Determine the quality of publishers and journals


During this week I have met with some researchers and doctoral students. We have talked about how to determine the quality of open access publishers and journals. For a year ago I published a guide to determine oa-publishers and oa-journals. The guide is under revision but most of it is still current. Here below you find some questions you should ask when thinking of publishing in (open access) journal.

Have you received mail from the same publisher several times during a short time period? It is not good publishing ethics to spam anyone.
Is the invitation to publish generic? In other words, is there a specific sender who is writing to you personally?
How is the language in the invitation? Is there strange formulations, spelling mistakes or grammatical errors?
Who has received invitations? Have your colleagues received an invitation although their subject area is something else?
Has the invitation come directly after you’ve attended a conference?  These publishers are good at browsing the conference sites to spam you with invitations to write an article in their special issue.
Does the subject and scope of the journal suit your research interests?
What is the journal called? Does the name implicate too broad a scope? E.g. Journal of applied and basic sciences and World journal of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences are very broad journal names and will probably accept the most part of submitted articles.
Where is the journal indexed? Is it plausible? Check! Google Scholar is not a quality stamp. Search your subject specific databases for the journal.
How much does it cost to publish in the journal? Have you received email after you submitted your manuscript saying that if you pay a small fee the peer review will be done faster or that if you cite articles published previously in the journal you get a discount?
Who is editor-in-chief? Google!
Who are the members of the editorial board? Check them! Recognize any names?
If you agree to be a part of the editorial board, what are the conditions?  Are you required to find people who could publish in the journal?
What does the contact information for the publisher/journal look like? (e.g. E-mail) Does the e-mail you receive come from free e-mail providers? It should come from the journal’s e-mail provider.
Who has published in the journal before? What have these authors published in the journal and what have they published before?
Does the researcher have a profile on some of the social media sites?
Can you find the researcher’s home institution?
Can you find the publisher on Beall’s list of Predatory Open Access Publishers?
What information can be found in the journal regarding the peer review process?
How quick is their peer review process? The process can take a while; it is not easy to find reviewers. Did you receive relevant comments?
Are the published articles well-written?
What does the reference list look like? In other words, do the researchers know their subject area?
Are there a lot of self-citations? I.e. do the authors cite themselves?
Are they citing within the journal? External citations, in general, are better. Some publishers and journals “recommend” that you cite articles published in the journal before.
Do the articles have high enough scientific quality for you to be interested in publishing in the journal? Is the method, theory and conclusions reasonable?
Is the publisher a member of OASPA? OASPA is an organization working among other things for standards in open access publishing.

Hopefully these questions help you to determine is a journal is interesting for you to publish in. You can also read Jeffrey Beall’s list for criteria to determine gray publishers/journals. When you have questions or need advice contact me and we will look at it together

Pieta Eklund


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