Learning Objectives

  • Identify key scholarly journals in your field to stay abreast of new research and to (potentially) publish your own work.
  • Navigate resources to learn more about specific scholarly journals.

Surely you’ve been in a situation where you were asked to research a specific topic by consulting scholarly articles. You probably used library subscription databases (such as Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, ScienceDirect, etc.) as well as openly online ones (such as Google Scholar, PubMed, Semantic Scholar, etc.). These resources work basically the same: you type in your search terms and they connect you to specific scholarly articles, giving you either the citations to relevant articles or, in some cases, the full-text itself.

But what about when you want to access not only scholarly articles, but rather their “parents”: scholarly journals? How do you find and browse the most important scholarly journals in your field? Maybe you want to follow new research and developments as they unfold. Or maybe you want to publish your own article, and you need to know which scholarly journals would be a good fit.

Here are some ways to locate scholarly journals and information about them:

  1. Ask around. Find out what journals your colleagues, peers, professors, etc., choose to read, cite, and publish in. They probably have recommendations and can steer you toward those titles. If your department has a subject or liaison librarian, check with them as well.
  2. Play detective. When you are looking for articles and you find one that is relevant to your research, note its citation. What journal was it published in? What other articles does it cite — and where were those articles published?
  3. Hop on the web.
    • There are freely available online sites where you can search for journals (by title, keyword, subject/category, publisher, etc.) to get all kinds of information about them. Try Edanz Journal Selector, JournalGuide, and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). There are also “matching” sites such as Open Journal Matcher where you can paste in your abstract to receive suggestions of journals that would be a good match for publishing your content.
    • If you already have the title of a specific journal and you want more information about it, one of the best places to go is the journal’s website. It should include all kinds of useful information: its scope, editors or editorial team, manuscript preparation guidelines, publication frequency, copyright policy, where it is indexed, FAQs, contact info, etc. Reviewing this information carefully can help you determine whether or not it is a good fit for your work. The more information the journal provides, the greater its transparency, and thus the better able you are to understand and evaluate it.
  4. Consult your library. Many academic libraries subscribe to databases that index scholarly journals. Using these resources, you can search by title, keyword, subject, etc. to locate scholarly journal titles. For example:
    • UlrichswebTM Global Serials Directory: provides a wealth of facts about journals; it isn’t limited to scholarly journals, so filter your results to Refereed/Peer-reviewed. 
    • Cabell’sTM Directory of Publishing Opportunities: includes (among other things) a journal’s acceptance rate, type of peer review, and an estimation of the time it takes to review and publish an accepted submission.
    • Journal Citation ReportsTM: focuses on a journal’s citation activity over time and its “metrics” (such as the Journal Impact Factor (JIF), a measurement of citation frequency that we’ll address more fully in an upcoming chapter)
    • ScopusR: a citation database where you can search and compare journals

Once you have identified some scholarly journals in your field, it’s important to think critically about them to make sure their values and practices align with your own. We’ll explore this evaluation process in the next chapter.

Exercise: Digging Deeper into Scholarly Journals

Using your college/university library’s website, check to see if you have access to any of the subscription databases listed in #4 above (Ulrichsweb, Cabell’s, or Journal Citation Reports). If you do, choose one of them to explore. Alternatively, use one of the freely available sites listed in #3.

See if you can find the title of at least one scholarly journal in your major or field of study. What kind of information does the database or site provide? What is missing? What additional information do you wish it had?

Then, using its title, see if you can locate its website. What kind of information does it provide? What is missing? What additional information do you wish it had?



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