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Academic Publishing

An introduction to the adaptations in the academic publishing model, including open access publishing and archiving, authors rights, and tools and strategies for measuring the impact of research.

Quantitative analysis of journals is a way traditional peer review may be augmented to gain a more complete picture of a scholar's impact in his chosen field. Three measures can be used:

  • number of publications
  • number of times an author's publications have been cited
  • the importance of the journal where the article is published, or the Journal Ranking

Knowing the impact or importance of the journal can help in decisions about where an author will choose to submit an article.  Libraries and librarians also use journal rankings to make decisions about collection development.

The established source for journal rankings is Journal Citation Reports, a database that can be accessed through Web of Science or Web of Knowledge. Journals may be searched by individual title, by date, or by subject category.  In contrast to Eigenfactor, journals may belong to more than one category.  See the Web of Knowledge Using Journal Citation Reports page for instructions on extracting journal rankings information from this source.

Definition: The journal impact factor measures the importance of a journal by calculating the number of times its articles are cited.

How Impact Factor is Calculated: The calculation is based on a two-year period and involves dividing the number of times articles were cited by the number of articles that are citable.

Be Aware!

Experts stress that there are limitations in using impact factors to evaluate a scholar's work. There are many reasons cited for not relying on impact factor alone to evaluate the output of a particular individual.  Among these are the following:

  • A single factor is not sufficient for evaluating an author's work.
  • Journal values are meaningless unless compared within the same discipline.  Impact factors vary among disciplines. 
  • The impact factor was originally devised to show the impact of a specific journal, not a specific scholar.  The quality and impact of the author's work may extend beyond the impact of a particular journal.

According to Jim Testa, a researcher for ThomsonReuters Scientific, the most widespread misuse of the Impact Factor is to evaluate the work of an individual author (instead of a journal).  "To say that because a researcher is publishing in a certain journal, he or she is more influential or deserves more credit is not necessarily true. There are many other variables to consider." (Interview 6/26/2008, Thomson Reuters website)

Ranking by Percentile

Because impact factors vary among disciplines, one cannot meaningfully compare two journals in different disciplines using impact factors. For this reason, it is helpful to see how a journal ranks based on other journals in the subject category.  First find the journal to see what discipline or subject category/categories it falls within.  Then find the total number of journals in the subject area.  Subtract the ranking of the journal from the total number of journals and divide by the number of journals in the subject area minus 1.  Thus you will find the percentile ranking. 


n=number of journals in the subject category

n-rank/n-1 x 100 =percentile

As a researcher you will be encouraged to publish in quality, high-impact scholarly journals. It is important that you know what to look for in a journal aside from a high impact factor.

Journal type

Scholarly journals generally have an editorial board, use some type of peer-review process, and publish the primary results of research and summaries or reviews of previous research in their field of academic interest. They may also include academic book reviews. Articles in popular journals and trade publications on the other hand are generally not peer-reviewed, favor a much more informal writing style, and often have no, or only very brief, bibliographies.

Peer review

The highest quality journals are always peer-reviewed or refereed. Manuscripts submitted to this type of journal must be evaluated by an editor, an editorial panel, or a panel of experts (peers) in the field before being accepted for publication. In blind peer review, the author's name and institution are concealed from the reviewer in order to reduce reviewer bias. 

A journal’s editorial policy and/or instructions for authors will often indicate if and how articles are peer reviewed. This information is usually located on the publisher’s website and in at least one printed issue of the journal each year. You can also check Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory to see if your journal title is refereed.  Searches of Ulrich's normally pull up a list of journals. Refereed journals have  to the left of the journal name. More detailed information on searching Ulrich's is available here.

Journal indexing

Widely indexed articles are more likely to be found by other researchers during their literature review process, and a quality journal will be indexed in one or more major journal indexes. Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory lists the databases in which a journal is indexed. For open access journals, also consult the Directory of Open Access Journals.  

Circulation count

Circulation count is one measure of the journal’s audience and hence the potential exposure for your article. Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory provides circulation data where available. This information is on the Basic Description tab. Some publishers’ web sites may also provide this information. 

Acceptance rate

A journal's acceptance rate refers to the number of manuscripts accepted for publication relative to the number of manuscripts submitted within the last year. Journals with lower acceptance rates are considered to be more prestigious.

Editor and editorial board

The editor and members of the editorial board should be well-known and respected in the field. They should not all be associated with the same institution and should be from different geographical locations.

Other sources of quality journals

Early career researchers may find it difficult to have their work accepted in top-tier journals. With a rejection rate up to 90% of all submitted articles in the highest ranked journals, even good work is often rejected due to lack of space or because it does not match the current editorial focus.

In some fields, the highest ranked journals may not be as prestigious as lower-ranked journals widely accepted among your colleagues.

It is, therefore, important to conduct a wide search when considering which publication to publish with. Check where other researchers in your field are publishing by scanning reference lists or bibliographies in relevant books, book chapters, articles, and your own lists of cited references. Also look for lists of journals in guides to the literature for your discipline and ask your colleagues for their recommendations.

You may also wish to consider publishing in one of the open access journals now available. An increasing number of these are now peer-reviewed, and some are very well regarded and have quite high journal impact factors. The Directory of Open Access Journals lists many of these titles.

Some content courtesy of Griffith University Library.

Locating acceptance rates for individual journals or for specific disciplines can be difficult, yet is necessary information for promotion and tenure activities. Journals with lower article-acceptance rates are frequently considered to be more prestigious and more “meritorious.”

The method of calculating acceptance rates varies among journals.  Some journals use all manuscripts received as a base for computing this rate.  Other journals allow the editor to choose which papers are sent to reviewers and calculate the acceptance rate on those that are reviewed that is less than the total manuscripts received.  Also, many editors do not maintain accurate records on this data and provide only a rough estimate.  Furthermore, the number of people associated with a particular area of specialization influences the acceptance rate.  If only a few people can write papers in an area, it tends to increase the journal's acceptance rate.

The Libraries have a number of resources on this topic in the collection that may be useful to you.  They are arranged alphabetically by broad subject in the Information by Subject section below.  Many disciplines do not publish collated acceptance rates.  Please see below for tips on finding acceptance rates for journals in these disciplines.

Some journals will include the acceptance rate in the “information for authors” area of the print journal or on the home pages for the journal.
Some societies will also publish acceptance rates for their journals on their home pages. A Google search using the name of the journal or the name of the society will usually take you to the home page.
Occasionally, societies or other parties will publish acceptance rates for journals within a particular discipline. Again, a Google search may help find these. Useful keywords are “acceptance rates and biology” (replace biology with the name of the discipline you are interested in).
You can try contacting the editor of the journal to see if s/he will share the acceptance rate.

Journal Citation Reports provides impact factors for core journals in a number of disciplines:



Instructional Technology

Social Work

Society Sites

  • The American Psychological Association (APA) journal acceptance rates are listed on the APA website.
  • Association for the Advancement of Computers in Education has a review policy that includes acceptance rates.

For an overview on alternative sources in journal ranking, see the Citation Analysis LibGuide's Introduction under the Journal Rankings tab.

A and R Indexes

The A and R indexes are meant to be used with the h-index and are not stand-alone indexes.  The A-index is the average number of citations per "meaningful paper" (Podlubny & Kassayova, 2006).  The R-index clarifies the relationship to the h-index formally (Schreiber, 2008a).

A free and searchable database, Eigenfactor covers the natural and social sciences and "also lists newsprint, PhD theses, popular magazines and more." The Eigenfactor is now included in Journal Citation Reports.  It continues to be listed here for use on its own.

The website includes an interactive mapping function that shows the relationship of branches of science to each other based on the size of the field and the citations generated by the journals of the field.  Rather than the "soft" categories used in Journal Citation Reports, where a journal may be located in one or more categories, Eigenfactor uses a hard category where a journal can only fit in one discipline.

The website include several quick top ten lists in science, social science, university theses, newspapers, and magazines.

ERA Ranked Journal List

From the Australian Research Council (ARC) Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative.  The ARC compiled an extensive list of peer-reviewed scholarly journals for the full ERA.  The Ranked Journal List was developed on the basis of expert review and public consultation.  A journal's quality rating represented the overall quality of the journal.  This was defined in terms of how it compared with other journals and should not be confused with its relevance or importance to a particular discipline.  There was a separate list of conference rankings.  In 2011 the Australian Research Council decided not to continue with a ranked journal list.


Proposed by Egghe in 2006 to overcome a bias against highly cited papers inherent in the h-index. The g-index is the "highest number of papers of a scientist that received g or more citations, on average" (Schreiber, 2008a).


The h-index, or Hirsch index, measures the impact of a particular scientist rather than a journal.  "It is defined as the highest number of publications of a scientist that received h or more citations each while the other publications have not more than h citations each (Schreiber, 2008a)."  The h-index is included in Web of ScienceScopus, and Google Scholar.  For example, a scholar with an h-index of 5 had published 5 papers, each of which has been cited by others at least 5 times.  More information on the h-index can be found here.

This site contains resources to assist with academic publishing and the assessment of research and journal quality, as well as downloadable software to conduct citation analysis.

This source ranks journals that are indexed by the Science Citation Index.  The website allows you to customize your ranking and is interactive.

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

A free source that uses data from Elsevier's Scopus database and includes journal indicators developed from the information contained in the Scopus database from 1996.  It does not include journal impact factors but does have a number of other indicators, including SCImago Journal Rank (SJR), h-index, and cites per document.  Journals may be ranked by major subject areas, more specific subject categories, SJR, and h-index.

SNIP - Source-Normalized Impact Per Paper

SNIP “[w]eights citations based on the total number of citations in a subject field. The impact of a single citation is given higher value in subject areas where citations are less likely, and vice versa.”

SNIP attempts to correct for varying levels of “citation potential” depending on subject area, immediacy, and other factors.

For a full description of the SNIP algorithm, see Henk F. Moed (2009), "Measuring contextual citation impact of scientific journals.

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