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Journal Evaluation & Measuring Author Impact

Steps to Take When Evaluating a Journal

As  you use this list, please be sure to not rely only on one single criterion to asses a journal. Examine the cumulative impact of multiple indicators as you make your assessment.

  1. Determine if the journal and publisher are well known in their field?
    • If you have not heard of the journal or the publisher, ask your colleagues if they have.
    • Do a quick search to see if negative information about the publisher or journal appears in online search results. Note that predatory publishers often use deceptive naming practices, giving their publications names that are similar to established journals, so be careful when you search.
  2. Check to see where the journal is indexed. 
    • Does the journal have an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number)?
    • Is the journal included in a reputable index, such as MEDLINE or another academic library database, such as SCOPUS
  3. Visit the journal & Publisher's web site.  
    • Does the journal have an overly broad scope?
    • Does it look like it was created by a shoddy web design team, or does it contain grammar mistakes and awkward working?
    • Does the website provide detailed and responsive contact information?
    • Is standard information sparse or missing? Look for the journal to do things such as clearly note its publication schedule, archival policy, list a conflicts of interest statement, and provide detailed instructions to authors, etc. 
  4. Consider the journals' peer review policy
    • Is the policy clearly written and does the policy include a description of a blinded review process?
    • If the journal review process seems unbelievably quick, chances are that the journal is not following appropriate practices.
  5. Check to see what "author fees" are being requested.
    • Are the author publishing charges excessively high, or are they much lower than you would expect?
    • Does the journal make it a policy to charge a "withdraw fee" if you choose not to publish with them after the article is accepted? Most journals will not do this.
    • Are fees stated clearly on the journals website? Predatory publishers may not list a fee schedule or they may state that they will notify authors of the fee after their manuscript is accepted for publication. Reputable journals will always make their fees clear from the start.
  6. Review published articles from the journals web page. 
    • ​​Are they easy to access, well written, reflective of good scholarship, and do they fall clearly within the scope of the journal?
    • Have the articles been assigned a legitimate Digital Object Identifier [DIO]?
    • Do articles clearly indicate rights for use and-reuse of content (e.g. a Creative Commons license)?
  7. Review the journal's editorial board members.
    • Are the editors known experts in their field and is their experience within the scope of the journal?
    • Is contact information for the editors available and complete? Consider sending emails to members of the editorial board asking about their experience with the journal. Note that predatory journals may list fake board members, or they may list editorial board members who don't know their names are associated with the journal or who have been tricked into joining the board and then can't get their names removed.

Additional Evaluation Tools

There are other criteria that can be used to evaluate journals that are not listed above. To explore this topic in even more depth, check out a few of the guides and tools listed below. 

Journal Evaluation Tool: Rubric created by Loyola University, William H. Hannon Library.

Evaluating Journals: A guide from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).

Spotting a Predatory Publisher in 10 Easy Steps: Blog post from the Society for the Teaching of Family Medicine. 

Be iNFORMEd: A checklist to assess the quality of a journal or publisher from Duke University Medical Center Library.

Phoney v.s. Legit: A predatory publishing infographic from Stonybrook University.

Open Access Journal Quality Indicators: A guide from Grand Valley State University Libraries.

Publishing Your Work: Assessing Journal Legitimacy: A guide from Strauss Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado.