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A colleague and I recently submitted a paper to a journal with an impressive-sounding name, the "International Journal of Artificial Intelligence and Computational Research". According to their website,

IJAICR is a referred [sic] journal in the field of computer science, artificial intelligence and soft computing methods.

It was accepted two days after we submitted it. That's too fast. We were suspicious. Although the journal said that all papers are peer-reviewed, we could not see how that was done in two days. Plus, we received no comments from the reviewers. Also, the submission guidelines didn't ask for a "blind" copy (without our names or any references to who we were).

But wait, there's more.

The acceptance letter asked us to send them US$300 to publish it. We did not. We've withdrawn our submission and will submit a new version of the paper to a more reputable journal in the coming months.

How might we make a better choice of respectable journals before we submit next time?

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I think this question is really about how to recognize "vanity press". Judging quality among respectable journals is a completely different question. –  David Ketcheson Feb 15 '12 at 17:06
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It can be difficult especially if the journal's call for papers is circulated by your faculty secretary. This happenned to me and I only found out after I had been asked to pay a publication fee of $200. The review was also suspicously glowing and took only two weeks. The paper was accepted without modification. Very suspicious but very deflating after the intial excitement. –  user8184 Aug 14 '13 at 15:50
    
The link you have provided in your question does not work. –  Enthusiastic Student Jul 26 at 11:00

13 Answers 13

up vote 73 down vote accepted

The way I usually choose journals is by looking at where people I trust/follow publish, and where previous work was published. It is usually not too hard to compare the quality your work to the quality of the work you are citing, and chose a target based on that. Unless your field is highly mutli-disciplinary, you will see the same journals/conferences popping up again and again in your references; submit to one of those.

Before submitting, however, it is always important to look at a few articles from previous issues. This will give you a second gauge of quality for the journal and also let you pick up on any formatting and presentations quirks that might be present in the publication.

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Shorter version: Submit papers to the journals you cite most often. Don't submit papers to journals you never cite. –  JeffE Feb 17 '12 at 12:21
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agree completely with that –  flow Feb 26 '12 at 8:17

You may want to check that the publisher is not on Beall's List of Predatory, Open-Access Publishers.

Surprisingly, the publisher in question is not. I've found Beall's list to be fairly comprehensive, but the vanity press industry seems to be booming.

Caveat: that list is just one guy's opinion. But it resonates with my own experience.

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A very good and useful link! –  Joel Reyes Noche Feb 15 '12 at 23:19
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Wish I could favorite this answer. –  Shashank Sawant Oct 14 '12 at 20:23

The best way is by word-of-mouth: ask around the department, ask your PhD advisor, ask people you've worked with.

If it is a specialist journal, and you are a specialist, then the next best way is to look at the previously published issues of the journal and see what kinds of articles they accept.

Failing that, the Australian Government's Research Council puts out a ranking of journals and conferences every now and then. It is not perfect, but should give a rough idea of where a journal places in the eyes of the bureaucrats :-). Note that "new" journals (journals that have not been active for more than X years) are not ranked, so omission from the list does not necessarily mean that the journal itself is not worthwhile.

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Notice that it has been announced that the Australian ranking will ne replaced by a score indicating "journal quality profile" –  Sylvain Peyronnet Feb 15 '12 at 14:47
    
you can also recur to journal's impact factor from ISI Web of Science –  flow Feb 26 '12 at 8:20

"How do you judge the quality of a journal?"

One answer is already known to you: Submit a paper to it and see how it responds. I once submitted a few papers to an online journal (no print equivalent) and the referee reports that I got clearly showed that they read and understood the paper and that they knew the subject well. They even suggested ways how the paper could be improved. The quality of the referees reflect the quality of the journal.

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IMHO, this is the best answer here, even though you don't really have time to go through the process of testing every journal you might be interested of. However, if the peer-review process is good, then the journal is good. End of story. –  Speldosa Jun 24 '12 at 9:21
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I disagree with @Speldosa. All you know on the basis of one submission is that the journal has at least one editor who picked good referees for at least one paper. Another half of editors could be accepting junk for all you know. Multiple submissions increase the odds that your conclusion is correct, but is not this an extremely expensive experiment to undertake, given that you are paying with your research output? Especially when you have a lot of observational data already available: other papers published in the journal. –  LVK Aug 14 '12 at 21:35
    
@LVK That's a fair point. –  Speldosa Aug 19 '12 at 8:46

For some hard data I like eigenfactor, because I think there methodology makes a lot of sense. The default settings are a bit odd, you want the AI score not EF score. I also like the "eigenfactor category" under advanced search better than the "ISI category" that you can get on the main page. Certainly it's better to have a more in-depth understanding, but also sometimes you just want a quick ballpark guesstimate of how good the journal is, and eigenfactor does that.

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First of all, I look at the publisher. If you don' find a lot of references to the publisher on the web, it is suspicious.

Then, I look at the editor in chief, and at the board of editors. If you don't find many big names here, this is again very suspicious.

Finally, google the journal name and look who is publishing in the journal. Most of the time it becomes clear if the journal is serious or not.

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"How do you judge the quality of a journal?"

Look at the editorial / advisory board. They've gotta be from the top schools or they've gotta be top researchers.

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I agree. However, please note that some journals include well-regarded people on their editorial boards without their permission. See, for example, people.cs.uchicago.edu/~razborov –  Joel Reyes Noche Apr 7 '12 at 5:21
    
Just in case the contents of the website I linked to earlier changes, let me note that it involves the inclusion of Alexander Razborov's name on the editorial board of the South Asian Journal of Mathematics without his knowledge or permission. –  Joel Reyes Noche Apr 7 '12 at 5:23

Look at the journals responsible for the references you cite in your own manuscript. Upside, these are the journals publishing relevant and credible work in your area. Downside, there are plenty perfectly good journals that are newer, or less specialized, and so might be missed.

BTW, a very fast review time with no reviews is suspicious. But charging an article processing charge (APC) is not, in itself, a reason for worry. That said, do look to see that you are getting the full open access you pay for if there is an APC (i.e. no transfer of copyright to the publisher and the article is released under a CC-BY license). You can search for copyright policies by journal or publisher here: http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/

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I'm surprised nobody mentioned this yet, so I'm adding it as a separate answer:

Read some articles from the journal (in your subfield), and see how they feel like

When you look at a journal and check that the 5 or 6 latest articles in your domain are of the meh type, you probably don't want to publish there. If they make you feel “oh, I never quite thought of that, it's clever… I see how I may use it”, go for it!

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I think that "quality" is a bit overrated, and that you should think most deeply about "fit" (i.e., how well your content matches the interests of a journal's reviewers and readership). With that said, when I'm looking for the best journal to put an article, I have three methods:

  1. Look at my cites for similar work to my manuscript, then look at where they published (similar to Artem's comment). If your paper isn't citing related work, well... it probably has a pretty terrible lit review. If you're citing sources out of your league for that paper (i.e., Science, Nature), find the publication list for that lab to find their fallback journals.

  2. Ask greybeards I collaborate with where they would publish such a paper. Good senior academics have a huge amount of expertise about the social networks and publishing networks in their fields.

  3. Use journal rankings. I find Scimago to be the most convenient. That also charts things like cites/paper over time, so you can see if a newer journal is growing or stagnant. The Austrialian Research Counsel (mentioned by Willy Wong) is probably my #2 resource. Thompson's ISI stuff is also useful, but I've found it sometimes has glaring omissions and has been less convenient to me (annoying to log in). Conferences are harder to rank using indices. Google and Microsoft have ranking systems that catch those pretty well, at least for comparing citations within a topic. However, given the choice, I'd still go with option #1 or #2. I mainly use this approach for interdisciplinary research that doesn't have an obvious, natural target journal.

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The Journal Ranking site (www.journal-ranking.com) aims to rank many (11K) journals, according to their measure of impact (mainly number of citation, but weighted according to the ranking of the citing journal), number of articles, etc. It also let you sort by field.

But again, this is only their point of view, and their way of measuring quality.

(and it only ranks journals listed in the ISI's SCI)

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The latest “breaking news” from that site is dated 20 May 2008 ;-) –  F'x Nov 12 '12 at 10:04
    
yet, their data is updated to 2010.. Not that bad. –  Ran G. Nov 12 '12 at 18:36

You can test them yourself. This procedure will speed up by your experience. There are signs during submission and during review which shows which journal is really good and which is not. But there is another way too: look at the objective information below. It is possible to judge a journal based on the COLLECTIVE information you obtain from these factors:

  1. Their editorial. You don't know them? Ok pass to the next ones.
  2. Their publishing country (India? no thanks unless the paper is not good or the journal is an exception).
  3. Their publisher (yes good publishers usually select good journals, although some weak journals with a lot of money can again hire a good publisher)
  4. The time passes since you submit and they respond
  5. The above factor SHOULD be considered along with the amount of manuscript they receive. Good journals receive thousands of manuscript a year, but still do not waste authors' time by keeping them waiting for too long before a rejection decision. Bad journals receive sporadic manuscripts and keep the authors wait for months until they tell the author their decision. It is a pain when you see some of them have "lost" you paper, or some of them reject your paper with a couple of lines of comment, after 6 months. Good journals do the same in less than 24 hours.
  6. Indexing databases. Look where the journal is indexed in. ISI Web of Science? Medline? or what? The scam journals usually are not indexed in any accredited databases (not Google Scholar or Scopus). If a journal is accepted to be indexed in ISI or to a lesser degree, Medline, it is unlikely to be able to have low quality. Otherwise, ISI would have booted them out.

There are other factors too. But these will give you 90% insight already.

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Generally, the scientific specialists' communities have traditionally identified journals having high editorial standards. That is the key: who are the editors and what are the standards. Are the breakthrough discoveries sent to that journal? From that, reputations are built and filtered down to preference and use by the community.

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