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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 topics and review the results to see where that research is being published.

3) Use tools Cabells Education Journal Directory or Ulrichsweb Serials Directory to browse education-related journals.

4) Review the websites of journals. Read about the journal's purpose and scope. Browse articles from recent issues. Scan submission guidelines and learn about their review process.

Journal Metrics

Journal metrics such as Impact Factor, acceptance rates and h-indices can help you determine how a journal stacks up against other journals in the field, and they 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 Factors:

Find in Journal Citation Reports (also known as InCites)

An Impact Factor reflects 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. 

These numbers are calculated from citation data in Web of Science (also known as Science and Social Science Citation Indexes). If a particular journal is not indexed in Web of Science, an impact factor will not be available and cannot be calculated.  Also, keep in mind that Web of Science's coverage of education journals is far from complete, so metrics gathered from this tool may seem lower than those from Scopus or Google Scholar. 

More about Impact Factors


          Find in Google Metrics

An h-index is the highest number of articles a journal has published that have been cited at least than many times. An h-index of 57 means, a journal 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. An h-index considers citations over the journal's lifetime (or all the years citations from the journal 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 Scholar's coverage of education literature is broader than other citation tracking tools (Web of Science and Scopus), so their h5-indices may be a more accurate representation of an education journal's impact.

More about the h-index

Scimago Journal Rank (SJR) Indictors:

Find in Scimago

SJR Indicators, are similar to Impact Factors, but based on citation data from a database called Scopus. A journal's rank of influence may appear to be different using this metric for several reasons. 1) This calculation uses 3 previous years of citation data (rather than 2-years in Impact Factors and 5-years in Google Scholar h5-indices). 2) This calculation considers the relative influence of the journal where an article was cited. 3) The journal coverage is different. Scopus tracks more education journal citations than Web of Science, and Google Scholar tracks more than Scopus.

Although the SJR Indicator is not as widely used as Impact Factors and h-indices, the Scimago site offers many other data points scholars may find useful when assessing a journal. 

More about SJR

Acceptance Rate:

          Find in Cabell's Directories

Acceptance rates for education journals can sometimes be found in Cabells Directories, though this tool is far from extensive in the list of journals they track. If your journal isn't included, or an acceptance rate isn't listed, check on the journal website or contact the editor/publisher.

Journal Legitimacy & Predatory Publishers

Select shady publishers have used the open access movement as a cover for taking advantage of scholars in order 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 editorial board is questionable, or the higher-profile editors do not list the role on their CVs
  • 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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