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Identifying Reputable Journals
With the proliferation of journal titles and frequent email solicitations for manuscripts, it can be challenging for authors to determine whether a journal is reputable.
Many tools exist for identifying suitable journals where you can submit your manuscript. See, for example, the Nuts & Bolts of Scholarly Publishing and the HSL Writer's Guide.
When evaluating journals, consider the following:
Predatory or Disreputable Journals
Predatory or disreputable journals can be defined as journals that "do not follow best publication practices." For example:
- Peer review may be poor or non-existent.
- Editorial board membership information may be incorrect. (People may be listed there without their knowledge.)
- Information about publishing costs or article processing charges may be misleading.
- Journals might not be indexed in scholarly literature databases such as PubMed, PsycInfo, Web of Science, or CINAHL.
- Websites might refer to non-standard impact factors or misrepresent where articles are indexed.
- Content might not be digitally preserved.
A Note About PubMed
- If you want to publish in a journal that is fully indexed in PubMed, search for the title in the National Library of Medicine (NLM) catalog.
- Look for the phrase "Currently indexed for MEDLINE" in the journal description.
- Even if there are a few articles from a particular journal in PubMed, that doesn't mean that it's fully indexed in PubMed. Some articles are available in PubMed (unindexed) because they were deposited in PubMed Central to meet NIH public access policy requirements and not because they published in a journal that the National Library of Medicine chose to index.
Beall's List and Other Lists of "Predatory Publishers"
The tools above will help you evaluate a journal or publisher.
There have been attempts to create lists of publishers to avoid - including what was known as Beall's list (now defunct). If you use one of the following lists, please keep in mind that publishers might change their policies and that evaluators of publishers might have biases.
- A list of Possibly Predatory Publishers has been published by an anonymous group.
- An archived copy of (last updated December 2016) of the defunct Beall's list of questionable, scholarly open-access publishers is available.
- Another archived copy of the defunct Beall's list has been preserved and updated (last updated July 2018) by an anonymous postdoctoral scholar.
Journal Impact Factors
Journal impact factors are quantitative measures used to rank journals within a field.
The Journal Impact Factor guide explains well-known journal impact metrics (e.g., JCR's Journal Impact Factor, Eigenfactor score, and SCImago Journal Rank) and how to use them.
NIH Statement on Article Publication
NIH announcement (Nov. 3, 2017)
- Encourages authors to publish papers arising from NIH-funded research in reputable journals.
- Provides recommendations for identifying credible journals.