How to Choose Where to Publish
Find a Journal
- Cofactor Journal Selector: List of a few hundred (and growing) journals compiled by for-profit company Cofactor. Searchable by subject, peer review process, open access, and speed of acceptance and publication
- JournalGuide: Database of over 46,000 journals compiled by for-profit Research Square. Searchable by journal name, category, or publisher. Authors can use the title and abstract of a paper to find journals that have already published articles on similar topics. Most complete journal data for biomedical fields.
- SciRev.sc: Site where researchers share their experiences with journal review processes, emphasizing the speed of the review process and rating efficiency. Funded/stewarded by SciRev Foundation.
- Journal Citation Reports: Thomson Reuters resource that ranks journal by impact factor, citations, and other metrics. Data comes from Web of Science.
- Ulrichsweb: Authoritative source of information on more than 300,000 periodicals. Besides scholarly journals, it includes popular magazines and newspapers.
- Directory of Open Access Journals: Over 10,000 registered open access journals. Searchable by subject, article processing charges, journal license, publisher, country of publisher, full text language, type of peer review, and archiving policy.
- National Library of Medicine Catalog: Search to find which journals are indexed in PubMed/MEDLINE and other National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) databases.
- Quality Open Access Market: “Market place for scientific and scholarly journals which publish articles in open access.” “Quality” here is defined as transparency of the journal’s website and author experiences of the service of the journal. All information is crowdsourced. Sponsored by Radboud University and SURFmarket.
- MLA Directory of Periodicals: Directory of over 6,000 journals and book series indexed in the MLA International Bibliography.
- Talk to mentors, colleagues, and subject librarians.
Assess a Journal
- Evaluate the journal’s published scholarship, based on your subject knowledge
- Publisher and publication history
- Who publishes the journal? A professional body? A commercial entity?
- How consistently and regularly has the journal been published? Journals that do not adhere to their publication schedules may have trouble attracting appropriate content or have a disorganized production process.
- Editorial board
- Who is on the editorial board?
- Do they serve on the boards of professional societies/commercial publications?
- Are they well-known/respected in your field?
- Peer review process
- What type of peer review process does the journal use? Single-blind: editor and reviewers know who the author is. Double-blind: editor knows who the author is. Triple-blind: editor and reviewers don’t know who the author is, and the reviews are anonymous. Open: author knows who reviewers are and vice versa.
- How long does it take for your paper to be accepted? Published online? Published in print? The length of time may be an indication of the organization of the production process, or perhaps a dearth of quality submissions. A very short review time can also be a sign of a predatory publisher. If your article is published online sooner, that means more exposure, sooner, for your article.
Note: Prestige is often mistaken for quality. Prestige is characterized by age, impact, circulation, and recognition by the community (authors, readers, libraries, and promotion and tenure committees). Many high-prestige journals are often subscription-based and closed access; open access journals, even though they may be of equal or higher quality to other journals in their fields, may be considered of lower prestige because they are simply newer.
For more information: Suber, Peter. (2008 Sept 2). “Thoughts on prestige, quality, and open access.” SPARC Open Access Newsletter, 125.
- Does the journal publish research that is relevant to your work?
- Article type
- Does the journal the type of article that you want to write?
- Who reads the journal? Is this the audience that you want to read your work?
- Exposure and discoverability
- Where is the journal indexed? Look for major databases, such as Web of Science or PubMed, or databases commonly used in your discipline.
- Open access
- Is the journal open or closed access? Open access can mean a wider readership and greater discoverability. The full text of your article will also likely be indexed by Google Scholar.
- If the journal is open access, how is it funded? If the journal is funded by article processing charges, how would you pay for it?
- If the journal is closed access, does it have an open access option?
- Preservation policy (long-term access)
- Does the journal provide electronic backup and preservation of access to its published content? Look for references to CLOCKSS, LOCKSS, or Portico.
- Copyright policy
- What is the journal’s copyright policy? Can you retain some or all of your rights? If you transfer your copyright, you may not be able to do things like reproduce or distribute your article.
- Licensing policy
- Is your article published under a license? How does the license allow users to use your work? Look for use of Creative Commons licenses.
- Self-archiving policy
- What rights do you as an author have to archive different versions of your work (pre-print, post-print, published version)? You might want to archive your work in a disciplinary repository, scholarly website like Academia.edu, or a personal website, to improve the discoverability of your work and build your online scholarly presence.
- Note: BU’s open access policy grants BU permission to make publicly available the final author draft of faculty scholarly articles in OpenBU, our institutional repository. See bu.edu/openaccess.
- Find publisher copyright and self-archiving policies in the Sherpa/RoMEO database.
- What impact does the journal have in the field, as calculated using metrics, such as Impact Factor, Eigenfactor, CiteScore?
- See the BU Libraries guide on Research Impact for explanations of metrics.
- How does the journal help you to measure the impact of your research on your field? Does it provide altmetrics (social media engagement)? Does it provide download data?
Avoid Predatory Publishers
Predatory publishers take advantage of the “author-pays” open access publication model, collecting author processing fees while not following best practices of scholarly publishing, such as peer review, and engaging in unethical business practices. Note: Not all open access publishers are predatory.
- Is there full contact information for the publisher/editor?
- Are details about publishing fees, policies, and business models available on the website?
- Look for membership in organizations, such as the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)
- Understanding Predatory Publishers: Resource from the Iowa State University Library
- The FTC Is Cracking Down on Predatory Science Journals (Wired article, story of one scientist’s experience with a predatory journal)
- Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing
- Think Check Submit: A checklist for choosing trusted journals for your research
- “Submitting to a journal commits you to it for six weeks to six months (or longer) — so choose your journal carefully”: LSE Impact blog post that outlines five categories for evaluating journals
- Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association Membership Criteria: Principles of transparency and best practice for open access publishers, used as criteria for membership in OASPA
- Cabell’s Selection Policy: Selection policies for Cabell’s journal whitelist and blacklist (predatory publishers)
- Quality Open Access Market Score Cards: Questionnaire on transparency of journal websites
- Peer Review Quality and Transparency of the Peer-Review Process in Open Access and Subscription Journals: Article that states that the transparency of the peer-review process can be an indicator of peer-review quality and proposes a tool to predict academic quality in new journals
- How Open Is It?: Infographic from SPARC that assess the openness of journals
“How to Choose Where to Publish” by the BU Libraries Digital Scholarship Services is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.