Publishing has undergone rapid growth in recent years, and in many cases scholars are unfamiliar with new publishers and whether they can be trusted. Open Access journals should be judged by exactly the same criteria as any other publication, with a few additional considerations noted below (see more about predatory open access publishing and predatory conferences).
Use the criteria and appraisal services below to evaluate a given journal and avoid fraudulent publications.
Journal Quality Evaluation Criteria
- Caliber of the research published: Read over a few articles to assess the quality of the writing and the science.
- Peer review process and author guidelines as described on the journal’s web site: Check for integrity and rigor. Consider contacting published authors about their experience.
- Composition of the editorial board and staff: Are editors recognized experts, and are their affiliations consistently provided? Trust your judgement – if anything looks ‘off’ about the information or photos provided, investigate further.
- A clearly outlined aims and scope for the publication that’s not vague and that resonates with your field of research or practice.
- Ease of finding information about the publisher, such as who they are associated with and backed by. A valid street address and phone number should be provided that represents the actual place of business (not a residence or ‘field office’ designed to misrepresent the real location).
- Metrics of quality for the journal: i.e. journal impact factor, article-level metrics, or other trusted measures (see also #4 below). Beware of unrecognized ranking systems, often designed to mimic established metrics (examples).
- Transparency of open access journals’ policy on charging for OA publication, and the amount of the charges.
- Copyright ownership for published content: Does the publisher allow authors to retain certain uses of their work, or a Creative Commons license if it’s open access?
See also the short video from Think.Check.Submit.
Appraisal by the Industry
While exclusion from any of these services does not necessarily mean that a publisher is not reputable, authors may consider:
- Is the journal indexed in PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, or other trusted literature indexes in your field? Note that Google Scholar does not vet what it indexes.
- Is the journal or publisher a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)?
- Does the journal have an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)?
- Does the journal have an ISI impact factor, SNIP, SJR, CiteScore, or eigenfactor ranking? Beware of unrecognized ranking systems, often designed to mimic established metrics (examples).
Additionally, if it’s open access:
- Is the journal included in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) or the Directory of OA Scholarly Resources (ROAD)?
- Is the publisher a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)?
- Has the publication been evaluated by scholars in the Quality Open Access Market?
- Is the publisher or journal cited on lists or blog posts by authors as using “predatory” or questionable business and peer review practices?
Email Spam Blocking
Getting too many unwanted email solicitations to submit your work to an unknown journal or conference? This phenomenon is all too familiar to scholars, who receive invitations daily for article submissions and conference presentations, often hosted by outfits looking only to make money.
To block an individual or a domain (e.g baddomain.com) from sending you email, log in to your UCSF Email Security Gateway, go to Preferences, Whitelist/Blocklist and add the sender email address or domain to your blocked list.
Journal Selection Tools
- Journal/Author Name Estimator (Jane) – find journals, papers, and authors from Medline relevant to your title and abstract
- Journal Recommender from SJ Finder – plug in your article title and abstract
- EndNote’s Manuscript Matcher (requires login. Access is via UCSF’s Web of Science or individual EndNote subscription) – matches your article title and abstract, along with any EndNote reference groups to journals indexed in Web of Science Core Collection and Journal Citation Reports.
- Some publishers such as Elsevier and SpringerNature have journal finder tools for journals on their platforms.