Choosing an Appropriate Journal for Publishing Research

There are a number of factors to consider when seeking a journal in which to publish research. For instance, you might consider:

York University Librarians have expertise in the use of the tools listed below and in assessing the scholarly publishing landscapes within different disciplines. Please don’t hesitate to contact a relevant subject librarian or visit one of the Libraries in person.

For further information, see:

What journals are topically appropriate for the research?

Some strategies for identifying appropriate journals include:

  • Discuss options with other researchers in the field. Many will be familiar with core or important journals publishing on a particular topic.
  • Consult a subject database appropriate to the topical area. Run searches on keywords that closely identify your specific topic. From results lists generated, identify what journal titles are appearing regularly.
  • Consult a periodical directory such as Ulrich’s International Periodical Directory. It can help identify journals that meet certain criteria (e.g. peer-reviewed, topical).
What are the most high-profile or important journals in the area?

The burgeoning field of impact metrics provide several avenues to pursue if you wish to assess the profile or importance of a journal based on a variety of metrics. For a brief overview, see the Journal Metrics information in the Research Metrics guide.

If possible, consulting colleagues who have worked in a similar research area remains one of the best ways of discerning what journals are respected and well-known.

Is the journal peer-reviewed?

For many disciplines, peer-review is an important benchmark for helping to ensure the quality of published research. To investigate whether a journal is peer-reviewed, consult the journal homepage online (if available) or consult Ulrich’s International Periodical Directory, which will indicate if a journal is “refereed” (synonymous with peer-reviewed).

Is the journal Open Access?

Open access is an increasingly important mode for the dissemination of research literature. Many journals use an open access model, or provide open access options. Some ways to identify open access publications include:

Some research funding carries open access requirements. For example, tri-agency (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) funding requires open access availability within a certain period (generally 12 months). Making your research available openly can help ensure that the widest community will have access to it, helping to boost the impact of your work. See How to Boost Your Metrics in the Research Metrics guide for more information.

Do note that there are usually fees (sometimes called author processing charges or page fees) for open access journals. These are legitimate charges for legitimate non-predatory journals (see next section).

For more information about open access, see the Libraries’ Open Access Publishing Toolkit.

Are there indications that a publisher may be predatory?

Depending on whom you ask, predatory publishing ranges from a minor nuisance to a serious threat to scholarly publishing. Regardless of one’s views on the matter, it is important to avoid working with a predatory publisher. They exist almost exclusively to maximize profits for their owners with no regard to the health, viability, or quality of scholarship within a particular area. Work disseminated via these publishers is generally disregarded by serious scholars and reputable subject databases often refuse to index the work contained within them. In cases where the publisher publishes in book format, libraries will often refuse to purchase them.

Some strategies for identifying predatory publishers include:

  • Were you contacted unsolicited by the publisher about publishing your research? While reputable publishers may reach out on occasion, predatory publishers are very aggressive on this front. Authors are advised to take great care to investigate any solicitations for submission. Be sure that the publisher is not just accepting a fee to “publish” your work.
  • Have you or colleagues heard of the publisher?
  • What information can you find online by searching for the publisher’s name along with the keyword ‘predatory’?
  • If a journal:
    • Can you find a web presence for it? Make sure it isn’t the homepage for a reputable journal with a similar name.
    • Can you identify the journal’s publisher? Is it a known publisher in academia, whether a reputable commercial publisher, a university press, or a scholarly society?
    • Can you identify who sits on the journal’s editorial board? Can you verify that these are respected scholars (e.g., are they affiliated with a recognized institution of higher education, etc.)?
    • Does the journal offer a peer-review process for submitted work?

A proactive means of investigating a suspect publication is to contact the editors to see if they indeed are affiliated with the journal. It is characteristic of predatory journals to list “affiliated” scholars without their consent. Asking for a copy of the author agreement prior to article submission will help to surface any problematic clauses prior to engagement with the journal. This checklist provides additional guidance.

Predatory Conferences

Also be aware of predatory conferences organized not by scholarly societies but by revenue-seeking companies. Like predatory publishers, they are not interested in the promotion of scholarship. If you are unfamiliar with the conference, unfamiliar with the body hosting it, or if the location appears too good to be true, try to see if you can find other information about it online. A good strategy is to search for the name of the conference along with the keyword ‘predatory’.