Selecting a journal: a minefield without due diligence

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Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Guest post by Sandra Fry, Scholarly Communications Librarian (acting)

The journal article publishing landscape has never been more difficult for authors to navigate.  Hundreds of new journals are coming online each year, leaving many researchers grappling with how to ensure their journal selections are reputable, quality assured and enduring.

Recent events, such has the removal of more than 50 journals from the Web of Science Master Journal List in March should give researchers the impetus to do some due diligence when looking for the best journal to fit their research.

The journals were de-listed for failing to meet quality criteria including adequate peer review, appropriate citations, adherence to ethical publishing practices and providing content relevant to the stated scope of the journal.  The move came after Web of Science owner Clarivate Analytics reported that its new AI technology had flagged more than 500 journals as potentially failing its quality criteria checks and it has been working through that list.  Web of Science Editor-in-Chief Dr Nandita Quaderie says “as the scholarly record becomes increasingly polluted” the need for high-quality data from rigorously selected sources was becoming increasingly important.

There are ongoing concerns in scholarly publishing around the propensity of some journals to publish thousands of articles each year and produce huge numbers of special issues, often with first time guest editors at the helm, who are often left unsupported by the publisher.  One of the mega journals taken off the list is the Q.2 ranked International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health from publisher MDPI.  It has published 5748 articles so far this year (at the time of writing) and 17,107 articles last year.  It’s stable mate the Q.3 ranked Journal of Risk and Financial Management has published 263 articles so far in 2023.

Implications for authors caught up in these de-listings include the loss of the citation-based Journal Impact Factor which is often (controversially) used as a measure of quality in hiring or promotion decisions.  It may affect not just the metrics calculations of their outputs but will likely limit the discovery of their research and their ability to find future collaborators.

The Web of Science Master Journal List has long been a tool researchers have used to identify suitable journals for publishing in and Clarivate says a monthly updated list will now be published indicating changes (additions and editorial de-listings) to ensure transparency for researchers.

It’s expected many more journals will be de-listed from these quality measuring databases over time and QUT is keenly aware of the ongoing issues this will have for our researchers.

QUT Library does have plenty of assistance available for researchers about journal selection, and speaking with your Liaison Librarian is a good place to start.  Here are some of our top tips.

QUT has Read & Publish agreements with most of the big publishers which allows researchers to publish open access without paying Article Processing Charges – the journals included in these deals are listed on the Digital Workplace.



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