Are you publishing in a proper journal?

This is a guest post by Vrushali Dandawate, DOAJ Ambassador, India.



All over the world researchers are spending their time in writing research papers, and everyone wants his or her work to be widely recognised. Most of the time researchers are in a hurry to  publish their research papers, so they may not pay attention to whether they are publishing in a proper journal. Unintentionally many researchers are submitting their research papers to questionable  journals (also known as predatory journals).

1. You may get spam emails or marketing materials from the editor inviting you to publish a paper in their journals.

2. These journals give you a guarantee to publish your paper within a very limited time period.

3. No proper information is given on journal peer review policy.

4. No affiliations are provided for editorial board members, and sometimes editors are listed without their knowledge or permission

5. These journals may not be dedicated to one discipline, but instead publish on a wide range of subjects within one journal.

What is the solution?

As a researcher, academician or librarian you must be able to identify questionable publications.

There are guidelines, tools and services available to help you to avoid publishing with questionable  journals, and to choose a proper journal for your paper.

1 Think Check Submit

This website helps researchers to identify appropriate journals in which to publish their research.

2 Directory of Open Access Journals

DOAJ is a curated index of open access peer reviewed journals that is used by institutions all over the world as a guide to trusted journals where you can safely publish your paper.

3  Open Access Journal Platforms

Developing country authors can also choose to publish their article in journals available in aggregation platforms such as African Journals Online (AJOL), SciELO and Redalyc. Journals are evaluated according to a number of criteria regarding their publishing practices before they can be included in AJOL.

4  AuthorAID

AuthorAID is working to increase the success rate of developing country researchers in achieving publication, and to increase the visibility and influence of research in the developing world. AuthorAID achieves these objectives through networking, resources, training and mentoring. Membership is free, and you can find a mentor through the AuthorAID database or by asking the AuthorAID discussion list about experiences of particular journals.

Find a mentor to publish your research


‘Indexed in DOAJ’ versus ‘the DOAJ Seal’

I need to clarify what being indexed in DOAJ means and how the Seal is related to that, and how the reapplication process works.

There is a common misunderstanding that only journals that get the Seal are “indexed in DOAJ”, that only Seal journals are quality, peer reviewed open access journals. This is incorrect. ALL journals in DOAJ have been approved as quality, peer reviewed open access journals. The whole DOAJ list is the approved, community-curated list of reputable journals!

  1. What ‘Indexed in DOAJ’ means
    Being indexed in DOAJ means that a journal has passed up to 4 stages of independent and objective, manual review. It means that the journal has been investigated by our Editorial team who have researched whether or not the journal/publisher does what they claim to do on the journal site and in their (re)application to us. During the investigation, the DOAJ editors go through the pages on a journal’s site to make sure that all the information presented to a user is easy to find, clearly and accurately presented and easy to understand. The editorial board is investigated, and sometimes members of the board are contacted and their institutional connections verified, their work on the board is confirmed and which other boards that member sits on. Being indexed in DOAJ means that the journal adheres to high levels of quality of its publishing services and services to authors and users, including: peer review, licensing terms, a strong open access statement, a fully functional editorial board and more. Being indexed in DOAJ means that the journal is a good open access journal, a trusted open access journal.
  2. The reapplication process
    DOAJ upgraded its requirements for journals to get into DOAJ. The upgrade, which covered all new applications, was made live in March 2014. This meant that there were about 9000 journals already in DOAJ—accepted into DOAJ between 2003 and 2013—that had been accepted under less stringent requirements. We require that every one of them upgrades their information with us. To make it easier for users to see which journals have been accepted under the new criteria we added a green tick next to them. Journals without a tick next to them still have to be reviewed against the new criteria. Note however that even journals that have no tick against them have been manually reviewed and accepted into DOAJ as being reputable.If a journal is in DOAJ, it is on the list of approved and reputable journals.
  3. The DOAJ Seal
    The DOAJ Seal, think of it like this: journals that have the Seal are journals that adhere to outstanding best practice; journals that don’t have the Seal are good, trusted journals adhering to best practice. The Seal has been allocated to a handful of journals accepted into DOAJ since 2014. Journals that are awarded the Seal have answered ‘Yes’ to 7 questions that DOAJ has chosen specifically as indicators of an extra high and clear commitment to open access best practices, of extra high levels of commitment to publishing technologies, and the most ‘open’ form of open access. Importantly, the journals that DO NOT have the Seal still adhere to high levels of quality required for indexing in the DOAJ, especially those journals that have a green tick. No Seal DOES NOT mean low quality, non peer reviewed, questionable, ‘dodgy’, ‘scammy’.

I hope that this helps. DOAJ spends all of its time improving information on reliability, trustworthiness and accuracy. DOAJ also spends a lot of time ensuring that questionable journals do NOT get into the directory. DOAJ is already doing that work for you so that you can be exactly sure what levels of service you can expect when you choose a journal to submit to, to recommend to faculty, to read research in.

As ever, if you have any questions, leave a comment or get in touch!

The other fight

As well as DOAJ’s fight against questionable publishing practices, journals and publishers, the other fight is against the traditional desire to  read research or publish research in ‘prestigious’ journals.

From Twitter:
First bird: “for urban geog – this looks like a good place to start
Second bird: “cheers… Didn’t return a single journal I recognised though – none of the prestigious/high impact ones”

How can you tackle this? Wanting recognition for what you have done, or wanting to read the works of others from a prestigious (read: reputable) source isn’t strange. It is human nature. Thankfully we have built in filters to recognise and zoom in on quality. However, the thought that publishing in an open access journal doesn’t and can’t carry any prestige is a misconception. And there are other forces at play too…

In an independent capacity, Lars recently gave a presentation for a NISO virtual seminar where he issued his rallying call on what he thinks should be done. Have a look and let me know what you think. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

(You can follow DOAJ on Twitter here.)