The trustworthiness of the journal

It is very important that you establish the trustworthiness of any journal you are considering publishing in.  You can consider the following factors, but if you are in any doubt you should ask for advice from your supervisor or colleagues.

Do you recognise the journal?

If you don’t recognize the journal as having good standing, investigate it further.  Ask your supervisor or other colleagues if they are familiar with and can recommend it.

Find out about the journal.  Make sure that the title of the journal is clear, that it is has a website with further information and that it has an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN). Be wary of journals with a scope that is incongruent with the title, combines fields which are disjointed or includes a geographic scope bearing no relationship to the journal or publisher’s origin.

Google the journal – are there any reports of problems with the journal or negative reviews?

Who is the editor or board of editors?

Have a look on the journal website for the name(s) of the editor and editorial board. Research the editors to find out how well known or respected they are and try to independently verify that the named editors do in fact edit the journal.  For example, look at the editor’s own web pages at their institution.  They are likely to list any journals which they edit.

Is the journal active?

Check if the journal is being published as promised.  Missing issues or no recent issues may imply that the journal is struggling to attract content or is not going to continue operating.

Who is the publisher?

Make sure that the publisher is identifiable. Try to find their web site, their physical address, phone number and email address.

Is the journal peer reviewed?

Check that the journal undertakes the peer review process and provides clear information about how this process works.  Proper peer review takes time. If a journal offer a very short time frame to publication (a few days or weeks), this may indicate a lack of peer-review.

Are any open access charges clearly articulated?

In the gold route model of open access publishing, journals may charge article processing charges (APCs) to authors. Reputable journals will be clear about this before you submit your research and will provide editorial and publishing services, such as peer review for this fee.  However, there are  less scrupulous journals that charge for publication but  do not offer any of the editorial and publishing services you would expect or they may only inform you of these charges after you have submitted.  Make sure you understand the costs of publishing with the journal.

If the journal does charge fees, check to see if it is in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).  Members of the DOAJ are expected to follow the principles of transparency and best practice in scholarly publishing.

If you do wish to publish in an open access journal which charges APCs, have a look at this information about how to get funding for gold open access before you submit your article.

Is the publisher a member of an industry initiative?

Check if the publisher/journal is a member of an industry initiative or trade association that encourages publication ethics.

  • Committee on Publication Ethics (see: COPE: members)
  • International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers which requires members to abide by the STM ethical principles for scholarly publication (see: STM members)
  • Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association which has membership criteria for ethical publishing practices (see: OASPA members )
  • International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (see: journals following the ICMJE recommendations )
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
Is the journal indexed in databases you use?

Check to see if the journal articles are indexed in the databases Web of Science, Scopus or Medline or other reputable database relevant to your discipline that has qualifying criteria. Inclusion will therefore indicate a level of recognition.   The links below can be used to check some of the major databases:

Are any impact factors genuine?

If the journal gives an impact factor on it’s web site, check that this is genuine using the databases Journal Citation Reports or Web of Science produced by Clarivate Analytics.  These are the sources of the recognised impact factor.  Other bibliometrics such as CiteScore, SJR and SNIP can be checked for authenticity using the database Scopus in the ‘Sources’ section.

If you are ensure if a journal is trustworthy and credible you can contact the Library Research Support Team for advice.