What is Scholarly Communication?

Scholarly communication is the process of scholars and researchers sharing their research findings to make them available to the wider community, including other researchers, students, practitioners, and the public. There are multiple types of research output, including book chapters, conference papers, reports, data, blogs, and other forms of social media. Published journal articles are the most common research output and this guide focuses on them. It provides information to help you navigate the publication process and make informed decisions about where to publish your work.

Are you trying to decide on where to submit your journal article for publication? Go to Journal Quality Indicators and Open Access for links to help you choose the right journal for your article.

To learn about the impact of individual works and scholarly journals, visit the Metrics and Altmetrics pages.

Concerned about violating copyright laws, or using another’s work without attribution? Copyright & Plagiarism contains information to guide you.

Need to properly format your citations, or interested in software that will manage or even visualize them for you? Citation Tools contain information to guide you.

Do you have an ORCID iD yet? If not, visit the ORCID website to obtain a numeric identifier that distinguishes you from anyone with a similar name.


Evaluating Journals

Elsevier JournalFinder - Suggests journals published by Elsevier based on manuscript title & abstract.

Springer Nature Journal Suggester - Suggests journals published by Springer Nature based on manuscript title & abstract.

Scholarly Communication Toolkit: Evaluating Journals - Association of College & Research Libraries

SPI-Hub - Scholarly Publishing Information Hub (Vanderbilt University Medical Center)

Selecting a Journal for Publication: Find a Journal - Bernard Becker Medical Library (Washington University School of Medicine)

PubMed PubReMiner - Analyze PubMed results by journal

Think, Check, Submit - Choose the right journal for your research.

Is this journal peer-reviewed?

You can limit your searches in some databases to only retrieve results in peer-reviewed journals. Specific instructions by database are below.


When searching Pubmed, you cannot limit a search to peer-reviewed journals. Most journals indexed for PubMed are peer-reviewed, but peer review criteria and reviewer qualifications vary. Check a journal's editorial information or ask the publisher about policy for specific journal titles.

Ovid Medline

When searching Ovid Medline, you cannot limit a search to peer-reviewed journals. Most journals indexed for Medline are peer-reviewed, but peer review criteria and reviewer qualifications vary. Check a journal's editorial information or ask the publisher about policy for specific journal titles.


To limit your search to peer-reviewed journals in CINAHL, from the left-hand column of your search results (under Limit To), click Show More. From the “Journal Subset” list, choose “Double Blind Peer Reviewed” (the most rigorous type of peer review). This will yield the smallest number of results. Choosing “Peer Reviewed” (the most general type of peer review) will yield a larger number of results.

Is the journal indexed in Medline?

List of Journals Indexed for Medline (National Library of Medicine)

List of Journals Selectively Indexed for Medline (National Library of Medicine) - Life-science journals that focus on non-medical topics, but which publish occasional articles related to medicine or biomedicine.

Journal Selection for Medline - Fact sheet from National Library of Medicine describing how the decision to index a medical or biomedical journal in Medline is made.

Most, but not all, articles in PubMed are in journals indexed for Medline. The important exception is when an article is added to PubMed Central (PMC) to comply with NIH Public Access Policy (for NIH grant recipients). Follow this link to learn how MEDLINE, PubMed and PMC are different.

Is this journal indexed by Web of Science?

List of journals indexed by Web of Science, including Science Citation Index.

Web of Science's evaluation criteria (Clarivate Analytics)

Is this journal indexed in CINAHL?
What are metrics?

There are various ways to measure the impact of scholarly research and other types of publications.

Journal Impact Factor

A journal's impact factor relative to other journals in its field is a more significant measure than where it ranks on the overall list of journal impact factors.

Journal Impact, Metrics, & Rankings

Metric and h-index resources

Google Scholar Metrics

Defaults to top 100 publications in English, ordered by their five-year h-index and h-median metrics. Use the search box to search for individual journal titles. Compare the publications that are of interest to you.

Explore publications by subject area by going to the left column, selecting your language, and picking a general search category. You can refine your results further by clicking on the subcategory link under each general subject category.

SJR (Scimago Journal & Country Rank)

A free ranking tool for journals. Data from Elsevier product, Scopus. You can limit results by country and geographic region.


Provides information on journal response times and review duration based on feedback from individuals. Heavy focus on science journals but includes some social science and business/economics journals.

Web of Science can be used to calculate your h-index. 

The free version of Scopus will also allow you to obtain your h-index simply by searching for yourself by name/affiliation. 


h-index is the most commonly used author-level metric.

h-index = number of papers (h) with a citation count ≥ h.

Jorge Hirsch, the developer of h-index, in his 2005 paper introducing the concept, also introduces another parameter (commonly referred to as m-index or m-quotient) which evaluates productivity of active researchers based on the number of years since the author's first publication: 

  • A value of m ≈ 1 (i.e., an h index of 20 after 20 years of scientific activity), characterizes a successful scientist.

What are altmetrics?

Altmetrics attempt to measure the attention research receives by using non-traditional sources such as mentions in news reports, Wikipedia citations, tweets, and inclusion in citation management tools. Proponents of altmetrics believe that they help measure the impact of an article in a more comprehensive way than was done with more traditional scholarly impact measures such as journal impact factor. When used correctly, altmetrics can complement traditional citation-based metrics and can provide you with a fuller picture of your research impact.


Best use examples may include the following:

  • Track ​real-time immediate feedback on attention to research
  • Discover conversations about your research
  • Locate policy references to your research
  • Use in funding applications and reporting
  • Find potential collaborators 
  • Embed scores/badges on your website or CV
Altmetric Resources

The Altmetric Bookmarklet

Install the Altmetric bookmarklet in your browser and discover the altmetric score for any research output with a DOI.

Additional Resources:

Open Syllabus Project

Creators of site scraped college Web sites and have put together the metadata for over 1 million syllabi. New metric based on this project, the "Teaching Score" (TS), is a numerical indicator of the frequency with which a particular work is taught.

Altmetrics, A Manifesto

Web site devoted to altmetrics. Started by group of librarians and researchers who are active in promoting altmetrics as an alternative to more traditional forms of tracking article impact.

Impact Story

ImpactStory aggregates altmetrics measures from articles, datasets, blog posts, and more.



According to the United States Copyright Office (2017), it is the legal protection of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.

Fair Use Guide 
From Harvard Library Office of Scholarly Communication

Frequently Asked Questions about Copyright 
From the U.S. Copyright Office

ACRL Scholarly Communication Toolkit Copyright 
From the Association of College and Research Libraries


Avoiding Plagiarism, Self-plagiarism, and Other Questionable Writing Practices: A Guide to Ethical Writing 
from the Office of Research Integrity of the Department of Health and Human Services

Plagiarism in Academic Writing: How to Identify and Avoid It 
Plagiarism in Academic Writing: from AJE (American Journal Experts) Scholar

What is Open Access?

Open Access is a process that makes journal articles freely available via the Internet to the general public.

There are three types of Open Access (Gold OA, Green OA, Hybrid OA).

The NIH Public Access Policy ensures the public has access to the published results of NIH-funded research, and requires scientists to submit the final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to PubMed Central (PMC) upon acceptance for publication. The policy requires that these papers become accessible via PMC no later than 12 months after publication.

Websites to consult before submitting a paper for publication

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

Open Access Journal Quality Indicators 
Grand Valley State University, Michigan

Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association

Think, Check, Submit: Choose the right journal for your research 

For more information, please see our Quality Indicators page.

Predatory publishers and journals exploit the open access publishing model

Predatory publishers exploit the Open Access publishing model. Unfortunately, neither the minimal standards Open Access journals must meet, nor the quality of peer review, were ever delineated. A Statement on Article Publication Resulting from NIH Funded Research was issued in November 2017 and a post on NIH's Extramural Nexus site, Continuing Steps to Ensuring Credibility of NIH Research: Selecting Journals with Credible Practices, contains comments about that statement.

Where can I find a list of predatory journals or publishers?

Many (though not all) predatory journals can be found in Original Beall’s List of Predatory Journals and Publishers. A list of new predatory publishers is available below the original ones at that site, under "Update." New predatory journals spring up frequently, so it is not possible to include every one of them.

More information about predatory publishing is available at Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library at George Washington University.

Software Tools

Citation management software (also known as bibliographic software) serves two purposes:

  • Provides a platform to keep track of, organize, and share citations of interest
  • Creates in text citations and automatically generates bibliographies of citations for manuscripts

Options for citations management software, a summary of key differences between them, and the links to download the software are below.

  EndNote Zotero Mendeley
Cost Paid $199.95 Free (open source) Free and premium options. Free option has limits on file storage and sharing citations.
Tech Support Direct technical support from Clarivate Analytics User community & software developer technical support via online forum User community support; limited direct technical support from Elsevier
Word Processing Compatibility Plug ins for MS Word, PowerPoint (Windows only), OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Apple Pages. Plug ins for MS Word, Google Docs, OpenOffice, LibreOffice Plugins for MS Word.
Other Considerations Steeper learning curve; has the most customization features; has "Find Full Text" PDF finder feature. Good browser plugin. Available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Good browser plugin, good at importing data from PDFs. Some problems with citation plugin incompatibility w/ Macs.

Citation Visualization Software collects citations from various sources, organizes them, and compiles them into a bibliography or list of works cited. The software helps the user create citations in numerous different styles such as APA, MLA, Turabian, and Chicago. 

Citation Gecko

Start from a small set of 'seed papers' that define an area you are interested. Gecko will search the citation network for connected papers allowing you to quickly identify important papers that you may have missed.


A product of CWTS of Leiden University, this tool allows citation networks to be imported directly from the Web of Science database and used to visualize and analyze citation networks of scientific publications.


Network visualization tool that allows for easy data import from standard comma-separated lists and generates network analytics as well as visualizations.