, Volume 121, Issue 1, pp 479–501 | Cite as

Comparison of the share of documents and citations from different quartile journals in 25 research areas

  • Ruben MirandaEmail author
  • Esther Garcia-Carpintero


The total number of publications and/or the share of total publications in a given quartile, usually first quartile (Q1), is increasingly used in performance-based funding of public research. However, the quality significance of publishing in Q1 journals is very different depending on the research areas. Both the expected probability to publish in Q1 journals, given by the number of papers published in each quartile, as well as the average citations received by Q1 publications compared to other quartiles, is largely dependent on the research area. This study analyzes the share of articles published in each quartile in the 25 largest research areas indexed by Science Citation Index-Expanded (Web of Science) and their main citation characteristics aiming to enrich the discussion about journal-based evaluation systems and specifically the number and/or the share of publications in Q1. It was found that the average share of documents published in Q1 was 45.7% (38.4% for articles and reviews), varying from 25.4 to 85.6% (from 17.1 to 88.9% for articles and reviews) depending on the area. Q1 publications were cited, on average, 2.07 times more than Q2 publications (2.41 times for articles plus reviews), however, depending on the area, this ratio varied from 0.9 to 6.1 (from 1.7 to 5.4 times for articles plus reviews). Q1 (total publications or articles plus reviews), received, on average, 65% of total citations of the research area, but again this value varied from 46 to 98% depending on the area.


Journals quartiles Impact factor Citations Uncitedness Research areas 


  1. Bornmann, L., de Moya Anegón, F., & Mutz, R. (2013). Do universities or research institutions with a specific subject profile have an advantage or a disadvantage in institutional rankings? A latent class analysis with data from the SCImago ranking. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 64(11), 2310–2316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bornmann, L., & Marx, W. (2014). How to evaluate individual researchers working in the natural and life sciences meaningfully? A proposal of methods based on percentiles of citations. Scientometrics, 98(1), 487–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bornmann, L., & Williams, R. (2017). Can the journal impact factor be used as a criterion for the selection of junior researchers? A large-scale empirical study based on ResearcherID data. Journal of Informetrics, 11(3), 788–799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brito, R., & Rodríguez-Navarro, A. (2019). Evaluating research and researchers by the journal impact factor: Is it better than coin flipping? Journal of Informetrics, 13(1), 314–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Campanario, J. M., & Cabos, W. (2014). The effect of additional citations in the stability of Journal Citation Report categories. Scientometrics, 98(2), 1113–1130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chinchilla-Rodríguez, Z., Zacca-González, G., Vargas-Quesada, B., & de Moya-Anegón, F. (2016). Benchmarking scientific performance by decomposing leadership of Cuban and Latin American institutions in Public Health. Scientometrics, 106(3), 1239–1264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Elizee, P. K., Ghassab, R. K., Raoofi, A., & Miri, S. M. (2012). The more publication, the higher impact factor: Citation analysis of top nine gastroenterology and hepatology journals. Hepatitis Monthly, 12(12), e8467.Google Scholar
  8. García, J. A., Rodriguez-Sánchez, R., Fdez-Valdivia, J., & Martinez-Baena, J. (2012). On first quartile journals which are not of highest impact. Scientometrics, 90(3), 925–943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Garg, K. C., & Kumar, S. (2014). Uncitedness of Indian scientific output. Current Science, 107(6), 965–970.Google Scholar
  10. Gu, X., & Blackmore, K. L. (2017). Towards a Broader Understanding of Journal Impact: Measuring relationships between Journal Characteristics and Scholarly Impact. International Journal of Social, Behavioral, Educational, Economic, Business and Industrial Engineering, 11(10), 2230–2235.Google Scholar
  11. Huang, D. W. (2016). Positive correlation between quality and quantity in academic journals. Journal of Informetrics, 10(2), 329–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ibáñez, A., Bielza, C., & Larrañaga, P. (2013). Relationship among research collaboration, number of documents and number of citations: a case study in Spanish computer science production in 2000–2009. Scientometrics, 95(2), 689–716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kurmis, A. P., & Kurmis, T. P. (2006). Exploring the relationship between impact factor and manuscript rejection rates in radiologic journals. Academic Radiology, 13, 77–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lamb, C. R., & Adams, C. A. (2015). Acceptance rates for manuscripts submitted to veterinary peer-reviewed journals in 2012. Equine Veterinary Journal, 47(6), 736–740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Liang, L., Zhong, Z., & Rousseau, R. (2015). Uncited papers, uncited authors and uncited topics: A case study in library and information science. Journal of Informetrics, 9(1), 50–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Liu, F., Guo, W., & Zuo, C. (2018). High impact factor journals have more publications than expected. Current Science, 114(5), 955–956.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Liu, W., Hu, G., & Gu, M. (2016). The probability of publishing in first-quartile journals. Scientometrics, 106(3), 1273–1276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lozano, G. A., Larivière, V., & Gingras, Y. (2012). The weakening relationship between the impact factor and papers’ citations in the digital age. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 63(11), 2140–2145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Matveeva, N., Sterligov, I., & Yudkevich, M. (2019). The Russian University Excellence Initiative: Is it really excellence that is promoted? Working papers of the National Research University, Higher School of Economics. Series: Education. WP BRP 49/EDU/2019.Google Scholar
  20. Miranda, R., & Garcia-Carpintero, E. (2018). Overcitation and overrepresentation of review papers in the most cited papers. Journal of Informetrics, 12(4), 1015–1030.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sugimoto, C. R., Larivière, V., Ni, C., & Cronin, B. (2013). Journal acceptance rates: a cross-disciplinary analysis of variability and relationships with journal measures. Journal of Informetrics, 7(4), 897–906.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Van Noorden, R. (2017). The Science that’s never been cited. Nature, 552, 162–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wallace, M. L., Larivière, V., & Gingras, Y. (2009). Modeling a century of citation distributions. Journal of Informetrics, 3(4), 296–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Waltman, L. (2016). A review of the literature on citation impact indicators. Journal of Informetrics, 10(2), 365–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ingeniería Química y de Materiales, Facultad de QuímicasUniversidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Agencia de Evaluación de Tecnologías SanitariasInstituto de Salud Carlos IIIMadridSpain

Personalised recommendations