The change in scientific journal classification of the scientific Web of Science from 2020


In the 60s of the twentieth century, the American Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) had rigorously and carefully selected the quality of scientific journals in the world to put into its database. Since its inception, ISI has become one of the very few accepted and widely used classifications in discussions about the scientific quality of research works.

Scientific Citation Indexing (SCI) service was originally produced by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in 1964 included only SCI, which gathered about 4,000 high-quality and long-standing journals on Natural Science, Engineering and Technology. After the expansion and growth process along with the development of science and scientific journal systems in the world, ISI was classified more transparent and detail, including SCI, SCIE (Science Citation Index - Expanded) (“SCI extension”), SSCI (Social Science Citation Index) and A & HCI (Arts and Humanities Citation Index) with a total of about 10,000 high-quality scientific journals out of millions of journals in the world. ISI was acquired by Thomson Scientific & Healthcare in 1992 and named Thomson Reuters Intellectual Property and Science Business, known as Thomson ISI, which was then maintained by Clarivate Analytics to provide comprehensive citation search of all indexing. Thomson ISI was maintained by Web of Science (WoS) online subscription scientific citation indexing service.


                                                                   Fig 1. ISI and comparing ISI with Scopus.

In January 2020, Clarivate Analytics announced the merger of SCI and SCIE into SCIE. In terms of the evaluation of SCIE and SCI, Thomson and Clarivate Analytics asserted that The Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE) is the larger version SCI comprising more than 8,500 notable and significant journals, across 150 disciplines, from 1900 to the present. The evaluation and acceptance of a journal to the SCI or SCIE catalog are fundamentally the same. SCIE is similar to the SCI except for the two differences: (1) Impact factor (IF): SCI has non zero impact factor but SCIE journals are just ranked for impact factor; (2) Storage formate: Both SCI and SCIE are available online. However, SCI is available in CD/DVD format but SCIE is not.



                                                                      Fig 2. 04 WoS core collection from 2020.

Regarding explaining the integration of SCI and SCIE into SCIE, Clarivate Analytics stated that: SCI and SCIE do not differ in print quality, but SCI is the data provided on CD/DVD while SCIE is the data provided online. In addition, it creates confusion among SCI and SCIE’s classification and identification of the journals. To solve this problem, Clarivate Analytics said it has set internal policies and add information and URLs for each journal since October 2019. It will provide SCI by integrating SCI into SCIE without officially using SCI classification as of January 3, 2020. Since January 2020, all SCI journals in the WoS core collection have been classified as SCIE journals.

Scientific publication has become an essential demand for scientists. The change in the scientific journals list classification of ISI can’t have any impact on the international scientific community as well as Vietnam. The international scientific publication, especially publication on prestigious international scientific journals including journals of ISI is a mandatory requirement for candidates considering the tittle criteria of Professor, Associate Professor; candidates in charge of science and technology tasks at all levels; the Ph.D. candidates… The calculation of points with the aim of the standards of Prof and Assoc Prof tittles evaluation and recognition is implemented in accordance by Decision No. 37/2018/ QĐ-TTg dated December 31, 2018, of the Prime Minister, a scientific paper which is published in a journal with international standard codes ISSN on the ISI list is calculated from 1.0 to 2.0 points. The specific list will be published annually by the specialized and interdisciplinary Prof Council. The scale depends on the IF coefficient, Q coefficient of the journal. In 2020, most of the specialized and interdisciplinary Prof Councils calculate the same score for the scientific journals of SCI and SCIE list, specifically: Mechanical Engineering - Vehicle and Energy Engineering interdisciplinary Board of Professors; Information Technology Board of Professors; Transportation Board of Professors; Chemistry - Food Technology Board of Professors; Security Science Sector Review Council Board of Professors; Military Science Sector Board of Professors; Earth Science - Mining sector Board of Professors … Nevertheless, some specialized and interdisciplinary Professors ‘councils, such as the Mechanism Engineering Board of Professors, stipulated that the list of scientific journals is scored at the highest threshold (0-3.0 & 0-2.0), which are scientific journals in the list of prestigious ISI and prestigious international science journals (according to Decision No. 151/QĐ-HDQL - NAFOSTED dated August 9, 2019, of the Management Board of the National Science and Technology Development Fund. According to this decision of the NAFOSTED Fund, the list of prestigious ISI journals consists of journals selected by the Scientific Councils, proposed from the SCI list published by Clarivate Analysis in June 2019. Thus, from 2020, the list of prestigious scientific journals belonging to ISI may be adjusted to suit the change in the WoS classification of science.

SCI is regarded as the “core collection” of ISI with a unique and important position in the ISI database. Accordingly, scientific papers are published in SCI journals as a way to firmly confirm its scientific value as well as the reputation of scientists. In 2019, when quantifying the results of scientific research with specific comments on NAFOSTED Fund, SCI, and SCIE, Prof. Dr. Ho Tu Bao - Institute of Japanese Science and Technology, stated: “The National Fund for Science and Technology Development - NAFOSTED has created a very positive step in the evaluation and investment in basic national scientific research because of the utilization of the claims in the SCI and SCIE databases as a necessary condition for subject selection and product submission criteria… It should be noted that in terms of impact factors, journals ranked last in SCIE have a much lower value than SCI journals. Without proper adjustments, the NAFOSTED will likely get a lot of results published at the end of SCIE, and it will be harder to meet its expected goals”.

Although Clarivate Analytics claimed that “SCIE is a larger version SCI”, the evaluation criteria for accepting a scientific journal on the SCI or SCIE is basically the same, it can’t be denied that SCIE’s scientific journals are classified in terms of IF (while the scientific journals of SCI always have an IF coefficient other than 0). The scientific community cannot deny that: the prestige and value of a scientific journal are often assessed through the IF of the journal, and the journal with a high IF coefficient is “implicitly understood” as reputable and highly influential. With this classification, WoS has “blurred” the boundary that distinguishes the prestige and quality of SCI and SCIE journals by merging them into one.

                                                                                                                               Journal of Science and Technique