Librarians remain current on developments in scholarly communication in order to spend limited resources wisely, teach students, provide research support to academic and professional colleagues, and make good decisions about our own scholarship. Specifically, we keep up on changing business models and types of peer review (open, post publication), metrics demonstrating individual accomplishment and that of the institution, journal prices, and other trends in publishing. Recently liaison librarians here at UNLV have received requests from faculty for help evaluating journals in which they may publish their peer-reviewed scholarship.
These requests are what led the Digital Scholarship unit to create an Authors’ Checklist for Evaluating Journals. This one-page resource gives authors guidance on determining whether an unfamiliar journal is a legitimate scholarly venue. Poor quality journals run the gamut from those that start with good intentions but have limited emphasis on rigorous scholarship to those that purposefully engage in deceitful business practices to scam authors in order to generate profit.
There are other sources in addition to our checklist that will assist you in determining the quality of a journal. Think Check Submit is a useful online resource. Beall’s List of predatory publishers is devoted to Open Access publishers. And Retraction Watch monitors all types of journals.
Tools aside, authors should consider all journals carefully and use multiple criteria from these sources in combination with their experience as researchers and disciplinary experts. For example, an author may wish to contact an editorial board member or author from the journal or closely review the academic databases that index the journal. Also, if you are not familiar with the journal, you probably haven’t cited it. This does not mean it is low quality, but reading a few articles may help determine whether the articles are well-written, edited, and, most importantly, reflect sound research. In other words, does the journal publish work of the caliber of your own?
For additional information on how University Libraries can help with journal evaluation and other research services, contact your liaison librarian, or the digital scholarship librarian, Andrea Wirth. For Graduate Students, the library is offering a workshop on this topic on Oct. 25. Please register in advance online.