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Scholarly Communication

This guide contains information and resources related to scholarly communication and publishing at Ryerson University.

Evaluating Journals

Here are some questions to ask when selecting journals for publication: 

 

Who is the Publisher?

 

Is it a reputable publisher in your discipline? Do they have an established archive of journal issues? If it's an open access journal, do they have an OASPA Membership? OASPA is committed to setting standards and promoting open access publishing. These Open Access publishers share information and are more likely to have higher standards than non-members.

 

What is the quality of the articles in the journal?

 

Read a few articles. Are they well-written, and/or provide data and a sound research method?

 

Is the publisher 'predatory'?

 

Here are some characteristics of predatory publishers, however, you will need to make your own judgements about the quality of the journal in the absence of an authoritative list.

  • Do they have a recent date of establishment and an unusually high number of journals?  A publisher that has a high number of journals (50+) and is recently established may be more questionable in terms of their ability to do high-quality peer evaluation of submitted materials.

  • What is their profit model? A non-profit organization may have more altruistic motives for launching an open access publication than a for-profit organization. Note that open access sometimes involves a fee to be paid by the author to support publication and peer-review costs, and some publishers have created a business model that capitalizes on this.

  • Did they solicit your article or chapter? Sometimes, publishers will send out notices to students or academics offering to publish their work for a fee. While this practice is sometimes used by reputable open access and traditional publishers, direct e-mail solicitations are a possible sign that one should spend some time researching the publisher before responding.

  • What is the journal’s acceptance procedure? How long did it take for the journal to accept your paper for publication - did they immediately accept it before a review process? Too quick acceptance of a paper and a timeline that would not allow enough time for quality peer review may be cause for more investigation.

  • Who are authors that have previously published in the journal? Are they all from the same institution? Are there repeated authors or groups across a few issues, or one dominant author?

Is the publisher a member of DOAJ?

For open access journals, DOAJ is an Open Access Directory that reviews the quality of the journals it accepts and adds to its listings. Journals accepted into DOAJ tend to be more reputable.

What are the journal metrics?

Check if the journal has an impact factor. Journal Impact Factors (IFs) are used to help evaluate and compare scholarly journals in the Sciences and Social Sciences. IFs are an index of the rate at which papers published in a journal are subsequently cited in a given year. ISI Journal Citations Reports are the main source of journal impact factors, but there are other tools, such as SJR.

IFs are sometimes considered a quantitative and objective measure of the quality of journals and, increasingly, by implication, the scholars who publish in them (the higher the IF the higher the quality). However, there are a number of reasons not to take IFs at face value. Depending on the lag time in publishing, size of the discipline and how self-contained it may be, the extent to which the discipline depends on recently published material, and a number of other factors, IFs have received varying degrees of support and rejection in the academic world.

Are articles from that journal being cited?

There are different places where you can check the citation counts for articles. Web of Science and Scopus are two databases that offer article citation counts. As well Google Scholar now records citation counts at the article level.

What Peer Review standards do they use?

Check if the peer review guidelines are openly posted by the journal or contact the journal to ask for details about their peer review process.

Who is on the Editorial Board?

Identify who is on the editorial board, read profiles, or look up board members on the Internet to review their credentials.

Is the journal indexed?

Are the journals’ articles listed in major databases? You can check Ulrich's International Periodical Directory for this information.

Need More Help?

If you need any assistance with any of these topics, or have any questions, please contact your Subject Librarian.

"Evaluating Open Access Journals" is licenced as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)  and should be credited to Ryerson University Library and Archives.