Skip to Main Content
Banner Image

Scholarly Communication

How do I evaluate journals

The process of selecting journals and evaluating journals should happen concurrently. There are a few ways authors can evaluate journals:

1) By scrutinizing the journal's homepage and information for authors. Many authors often miss out on this crucial step to evaluate if a journal is ideal for their publications. Questions such as the aims and scope of the journal, journal's article type/methodology restrictions, word count limits or even charges and fees are all important considerations when evaluating journals. If you have yet to see our recommendations on selecting potential journals, refer to our page on Journal Selection for more information!

2) Some authors prefer the use of metrics and journal quality indicators to help them evaluate journals.

3) Make use of tools/checklists when evaluating journals. For example, our adaptation of the ThinkCheckSubmit below provides a systematic framework for evaluating journals and publishers

A short note on potentially predatory conferences

Predatory conferences are on the rise. The Covid-19 pandemic has enabled many conference organizers to run virtual conferences, reaching out to more researchers and inviting them to attend or submit to their conference. Similarly, predatory conference organisers have also moved their conferences online, and reaching out to more researchers who may unknowingly fall prey to their tactics. As such, it is important to learn how to distinguish trustworthy credible conferences and avoid submitting your abstract or attending predatory ones. Refer to the Think Check Attend checklist on how you can spot predatory conferences.

Checklist to evaluate journals

The checklist below is adapted from Think. Check. Submit, a cross-industry initiative led by various representatives to educate researchers, promote integrity, and build trust in credible research and publications. 

As an author yourself, you may have different publishing needs, aims, goals or criteria. While the checklist below is not exhaustive, and not all criteria may apply, using a checklist is a systematic way for you to properly evaluate a journal and achieve confidence. The checklist asks a series of questions related to the journal and publisher. The more questions and issues encountered when verifying the journal against the checklist, the more wary you should be about choosing it. With more and more journals and publishers becoming available, and more journals using strong email solicitation tactics, it is important for authors to remain vigilant.

This checklist can be used to evaluate journals, publishers, as well as potentially predatory journals and publishers.

 

Journal and Journal Publisher Evaluation Checklist

Search for the journal name and publisher name on search engines

  • First and foremost, search for the journal's name and publisher's name on search engines
  • Add words like controversy, predatory, news, problems, issues, together with the journal/publisher name. Look for information sources like websites, reddit, blogs etc where previous authors may have shared their experiences or perceptions on the journal.

Do you or your colleagues know the journal?

  • Does the name of the journal seem familiar to you?
  • Have you read any articles from the journal before?
  • Does the journal title sound similar to other journals? Does it have the words like 'Advances", "International", "Global", "Open Access" etc? If so, compare this journal with the similar journal to verify their differences or legitimacy.

Email or journal website

  • Is there poor language with typos, weird choice of vocabulary, awkward formatting, inconsistent capitalisation.
  • Unprofessional and amateurish layout, scarce information provided, broken links, pages are always under construction?
  • Can you easily identify the contact information of the publisher? How about the company address?
  • When was the journal website last updated?

Peer review 

  • Are there clear instructions to the authors on the peer review process? 
  • Does the per review process involve independent/external peer reviewers? How many reviewers per paper?
  • Is the publisher offering a review by an expert editorial board, or by researchers in your subject discipline?
  • Does the journal guarantee a short peer review period, or guarantee acceptance?

Editorial Board

  • Have you heard of any of the editorial board members?
  • Do the editorial board mention the journal on their own personal websites?
  • Are there broken links or incorrect information provided? Can you find these members and their institutions online?

Author Guidelines

  • For Open Access journals, does the publisher have a clear license policy? Are there preferred licenses or exceptions? Are license details included for all publication types?
  • Does the publisher allow you to retain copyright of your work? Can you share you work with your colleagues, websites, or institutional repository, and under what terms?
  • Are articles submitted via email directly to editors instead of using a submission application?
  • Does the publisher have a clear policy regarding potential conflicts of interest for authors, editors and reviewers
  • Can you tell what formats your paper will be available in? e.g. HTML, XML, PDF, DOC

Fees

  • Does the website explain what the different fees are for, and when they will be charged?
  • Are there multiple fees being charged? Submission fee, publication fee, peer review fees, withdrawal fees?
  • Do they mention the currency and the amount of any fees?
  • For Open Access journals, does it clearly state what is the Article Processing Charge?

Metrics and indexing

  • Does the journal have an ISSN? Do publications have Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs)?
  • Invented or fake metrics used?
  • Falsely claimed to be indexed in certain databases?
  • Are the articles indexed/archived in easily discoverable databases?

Other key factors

 

Adapted from: "Journals" by Think. Check. Submit is licensed under CC BY 4.0