How Do You Know A Journal Is Legitimate?

As a researcher or scholar under pressure to publish, you may accept solicitations to submit articles for publication even if you are not familiar with the journal or publisher. Some of these offers are legitimate but others turn out to be scams perpetrated by predatory publishers. It is wise to take a few basic steps to learn more about a new or unfamiliar scholarly journal.  If you have questions, or want to discuss scholarly publishing, contact Mona Ramonetti, Head of the Center for Scholarly Communication: | 631.632.1740.

Great research deserves a great publisher.

Great research deserves a great publisher.

Guidelines for Evaluating Journals and Publishers

About the Journal

  • Discover peer-reviewed journals using library search tools
  • Examine the aims and scope: are they appropriate for your research?
  • Review past issues: does the content look topical and credible? Are the authors known to you?
  • Investigate it’s history of article retractions using Retraction Watch
  • If open access, is it registered in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) The DOAJ vets journals before listing them.
  • Does the website provide complete contact information: email, street address, working phone number?
  • Does it have a valid online ISSN?
  • Journals are disseminated via research databases (academic abstracting and indexing services) such as JSTOR, PubMed, EBSCOhost, ProQuest (even Google Scholar).  A journal website should say where it is indexed.
    • Is it indexed in the places it says it is?
  • Has it been assigned ranking(s)? E.g.
  • Are its policies on peer review, open access, copyright publicly available?
    • If it charges publication fees, are they clearly stated and explained?
    • What are the copyright policies? Will you be able to preserve copyright over your work? If you are required to meet a public access mandate to share your research, are the copyright policies compatible?  In many open access journals, authors retain full copyright to their work and give the journal a “non-exclusive” right to publish the work.

About the Publisher

More Information

Contact your liaison librarian or Mona Ramonetti, Head of Scholarly Communication.  See a detailed infographic on predatory publishing.

Evaluating Scholarly Journals infographic from FrontMatter by Allen Press / CC BY ND NC 3.0


Declan Butler. “Buyer beware: A checklist to identify reputable publishers” March 29, 2013. Excerpt from: Butler, Declan. “Investigating journals: The dark side of publishing.” Nature 495, 433–435 (28 March 2013) DOI: 10.1038/495433a
Eisen, Michael. “Door-to-door Subscription Scams: The Dark Side of The New York Times.It Is NOT Junk., 9 Apr. 2013.
Library Loon. “Assessing the scamminess of a purported open-access publisher” Blog Posting. GaviaLib 11 April 2012
Kolata, Gina. “Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too).The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Apr. 2013.