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Open Access & Scholarly Publishing


OA Journals Quality Indicators

Assessing OA Journal Quality

Open Access journals make articles freely available online, permitting users to read, redistribute or reuse content. Often the reuse rights are defined through use of Creative Commons Licenses.

New open access journals have been proliferating rapidly. Many are high-quality peer-reviewed publications. The low barrier to entry into the market has also allowed the proliferation of journals that engage in unprofessional or unethical practices. The following quality indicators are intended to provide guidance in evaluating publication venues or in responding to invitations to serve as an editor or reviewer.

No single criterion below indicates whether or not a publication is reputable, but the balance of positive and negative indicators may inform the evaluation. If further help is needed, please contact your subject librarian.

The indicators are adapted from those provided by Grand Valley State University Libraries.

Positive Indicators

  • Scope of the journal is well-defined and clearly stated
  • Journal's primary audience is researchers/practitioners
  • Editor, editorial board are recognized experts in the field
  • Journal is affiliated with or sponsored by an established scholarly or academic institution
  • Articles are within the scope of the journal and meet the standards of the discipline
  • Any fees or charges for publishing in the journal are easily found on the journal website and clearly explained
  • Articles have DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers)
  • Journal clearly indicates rights for use and re-use of articles at the article level (for instance, Creative Commons license)
  • Journal has ISSN (International Standard Serial Number, such as1234-5678)
  • Journal is included in subject databases or indexes

Negative Indicators

  • Journal website is difficult to locate or identify
  • Publisher "About" information is absent on the journal's website 
  • A single editor is listed and editorial board information is absent
  • Publisher direct marketing (spamming) or other advertising is obtrusive
  • Instructions for authors are not available
  • Information on peer review and copyright is absent or unclear on the journal website
  • Journal scope statement is absent or extremely vague
  • No information is provided about the publisher, or the information provided does not clearly indicate a relationship to a mission to disseminate research content
  • Repeat lead authors in the same issue
  • Publisher has a negative reputation (documented examples in The Chronicle of Higher Education, list-servs, etc.)