Geospatial and urban data science journals
List of relevant journals with their latest metrics
It is that time of the year: the journal impact factors have been published.
I maintain a list of relevant academic journals in our field, which I have decided to publish in this article together with their latest metrics, hopefully helping fellow researchers to have a reference list and choose where to publish their next paper.
For more information about how the journals were selected and explanations about the columns, see below.
List of journals with metrics (July 2020)
|Journal||Publisher||IF||Change (%)||SJR||SJR quartile|
|ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing||Elsevier||7.319||5||3.12||Q1|
|Landscape and Urban Planning||Elsevier||5.441||6||1.74||Q1|
|Computers, Environment and Urban Systems||Elsevier||4.655||37||1.36||Q1|
|International Journal of Geographical Information Science||Taylor and Francis||3.733||5||1.22||Q1|
|International Journal of Digital Earth||Taylor and Francis||3.097||-22||1.08||Q1|
|IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing||IEEE||5.441||4||2.62||Q1|
|International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation||Elsevier||4.65||-4||1.62||Q1|
|Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science||SAGE||2.822||0||1.11||Q1|
|Applied Geography (warning)||Elsevier||3.508||14||1.22||Q1|
|Annals of the American Association of Geographers||Taylor and Francis||3.302||9||1.69||Q1|
|Urban Geography||Taylor and Francis||3.014||-16||1.8||Q1|
|EPJ Data Science||Springer||2.873||-12||0.9||Q1|
|Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences||National Academy of Sciences||9.412||-4||5.17||Q1|
|Environmental Modelling and Software||Elsevier||4.807||6||1.9||Q1|
|Building and Environment||Elsevier||4.971||3||1.87||Q1|
|Energy and Buildings||Elsevier||4.867||8||2.06||Q1|
|Automation in Construction||Elsevier||5.669||31||1.69||Q1|
|Science of The Total Environment||Elsevier||6.551||17||1.66||Q1|
|Sustainable Cities and Society||Elsevier||5.268||14||1.36||Q1|
|Cartography and Geographic Information Science||Taylor and Francis||2.429||7||0.81||Q1|
|Transactions in GIS||Wiley||2.119||-3||0.65||Q1|
|Journal of Urban Technology||Routledge||3.733||66||1.1||Q1|
|GIScience and Remote Sensing||Taylor and Francis||5.965||66||1.55||Q1|
|IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing||IEEE||3.827||13||1.48||Q1|
|PLOS ONE||Public Library of Science||2.74||-1||1.02||Q1|
|Computers and Geosciences||Elsevier||2.991||10||0.96||Q1|
|Journal of Maps||Taylor and Francis||2.365||29||0.75||Q1|
|Journal of Spatial Science||Taylor and Francis||1.405||-18||0.44||Q2|
|PFG - Journal of Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Geoinformation Science||Springer||1.395||-25||0.65||Q1|
|Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing||ASPRS||1.265||-7||0.52||Q3|
|International Journal of Digital Innovation in the Built Environment||IGI|
|Open Geospatial Data, Software and Standards||Springer|
|Journal of Spatial Information Science||NCGIA||0.42||Q2|
|Journal of Location Based Services||Taylor and Francis||0.3||Q2|
|Geo-spatial Information Science||Taylor and Francis||0.94||Q1|
|International Journal of Cartography||Taylor and Francis|
|PeerJ Computer Science||PeerJ||3.091||1.6||Q1|
|International Journal of Urban Sciences||Taylor and Francis||1.831||0.48||Q2|
|International Journal of Data Science and Analytics||Springer|
|Journal of Geographical Systems||Springer||1.028||-27||0.49||Q2|
|Professional Geographer||Taylor and Francis||1.623||4||0.82||Q1|
- The column IF refers to impact factors from 2019, published in 2020. The same goes for SJR.
- The column “Change” indicates the percentage change of the IF from 2018 to 2019.
Selection of journals
The key question is what is a geospatial/urban data science journal? It depends who you ask.
While lists such as this one will inevitably be a tad subjective (mostly because nowadays fields have no clear boundaries and people focus on different topics), I trust that I have covered pretty much all the relevant journals in what we do. Many of them are from the selection published in my 2016 IJGIS paper A scientometric analysis of selected GIScience journals, which has evolved since then following the increased convergence of journals and introduction of new ones.
Some of these journals, such as PLOS ONE and the Science of the Total Environment, are “mega-journals” publishing papers on a wide range of topics and have published articles that are relevant in our domain. Further, some journals in the list are predominantly into remote sensing. They are known to publish geo-stuff relevant to us (e.g. on standardisation in 3D city modelling, our main interest), so they are included as well.
While there are some journals with a borderline IF, I have included them for multiple reasons. Some of them have a relatively low IF, but it is increasing at a higher rate than the field’s average, thus, I would consider them as “rising stars” and “honourable mentions”. Some have a low IF, but their aims and scope are very relevant. Some have been known to publish high quality papers before, but for some reason their IF dropped in the past few years. Further, I included also some journals that are not indexed yet, but which are well worth considering.
The journal impact factor (IF) is a key metric in scientometrics to quantify the importance (impact) of a journal. It is easy to understand, but also subject to controversies. IFs are published by Clarivate in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR), based on the data from the Web of Science. They are available yearly, and are published in June for the last year (e.g. the JCR 2020 report containing IFs for 2019 was published in June 2020). It is important to note that it is challenging to compare metrics across disciplines, due to the different sizes and characteristics of fields, among other reasons. For example, 1.911 is considered to be a very high impact factor in mathematics, but the same number is nothing special in cell biology or immunology. This disparity is why rankings of journals within categories/fields/disciplines are essential. Metrics become more complicated with our field because it does not have a dedicated category, and journals may publish articles from a mix of disciplines.
SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) is another metric, and it is gaining prominence. It quantifies the journal’s influence, but differently: it expresses the average number of weighted citations received in the selected year by the documents published in the journal in the three previous years (longer than the IF). Another difference from the IF is that SJR is derived from Elsevier’s Scopus, which is more inclusive. A focus of SJR is on understanding the prestige of a journal within a subdiscipline, and it is expressed in quartiles. For example, a Q1 (first quartile) journal is one that has the SJR in the top 25% of the journals in one or more of its subdisciplines. Read more here.
Finally, it is evident that such metrics are in many ways flawed, but we cannot pretend they are not important and well ingrained in academia, and used as a deciding factor in promotions.
Unsurprisingly, most journals have their IF increased since last year. Some of them raised by more than 50%.
While some journals have their IF steadily increasing, there is a lot of fluctuation on a year-by-year basis for some. Therefore, this list might look different next year.
SciRev is a website where researchers share their experience with the peer-review process of particular journals. It can be quite useful to understand the efficiency and attitude of some editors and journals. Before submitting your paper to a journal, I would encourage you to have a look at the website.
Why some journals in the list have no IF and/or SJR?
Some journals, such as the Open Geospatial Data, Software and Standards, are not indexed (yet), even though they publish high-quality work and are managed by a reputable publisher and editorial board. This void is normal for new journals because it may take several years before a journal is indexed. I believe that it is just a matter of time when these particular journals become indexed.
What if there are multiple categories?
In both JCR and SJR a journal can be assigned to multiple subject areas. For example, CEUS is part of four subdisciplines: Ecological Modeling, Environmental Science (miscellaneous), Geography, Planning and Development, and Urban Studies. A journal will have a different ranking in each subdiscipline it is part of. SJR takes the best ranking. However, I noticed that a Q1 journal would usually be Q1 in all subdisciplines it is part of.
What about ranks from IF/JCR?
The quartiles in the list are sourced from SJR. Technically, you can also get the rank (quartile) from JCR, by checking the IF of the journal and its position in the respective category. For example, IJGIS is part of two categories over there (Physical Geography and Computer Science). In the former, it ranked as 11th out of 50 journals in the category, so I guess that means Q1, but I haven’t seen that being used often. Also, do note that JCR uses citation data from a more exclusive database. Most of the journals above are in Q1 in SJR, but not all of them will also be in Q1 in JCR.