[I apologize if it has been asked, I think it must have been but I couldn't find a similar question.]

I often receive invitations / calls for papers to write papers in journals. 95% of these cases are obvious spam publications, but in about 5% I see a letter that's not entirely generic, e.g. they mention my previous publications in the subject** and they write something that appears genuine about the publication. They also write the name of the editor in chief.

My question is how to assess this new journal's quality? I mean, nice journal pop up once in a while and just because it's a new journal, does not mean it's necessarily "fake news".

Here are a few points I thought about:

  • Wait a few months/years until I see reputable people publish in it, but then I will have missed my shot, possibly.
  • Inspect the editor's reputation. If she/he appears reputable (e.g. have published in journals I know to be good), then the journal is okay.
  • Inspect the publisher's "parents", for example if it's ACM, Springer, IEEE, etc., then maybe it's worthwhile (but then, I can't say definitively either way).

I would appreciate any points on the subject.

** yes, these messages can nevertheless be generated automatically.


2 Answers 2


When 95% is junk and the other 5% is sufficiently irrelevant that neither you or your supervisor and colleagues know about them, a safe and efficient strategy is to ignore all journals that actively request contributions.

I have also never heard of a legitimate journal using mass emailing to recrute editors (this is more a habit of author-pay open access journals that are looking to increase their market share).

Yes this strategy, if adopted broadly, would prevent some new journals from being known. The good news is: we already have way more journals than we could possibly wish for. It's good content and quality curation we're short of.


First, if you're only considering 5% of the invitations to publish in journals you don't know about, then it's probably a small number of them. Let's say it's 3-4 per year. That's sufficiently low to expend some effort in checking them out. So, why don't you...

  1. (Assuming it's not open-access) Check with your departmental/university library to see whether they carry/used to carry this journal. If they have, pick up the latest/last copy and leaf through it; or if it's available online through your library's website, do it that way. If you can spare the time, give it the benefit of the doubt and leaf through a coupe of issues.

  2. Typically, at least the table of contents will be available online even if you don't have any access privileges. Check the titles and author names of a recent, but not just-out, issue. Do you...

    • Recognize titles that were cited in papers you appreciate?
    • Recognize authors you hold in high regard?
    • Recognize a notion/technology/theory that you find important? (And if so, was not presented thoroughly/at all before this journal was published)

    if so, consider buying a single copy of that issue from your research budget or getting the library/department/research group to buy it; then it's back to suggestion 1 above.

  3. Ask people you know - especially if you've noticed their names, or names of common collaborators of theirs, in TOCs of journal issues - about the journal.

  4. Look for information about the people on the journal's editorial committee.

  5. Look for information about the organization publishing the journal. This is mostly a lead for finding other kind of information or for getting an idea of why the journal is not better known.

Note: The above are not necessarily in the recommended order of action.

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