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Library Guides

Researcher Support Library Services: Comparing Journals and Identifying Where to Publish

Use metrics and judgment to evaluate journals and identify good practice in scholarly publishing and to consider the journal's policy on 'openness'.  Use database search functionality to identify relevant journals in which to publish.  Additional tools can match your abstract to suitable journals.

Journal Rankings

Journal rankings

We encourage authors to consider the target audience for readership and keep this at the forefront of any decision making publication venue with any journal metrics as a supplementary source of information.

Determining a journal's 'ranking' position can help you identify where to publish.  Impact Factor is one such ranking: IF is the score given to journals indexed within Web of Science, accessed via the Journal Citation Reports tool.  Other products, such as Scopus (Elsevier) who have created Journal Citation Score, have their own journal rankings based on different calculations.  (Although we caution against choosing where to publish based solely on journal IF or CS.)

When not to use Journal rankings/Impact Factors

Journal rankings metrics for journals are not a score by which to measure an individual or a research output.  A journal's IF should not be considered a proxy for the quality of an article it publishes nor used for research evaluation and benchmarking as citation practices vary across disciplines.  There is growing recognition that metrics should be used responsibly for research evaluation.  See our guidance on which tools to use for measuring research impact and further information on responsible use of metrics:  Metrics guidance

Abstract/Journal Matching Tools

 Abstract/Journal matching tools

Tools provided by publishers and databases for authors to paste in an abstract and match your topic to likely journals that publish in this area.  Remember to always check the journal's aims and scope too as well as considering the editorial board, its peer review policy and whether your colleagues would recommend this title.

In the medical field, there is an additional tool:

Database keyword search & analysis

Library databases e.g. Scopus/Web of Science can be used to search for words in your abstract/title to identify the typical journals that publish on this topic.  You can then use the analysis features of these databases to consider journal rankings for selected titles that match your terms:

Journals: 'Openness' & Quality considerations

Journal quality & Openness

There is increasing recognition that choosing journals based on Impact Factor alone (likely to be more traditional, not fully open access journals) can be in contradiction with funder Open Access policies.  cOAlition S (see Principle 10), UKRI and the Wellcome Trust are developing new policies that seek to reconcile open access policies and responsible evaluation of research enabling researchers to choose a publication venue that embraces openness.  (Early Career Researchers at Cambridge have lobbied on this issue.)

  • Sherpa Romeo brings together the copyright policies of all major journals.  Use this tool to identify the journal's policy on Open Access and whether self-archiving (green open access deposit of manuscripts) is permitted.
  • Use Sherpa Fact to match your chosen journal to funder open access policies to see whether it would be a compliant venue
  • When assessing a journal's quality look to see if it is a member of OASPA (an organisation for Open Access publishers) as membership includes a set of standards. (Remember that newer journals won't be included so can't be evaluated this way). 
  • A directory of open access journals DOAJ reviews the quality of the journals it lists so can be a useful indication of if a journal is likely to be reputable. 

More journal quality prompts:

 Think. Check. Submit.

Through a range of tools and practical resources, this international, cross-sector initiative aims to educate researchers, promote integrity, and build trust in credible research and publications.  Think. Check. Submit. can help researchers identify trusted journals in which to publish their research. 

Responsible Metrics

When using citation-based metrics or other measures of impact, it is important to be aware of the issues surrounding their improper use.  There is an increasing movement towards the responsible evaluation of research to ensure that metrics are recognised as indicators and not the absolute worth of a person's research endeavours. 

To find out more about how to use measures of impact in a responsible way, visit our guidance on responsible metrics.