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PH 290: Biostats Seminar: Search > Write > Publish

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Writing Help @UCB

Here is a short list of sources of writing help available to UC Berkeley students, staff, and faculty:

What is a "predatory journal"? How do I find out if a journal I want to publish in is "predatory"?

Predatory journals often lack an appropriate peer-review process and frequently are not indexed, yet authors are required to pay an article processing charge. The lack of quality control, the inability to effectively disseminate research and the lack of transparency compromise the trustworthiness of articles published in these journals.

A recent systematic review of checklists to determine whether a journal is predatory found no checklist to be optimal. They recommended you look for a checklist that:

  1. Provides a threshold value for criteria to assess potential predatory journals, e.g. if the journal contains these three checklist items then we recommend avoiding submission;
  2. Has been developed using rigorous evidence, i.e. empirical evidence that is described or referenced in the publication.

They noted that only one checklist out of the 93 assessed fulfills the above criteria.

You may wish to review the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing from the World Association of Medical Editors

And, please also be aware of the Institutionalized Racism of Scholarly Publishing:

  • Non-Western and/or non-English journals are hugely underrepresented in our current scholarly indexes;
  • The scholarly publishing infrastructure demands journals be Open and English to be noticed, but non-Western journals may be labeled as predatory as they struggle to fulfill such demands.

Before You Submit: Identify Journals That Publish on Your Topic

Through Scopus

  1. Visit the Scopus database.
  2. Search for recent articles on your research topic.
  3. Above the results, click “Analyze search results."
  4. Click "Documents per year by source"
  5. On the left you will see the results listed by the number of articles published on your research topic per journal.

Through Web of Science

  1. Visit the Web of Science database.
  2. Search for recent articles on your research topic.
  3. In the results, click "Analyze Results" on the right hand side.
  4. Select the option on left for "Source Titles."
  5. Change the "Minimum record count (threshold)," if desired.
  6. Scroll down for a table of results by journal title.

Journal Impact Measures

The journal impact factor is a calculation of how many citations the articles in a journal receive (over a 2-year average). It is used as a proxy measure of the quality of a journal. If the impact factor of a journal is 5, then on average, articles in this journal receive about five citations within the first two years after publication.

In any discussion of journal, article, or author metrics, it is imperative to remember Goodhart's law:
"When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure"

» Journal Citation Reports: Find impact factors (Note: Journal websites generally will include the impact factor)

» Scopus CiteScore metrics: Click “Sources" - An alternative to the JIF

You may wish to read this brief article on the Journal Impact Factor:
Is the impact factor the only game in town?. P. Smart. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2015;97(6):405-8.

PLoS, a top-tier open access suite of journals, says this: "PLOS does not consider Impact Factor to be a reliable or useful metric to assess the performance of individual articles. PLOS supports DORA – the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment – and does not promote our journal Impact Factors"

In addition, citation counts themselves are not necessarily a good metric of importance; see How citation distortions create unfounded authority: analysis of a citation network. Greenberg SA. BMJ. 2009 Jul 20;339:b2680. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b2680.