Evaluation based on scientific publishing: Evaluating journals

Evaluating journals

Journal evaluation is a complex task. The quality of a journal can be evaluated for different reasons using different methods, and thus different evaluations often offer differing results. Researchers need information about which journals they should send their manuscripts to for publication. Evaluation information is also needed when deciding on subscriptions to journals.
The most common methods of evaluating journals are bibliometric citation analyses, where the amount of citations the journal's articles have had acts as the measure of the popularity and influence of the journal. In addition, the journals are also evaluated on the basis of inspection by experts. You can get the best overall picture of the quality of the journal by using several different indicators, and by choosing the most appropriate indicator for each evaluation purpose. When interpreting journal quality measurements, you should always remember that you cannot really come to any conclusions about a specific article or the level of research produced by a specific researcher. You must also always only conduct a comparison within a particular discipline because different disciplines differ considerably from each other in terms of publishing and referencing norms and practice.
The characteristics of a quality journal are:

  • high standards for acceptance of manuscripts
  • a broadly representative editorial board
  • a critical refereeing system
  • promptness of publication
  • coverage by major abstracting and indexing services
  • high confidence level of scientists in the contents
  • high frequency of citation by other journals

Journals can in theory be evaluated in two different ways: with subjective assessment and with quantitative metrics.