Journal Quality Indicators

The advent of online and open access publishing has seen a rapid increase in the number of open access, peer reviewed journal titles. Many of these are high quality peer reviewed titles with high impact. However, some emerging publishers are engaging in unprofessional or unethical practices to profit from publication of research outputs despite failing to apply adequate academic rigour.

Although there is no single criteria that can be used to indicate whether a publication is reputable, considering the positive and negative indicators below should create a cumulative impression of any journal you are considering publishing in, or providing editorial/review for. If you are still unsure, please contact your Liaison Librarian.

Positive indicator

  • Scope of the journal is well-defined and clearly stated
  • Journal’s primary audience is researchers /practitioners
  • Editor and editorial board are recognised experts in the field
  • Journal is affiliated with or sponsored by an established scholarly society or academic institution
  • Articles are within the scope of the journal and meet the standards of the discipline
  • Any fees or charges for publishing in the journal are easy to locate on the journal web site and are clearly explained
  • Published articles have DOIs (Digital Object Identifier)
  • Journal clearly indicates rights for use and re-use of content at article level
  • Journal has an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number)
  • Publisher is a member of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
  • Journal is registered in UlrichsWeb global periodicals directory
  • Journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Journal is indexed in subject databases related to the field in question

Negative indicator

  • Journal web site is difficult to locate or identify
  • Publisher ‘about’ information is absent from the journal web site, does not include full postal and telephone contact details
  • Publisher web site is not hosted in same country as contact details provided
  • Publisher markets its journals aggressively (i.e. spamming) or creates other obtrusive advertising
  • Instructions to authors information is not available or unclear
  • Promise of unrealistic turnaround times to publication if full peer review is really to take place
  • Publisher produces a high volume of disparate open access journal titles with recent start dates and no links to traditionally published journals
  • Information on peer review and copyright is absent or unclear on the journal web site
  • Journal scope statement is absent or vague
  • No information is provided about the publisher, or the information provided does not clearly indicate a relationship to a mission to disseminate research content
  • Journal issues have repeat lead authors in the same issue
  • Published articles are of questionable quality or do not match the journal scope

This guidance is adapted from: Beaubien, S. and Eckard, M. (2014) Addressing faculty publishing concerns with open access journal quality indicators. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 2(2). licenced under CC BY 4.0