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8 Tips to Check If a Journal is Right for Your Academic Article

How to determine if a scholarly journal is reliable for your next academic article
Your new research is ready for publication. So, you try to find an outlet for your article. With so many options available, how do you determine if a particular journal is right for you and your work?

Researchers rely on their article publications in academic journals to advance their careers. However, there are so many new journals that get launched every month and the idea of deceptive publishing is on the rise. DOAJ even has a list of journals that state they are indexed in this reputable database, when in fact they are not.

In a journal publishing industry where speculation of deceptive publishing seems to occur more often than it actually should, we’ve tried to focus on the major aspects that you should perceive as red flags when evaluating different academic outlets for publication of your research.

This list of tips can help you establish the credentials of the journal you are considering for your next academic article publication.

Checklist for Establishing If an Academic Journal Is Trustworthy:

1. Previously Published Articles and Volumes

One of the first things you should focus on is the list of published volumes and articles by the academic journal in question. You should consider:

  • if there are previous volumes of the journal available on the website,
  • if each journal volume have a separate webpage,
  • if each published article has a title and abstract available in HTML or PDF.

2. Details about Peer Review Process

In evaluating a specific journal, you should examine the details the journal’s website provide regarding the peer review process. This aspect is significant for 2 reasons:

  • it offers valuable insights on the process you should expect for your article, and the complexity level it should convey,
  • it also serves as an essential criterion of inclusion in well-known databases. When considering the application of a journal, key databases require detailed information on the review process. It should raise a red flag if a journal does not fully explain the evaluation of each article, and the overall editorial process, because it means it’s neither indexed in important databases, nor is it considering getting included in major databases and digital libraries.

3. Indexing and Abstracting in Renowned Databases

The databases that are considered ‘renowned’ vary across research fields. There are databases that index journals based on particular fields of study or their policy. For instance, DOAJ is the most relevant database for open access journals.

One thing to consider is that more databases does not particularly mean a journal has more visibility. It’s the quality of the databases that enhance your article’s dissemination to various libraries, repositories, and worldwide audiences.

When examining the indexing and abstracting of an academic journal:

  • do a quick research and explore the site of each database to determine its quality level,
  • and form a general idea of the journal’s overall editorial process as it relates to the circulation of its published work.

4. Digital Archiving Policy

Digital archiving refers to the preservation of online-only journal articles that may disappear from literature if a journal ceases its activity. Thus, an online journal should use other services to preserve the continuity of its published articles.

Articles’ digital preservation should provide you with information regarding the quality of the journal you are considering, because:

  • either use third-party services, like LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, and Portico,
  • or, use a separate repository to protect the articles it publishes.

You should focus on academic journals that:

  • it shows the consideration an academic outlet shows to their Authors’ work,
  • and it helps to reassure Authors that their work will be available for generations to come.

5. Author Copyright

Another element to examine is if the information related to the Authors’ copyright is clear and easy to understand. When searching for this type of information, you should consider:

Articles’ digital preservation should provide you with information regarding the quality of the journal you are considering, because:

  • whether or not you will still get to retain your copyright, without any restrictions,
  • in case of a copyright transfer to the publisher, it’s essential to understand what this transfer implies, for example, how much of your work will you still be able to use in your future articles, courses, books, and so on.

6. Publication Fee Information

Almost all article publications involve certain publication fees. If there is no publication fee, you’d most likely have to transfer your copyright to the publisher.

With the exception of this suspicious practice, in academic publishing there are 2 types of publication fees:

  • Submission Fee – in this case, you would pay a fee when you submit your article, however this payment does not guarantee your article’s publication. This type of fee is associated with the traditional publication model, which makes your research available to a limited subscription-paying audience, compared to open access.
  • Article Processing Charge for Accepted Articles – this fee is only required once your article has been accepted, after a peer review. This type of APC provides more flexibility for Authors, and it’s most prominently associated with the open access publishing model, in which your article is available immediately after the fee payment, to a global audience, without any restrictions.

7. Associations with Recognized Industry Organizations

In the academic publishing industry, there are certain organizations that set the tone for scholarly practices. On the website of the journal, verify if the journal is associated with any of the following organizations:

  • Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE): The standards proposed by COPE offer journal Editors journals frameworks for research publication, particularly as they relate to ethics and misconduct. It’s important to check if a particular journals abides by COPE’s guidelines because it reflects the level of quality promoted by that journal.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ): In open access publication, DOAJ the most relevant indexing database that promotes journals with a high-quality editorial process. Currently, DOAJ is in the process of re-considering all journals included before March 2014 (since changing the application process), and if a journal doesn’t have a DOAJ Green Tick Mark, it’s not reliable because it has not complied with the latest criteria.
  • Creative Commons License (CC): Applicable to open access publications, a Creative Commons License provides evidence of author copyright and indicates how open a journal is. Such licensing is very beneficial for authors since it shows, for example, if there are any limits in creating derivative works.

8. Easy to Find Information on Website

Academic journals that are reliable offer transparency for all the information discussed in this checklist. If there is nothing to hide, than the information should be easily accessible for Authors who are considering a particular journal.

You should examine the website and make sure all the explanations for these points (published volumes, peer review, indexing databases, archiving, copyright, publication fee, associations with other organizations) are complete and trustworthy.

Additionally, you should check if the publisher’s name is available on the journal’s website, and if you can identify contact information about the publisher.

Infographic for Picking the Right Academic Journal

The main purpose of this blog post was to highlight the main aspects that showcase an academic journal’s trustworthiness and eligibility for publishing a valuable article.

For our journals, at Expert Journals, we believe in a transparent and qualitative editorial process that extends to all the aspects explored in this blog post and associated with a reliable journal for our Authors. We take extra steps to show transparency for our journals in economics, marketing, finance, business and management so that Authors can make a fully informed decision before article publication.

Here is a summarizing infographic for you to share with your fellow Academics and Researchers and to draw special attention to this 8 tips for choosing the right academic journal:

How to Verify if an Academic Journal Is Right

What aspects are you considering when examining if a journal is right for publishing your academic article?

Send Your Academic Article for Open Access Publication

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