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Open Access journal assessment

Open Access journals

The content of Open access journals can be freely accessed by readers across the globe. 

Many OA journals have a reputation for high quality content, for example:

OA journals allow authors to retain copyright.  For example, articles published by BioMedCentral, PLoS and Hindawi are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence. This allows anyone to download, reuse, reprint, distribute or copy articles from BioMed Central and PLoS journals, providing the original author and source are credited.

Identify quality Open Access journals and avoid Predatory Publishers

Predatory publishers are proliferating, so how can you tell if the journal in your sights is legitimate or predatory?

Some warning sign characteristics of ‘predatory’ open access journals and publishers: 

  • Sending of 'cold call' emails to academics inviting them to submit articles to the journal or become a reviewer for a journal
    • The email may contain dubious Impact Factor information 
  • Lack of a rigorous peer-review process
    • Some journals don’t even mention ‘peer review, they promote a very short ‘decision making‘ time frame, e.g. 1-2 weeks
  • The journal publishes an unusually large number of articles in each issue
  • The publication fee (Article Processing Charge) is unusually low, e.g. US $150
  • No single individual is identified as the journal editor, but there is a long list of editors named on the website
  • The publisher of the journal is not stated on the website
  • The journal/publisher website includes spelling and grammatical errors
  • The journal is not listed in standard periodical directories (eg Ulrichs) and not indexed by the major indexes (e.g. ProQuest, EBSCO, Scopus, or Web of Science)

It is highly recommended that each journal is carefully evaluated before an article is submitted. 

Questions to ask and databases to check:

  • Is the journal listed in Ulrichs Global Serials Directory - a comprehensive listing of more than 300,000 periodical titles?
  • Are articles from the journal indexed in journal databases relevant to your field,
  • Is the journal listed in citation databases such as Scopus or Web of Science?
  • Who is on the editorial board? You may decide to contact the member to check that their affiliation is legitimate.
  • What is the quality of the articles? If they're clearly written by a novice this may indicate a predatory publisher.
  • Does the publisher have a clear peer-review process and provide details about their peer review panel?

Use the Think, Check, Submit guidelines, the Evaluation Checklist Compass to Publish Test or the Compass to Publish Test below to avoid publishing with predatory and low quality journals.

Use of these checklists to ascertain journal quality, together with the standards of open access publishing provided by associations such as the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), should help the evaluation process become second nature.

Think. Check. Submit.

Remember this little mantra and visit the Think.Check.Submit website which has a checklist under each heading.

Are you submitting your research to a trusted journal?
Is it the right journal for your work?  Watch this short video.

Do It Yourself evaluation

If you decide to publish in an OA journal, it is important to carefully evaluate the scholarly credibility of both the publisher and the journal.

A new and comprehensive online tool is now available to assist researchers and authors assess the authenticity of Open Access journals.

Compass to Publish uses an evaluation method based on 26 criteria which takes the form of questions that test the journal's degree of legitimacy. The answers for the particular journal under scrutiny accrue positive or negative points that cause the arrow to swing on a colour scale ranging from dark green (no suspicion of deceptive behaviour or fake character) to a deep red (extremely predatory). 

Compass to Publish does not evaluate the quality of a journal, but involves the inquirer in a critical and analytical process by asking questions about the journal's communication strategies, content and presentation, indexing and metrics, editorial board membership and peer review policy using trusted OA journal lists and other reliable sources that indicate either a journal's OA authenticity or illegitimacy. The test may take 20 minutes or more to complete.

Go to "Compass to Publish Test"

If you would like further information on any particular journal or publisher please contact the Manager, Scholarly Publications & Copyright

University OA journals

Many universities publish Open Access journals under the Gold model of Open Access publishing, including Bond University, which currently has nine peer-reviewed journals on the Scholastica platform.   To find quality peer-reviewed OA journals exemplifying academic institutional publishing explore this extensive list of Australian University OA journals and consider becoming a contributor.