytics company Thomson-Reuters and, using citation metrics such as Impact Factor, selects and archives information on the most highly-cited and thus most impactful journals within each discipline (http://ip-science.thomsonreuters.com/mjl/publist_sciex.pdf). As a result, not all academic journals are available on these databases. However, using the universally-recognised metrics of Impact Factors to rank journals ensures the journal selection criteria is robust and uniform.

While the specific SSCI and SCI links can be useful for viewing journal titles under one banner, other journal indexing databases, such as Web of Science (https://apps.webofknowledge.com/WOS_GeneralSearch_input.do?product=WOS&search_mode=GeneralSearch&SID=Q1i4pUrMbqPqJK7Leg5&preferencesSaved=) and PubMed (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed) offer more comprehensive information, such as journal rankings, paper titles, abstracts, and citation rates, and links to journal sites. See the section ‘What is indexing? How do I use that when choosing a journal?’ for detailed information on using these databases.

Some universities require authors to publish in journals that have been indexed and thus listed on digital databases, such as SCI and Web of Science. By selecting journals based on universal ranking metrics, SSCI and SCI journals have passed quality control measures that ensure they are established platforms for disseminating high quality research. Therefore, to a certain extent, universities can assume content published in these journals is reliable, has a wide outreach, and is part of a scholarly environment. However, with open access options becoming more common in academia, ranking metrics such as Impact Factors are gradually becoming less significant when determining the impact and popularity of academic journals.

Practical example for Life Sciences

Within the life sciences, Web of Science, Scopus, and PubMed are common and useful tools for gathering, comparing, and tracking detailed information on journals, journal papers, and citation rates that incorporate the SCI.

Practical example for Social Sciences

The SSCI and SCI links are the main journal indexing databases used in the social sciences.

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