It can be challenging to assess the quality of unfamiliar journals, but it is very important. When you are considering publishing in a journal, you should think about its audience, prestige, and publication policies, as well as the scope of its subject matter.

In this process, you may find the following resources useful:

  • Think. Check. Submit provides checklists and other tools to help you assess publication venues. Factors include transparency, peer review practices, indexing, author guidelines, copyright and licensing policies, and recognition in the publishing industry.
  • The be iNFORMED, checklist (Duke University Medical Center Library & Archives) is designed to help authors avoid deceptive/predatory publishers.

Be aware that deceptive publishers, who pass their publications off as scholarly journals without appropriately conducting peer review or other editorial processes, often mislead researchers with journal names that mimic those of well-established and recognized journals. Please examine the journal’s website carefully to ensure that you are submitting your work to high-quality publications.

Citation Metrics

Citation metrics are one way of assessing the prestige and/or the impact of a journal. These measures allow us to see which journals have been cited the most heavily.

Keep in mind that a journal's context affects its citation counts! For instance, a journal with a very broad scope and a well-known title may attract a larger number of citations, while more specialized journals may be cited less often. However, if the narrower journal is read by everyone in that field, publishing in that journal will likely increase your audience and reputation in your area of expertise, and could even generate more citations for your article, since you are reaching the right audience.

Journal-level citation metrics measure the influence of a journal, so they are often used as a proxy measure for journal quality. They do not measure the quality of any given article published in that journal and are certainly not a basis for evaluating the credibility of a given researcher.

Citation metrics have two components: the data set and the mathematical formula applied to the data. There are two major datasets: Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus.

WoS, which includes journals in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities, is a highly selective list of the most heavily cited journals. There are two mathematical formulas used on the WoS dataset: impact factor and eigenfactor. All journals in WoS are high-quality journals.

Scopus is the most comprehensive journal database. There are three mathematical formulas used on this dataset: CiteScore (calculated by Scopus), SNIP, and SJR.



Journal Citation Reports (Clarivate Analytics)
Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is a selective list of high-quality journals. JCR calculates impact factors and provides eigenfactors. Every journal in JCR is a high-quality journal. The rank in subject category is more important than the raw number. The raw number is not meaningful when comparing journals in different subject categories.

CiteScore (Scopus/Elsevier)
This is a comprehensive list of journals. Scopus calculates CiteScore and provides SNIP and SJR as well.

Evaluating Open Access Journals

In addition to process and reputation, you may also find it helpful to evaluate journals on their openness. Are they committed to making their publications available to all readers? What can you learn about their publication ethics?

The resources below can help you make decisions about open access journals and publishers. Please feel free to ask a librarian for help, as well.



COPE: Committee on Publication Ethics
Practice oriented organization devoted to supported ethical editorial practices. Journal membership list may signal adherence to best practices.

Eigenfactor Index of Open Access Fees
Tool for balancing article processing charges against journal prestige.

Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association
Offers resources related to open access principles, licensing and membership list which may signal publisher reliability.

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