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I was navigating the Graduate Journal of Mathematics, which is a comparatively new peer-reviewed mathematics journal. In its mission-statement, the journal mentions that it takes inspiration from a similar journal that was discontinued in 2000: Le Journal des Elèves de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon. There are lots of published articles from this journal, but it is closed now.

There are there other mathematics journals which were also discontinued at a certain stage. For example, LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics was discontinued in 2015. I guess there are other journals in all subjects which are later discontinued and maybe later some new journals evolve from them just like the mentioned Graduate Journal of Mathematics.

My main motivation for the above questions is the following:

Suppose someone publishes an article in a journal and later the journal gets closed. How would people evaluate the work from a journal which is closed? I know the work will remain valid as long as there is no error in the article. But, would people acknowledge the work equally even after the journals is discontinued?

Especially, in some countries, a Ph.D. degree is awarded on the basis of articles published in a journal. Suppose, this journal is later discontinued. Should the author worry about their Ph.D. award even if the journal gets closed, provided their research work is valid?

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If the journal was considered reputable at the time it published a paper there should be no issues afterwards. Some journals close for financial reasons, though I don't know about the specific case. Others are victims of a changing environment, with new publishers and new publishing methods coming along. Some specialized journals close because the field they cover has become de-populated as the larger field changes focus.

And no, a degree should never be at risk for such things. "Prediction is hard. Especially about the future." (Stolen, but I don't recall from where.)

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  • The quote is often attributed to Yogi Berra, although as he is also said to have pointed out "I didn't actually say half the things I said". Jul 6, 2023 at 19:40
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You read it. In principle this applies to all articles, including those published in prestigious journals. Prestigious journals still occasionally publish papers that turn out to be completely wrong.

When you don't understand the paper, then (and only then) you could rely on secondary factors like where the paper is published in, but it should be clear before you start that this method is indirect at best, and you should not use it if accuracy is important. If you're going to use the method anyway, you can Google for the journal's citation metrics before it closed.

As for what causes journals to close, every case I know of has been for financial reasons. Finally, the journal closing doesn't mean all the papers it's published are now incorrect, so a degree will never be revoked for this reason. See this question for scenarios where a degree might be revoked (note it is very rare to revoke a degree).

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The only way to assess an article is to read it. This holds true for high impact journals, low impact journals, and defunct journals all the same. They are all capable of publishing incorrect results and I'm not sure it happens any less frequently at big, high impact journals.

As for what causes a journal to close, the answer, as others have said, is usually money. It is possible that a journal is shut down by a publisher for other reasons though. I believe Wiley has been trying to clean up Hindawi's lineup and has shut down a number of journals that were "paper-mills". It's also possible that a journal published by a society or other independent group might just run out of steam. Or the field or niche of the journal might shrink or disappear. None of these reasons change how you assess an article (except the realization that a journal is a paper-mill, though in that case the articles will hopefully be retracted outright).

So, with that in mind, no degree should be at risk if a journal closes. Papers published in order to meet the requirements of the degree were still peer-reviewed and are forever available on the internet. Also, while publications are important for a PhD, I would argue that most universities are awarding the degree based on the dissertation. Which, while there may be a requirement to publish portions of it, is defended on its own merits.

The only reason I would be concerned is if there is evidence of academic misconduct. For example, there are more than a few cases of researchers having PhD's revoked for blatant dishonesty. I suppose you could also get in trouble if you exclusively publish in predatory journals that are discovered, shut down, and all their papers retracted (including your entire body of work). But that is an extreme case.

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