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InfoGuides | Pepperdine Libraries

Scholarly Publishing & Metrics Guide: Journal Selection/ Credibility

This guide shares Journal Selection strategies and metric tools the Pepperdine community has access to in order to measure impact. We also explain how to interpret and utilize the aforementioned metrics.  

Journal Level Metrics

What is the Journal Impact Factor?

  • The Journal Impact Factor is a metric that measures how many times a journal’s articles have been cited by other journals.
  • The Journal Impact Factor is assigned by the Clarivate (formerly Thomson)
  • Only *some* journals (about 12,000) have Journal Impact Factors
  • If a journal has an JIF of 2 it means that articles that were published 1-2 years ago were cited an average of 2 times this year. 

How can I find the Journal Impact Factor for my journal?

  • Pepperdine doesn’t subscribe to the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) which publishes the Journal Impact Factor.
  • The free Master Journal List Manuscript Matcher (https://mjl.clarivate.com/) has older Journal Impact Factor scores.
  • Publishers sometimes list the Journal Impact Factor on their websites.
  • Please be aware that we don’t have access to complete lists of journal rankings.

While the Journal Impact Factor is the best known resource for ranking journals, there are other resources for ranking journals and some of these alternatives might be more useful for selecting a journal that is a good fit for your resource.

We have librarians who provide consultations: 

  1. If you're unsure about the standing and/or ranking of a journal, then our consultants will help you determine the journal standing.
  2. If you're  just beginning to search for journals, then we can also assist  by creating a short list of possible journals base on you're specification. 

For Option 2 please answers a few of our questions which you will find on the next tab.

  1. What is your research topic (i.e. the elevator pitch)?
  2. What type of research/article (ex: original research, survey of literature, analysis, cross disciplinary, etc.)?
  3. Who is interested in your topic and why?
  4. Do you have journals you're interested in, if so, explain why?
  5. If you are looking to publish in a top journal, then how do you define "top" journals?
  6. What’s your risk threshold (acceptance rate) and time frame (when you need this article published by)?
  7. Do you want or are you required to publish Open Access? If yes, what level ( i.e. gold, bronze, or green)?

Is the journal legitimate?

Is the journal legitimate? 

  • There are many predatory publishers that target faculty with flattering emails that entice them to submit manuscripts with promises of quick turnaround times.

Predatory journals are low quality publications that aggressively solicit manuscripts, promise quick publication turnarounds, lack transparency and target faculty authors rather than highlight content for readers. Librarian Jeffrey Beall coined the phrase “predatory publishes” in 2010.


Criteria for detecting predatory journals:

  1. Email solicitations for a manuscript. Legitimate journals do send emails to faculty, but be especially careful with journals that you learned about from an email.
  2. Pretending to operate in one country with a PO box address when the operations are really in another country 
  3. A misleading geographic name (e.g. The Australian Journal of Economics with no Australian editors or institutional affiliations). We have also encountered predatory journals that use names of prestigious institutions like “Cambridge” that have no connection with these universities.
  4. False claims about inclusion in article databases or curated lists of approved journals. You will have to double check these claims yourself (or contact a librarian) by looking at the journal title lists of the databases.
  5. False claims about Journal Impact Factor from Clarivate or bogus metrics services that haven’t been mentioned in this book like the Index Copernicus Value that many predatory publishers mention. Pepperdine doesn’t subscribe to the journal citations report, but you can search the free Master Journal List Manuscript Matcher (https://mjl.clarivate.com/)
  6. Promises of quick publication (e.g. less than month)  and optional fees for expedited publication.
  7. Non-professional email addresses like .gmail.com, yahoo.com 
  8. Websites with grammatical errors and misspellings
  9. The website targets authors rather than readers. Ethical journals emphasize content for readers while predatory journals target authors and highlight quick publication times.
  10. Copyright for open access articles is retained by the publisher rather than the author despite being charged article processing charges. An advantage of open access publishing is that authors retain copyright which is in contrast to publishers retaining copyright with subscription journals. You should be concerned if a journal’s website doesn’t address copyright.
  11. Fuzzy and unclear images on the websites or images without permissions 
  12. There isn’t a retraction policy. In many cases retraction policies are at the publisher rather than journal level.
  13. Low article processing charges, which sounds counterintuitive, could be a sign of a predatory journal. Many legitimate journals will have article processing charges over $1,000. We suspect that predatory journals can entice desperate authors with lower APCs.

Is there is a list of approved journals?

  • Cabell’s Journalytics (link to database) is a database that has journals which meet Cabell’s quality criteria. Our subscription covers the disciplines of business economics, education and psychology.
    • Cabell’s doesn’t list every single legitimate journal

​​​​​​​

What  about lists of predatory journals?

  • Beall’s original list of predatory journals is defunct and out of date
  • Lists of predatory journals have two limitations:
    • Lists have unfairly included journals that aren’t truly predatory
    • With the growth of predatory journals, it’s difficult for any list to include every possible predatory journal.

Is the journal prestigious? 

  • While the Journal Impact Factor from Clarivate is the most famous, other resources like SCIMago and CiteScore rank journals by often their articles or cited.

Journal ranking resources:

Journal ranking resources:

Journal ranking services are excellent tools for evaluating the legitimacy of journals. Their rankings and metrics are based on how many times a journal’s articles have been cited by other journals. If a journal is frequently cited, it’s unlikely that it’s a predatory journals

  • Scopus (link to database) is a resource that curates journals and publications must meet its criteria for inclusion
    • Journals are ranked by the CiteScore which evaluates journals based on how often articles are cited.
    • The lowest ranked journals in Scopus that receive few citations risk being removed from the database.
  • SCIMago, developed by a research group from the University of Granada in Spain, is open source website that evaluates and ranks journals

    • The SCIMago Journal Ranking (SJR) metric refers to the average number of citations that articles in a journal receive in a given year for articles published in the past 1-3 years.
    • SCIMago’s list of journals is supplied by the Scopus database
    • Journals are assigned to quartiles based on how often they are cited
  • Master Journal List Manuscript Matcher (https://mjl.clarivate.com/)
    • This a free website that provides embargoed Journal Impact Factor scores
    • Clarivate has high standards for inclusion and the majority of journals don’t have Journal Impact scores
  • CiteScore from Scopus/Elsevier is a journal ranking metric that is available in the library’s Scopus database (after logging in, click the link for Source).
    • Evaluates over 25,000 journals
    • A Citescore of 3 means that articles written 1-4 years ago were cited an average of 3 times
    • The Percentile provides context (e.g. in the top 84% of journals in a field)
    • % Cited shows the percentage of articles in a journal that are cited

Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) is a metric that is normalized for subject disciplines which means a social psychology journal could be compared to a plant science journal.

Which journals are publishing articles on my topic

One approach to locating a journal that is a good fit for your research is to search article databases to locate journals that are publishing articles on your topic.

Scopus (Link to database)

Scopus covers every academic discipline. After searching for your topic, you can filter results by "Source Title" to identify journals publishing articles on your topic.

EBSCOHost databases (Link to databases)

EBSCOHost database include several subject specific databases such as PsycINFO, Business Source Premier, EconLit, MLA International Bibliography, etc.

After searching for a topic, click the "Publication" link on the left-hand side of the screen to identify journals publishing articles on a topic.

 

 

 

Questions to ask when you're selecting a journal

Questions to ask when you're selecting a journal

  • Is the journal a good fit for your research?
    • It’s worth exploring the scope of the journal, whether articles on similar topics have been published, and the research methodologies of published articles.
  • Publication timeline?
    •  If you are applying for tenure in five months, it’s risky to submit your article to a journal that takes three to four months to review manuscripts
  • Acceptance rates? --the acceptance rate refers to the percentage of articles that are accepted for publication.
    • The percentage of articles accepted for publication can be helpful if you are under pressure to publish your article in a timely manner.
    • You can find acceptance rates:
      • Cabell’s Journalytics provides acceptance rates for journals in the disciplines of business, psychology, and education.
      • Some journal websites will provide the acceptance rates
      • As a last resort, you can contact the editor and ask them about the acceptance rate.

 

Limitations of Acceptance rates:
-Acceptance rates are useful for selecting journals for publication. It’s especially useful to know acceptance rates if you need to publish your article as soon as possible.
-In contrast to journal metrics based on how often articles are cited by other journals,  there is a lack of transparency with acceptance rates. Only the editor is aware of the true acceptance rate.
-Predatory journals will sometimes provide false acceptance rates in an attempt to make their journal appear legitimate (the real acceptance rate of predatory journals is probably 95-100%).
-Acceptance rates should not be used to evaluate the prestige or scholarly impact of journals.

 

 

  • Open access: Does your grant, department, or personal preference require a specific level of open access?