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I have been invited to participate to a special issue of Entropy for some work that I have done in statistical physics.

I received from other journals many such invitations which looked like spam, and I wonder whether I should take this one more seriously, or consider it somehow a good one.

What are the criteria to tell whether the special issue is 'prestigious' enough, besides Impact Factor and names of guest editors?

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    Did the guest editor reach out to you specifically? Or did this feel like a spam email generated through data collected by a web crawler? – JWH2006 Jul 30 at 13:43
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    Have you ever cited a paper in Entropy? Have you ever even read a paper in Entropy? Do you recognize and trust the guest editors? – JeffE Jul 30 at 14:58
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    @JeffE No, no and no. – James Jul 30 at 22:09
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    In light of your responses to the comment of @JeffE, it sounds as though you are asking whether you should publish a paper in a journal you've barely heard of, as part of a special issue you don't have any direct connection to (i.e., it's not in honor of someone who influenced your work, it's not connected to a conference you attended, etc), which is being edited by people you don't know or even recognize by reputation. Seems pretty straightforward. – Ben Linowitz Jul 31 at 1:58
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    @James Then you've just answered your own question: No, no, and no. – JeffE Jul 31 at 3:42
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First things first, Entropy is an MDPI journal. MDPI is a rather controversial publisher - see the "Controversies section of its Wikipedia page - and while I make no judgment on whether it's a predatory publisher, it's preferable to know the facts so you can make an educated decision on whether to publish with them.

If you conclude that it's worth publishing with them, then factors to consider are:

  • Do you have anything relevant to contribute to the special issue?
  • Do you know who the editors are? Are they authorities in your field?
  • How good is the journal? Have you read/cited papers published in it? If not, you can still look at the papers in its current issues and draw your own conclusions about its quality.
  • Which databases are the journal indexed in? This is usually a concern, but since you mention "impact factor", that means the journal is indexed by the Science Citation Index, and that's the index to be concerned about. If the journal is indexed there every other index doesn't really matter.
  • How much is the article processing charge, and can you afford to pay it? MDPI is an open access publisher, so you can only publish OA with them, which usually means there's an APC. It's possible they're offering you free OA (this is especially likely if you're an invited submission, similar to how invited conference speakers often have the conference attendance fee waived). Otherwise they might simply be letting you know that you might be interested in this special issue, in which case you'll probably need to pay the APC.

But in the end the final decision is up to you. If you submit, acceptance is not guaranteed, although I'll venture that your chances are relatively good. If yours is an invited submission, then you might get to list that prominently on your CV; even if not, it's still +1 to your publication count. But preparing a submission will take time, and if you have nothing really worth publishing available, that might not be time well spent. It's up to you.

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Research libraries tend to have help pages that explain evaluating the credibility of journals. I'll link to the Emory Health Sciences Library page, since it has some credible steps that I'll paraphrase briefly:

  • In what databases is the journal listed? (is it in the big databases for your field?)
  • What is the publication history? (has it been around a long time? is it on a regular release schedule?)
  • What is its review process? (peer reviewed? refereed? how long does review seem to take?)
  • What is the journal's Impact Factor? (a measure of citation frequency)

Evaluating a journal with these questions require some expertise in your field, so you should do the work of answering those questions, and consult a research librarian or mentor if you have questions. In general, I'd see if I can find it in the main databases I use for research, if it keeps to a regular schedule (biyearly, quarterly, monthly), if you can find any clues to how long their review process takes, and so on.

You can also use tools in some databases to look up an article from the journal and see where it was cited. For instance, if you find an article in that journal, you can search for it on Google Scholar and see the number of times it has been cited with the search result. You can then see where the articles citing the journal are published - do you know those journals? Are they reputable?

  • I find the first criterion ambiguous: it all comes down to the definition of "big database," which is not specified here, and thus ambiguous and potentially arbitrary . – James Jul 30 at 22:14
  • Major database - for example, is the journal in one of the first three you would use to do research in your field? Yes, it is literally arbitrary - you are evaluating it based on your own standards. You set your standards. – TaliesinMerlin Jul 30 at 22:59

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