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Academic Publishing Resources

Evaluating Journals

The practices of scholars sharing research and using journal articles have changed significantly with the popularity and pervasiveness of the Internet and changes in publishing models (see our Open Access Publishing tab). These changes have been both good and bad. Therefore, publications, both open access and traditional, should be evaluated thoroughly for quality.

Resources are available for evaluating potential places of publication and publishers: 

Other resources are also listed below.

Evaluate open access journals for similar factors much as you would traditional subscription-based publishing. has a great checklist for all journals.

Prior to submitting an article to a lesser-known journal, consider the following:

The journal's start date:

  • Newer journals may have too few articles to review in order to verify quality of their editorial process.
  • If Impact Factors are important for your work, keep in mind that the calculation requires at least three years of data, that is, three years' worth of published issues.

Quality of archived articles and credibility of their authors:

  • Browse the journal's archive.

Quality of peer review process: 

  • If the journal promises an unusually fast turnaround time, it's doubtful they are doing a high quality and in-depth peer review process.

Where the journal is indexed:

  • Articles are indexed in databases common to your field, e.g. ProQuest databases, ERIC, or Google Scholar, assuring that your article will be found by other researchers.
  • Library Journal Holdings (Journals A-Z) search includes journals that are included in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which is a listing of quality, peer-reviewed, Open Access published journals. Some, but not all, of DOAJ's journals have received their DOAJ Seal of Quality, which is an even higher level of quality assurance!

Impact Factor:

  • UWW no longer subscribes to the Journal Impact Factor service of Thomson-Reuters. However, Cabell's Scholarly Analytics lists Impact Factors from Journal Citation Reports for some, but not all, of its journals.  
  • Research continues into measuring whether open access articles have higher citation counts due to their easier viewability, or whether there is some selection bias or other confounding factors. See, e.g., The state of OA (2018) and this analysis from Elsevier (2016), a publisher of both traditional and OA journals. This PLoS One article (2016) found a small but modest effect. 

Editorial board members and reviewers:

  • Do you recognize any names? Contact them to verify their affiliation with the journal, or do a Google search to verify their academic affiliation.

Publisher ethical practice:

Author fees:

  • While free for the reader, the cost of publishing is sometimes (but not always) shifted to the author in the form of Article Processing Charges (APCs). This is not necessarily a sign of a predatory publisher. But fees must be clearly stated on the journal's homepage, prior to submitting your manuscript. See the Funding tab for potential grant opportunities.

Federal Trade Commission Cautions

The Federal Trade Commission recognizes that some unscrupulous publishers take advantage of academics' need to publish, and seek to profit from rather than promote legitimate advancements in research and academia.

Beall's List of Predatory Publishers

Many academics have also heard of Beall's List, a list of likely predatory publishers originally maintained by librarian Jeffrey Beall. He no longer updates his list, but some anonymous academic has kept an archived copy of the list and attempts to add to it periodically. While no list is exhaustive, Beall's article about possible predatory publishing red flags may be helpful as well.