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Open Access Journal Quality Indicators
Think. Check. Submit
Sharing research results with the world is key to the progress of your discipline and career. But with so many publications, how can you be sure you can trust a particular journal? Follow this check list to make sure you choose trusted journals for your research.
Open Access Journal Quality Indicators
Useful journal quality indicators from Grand Valley State University. These guidelines are can help one evaluate open access publications as you consider appropriate publication venues, or invitations to serve as reviewers or editors.
Addressing Faculty Publishing Concerns with Open Access Journal Quality Indicators
The scholarly publishing paradigm is evolving to embrace innovative open access publication models. While this environment fosters the creation of high-quality, peer-reviewed open access publications, it also provides opportunities for journals or publishers to engage in unprofessional or unethical practices. In response to growing faculty concern in this area, the Grand Valley State University Libraries developed and evaluated a set of Open Access Journal Quality Indicators that support faculty in their effort to identify the characteristics of ethical and unethical open access publications.
Open Access Spectrum (OAS) Evaluation Tool
The Open Access Spectrum (OAS) Evaluation Tool quantitatively scores journals' degrees of openness. This independent measure can be of crucial benefit to authors, libraries, research funders, government agencies, and other interested parties. It offers a concrete, quantifiable mechanism to analyze publications' policies. The OAS Evaluation Tool aims to provide unprecedented insight and transparency into scholarly journals' degree of openness.
Evaluating Open Access Journal Publishers
Many questionable open access and print journals send invitations to publish in future issues or serve on editorial boards. Before submitting an article or agreeing to a seat on an editorial board, investigate the reputation and legitimacy of the journal.
Fortunately, opportunistic journals are easily detectable. Steps to determine whether a journal or publisher is predatory include:
- Visit the journal's website. Some publishers' websites appear professionally created and managed, however closer inspection may reveal poor design, typographical errors, and grammatical errors that would not appear on a reputable publisher's site. Be cautious of those that provide only web contact forms.
- Review the journal's scope as described on the website. Most questionable journals have scopes so broad that they will publish articles on nearly any topic.
- Check that a journal's editorial board lists recognized experts with full affiliations. Contact some of board members and ask about their experience with the journal or publisher.
- Examine articles that appear in the journal and judge their caliber. Predatory publishers are not interested in producing journal articles that demonstrate excellent research or that offer compelling arguments, and rarely engage in screening or quality control.
- Check the peer-review policy. Unscrupulous publishers promise a quick peer-review turnaround. Considering the peer-review process used by reputable journals can take months, a publisher that states their peer-review system takes as little as 21 days is either rushing the process or not doing any peer-review at all.
- Check for the author's publication fee schedule. If it does not appear on the website or if the publisher states it will notify authors of the fee after their papers are accepted for publication, the publisher is likely charging excessively high author fees. Legitimate journal publishers make this information easy to find on their website.
- Be wary of e-mail invitations to submit to journals or to become editorial board members.
- Find out whether the journal is a member of an industry association that vets its members, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (www.doaj.org) or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (www.oaspa.org).
What is Predatory Publishing?
Predatory publishers share several characteristics:
- They engage in questionable business practices, such as charging excessive author fees or failing to disclose publication fees to potential authors.
- They fail to follow accepted standards of scholarly publishing, particularly in regards to peer review.
- They exist to make money by taking advantage of the "author-pays model" of open access journal publishing,* and have no interest in promoting scholarship or advancing knowledge.
*Charging authors/funding bodies to publish articles open access is a model used by many reputable journal publishers and is not the single factor used to determine if a journal should be considered "predatory."
For further information, please review Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing by Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.