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HARC: Helpful Academic Researchers Companion

HARC has been designed to answer the questions researchers ask at every step of the research life cycle

Is the journal legitimate?

How will you sift out the legitimate or dubious journals from all possible titles?

The Think. Check. Submit. website provides checklists to help researchers identify trusted journals to publish their research. The website is a collaborative work produced by organisations and publishers involved in scholarly publishing, 

Image of Think Check Submit website with a link to it


Other Resources

Your may also wish to examine the features of the journal

  • Aims and scope  - does your article fit within the topical coverage and mission of the journal?
  • Intended audience of the publication
    • Ulrichsweb is a useful database as it can help you assess the target audience of the publication: Is it scholarly, a trade publications, newsletter, website?
    • Peer review - is the journal peer reviewed? The peer-review process is generally seen as a quality control mechanism in the scholarly publishing field
  • DOI - does the journal assign Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to articles?
    • A DOI is the unique ID permanently associated with a particular article and provides a stable and unambiguous link to it therefore improve the discoverability of an item
    • it facilitates linkages between an article and an author's own identifiers, such as a Thomson Reuters Researcher ID or ORCID
    • it facilitates tracking by alternative metrics tools such as altmetrics and PlumX  to track the social media buzz surrounding a specific DOI e.g. number mentions in twitter, blogs, facebook etc. and the number of bookmarks to the article on Mendeley and CiteULike. Both of these tools are available on Research Online.
  • Open access options - would you like your research findings to be freely available worldwide and accessible to the broadest spectrum of readers possible? What open access options are there?
    • Gold Open Access - the author pays an up-front article processing fee for their article to be made open access
    • Green Open Access - the author is allowed to publish a version of the article on their website or in an institutional repository such as Research Online, sometimes after an embargo period.
      Publishers generally allows the institutional repository to make available to the general public, the Author's Accepted Manuscript (the version that has been peer-reviewed, but doesn't include any of the publisher's formatting). Remember to provide your green open access version to Research Online!
  • Open access research dataset - does the journal require you to make your research dataset available on Open Access? Journals such as Nature, PLOS etc. now require authors to provide public access to the dataset that their paper is based on. Where possible, Scopus is now linking an article's Scopus record to it's related open access dataset.

If you wish to make your dataset open or available for re-use, check out Research Online as we can provide your dataset with a DOI (refer to your dataset in your paper's reference list) and arrange for it to appear on Research Data Australia.

  • Number of articles/issues published annually - the frequency of issues and the number of articles published annually may affect rejection rates, influence turnaround times for processing articles and impact on the time taken for articles to get published.
  • Rejection rates - what percentage of article submissions are rejected? A high rejection rate may suggest a journal is of high quality but reduces the likelihood of a submitted article getting published in that journal.
  • Turnaround time/backlog - how much time will it take for a submitted article to get accepted and published? As it is generally considered unacceptable to submit your paper concurrently to a number of publishers, this may have a huge impact on how soon your research findings will be published.

What does the Publisher allow you to do?

You will generally be asked to sign a publishing agreement once your article is accepted for publication. Things to look out for in the agreement: 

  • what are your author's rights - would you like to ask for changes to the agreement?
  • does you paper include third party copyright? Permissions will need to be sought before you include copyrighted material produced by others (e.g. images, figures and tables)
  • what Open Access (OA) options does the publisher offer - gold and/or green OA?
    • the Green Open Access option allows authors to place a version of their published paper in an institutional repository such as Research Online
      • either the accepted (post-print) version or
      • the accepted (post-print) version (with corrections but not including journal typesetting)

PATENT ALERT: Once your work is published, it is in the public domain. For commercially relevant work this may mean that it is no longer patentable. You should check if any valuable intellectual property in your work could be compromised by being published. For further assistance:

FUNDER ALERT: If your publication is an outcome of a project funded by the ARC or NHMRC, it may be need to comply with the funder's Open Access Policies. For each policy, a publication must be made openly accessible within 12 months of it's publication date. If a publication cannot be made openly accessible, a reason must be provided to the funding agency.

How will other researchers find that journal?

Do you know which databases index that journal? Does the journal homepage indicate which database indexes it's contents? If not, check the Ulrichs database for this information

The presence of a journal title in the subject's key databases and citation databases provides some indication as to the quality of the journal.


List of databases to check:

  • check your key databases - is your target journal listed there?
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