Skip to Main Content

Publishing Your Research

Evaluating Journals

Getting Started

Whether you publish in a subscription-based journal or an Open Access journal, you should always evaluate a journal.

If you're familiar with the journal, your colleagues have published in it, and you often cite quality work from it -- it's likely a great, quality journal to publish in.

If the journal is new to you, take the time to evaluate it. Read an issue to determine the quality, get advice from colleagues, and determine the memberships of the journal or publisher.

When evaluating a journal look for the following:

  • Published or sponsored by a professional scholarly society or association
  • Published by a reputable publisher you're familiar with and that meets the Committee on Publication Ethics
  • An editorial board and reviewers you recognize and are experts in the field
  • If the journal is indexed appropriately for your field

Many legitimate journals will not meet all of these requirements. However, these are factors you want to look for when evaluating a journal for quality.

Predatory Journals

Open Access publishing is a great option that provides you with great discoverability and increased impact. However, there are people that have taken advantage of researchers seeking to publish openly. Since many Open Access journals are supported by article processing charges rather than subscriptions, this can be a money-making scheme for predatory publishers. Many legitimate, quality Open Access journals publish with article processing charges though and they are not vanity publishing. If you're concerned a publisher may be "predatory" or a "scam," evaluate it carefully.

Ask: If the journal charges article processing charges, are these charges listed publicly and are consistent?

Check: Is the journal in the Directory of Open Access Journals?

Check: is the publisher a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association?

Keep your eyes open

Keep your eyes open to the rest of the website, other content, and policies to help determine if it is a legitimate journal. Some areas to look at:

  • Journal policies are clearly stated
  • There's valid contact information for the journal and publisher
  • Social media links go to profiles and are not just used as website fillers
  • The journal already has published content
  • If the journal is from a large publisher, determine that other publications exists and are quality

Be careful about submitting to a journal that seems legitimate, but is actually just masking itself as reputable with filler content and single issues.

Trust Yourself

You are your own best resource. When you're considering a journal, read the latest issue and ask yourself:

  • Are the articles published in this journal quality?
  • Does this journal publish research that I'd read myself?
  • Are the journal policies clear, reasonable, and fit into my scholarly values?
  • Can I trust the journal and/or publisher?

You are an expert in your research field. Trust your judgement on what's quality scholarship. 

If you're a student and don't yet feel confident in determining research quality, seek the opinion also of your supervisor, mentor, or professor.

For more information about Open Access, please visit our Open Access LibGuide!