Community Research and Action

Guidance on locating journals in which to publish, and how to evaluate the quality of the those journals.

Finding Journals and Publishers

Communication with your advisor(s) and networking with peers and colleagues in your field will always be the best way to determine where the strongest avenues are to publish.  But sometimes, some legwork is necessary to discover more avenues, particularly if you research is new or evolving areas. 

  • When doing your own research, keep note of both the major journal titles and the publishers of those titles in your field.  Go back through your research notes if necessary to refresh yourself as to the major sources for your literature.   
     
  • When looking at the journal title web page read any section labeled Aims & Scope (or Mission) as well as Instructions to Authors.
     
  • Monitor professional listservs for Call for Submissions for journals and conferences related to your work.
     
  • Become familiar with professional organizations related to your fields and sub-fields and look at their web pages for a list of their journals that they publish.

In addition, the  sources below can also help direct you journal titles and publishers.

Evaluating a Journal

If are not familiar with a journal, asking these questions can help you evaluate the quality of the journal:

  • Has the journal published articles from authors that you are familiar with, and from known institutions?
     
  • Does the journal have any publishing metrics available?
     
  • Can you find full contact information for the journal publisher? 
     
  • Can you find the editorial board information for the journal? 
    • If so, does the editorial board seem appropriate for the size and scope of the journal?
       
  • Are members of the editorial board serving on the board for multiple journal titles?  
    • Duplicating editorial boards among journals is a red flag.
       
  • Are there fees associated with submission of the article? 
    • This does not mean that a journal is not reliable, since Open-Access journals will often charge fees to offset publishing costs.  However, excessive fees or  fees that seem to guarantee acceptance are not good signs.
       
  • Is the journal indexed in any databases that are used in your field?
    • Ulrichsweb will list both current and past indexing and database coverage for journals.   Sometimes journal title web pages will list indexing as well.   The more prominent a journal title, the wider indexing it usually receives.   Publishing in a non-indexed or limited-indexed journal will make it difficult for your work to receive wide readership.
       
  • Does the journal have an ISSN number listed on the journal web page or in Ulrichsweb ?
    • ISSN numbers make it easier for journals to be indexed and purchased by libraries and similar institutions. 
       
  • Open Access journals have additional considerations.  See Assessing Journal Quality (Open Access) for more information on these, including how to identify predatory publishers.

Open Access Journals

  • Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. (ALA SPARC).
     
  • Journal published as Open Access (OA) journals are often entirely online, and are free to the reader.  
     
  • The costs for publication are often covered by asking for author fees. 
     
  • OA journals can be published by the same variety of organizations that published traditional journals, including scholarly societies, professional groups and educational organizations.
     
  • Because the OA model is newer and rapidly growing, it has attracted some organizations that operate on a "pay for play" model - of you pay, you get published, regardless of article quality.   Therefore, evaluating these journals carefully is important before publishing in them.  For more information see the page on Assessing Journal Quality (Open Access) on our Scholarly Communications page.