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Scholarly Communication: Open Access Journals

This guide will outline what scholarly communication is and its relation to Open Access

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

Evaluating an Open Access Journal: Tips

The following list is from Mount Allison Libraries Open Access Guide. These considerations can be used to evaluate both OA and non-OA journals.

  1. Who sent you this call for articles? 
    If it came from a stranger, you may wish to be more thorough in your evaluation of this publication. If it was sent to you by a friend or colleague, ask them what experience they have with this journal, and if they can vouch for its publishing standards.

  2. Who is the publisher? Is there full, verifiable contact information on their website?
    No address given on the website or misleading information about the country of origin are red flags.

  3. What is the publisher's mandate? Not-for-profit publishers are more likely to have the advancement of scholarship as a motive than making a profit.

  4. What is this journal/publisher's reputation among your peers? 
    Is this journal recognized by your peers as being reliable and relevant to your area of research?

  5. Has this publisher/journal been identified as questionable by others? 
    A quick online search may bring up exchanges about specific journals and publishers. See also the list of suspected predatory journals and publishers by U. of Colorado librarian, Jeffrey Beall at:

  6. For open access (OA) journals, is the publisher a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)? 
    This organization is a recognized advocate and promoter of OA publishing and has produced a Code of Conduct for OA publishers. However, newer publishers may not yet be included, and OASPA membership alone may not be sufficient to ascertain reliability.

  7. Does the publisher have an archiving or preservation policy?
    Examples of established archiving services include Portico or LOCKSS.

  8. Is the OA journal listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)?
    Journals are required to meet a certain number of criteria in order to be included in the DOAJ (see selection criteria). In addition, the DOAJ announced in 2013 that it will add a "DOAJ Seal" for those with the highest standards, which will be a helpful tool in assessing journals. Note: There is a delay for new journals to be added to the DOAJ.

  9. Does the journal have an impact factor? How high is the impact factor?
    The most common impact factor is from Thompson-Reuters' Journal Citation Reports, but there are others, such as the Eigenfactor and the SCImago Journal Rank indicator. Impact factors are produced using several years' data, so these will not be available for newer journals. While the value of impact factors in general is debatable, beware of false metrics. See Beall's list of Misleading Metrics.

  10. What peer review measures are in place for this journal? 
    The peer review process should be described on the journal's website, and should be consistent with the usual process in your field. In the case of a newer journal, you may want to contact members of the editorial board to ask about their peer review process.

  11. How qualified is the editorial board of the journal? 
    The journal's website should list the members of its editorial board, as well as their academic credentials and affiliations. You should be able to verify that these people are credible editors for this discipline. (There have been cases where individuals have been added to a list of editors without their consent.)

  12. Is the journal indexed in major databases or index services?
    The journal's articles should be indexed in Web of Science or in your field's respected indexes (e.g. PubMed, CINAHL, ERIC, MLA International Bibliography). Inclusion in Google Scholar should not be taken as an indication of reliability. If the journal's website does not include this information, you can check Ulrich's Periodical Directory in the library reference section (Z 6941 .U55 REF).

  13. How many issues have been published since the journal started?
    The journal's publication record should be consistent and reliable.

  14. What is the journal's acceptance procedure?
    How long did it take for the journal to accept your paper for publication? (Immediate acceptance may be cause for concern.)

  15. Are the articles in the journal of the calibre you would expect?
    Are they on-topic? Are the article topics appropriate for the journal's thematic scope? Is the writing at the level that you would expect for a scholarly journal? Who are the authors? Are they all from the same institution or a small group? Have these articles been cited by reputable authors in reputable journals? (Citation counts can be checked in Web of Science and Google Scholar.)

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