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Choosing & Evaluating Journals, Publishers & Conferences: Evaluating Publishers

This guide provides information on choosing and evaluating journals for possible publication.

Evaluating Publishers

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article March 4, 2012 titled “‘Predatory’ Online Journals Lure Scholars Who Are Eager to Publish” describing the hidden danger of open access. Many new publishers and journals have been established during the past 10 years to take advantage of scholars who want to publish their work. Some of these “predatory” publishers have set up journals to earn money rather than advance scholarship. Predatory publishers are similar to vanity or subsidy publishers because they require authors to pay a fee to publish their work. Authors need to evaluate both journal and book publishers to determine whether they are reputable. The criteria below can be used to evaluate publishers, including book and journal publishers.

Criteria for Identifying Reputable Publishers

The table below contains criteria that can be checked to help authors identify a reputable publisher for a book and how to check those criteria. The third column, Items of Concern, contains examples that might indicate that a publisher is less-than reputable. Items in Bold are explained or linked below the table. Suggestion: Open this page in another window to use the resources mentioned in the table.

Criteria to Check How to Check Items of Concern

The publisher is well known in the field.

Knowledge of subject.

Check the publisher's website or book catalog to find their other titles in the field.

Search a subject and the publisher's name in WorldCat to find other books in the field from that publisher.

Check the AUP Subject Area Grid (linked below).

The publisher has not published any books in that subject area.

The publisher's website or book catalog does not include books in the field.

The publisher's books are owned by a number of libraries. Search WorldCat for books from the organization or publisher. The publisher's books are not owned by any libraries or very few libraries.
The publisher is familiar to departmental and professional colleagues and exhibits at conferences of professional organization in the field.

Ask colleagues in your department or field about the publisher.

Check exhibitors list from a conference in your field to see if the publisher exhibits there.

Attend a conference and talk to exhibitors about possible publishing opportunities.

Your colleagues have never heard about the publisher or organization.

The publisher does not attend conferences in your field or displays their books through a company that displays books from multiple publishers for conferences.

The publisher is a scholarly publisher, society or academic institution.

Knowledge of the subject.

If the publisher is an organization, check the Scholarly Societies Project to see if the organization is listed.

Search a subject and publisher's name in WorldCat to find other books in the field from the publisher or organization.

Search for information on the URL ownership.

The organization is not included in the Scholarly Societies Project list for that subject.

The organization does not have a separate website that describes their mission and activities.

Information on the publisher, their mission and publishing activities cannot be found on their website.

The URL ownership is private.

The manuscript is peer reviewed before publication.

The publisher's website provides information about peer review for book manuscripts.

Ask the publisher if they send their books out for peer review.

Ask an author of one of the publisher's books if their book was peer reviewed.

The publisher does not provide any information about peer review for book manuscripts, or does not say if they send books out for peer review.

The publisher’s website is well written and designed and provides information about the publisher, its mission and their other publications.

Evaluate the website, its language and design. Look for information about the publisher, its mission and their other publications.

The website is poorly written (grammar and language).

Images are distorted or sourced from other Internet sites.

Information on the publisher, their mission and publishing activities cannot be found on their website.

Information about the publisher can be easily found (URL ownership given; street address is listed).

Search for URL ownership.

Check the street address in Google Maps.

Search the company or organization in NexisUni.

Search for URL ownership (GoDaddy or some other site). Is URL ownership private?

The street address maps to a house, apartment complex, strip mall or a mailbox store.

Information about the company or organization cannot be found in NexisUni.

Information on the publisher's finances is available. Do they have enough funds to promote a book and fulfill their mission?

Check for financial information on the publisher’s website or in NexisUni.

Check the publisher’s website for information about their mission.

The publisher's or organization's website does not give financial information or a mission statement.

The publisher or organization cannot be found in NexisUni.

The publisher's books are indexed in a subject index.

Check to see if the publisher's books are indexed in a subject index.

If the index does not include books, look for book reviews of titles from that publisher.

If book reviews are not found in a subject index, look for them in Academic Search Complete or InfoTrac.

The publisher's books are not indexed in a subject index.

The publisher's books are never reviewed.

The publisher's books are reviewed but reviews are negative.

The publisher is a 501(c)(3) organization or claims that it is tax exempt.

Search the IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check to see if the publisher is included.

Search for the publisher in the State Charitable Organizations list for that state.

The publisher claims it is tax exempt but cannot be found in the IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check or their state’s list of tax-exempt entities.

Their URL is private so their location is not known, making it difficult to search for state tax exemption.

The publisher is a member of the Association of University Presses (AUP), Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and/or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA). Check the membership lists of the Association of University Presses, Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA). The publisher is not a member of any publishing organization, such as AUP, COPE or OASPA.
The publisher provides information about author’s rights regarding copyright and re-use.

Look for information about copyright and author rights on the publisher website or in the publisher's contract.

Ask for information about author rights.

The website does not give any information about copyright or author rights.

The publisher does not provide information on author rights.

The contract does not provide any information about author rights or re-use.

Check the reputation of the publisher or organization.

Do a web search for information about the publisher (adding words such as fraud, scam, etc.)

Read the discussions about the publisher that you find.

Searching for URL Ownership

Information on URL ownership can be found using a site like GoDaddy's "Who Is" service or WhoIs.net. Do an Internet search for the words "Who Owns URL." A list of sites that supply ownership information can be found. Search the root URL (e.g. www.rooturl.com, without the http:// and ending characters). You may be asked to confirm that you are not a robot by checking a box or some other scheme. The URL ownership that is given should include the name of an organization or the person responsible for the site, and their address. Sites that say that the domain ownership is private, or that are registered by a domain privacy service should be considered suspect.

Resources for Evaluating Publishers

Book Authorship Resources

The following books might be useful resources for first-time academic book authors. Most are only available through I-Share or Interlibrary Loan.

Germano, W. P. 2013. From dissertation to book (Second edition.). Chicago ; London: The University of Chicago Press. Available through I-Share.

William Germano, 2016. Getting it published: a guide for scholars and anyone else serious about serious books. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Excellence in Teaching Collection (temporarily on the New Books Shelf) PN161 .G46 2016

Becker, H. S., & Richards, P. 2007. Writing for social scientists: How to start and finish your thesis, book, or article (2nd ed.). Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press. Malpass Library Stacks H61.8 .B43 2007

Haynes, A. 2010. Writing successful academic books. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press. Available through I-Share.

Liebowitz, J. 2015. A guide to publishing for academics: Inside the publish or perish phenomenon. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. Available through I-Share.