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Publishing choices: Scholarly publishing

Scholarly Publishing and Open Access plus a stylized book with the open access symbol

How do I assess a publisher, journal, or conference?

Assessing a publisher or journal before you submit your work is an important step to avoid predatory publishers and insure that the publication is committed to sharing high-quality scholarship to advance the field of research. 

shark swimming among open access icons

Predatory publishers produce journals and books that are not edited or peer reviewed, and frequently pose as legitimate open access publications. They often charge exorbitant fees to unsuspecting researchers who agree to publish their work with them. 

There are several resources available to help you assess a publisher/journal.

Your liaison librarian

Contact your liaison librarian who can help find details and evaluate the reputability of a publisher or journal.

Impact metrics

Research the impact metrics, index rates, and statistics of journals you’re considering publishing with.

Journal-level impact metrics measure a journal’s impact and relative importance in the field, generally through the calculation of citation counts. 

Ulrich’s Periodical Directory includes a list of databases where a journal is indexed, indicating how accessible articles will be to other researchers, as well as whether or not the journal is peer-reviewed.

Journal assessment checklists

Think. Check. Submit is a campaign to help researchers identify trusted journals and publishers for their research.

You can also follow the below journal assessment checklist* for additional steps to take to research the credibility of a publication before you publish.

View the checklist

What is the quality of articles?

Are they of a low standard or poorly copy-edited? How is the journal ranked against others in the field?

You can read and evaluate a few articles, or check the journal metrics to see how the journal is ranked against others in the field of research.

  Who is on the editorial board?

Are they well-established in their field? Some predatory journals list researchers on their editorial boards who are not affiliated with them. We recommend you contact a member to confirm their affiliation is legitimate, or check the websites of editorial board members to see if the journal is mentioned.

  Is the journal indexed in relevant databases? 

Contact a librarian for help, or check Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory, the most comprehensive directory of periodicals or serials available worldwide. 

  Does the publisher have a clear peer-review process and provide details about it?

Check the publisher’s website for details on the type of peer-review process conducted.

  Does the journal or publisher belong to the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association or the Directory of Open Access Journals?

These resources accept only high-quality, peer-reviewed open access journals and publishers.

  Do you get any results when you do an online search for the name of the publisher or journal and keywords such as complaint, scam, or fraud?

These additional resources will help you evaluate publishers and journals:

*Adapted from: The University of Western Australia. (2017, November 28). Open Access Toolkit: Predatory Publishers. Retrieved from http://guides.library.uwa.edu.au/c.php?g=325342&p=2178782

Avoiding predatory conferences

In addition to the risk of predatory publishers, researchers should be wary of non-scholarly, revenue-seeking groups organizing predatory or “vanity” conferences. Researchers are asked to pay a fee for the “privilege” of speaking at, chairing, or attending these conferences, which are usually sparsely-attended and often lack the attendance of prestigious speakers who were advertised.  

Read more about predatory conferences in this article by The Huffington Post: Predatory Conferences Undermine Science And Scam Academics.

Think. Check. Attend is an initiative to help researchers assess whether a conference is a legitimate, professional opportunity or a potential scam that should be avoided. Follow the guidelines in the checklist to decide when to accept or decline invitations to present and share your research. 

Know your rights as an author

If you intend to make your work openly available through open access by depositing it in a repository, or if you are required to do so by your funding agency (such as through the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications), it’s important to retain your right to archive your work.

Following the peer-review process and after an article has been accepted for publication, publishers require authors to sign a copyright transfer agreement or license to publish consent form before proceeding with formal publication.  Ask yourself the following:

  • What rights as an author do I retain?
  • Can I make copies for my own lectures or classroom instruction?
  • Can I post the work on my university/research website or in a repository?
  • Can I distribute my work to colleagues and/or students who request a copy?

Check Sherpa/Romeo for the  archiving permissions that are normally included with a  publisher's copyright transfer agreement:

  • Green - authors may archive pre-print (prior to any peer review) and post-print
  • Blue - authors may archive post-print (final draft after peer review).
  • Yellow - authors may archive pre-print
  • White - authors may not deposit work to an archive nor to an institutional repository.

When the standard copyright agreement limits your rights as an author, you can negotiate with your publisher the retention of your right to reproduce, reuse and publicly present your work for non-commercial purposes. Choose one of the following addendums to apply to your publisher agreement.

SPARC Canadian Author Addendum
Use this Addendum to secure a more balanced agreement with Canadian funding agencies by retaining select rights, such as the right to reproduce, reuse, and publicly present the articles you publish for non-commercial purposes.
This form complies with granting council public access policies, such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Policy on Access to Research Outputs.

SPARC Author Addendum
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition created this addendum for authors to preserve key rights as the author of the journal article.

Scholars Copyright Addendum Engine
Generate a PDF form which you can attach to a journal publisher's copyright transfer agreement, and which reserves certain rights for the author.