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Research Impact and Evaluation

Clues to quality

Experts do not always agree on the most appropriate place to publish or present a particular piece of research, but all agree that this choice is important, especially for early-career authors, both 1.) for professional goals, such as tenure review and grant funding, and 2.) to reach the audience you want to reach by publishing or presenting.  Fake and very-low-quality journals are not limited to open access; there are reports about fraudulent journals in the world of traditional publishing also.

  • Seek Advice: Ask your colleagues in person or on a professional discussion list; ask your Subject Librarian
  • Impact Factor: You may independently check a journal impact factor in Journal Citation Reports (JCR). This is just one tool. Absence from JCR does not necessarily mean low quality; many journals are not listed due to the discipline, age of the journals, or other factors. Critiques of the Impact Factor, also known as the Thompson Reuters Impact Factor, abound.
  • Google Scholar Metrics: Google Scholar Metrics may be a helpful site. Consider also other journal rank and impact tools.
  • Publisher: Is the publisher an important scholarly society in your field? What else does the publisher produce?
  • Editorial Board: Are the scholars listed known in your field? Have they published important, cited papers? h-index is one quality metric for scholars; there are several such indices); author searches in Scopus generate an h-index for you; do an author search in Web of Science and then Create Citation Report for an h-index. Are they associated with strong academic programs or research institutions?
  • Acceptance/Rejection Rates: Higher quality journals tend to have lower acceptance rates and lower rejection rates. Some journals will include the acceptance rate in the “information for authors” area of the paper journal or journal home pagel. Some scholarly societies will also publish acceptance rates for their journals on their home pages. Use an internet search engine, such as Google or Bing; put the journal name and "acceptance rate" in the search box.
  • Peer Reviewed?: Ulrichsweb will usually indicate whether a journal is peer refereed / peer reviewed. Editorial policies, instructions to authors, or "about this journal" sections will sometimes discuss this also.
  • Where Indexed?: If a journal is NOT indexed in the important article databases in your discipline, you should look very critically at the title.  Of course, it's possible for poor quality journals to be indexed also; it's just a clue.  However, it often take a few years before a newly established journal is chosen for indexing. Ulrichsweb indicates where a title is indexed. Open access journals in Web of Knowledge/Web of Science
  • Publication Fees:  Many traditional journal have page charges or other fees; many open access journals use an "author pays" procedure. Publication fees do not mean a journal is low quality or fraudulent, but high article publication charges are the motivation for recent frauds and "fake" journals where scholars probably would not want to publish their work if they were paying attention. For open access publications, exercise extreme caution when considering a publisher that is NOT a member of OASPA.
  • Do you read the journal? If not, it's probably better to publish in a journal which you do read.