Academic researchers should make conscientious efforts to publish in journals who are publishing quality research.
While there are many high-quality, peer-reviewed open access publications, there are also journals/publishers that engage in unprofessional or unethical practices. The following guidelines are intended to help you evaluate open access publications as you consider appropriate publication venues, or invitations to serve as reviewers or editors.
Note that there is no single criterion that indicates whether or not a publication is reputable. Rather, look for a cumulative effect of more positives or more negatives. If you still have questions, please contact your liaison librarian.
- Scope of the journal is well-defined and clearly stated
- Journal’s primary audience is researchers/practitioners
- Editor, editorial board are recognized experts in the field
- Journal is affiliated with or sponsored by an established scholarly society or academic institution
- Articles are within the scope of the journal and meet the standards of the discipline
- Any fees or charges for publishing in the journal are easily found on the journal website and clearly explained
- Articles have DOIs (Digital Object Identifier, e.g., doi:10.1111/j.1742-9544.2011.00054.x)
- Journal clearly indicates rights for use and re-use of content at article level (e.g., Creative Commons CC BY license)
- Journal has an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number, e.g., 1234-5678). If you have an ISSN, it can be validated.
- Publisher is a member of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
- Journal is registered in UlrichsWeb, Global Serials Directory
- Journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. As of March 2015, the DOAJ evaluates all journals before they are accepted, using the criteria in COPE Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publication (revised Nov 2015)
- Journal is included in McGill Library catalogue, subject databases and/or indexes
- Journal website is difficult to locate or identify
- Publisher “About” information is absent on the journal’s website
- Publisher direct marketing (i.e., spamming) or other advertising is obtrusive
- Instructions to authors information is not available
- Information on peer review and copyright is absent or unclear on the journal website
- Journal scope statement is absent or extremely vague
- No information is provided about the publisher, or the information provided does not clearly indicate a relationship to a mission to disseminate research content
- Repeat lead authors in same issue
- Publisher has a negative reputation (e.g., documented examples in Chronicle of Higher Education, list-servs, etc.)
McGill Libraries would like to acknowledge Grand Valley State University for permission to adapt and reuse Open Access Journal Quality Indicators