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It can be argued in this day and age that virtually all academic journals are international, since they are online. Anyone with an internet connection can read and submit their work to journals, independent of their physical location or nationality (assuming they are not paywalled, which is still an international issue). The editorial boards of most reputable journals are international, and so are the reviewers. Even the companies that dominate the academic publishing are multi-national entities. Despite this, many journals include the term international in their name, usually in the form: International Journal of [Something].

What does it mean or imply for an academic journal to be international and so entitled?

Does it mean that the founders of the journal were an international team? Does signify that its policies somehow promote internationality among the journal's editorial board, reviewers, and/or paper authors? Does it pertain to the journal's policy in selecting content to avoid focusing on the issues relevant to a locale and reflect a culturally diverse range of concerns? Is it merely a historical artifact from back when being international was a significant achievement, no longer practiced by founders of new journals?

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    Too brief for a dignified answer: it means nothing. At most, it is a misguided attempt to sound fancy... But, maybe we oughtn't be too critical of start-ups trying to establish a reputation by naming themselves in a meaningless, pretentious fashion. – paul garrett Jan 25 '17 at 23:13
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    It means the founders thought the word "international" would give their journal more credibility, or the title they originally wanted was taken so they added on "international" to it. The one exception I can think of is journal is associated with a professional society which also has "international" in the name. – Bryan Krause Jan 25 '17 at 23:15
  • @paulgarrett I find your answer very dignified despite its brevity. – Dan Romik Jan 26 '17 at 1:22
  • @DanRomik ... :) ... always trying to keep the moral high-ground. :) – paul garrett Jan 26 '17 at 1:37
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It means nothing, as mentioned in the comments. A new journal must take a different name from existing ones, but usually wants to convey by its title what its subject is, e.g. Finance. If "Journal of Finance" is taken, one option is to name the new journal "International Journal of Finance". There are other options: "Journal of Financial Studies", "Review of Finance", "Finance Bulletin", "Finance Advances" or simply "Finance".

There is the marketing aspect that the journal name should sound fancy and intellectual, so "Blah Finance" is not a common title choice.

4

There are many national journals. Search for "Chinese Journal of" or "Indian Journal of" to see a few. In developing countries, publishing in a national journal is viewed as less valuable for tenure and promotion purposes compared to publishing in a reputable international journal. Therefore predatory publishers creating new journals name them "International Journal of ..." to lead potential authors to believe their journal is better than a national journal. On CVs from developing countries, you will sometimes see national and international publications listed separately.

When selecting a journal, you should ignore the name of the journal and consider the editorial policies and content of the journal. You can also consult experienced coworkers.

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