May 20, 2021
There it is in your email inbox - an invitation to submit an article to a journal! Perhaps it is addressed to “Dr. Your Full Name.” Perhaps they refer to another article you recently published or posted, suggesting your expertise would fit within the scope of their journal. This is flattering - you are getting recognized!
But what do you do next? How should you respond?
Unfortunately, with a little skepticism.
Many sketchy journal publishers use email invitations to solicit articles for their journals, but these are less likely to benefit you and your publishing goals. You may find yourself being published in a place you’d regret later, or being saddled with publishing costs you weren’t expecting. Whenever you receive an unexpected email from a journal publisher, take a few moments to examine it critically before deciding whether to respond.
- Have you heard of this publisher or journal before? Does the journal title seem overly broad (such as International Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Sciences)? Would your research actually fit within the scope of the journal?
- Does the email provide information about publishing timelines or peer review? If so, does the timeline seem reasonable? Are they clear about the type of peer review they use?
- Is the journal indexed in a service that you know or use, such as UlrichsWeb, Scopus, or the Directory of Open Access Journals? Note: Google Scholar is not an indexing service.
- Do they mention any publication fees? If so, do they explain what the fees are for and when they would be charged (for example - after acceptance)?
You should be able to find the answers to these questions in the email, but if you are still unsure, you can discover a lot by visiting the publisher’s website or doing a basic search.
- Can you easily identify the publisher? Is it clearly displayed on the journal website?
- Does the journal have an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number, e.g., 1234-5678)?
- Is it easy to find the latest articles published by the journal? Do they seem to be of good quality?
- Do you recognize any of the editorial board members? Do the board members mention the journal on their own websites?
- Can you find their submission or author guidelines? Are they clear and easy to understand?
If the answer to most of these questions is “no,” think carefully about the risk to your reputation before choosing to submit. Even if the journal is not actively trying to scam you, it may not be a good home for your work if you are hoping to establish your scholarly reputation! You don’t have to respond to an invitation you weren’t expecting, and there are lots of other ways to find the right journal for you.
Here are few great resources on reviewing journals before choosing to publish: