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Scholarly Publishing

"The creation, dissemination, and application of new knowledge are fundamental to the development of an informed citizenry and a healthy global economy.  Institutions of higher education exist to fulfill these functions. From the lab to the classroom to industry to the public, the advancement of knowledge through research and teaching is an invaluable contribution made by higher education to the public good. Scholarly publishing is the process through which newly discovered knowledge is refined, certified, distributed to, and preserved for researchers, professors, students, and the public." (ARL - Association of Research Libraries).

Where Should I Publish?

New publishing models such as Open Access (non-subscription-based journals which usually charge fees to authors/institutions to publish their material) have changed the landscape of scholarly publishing making it difficult to identify reputable publishers.  Here are a ways to evaluate publishers and journals when deciding where to publish your research.  

Who is the Publisher?

Do they have an OASPA Membership?

OASPA is committed to setting standards and promoting open access publishing. These Open Access publishers share information and are more likely to have higher standards than non-members.  See their code of conduct

Do they have a recent date of establishment or an unusually high number of journals?

Keep in mind that a newer publishers might not be a member of OASPA as of yet. However a publisher that has a high number of journals (50+) and is recently established may be more questionable in terms of their ability to do high quality peer evaluation of submitted materials.

What is their profit model?

A non-profit organization may have more altruistic motives for launching an open access publication than a for-profit organization.

Did they solicit your article or chapter?

Sometimes publishers will send out notices to students or academics offering to publish their work for a fee. While this practice is sometimes used by reputable Open Access and traditional publishers, direct e-mail solicitations are a possible sign that one should spend some time researching the publisher before responding.

What about the journal?

Are they members of DOAJ?

is an Open Access Directory that reviews the quality of the journals it accepts and adds to its listings. Journals accepted into DOAJ tend to be more reputable.

What are the Journal metrics?

Check an authoritative source to see if the journal has an impact factor. How high is the impact factor? For some newer open access journals, impact factor may not be available. There are metric tools available to help with this: 

Impact Factor - in Web of Science InCites:
 - Journal Citation Reports (Journal Titles Ranked By Impact Factor) 
 - Essential Science Indicators (Top Research Papers By Field)

What Peer Review standards do they use?

Check if the peer review guidelines are openly posted by the journal or contact the journal to ask for details about their peer review process. For example, does the journal use blind peer review? In this model the reviewers’ and author’s names are not disclosed to each other. Or do they use open peer review in which identity of the author and the reviewer are disclosed to each other? Take into consideration that blind peer review and open peer review are both considered a credible standard for scientific publishing.

Who is on the Editorial Board?

Identify who is on the editorial board and check how qualified they are to review your work. You might want to read profiles or look up board members on the Internet to review their credentials. In the case of a newer journal, you might consider contacting one of the members of the editorial board to ask questions about the peer review process.

What is their acceptance procedure? How long did it take for the journal to accept your paper for publication? Did they immediately accept it before a review process? How long is the time between acceptance of the paper and publication? Too quick acceptance of a paper and a timeline that would not allow enough time for quality peer review may be cause for more investigation.

Is the journal indexed?

Is the journal indexed in major databases or index services? Check PubMed, Web of Science, PsycInfo  or the (Chemical Abstracts Service).

What is the journal’s publication history?

Does the journal have a regular publication schedule? Look for how many issues are published per year, and for how many years.

Who are authors that have previously published in the journal?

Check who the authors are that are submitting to the publication. Are they all from the same institution? Are there repeated authors or groups across a few issues, or one dominant author?

What is the quality of the articles in the journal?

Read a few articles. Are they well-written, and/or provide data and a sound scientific method?

What university was the research affiliated with?

Check that the author is affiliated with an institution or university that is reputable. Does the institution have a program or expertise in the field that is being written about?

What are the citation counts on some individual papers?

Check the citation counts of several articles in the journal. Are these articles being cited by others in that field? A low or non-existent citation count for an article that has been published for a while may mean that an article has not made a significant enough contribution to scholarship in the area. There are different places where you can check the citation counts for articles. Web of Science databases, Science Citation Index and Social Science Index, offer citations counts for articles. Google Scholar offers citation counts at the article level, as well.

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