Is this Journal Legitimate?

Every now and then someone forwards an email from a publisher inviting him or her or them to review submissions, submit an article, or be on the editorial board of a journal. I start reading and three things jump out at me:

  • Reputable journals and conferences don’t email you out of the blue.
  • This email is not very well written.
  • Considering that the representative from this journal is contacting this clinician/researcher for the first time, it’s very informal.

There have been unscrupulous publishers for as long as there have been publishers. They are in the minority but their numbers are growing, and they are becoming more sophisticated. The following are some of the things we look for:

The Journal

  • Does the journal have an valid ISSN?
    • Why does this matter? When a publisher applies for an ISSN, they must provide information and supporting documentation to the ISSN International Centre including: title, frequency, publisher’s name, and medium along with copies of the title page, cover page, editorial page, PDF or JPG of the jacket (if the publication is on CD-ROM), and the URL if the journal is online. Publishers can apply for an ISSN in advance of publication. If the journal does not have an ISSN, be wary of the publisher.
  • Is the current issue available online?
    • Are any back issues available online? If so, does the content look credible? Do you recognize any of the authors?
  • Are their copyright policies, open access policies (where applicable), and peer-review policies and processes explained clearly?
    • More and more predatory journals are putting these policies online. Make sure they make sense and weigh them carefully against other factors, like lacking an ISSN.
  • If the journal boasts an Impact Factor or an Eigenfactor, can it be verified through Journal Citation Reports or, respectively?
    • The Talbot Library subscribes to Journal Citation Reports. The Eigenfactor can be verified at
  • If the journal claims to be indexed in a particular database (PubMed, Web of Science, SCOPUS, EMBASE) search any or all of those databases to verify the claim.
    • Unscrupulous publishers have been known to create false indexes and claim their journal is indexed there. Something else to keep in mind is every once in a while an article from a predatory journal does make its way into a database.

The Publisher

  • Does the publisher provide full, verifiable contact information including the street address, a working email address, and a working telephone number either in the email message or on the Web site?
    • If you are unsure of the publisher’s veracity, you are well within your rights to phone or email. I prefer phoning, myself. Last time I phoned a questionable publisher, I was bounced into a random, numbered voicemail.
  • If the journal charges publication fees, are they stated up-front and explained clearly?
  • Does the publisher have a Web site? Are the pages within that site stable?
  • On the Web site, check for language use, grammatical errors, and typographical errors. Is the language stilted? Overly formal? Strangely inappropriate?
    • I once ran across a publisher who took great pains to state that they were an American publishing organization, as opposed to an American publisher. Yet they used the British spelling of gynecological.
    • This same publisher described a nursing journal as follows, “Nursing, the word itself reflects a “care” in it and can be treated as the most divine and dedicated professional science that helps patients in the severely ill circumstances from the time of birth till death.”
  • Is the publisher listed in Ulrich’s or  SHERPA/Romeo?
    • Ulrich’s and SHERPA/Romeo will tell you where a publisher is headquartered, where a journal is indexed, how often new issues are released (frequency), and more. SHERPA/Romeo is available free online but ask one of us in the library to search Ulrich’s.

What can I do?

  • Be very wary of unsolicited contact from a publisher with whom you are not familiar.
  • Don’t agree to review submissions, submit articles, or join an editorial board of a journal you do not recognize.
  • Check any claims made by the publisher, be they impact factor, member of an editorial board, or incluion in an index or database like Web of Science or PubMed.
  • Keep your online presence current and accurate.
    • Keeping your professional information up to date makes it easier for others to do the due diligence when they are researching a suspect journal.
  • Have you been fooled by a predatory publisher, tell your colleagues.
  • When in doubt about a journal, publisher, or conference, talk to a librarian.
    • Librarians are trained to find and evaluate information. If you have doubts come talk to us, we can look into the publisher for you.

Laboratory Investigation goes Open Access

“Laboratory Investigation now offers authors the option to publish their articles with immediate open access upon publication. Open access articles will also be deposited on PubMed Central at the time of publication and will be freely available immediately.” For more information about their Open Access Hybrid Model, see their Frequently Asked Questions page.

New Open Access Journals

In honour of the 8th annual International Open Access Week, several publishers have released new open access titles that may be of interest. The following titles have been added to our collection and can be access from the Talbot Library Journal Holdings page.

  • Molecular Case Studies (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press):  Molecular Case Studies is a new, open-access international journal in the field of precision medicine. Articles present genomic and molecular analyses of individuals or cohorts alongside clinical and phenotypic information. The aim is to share insights into disease development and treatment gained by application of genomics, metabolomics, and other data-driven approaches.
  • Journal of Global Oncology (ASCO):  Journal of Global Oncology is  focused on cancer care, research and care delivery issues unique to countries and settings with limited healthcare resources.  Article types include original reports, review articles, commentaries, correspondence/replies, special articles and editorials.
  • Case Reports in Pancreatic Cancer (Mary Ann Liebert): Case Reports in Pancreatic Cancer is an open access journal that publishes case reports on all aspects of pancreatic cancer including diagnosis, management, treatment, and outcomes.  The first issue is in progress.
  • Journal of Endourology Case Reports (Mary Ann Liebert): Journal of Endourology Case Reports is an open access journal that publishes clinically interesting and educational case reports on the treatment and surgical management of urologic diseases.
  • Transgender Health (Mary Ann Liebert): Transgender Health is the first peer-reviewed, open access journal dedicated to addressing the healthcare needs of transgender individuals throughout the lifespan and identifying gaps in knowledge as well as priority areas where policy development and research are needed to achieve healthcare equity. The first issue is in progress.

New edition of Journal Citation Report (JCR) available

The latest edition (2008) of Journal Citation Reports is now available. This is the tool that configures journal impact factors. To access it, go to the Talbot Research Library’s A to Z list and click on Journal Citation Reports or click here.

The latest edition delivers:

  • 350+ titles with a Journal Impact Factor for the first time
  • First ever update to new metrics: Five Year Impact Factors and Eigenfactor™ Metrics (available only in JCR® Web)
  • Over 400 new titles in the Science and Social Sciences Editions
  • More than 8,000 of the world’s most highly cited, peer-reviewed journals
  • Journals from 3,300 publishers in approximately 227 disciplines, from 60 countries
  • The largest time-trend analyses ever available