Evaluating Journals & Conferences

Publishing has undergone rapid growth in recent years, and in many cases scholars are unfamiliar with new publishers and whether they can be trusted. Open Access journals should be judged by exactly the same criteria as any other publication, with a few additional considerations noted below.

Use the criteria and appraisal services below to evaluate a given journal and avoid fraudulent publications.

Journal Evaluation Criteria

See the video from the non-profit group Think.Check.Submit. for additional evaluation criteria to the ones below. Find this guidance in dozens of languages from their website.

  1. Caliber of the research published: Read over a few articles to assess the quality of the writing and the science.
  2. Peer review process and author guidelines as described on the journal’s web site: Check for integrity, rigor and adherence to ethical guidelines. Consider contacting published authors about their experience.
  3. Composition of the editorial board and staff: Are editors recognized experts, and are their affiliations consistently provided? Trust your judgement – if anything looks ‘off’ about the information or photos provided, investigate further.
  4. Ease of finding information about the publisher, such as who they are associated with and backed by. A valid street address and phone number should be provided that represents the actual place of business (not a residence or ‘field office’ designed to misrepresent the real location).
  5. Indicators of journal quality: e.g., journal impact factor, indexing by trusted sources, or membership in established industry organizations (see the Appraisal by the Industry tab).
  6. Transparency of any payment required for open access publication, and the amount of the charges.
  7. Copyright ownership for published content: Transparency about what rights authors retain or must transfer to the publisher. Open access articles should be published under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.
Appraisal by the Industry

While exclusion from any of these services does not necessarily mean that a publisher is not reputable, authors may consider:

  1. Is the journal indexed in PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, or other trusted literature indexes in your field? Note that Google Scholar does not vet what it indexes.
  2. Is the journal or publisher a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)?
  3. Does the journal have a International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) that can be verified in the Ulrich's Serials Directory (subscription)
  4. Does the journal have a Clarivate impact factor (subscription), CiteScore or SNIP, SJR, or eigenfactor ranking?

    Beware of unrecognized ranking systems, often designed to mimic established metrics. See examples of misleading metrics.

Additionally, if the journal is open access:

  1. Is the journal included in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)?
  2. Is the publisher a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)?
  3. Has the journal been reviewed by scholars in the Quality Open Access Market?
  4. Is the publisher or journal cited on author forums as using “predatory” or questionable business and peer review practices?
Conference Evaluation Criteria

The scholarly community faces an increasing number of invitations to present at or attend conferences. Some of these are respectable, academic events, while others are misleading, exaggerated or even fake. The Think. Check. Attend. site provides guidelines to help researchers distinguish authentic conferences from ones they should avoid. 

Key questions to ask yourself about any conference include:

  1. Are you familiar with the society or the association organizing this conference? Beware of conferences that mimic other society names.
  2. Do you know anyone who has attended this conference before?
  3. Is it clear what fees will be charged (conference fee, registration fees, etc.) and would these be waived if you are accepted as a speaker?
  4. Does the website provide clear information about the venue, timeline and agenda?
  5. Is the Editorial Committee listed on the website?

See the complete checklist as well as the Conference Checker survey tool. 

Blocking Email Spam

Many publishers send frequent, unsolicited emails requesting submissions to their journals and conferences, often considered spam by the recipient. University of California policy prohibits the campus from being an arbiter of email content, however individuals can set preferences for which messages they wish to receive.

To block an individual or a domain from sending you email, log in to your UCSF Email Quarantine/Digest, select Lists, Blocked Senders List, then New. Add the sender email address or domain to be blocked. See additional guidance on avoiding spam.

Journal Selection Tools
  • Journal/Author Name Estimator (Jane) – find journals, papers, and authors from Medline relevant to your article title and abstract
  • EndNote’s Manuscript Matcher – matches your article title and abstract to journals indexed in Web of Science Core Collection and Journal Citation Reports. Access is via UCSF’s Web of Science subscription or an individual EndNote account. Select EndNote online login at top of page.
  • Search for journals by topic or ranking using Journal Citation Reports (subscription) and Scopus Sources (free).

Visit our Open Access Publishing page for more information or to connect with a scholarly communication expert.

Have more questions? Contact us