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Special Education Research

Choosing & Assessing Journals

Which Journals Match Your Interests?

The first step in publishing your research is finding journals that are a match for your interests. Here are some strategies for creating a list of publications that might be the right outlet for your research...

1) Ask your mentors!

2) Search databases (ERIC, PsycINFO, etc.) for work on similar topic or from similar frameworks and review the results to see where that work is being published. .

3) Tools like Cabell's Education Directories and Ulrichsweb Serials Directory will generate a list of education-related journals by subject or keyword. Cabell's also includes information about submission and review procedures.

4) Review the websites of potential journals. You'll usually find more about the journal's purpose and scope, and you can browse article from recent issues. If it looks like a journal of interest, take the time to review their submission guidelines and learn about their review process.

Journal Metrics

Journal metrics such as Impact Factor, acceptance rates or h-indices can help you determine how a journal stacks up against other journals in the field and may help you determine where you'll submit your manuscript. These numbers can vary wildly between disciplines so, don't compare apples and oranges!

Impact Factor

The Impact Factor is a measure reflecting the average number of citations a journal receives in one year from articles published the previous past two years. It is frequently used as a data point for comparing the relative importance of journals, though the real value of impact factors is a source of much debate. 

Citations used for this calculation are based on Web of Science (Social Science Citation Index) data. Many education journals are not included in the calculations, so number for education journals can seem low compared to other disciplines

Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is the only product that creates a true impact factor, and JCR doesn't provide broad coverage of education journal. If a particular journal is not covered by JCR, an impact factor will not be available and cannot be calculated.

Acceptance Rate

Acceptance rates for education journals can sometimes be found in Cabell's Directories, though the databases is selective about which journals they track.  If your journal isn't included, or an acceptance rate isn't listed, go to the journal website to see if it's available there, or try contacting the journal editor.

H-indices

An h-index is the highest number of articles a journal has published that have been cited at least than many times. So, a journal with an h-index of 57 has published 57 articles that have been cited at least 57 times. As the number of highly-cited articles rises, so does the h-index.

A true h-index considers citations over the journal's life (or all the years citations have been tracked by the tool doing the calculation). An h5-index looks at the most recent 5 years, and is often a better indicator of a journal's current influence.

Google Metrics is a great source for finding an h5-index for education journals because Google Scholar's coverage of education literature is broader than other citation tracking tools (SSCI/Web of Science and Scopus).

Scimago Journal Ranking

Scimago offers a variety of data points that are calculated based on citation data from Scopus. When calculating its main metric,the SJR Indicator, Scimago uses three previous years of publications (rather than the two years used to calculate Impact Factors) and considers the prestige of the journal where an article is cited.

H-indexes listed here may vary from those in Web of Science or Google Scholar simply because they all have different years of coverage for each title.

Journal Legitimacy & Predatory Publishers

Select publishers have used the open access movement as a cover for taking advantage of scholars, especially early career researchers, to make a profit. To protect yourself from publishing scams, be skeptical when…

  • There is no review process or the review process is unusually fast
  • No revision of your work is required
  • You can't find details about the editorial board
  • The journal doesn't clearly display guidelines, policies and fees or responses to related questions are vague
  • You receive a mass mailing soliciting papers
  • The reputation of authors who have published in the journal is questionable

In general, when you encounter a journal you're unfamiliar with, always take the time to investigate its legitimacy before choosing to submit your manuscript for review.

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