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Choosing & Evaluating Journals, Publishers & Conferences: Publisher, Editors, Authors & Content

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


Unlike professional organizations, which publish only in their field of study, many well-known scholarly publishers distribute journals and print books in a number of different subject areas. Some examples include Springer, Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, Sage, Cambridge Univesity Press, Oxford University Press and Wiley. One way to keep up with literature in a subject area is to browse the titles in a discipline published by these and other major publishers. It is also possible to sign up for alerts to see the titles of new articles in these publishers' journals.

Many new publishers have appeared in the last few years promising open access, peer review and quick turn-around times. Some exist only to make money off of author fees. It is important to check the reputation of new, unknown publishers. Use the information provided on the Evaluating Publishers tab to evaluate potential publisher before submitting to a journal.

NOTE OF CAUTION: Some disreputable publishers are borrowing the logos of major publishers, or creating logos that are quite similar to them to trick authors into believing that they are affiliated with the major publisher. Another trick they use is to create journal titles or names that are similar to the well-known, established titles or publishers in the discipline. Some reputable journal titles (Wulfenia and Jokull) have even been hijacked! Always check out the publisher before considering submitting a publication.


Most journals include information about their editorial board on their website, listing the editor's names and their affiliation. Some disreputable publishers provide an impressive list of names as editorial board, without providing contact information. Some of these "editors" may have never volunteered to serve on the board. Publisher websites should provide information about the editorial board of each journal, including their full name, affiliation and contact information. If the publisher appears suspicious, contact one of the "editors" to ask their opinion of the journal.


Another way to determine the repuatation of a journal is to look at the authors who publish there. The following questions about authors might be useful in evaluating the journal based on its authors:

  • Are the authors from a single country or are they from many different countries? Ideally, journals should publish articles by authors from many different areas of the World. If all of the authors are from only one part of the World, the journal might be suspect, especially if it is named "International Journal of XYZ".
  • Are the articles written by a number of different authors or are there a number of articles by a single author? One journal from a predatory publisher had 4 articles in the current (and only) issue, three of which had been written by the same author.
  • Do you know any of the authors? If so, contact them to find out why they chose that journal. If not, check to see what other articles they have written by searching for their name in a subject index or database. If you cannot find any other articles they have written, try searching for them in Google Scholar or Google. If they say they have a PhD, try searching their name in  WorldCat. Most theses and dissertations are cataloged and added to university library collections.

Journal Content

The best way of evaluating the prestige of a journal is to look at the articles that have been published, either those that are openly accessible or the titles and abstracts. Find an article that is related to your topic and read it, or request a copy through Interlibrary Loan. Do the articles in the journal make any sense? Some articles in open access journals were clearly written by novices who have no expertise in a particular subject area.

Also look at current and previous issues of the journal. How many issues have been published since the journal started? Some journals from predatory publishers have only published a single issue (the current one), while others exist in name only and are waiting for their first submissions.