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Assessing Journals For Publication

With shifting mandates and journal policies, it is certainly possible that some researchers will be looking for new places to publish their work. The landscape is filled with potential journals, both OA and subscription-based, with varying degrees of trustworthiness and impact.

Researchers have a lot of concerns when it comes to the publication of the products of their research. They might be thinking about which journal offers the best possible venue for their work within their specific field. Or, maybe they're concerned about which publications their tenure and promotion board will find the most impressive. It's also possible they believe strongly in the idea of open access, but have heard colleagues mention predatory publishing and are worried about where to submit their work.

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) has produced a brief one-page guide with some everyday pointers on how to avoid publishing with an irreputable publisher. It is an excellent place to start learning more about some easy ways to protect yourself.

There are certainly a lot of factors to consider when it comes to publishing, including:

  • Does the journal have strong readership?
  • Does the journal have a good impact factor?
  • Does the agency who funded my research have an open access mandate?
  • Does a certain publisher allow for self-archiving in our institutional or discipline-based repository?
  • Does a publisher allow me to keep copyright of my work?
  • Is a journal trustworthy?
  • Does a journal have an author processing charge (APC)?

These are just a few of the questions worth considering. This guide is intended to help with the process, whether you're a fresh graduate student looking to be published for the first time or an established researcher looking for greener pastures.

Finding an Appropriate Journal

There are a number of different criteria for evaluating the legitimacy of an academic journal. This isn't just worth knowing for the possibility of encountering a predatory publisher, but also in determining the quality of a journal's content.

One excellent place to start is with the resource, Think Check Submit. It's a collaborative product from coalition of scholarly communications groups to help determine a journal's credentials. It serves as an excellent starting point.

Additionally, you may want to consider the following criteria:

Evaluating a Journal's Communication:

  • Respectable spelling, grammar, punctuation?
  • Is journal description well-crafted? Does it display an advanced understanding of the matter?
  • Is contact information is given? Does it appear complete and credible?
  • Are the editor and editorial board listed? Are these recognized experts in the field?
  • Does the journal have an ISSN listed?
  • Does the journal publish regularly? Are there a decent number of articles in each issue? Issues and articles easy to find and access on the website?
  • Is the journal peer-reviewed? Does it use accepted peer-review processes for this discipline?
  • Does the journal site clearly indicate whether APCs (author processing charges) will be applied for accepted manuscripts.

Potential Tools for Evaluation:

UNB Libraries supports the following additional tools to help you evaluate journals:

Check for peer review info, e.g.:

Check for respected metrics (research any others that are listed on the website to assess credibility):

Check for affiliation with respected industry associations, e.g.:

Search the web to find any potentially alarming information about this journal or publisher, including:

  • Discussions about this specific journal (if possible, discussions between researchers in this field — their opinion may carry more weight);
  • Discussions about the same publisher but not necessarily the same journal

Assessing Conferences

Just as there are bad-faith actors in academic publishing, so too are there bad-faith actors in the world of conferences. Please be cautious of solicited invitations to speak at conferences. Emails of this sort are increasingly common, and many of the organizations soliciting for speakers make false claims. Please use Think, Check, Attend as a tool to help determine if your invitation to speak is coming from a reputable source.

Adapted from the CAUL/CBUA Scholarly Communications Committee Digital Scholarship Toolbox Gitbook.