Universität Bonn

Open Access Service Center

Finding the right journal

Looking to publish an article but do not know where? This is often a tricky decision, particularly if you are just starting out in your career. We will tell you what you need to look out for, how you can spot "predatory publishers" and what websites and tools can help you.

What do I need to bear in mind?

There are a few points to consider before you go off looking for a suitable periodical. For example, untrustworthy publishers like to misuse open access as their business model: they promise services that they fail to provide.

Ask your researcher colleagues!

Did you know that there are often rules that dictate what periodical you should publish in? The first step toward choosing a periodical should be to find out about any in-house rules. Ask your faculty or the head of your research unit, for instance. Funding providers often impose rules on third-party-funded projects, so the best thing to do is to read the funding terms and conditions for your project.

Check for trustworthiness!

To find the right journal for an open-access publication, you should first check how trustworthy it is. There exist so-called pseudo and predatory publishers, who exploit the pressure on you to get work published. They promise quick publication but offer only little in return. And some of them apply inadequate quality assurance (peer review), if any at all.

Comic über Predatory Publishing
© CC BY-NC 2.5, Randall Munroe, xkcd.com

How can you spot a predatory publisher?

  • Editorial boards often exist only on paper but perform no real role; researchers are listed as members without their knowledge.
  • They usually adopt a pay-to-publish model.
  • Although periodical titles usually make reference to Europe or the US ("European/American Journal of…"), there is often nobody from these parts of the world on their editorial boards.
  • Their "official" registered office in the US or Europe, often under a fake address or PO box address.
  • You receive spam emails containing special publication offers without ever having submitted an article to the publisher in question, or you are sent an invitation to be involved in a "special issue" on a topic that has little or nothing to do with your work.
  • There is a lack of information and transparency on the publisher's website, e.g. no details of its editorial board, publication fees (APCs) or peer reviews.

Still in doubt? Then please feel free to contact us!

Useful websites and tools

There are various ways to look for trustworthy, relevant periodicals:

Overview of websites and tools

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

The DOAJ is a "whitelist", i.e. a list of periodicals verified as trustworthy. Although it currently contains over 18,000 open-access periodicals, the DOAJ is not necessarily an exhaustive compilation.
The DOAJ only lists periodicals that pursue an open-access business model where neither readers nor their institutions are asked for money.

Think. Check. Submit.

Think. Check. Submit. will help you to tell trustworthy publishers from untrustworthy ones. Think. Check. Submit. sets out the criteria for assessing a periodical or publisher in a number of handy checklists.

Sherpa Romeo

The Sherpa Romeo list provides an overview of the policies adopted by numerous periodical publishers regarding parallel publication in repositories etc. Sherpa Romeo is a repository of self-archiving rules applied by periodicals that contains details of what versions are permitted and what restrictions publishers impose.

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