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Scholarly Communication: Home

A guide to understanding and locating impact factors and other qualities of scholarly journals.

What is a predatory journal?

Not all open-access journals are "predatory"!  Some very reputable journals do require author's fees for publishing within open-access journals.  Here's a short list of qualities that define a "predatory" journal, according to Berger and Cirasella (2015):

  • Editors or editorial board members with no or fake academic affiliations
  • Lack of clarity about publishing fees
  • Publisher names and journal titles with geographic terms that are unrelated to the publisher’s physical location or journal’s geographic scope
  • Bogus impact factor claims and invented metrics
  • False claims about where the journal is indexed

Berger, M., & Cirasella, J. (2015). Beyond Beall’s list: Better understanding predatory publishers. College & Research Libraries News, 76(3), 132–135. Retrieved from http://crln.acrl.org/content/76/3/132.full

Impact Factors Slidecast

This 10-minute narrated slidecast provides an introduction to journal impact factors and their sources.

Click here to view in full screen within a new browser tab/window.

2013 MPMC Presentation

Real-World Impact v. Impact Factor

For a thought-provoking perspective about alternatives to publication in peer-reviewed journals, please read:

Choosing Real-World Impact Over Impact Factor

by Dr. Sam Wineburg, as published on the Chronicle of Higher Education website (August 26, 2013).

Guidelines for Choosing a Journal

Authors should consider these journal qualities before submitting an article for publication:

Qualities to consider Sources for answers
  • Does my article manuscript match the subject scope of this journal?
  • Who is the publisher?
  • When did the journal begin publication?
  • How frequently is the journal published?
  • Is the journal refereed?
  • Is the journal open-access?
  • What is the official website for this journal?
  • What databases (if any) index the contents of that journal?
  • What databases (if any) include the full-text of that journal's articles?
  • Is the journal indexed in Google Scholar?
  • Google Scholar
    -- Use the Advanced Search to search by journal title - "return articles published in..."
  • What is the acceptance rate for articles submitted for publication?
  • What impact factors (if any) have been assessed for that journal?
  • What fee (if any) is the author required to pay prior to publication? NOTE: This is increasingly common for open-access publications.
  • If author's fees are required, is the journal associated with an OASPA-member publisher? (a positive attribute)
  • What rights or copyright terms does the author retain by publishing in this journal (i.e. can the author legally post a copy on a personal website or institutional repository?)
  • Use SHERPA/RoMEO to search by journal title or ISSN and find a summary of author's rights for that publication.
  • Locate the journal's official website using Ulrich's Global Serials Directory to view author's rights and copyright terms.

Additional Questions?

For additional assistance in evaluating journals, please contact your subject librarian, or contact the Library's Reference Desk by calling 308-865-8586 or by using the chat widget below.

Ask a Librarian

Recommended E-book

A helpful read for scholars seeking to publish in any discipline!