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I knew that the difference between SCI (Science Citation Index) and SCIE (Science Citation Index Expanded) is that SCI has a list of top quality journals, while SCIE includes more than the former.

I found a link that seems to support this previous statement. However, I can't find any official information on this regard.

Does someone has some official links to what the difference is? if any.

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From Thomson Reuters:

... the evaluation of and acceptance of a journal for the SCI or the SCIE is essentially the same with ONE major difference. The only difference is the storage media. SCI is only available on CD/DVD format; however, SCIE is available online.

  • This answers the question of why there are fewer journals in SCI. But it doesn't say why a given journal that is in the SCIE is or is not included in the SCI. It seems that Ishan's answer touches on that: I.e., that SCI covers journals that are more highly cited in each category. – Jeromy Anglim Aug 9 '16 at 2:12
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Thomson Reuters customer support explanation on SCI and SCIE:.

The Science Citation Index (SCI) is a sub-set of the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE), containing journals that rank competitively among the most highly-cited core journals in their category or categories. The Science Citation Index Expanded is essentially the web version of what used to be a database available only on CDRom/Diskette.

When selecting the journals for the Science Citation Index we choose the top journals from each subject category and supplement this with top regional journals from each category to give broad geographic and multidisciplinary coverage. The evaluation of and acceptance of a journal for the Science Citation Index Expanded or the Science Citation Index is essentially the same with one major difference.

This difference is in the application of citation analysis to the journal. While every science journal in our database is covered in the Science Citation Index Expanded and only those journals of relatively significantly higher citation impact are selected for the Science Citation Index. In other words, Science Citation Index covers only the most highly cited, highest impact journals in each category. This is because of the constraints of the CDROM and print media there is no difference in the selection process for Science Citation Index and Science Citation Index Expanded journals.

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I got an explanation from Clarivate Analytics:

Based on the fact that Thomson Reuters selects journals of SCIE (including SCI) through a strict selection process, we hereby prove that journals of Science Citation Index® (SCI) and Science Citation Index ExpandedTM (SCIE) have the SAME QUALITY as the journal selection process for journals of SCI and SCIE is essentially identical.

The only small difference between of Science Citation Index® (SCI) and Science Citation Index ExpandedTM (SCIE) is the storage format. As known, both SCI and SCIE are available online. However, SCI is available on CD/DVD format but SCIE is not.

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I think the correct understanding is that: 1) All journals in SCIE and SCI undergo the same selection process, i.e. the regularity of publication, the peer review process, the editorial team, etc. So you can said they all passed the "quality check" (this doesn't mean they are the same quality..., even not all journals in SCI are same quality, aka Science/Nature/PNAS vs PLoS ONE - which is better? why rank journals on impact factor or why even publish their impact factor if they are same quality?)

Now comes the difference ... 2) Every journals in SCI is in SCIE, but not the reverse. The reason is "only those journals of relatively significantly higher citation impact are selected for the Science Citation Index"

I think we can figure this out.

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Another difference between SCI and SCIE journal is that SCI has non zero impact factor but SCIE journals are just ranked for impact factor.

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