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Research Guides

Nuts & Bolts of Scholarly Publishing: Evaluating Journals: Quality

All you need to get started selecting journals for publication and reviewing author's agreements

Journal Quality

Consider how the journal relates to standards set by the scholarly community.

Peer review

Peer review is a major mechanism for ensuring quality and validity.  Ideally, the peer review can produce higher quality published work and can improve your paper with input from experts.

Any journal you’re considering publishing in should clearly explain its peer review process. Peer review practices can vary by discipline, but single and double blind are the two most common. Emerging approaches to peer review have also been developed in response to critiques of traditional forms of peer review.

Traditional peer review

Single blind peer review: The author is not aware of the identity of the reviewers, but the reviewers know the identity of the author. Bias may be a risk.

Double blind peer review: Neither the author nor the reviewers know each others' identities. This process mitigates bias, but has been criticized for lacking transparency.

Emerging peer review

Open peer review: The identities of authors/reviewers are known to all participants (and sometimes reviews are published along with the work).

Transferable peer review: The journal's editor can suggest that articles not recommended by reviewers be submitted to another journal in the publisher’s portfolio along with the review.


Learn more about emerging types of peer review:

Acceptance Rates

Selectivity is often considered a sign of high prestige. Keep in mind that submitting your work only to highly selective journals may delay the publication of your research.

Acceptance rates can sometimes be found on a journal's website, but are often difficult to locate.

Decepetive publishing practices

Journals with deceptive publishing practices, sometimes called "predatory journals" are a small subset of open access journals that charge author fees but do not perform rigorous peer review, resulting in the publication of low quality research. Deceptive journals take advantage of the intense pressure to publish that scholars face, and sometimes will try to solicit submissions.

While blacklists of predatory publishers exist, they often have non-transparent criteria. A best practice is to use whitelists (directories of vetted publishers) and critical evaluation checklists to identify trustworthy open access journals.

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This guide and the accompanying workshop materials were created by Rochelle Lundy and Julia Hon, University of Washington iSchool class of 2018.