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Scholarly Communications

Choosing a Journal


There are steps you can take to ensure you select a high-quality journal that aligns with your scholarly goals.


  1. Readership: What is the intended audience of the journal?
  2. Scope: What is the focus and scope of the journal?
  3. Article Type: Does the journal publish the kind of publication you intend to write? (i.e. journal article, book review, review, letter etc.)
  4. Quality:
    1. Confirm that the journal is peer-reviewed
    2. Examine the list of editors for names you recognize in your field
    3. Avoid "predatory" journals by consulting our guide below
    4. Consult Journal Citation Reports to find out the impact factor and rank
  5. Citation: Examine the journals that publish the articles you are using as background information. Is the journal being cited by other researchers in the field?
  6. Timeliness: Try to find out how much time the journal's typical timeline from submission to first decision. Some journals, such as those published by Elsevier, provide this information on the "About" page of their website.
  7. Indexing: Is the journal indexed in PubMed/Ovid MEDLINE, Web of Science, CINAHL or other reputable literature database?
  8. Cost: Does the journal charge for publishing? Check the instructions for authors or the journal submission agreement. Charges can include submission fees, page fees, and/or open access fees.
  9. Open Access: Is the journal content open access? If so, does it charge a fee? Consult our guide on open access for more information

Journal Selection Tools

Even after considering the above characteristics, choosing a journal can be difficult. Below are some tools that can help. Most allow you to copy and paste keywords or your entire abstract and then suggest journals with similar publications.

It may also be helpful to do a PubMed search on your keywords, then sort your results by Journal (click on Display options then Sort by Journal). You may want to limit your results by Year as well (from the menu on the left) to see what journals have been publishing lately on your topic.

Case Reports

Avoiding Predatory Journals

Defining "Predatory"

"Predatory journals" is a term popularized in the 2000s, referring to low-quality open access journals that employed deceptive or fraudulent practices to drive revenue from authors' fees. Many raised objections to the broadness of this term and a more nuanced understanding of the spectrum of predatory behaviors is warranted. The chart below illustrates the differences between journals which pursue deceptive practices and those which merely have some low quality features.


Illustration of spectrum of predatory journal practices

Image credit: This work is copyright of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International. The full report (in English) can be found at


Tools for Evaluating Journals

Before you submit your article, there are steps you can take to ensure you select a high-quality journal and avoid predatory publishers:

Find reputable journals in one or more of the following lists and directories:      

  • The Web of Science Journal Citation Reports (UVA only) - A multidisciplinary index to journals with impact factors. Resource for journal evaluation, using citation data drawn from over 11,000 indexed journals in nearly 250 disciplines. Coverage is both multidisciplinary and international and incorporates journals from over 3,000 publishers in 81 countries/regions.
  • The Ulrich’s Web Global Serials Directory - Bibliographic and access information about serials published throughout the world, covering all subjects. Can be limited to peer-reviewed journals (open access or subscription–based). To determine if a publication is peer-reviewed, utilize the library's subscription to Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory. Search the journal by name, then look for the "refereed" symbol next to the name to indicate it is refereed, aka peer reviewed.
  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) - An online directory that indexes high quality, peer-reviewed Open Access research journals, periodicals, and their articles' metadata. DOAJ's Seal of Approval is awarded to journals that achieve a high level of openness, adhere to Best Practice, and high publishing standards.

Other Resources

Further Reading:

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