A Guide to Understanding Academic Journal Indexes

By Samhar Almomani
By eContent Pro on Jun 24, 2022

If your manuscript is accepted and published in an academic journal, it is important for it to have impact on its readers. However, the only way to reach an audience and achieve impact is by being discoverable. Online discovery is the main way to find articles, and this hinges greatly on content discovery in various indexing and abstracting platforms. Without quality indexing by discovery services, even the most groundbreaking academic articles will be difficult to find. There are many indexing options that journals can pursue, ranging from general search engines to databases and aggregators of different disciplines, and each of these different options come with their own benefits. Each index a journal will seek inclusion in will come with its own set of selection criteria for entry and will generally take some time for the journal to undergo review and onboarding if accepted, so it is recommended to pick a few major indexes to consider and follow the instructions for inclusion before moving on to different indexes (Scholastica, 2020).

Generally, when a journal is indexed, it is immediately available for the users of that indexing provider’s services to access. Indexes differ in their access as some may only index titles, some may index full articles, and others will stick to indexing the abstract and/or the references. There are two main types of abstracting and indexing services available. The first is affiliated with an institution, such as PubMed being affiliated with the United States National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. The other kind of abstracting and indexing service is provided by publishers. For instance, the Scopus abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature is owned by the publisher Elsevier. A journal would need to formally apply to be included in both kinds of services (Rajagopalan, 2019). Most scholars will prioritize referencing and submitting to journals that are accepted into leading indexes because indexing is a marker of journal quality and ethicality.

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In fact, recent reports have shown that academic indexes, such as Google Scholar, PubMed, MathSciNet, and the Directory of Open Access Journals, are frequently the top research starting points for scholars. Therefore, it is recommended that any organization in the business of publishing journals should have indexing as a top priority in order to increase the reach of their articles, better serve their authors, and appeal to potential publishers.

There are several considerations that go into getting your journal indexed. For one, you want to choose the right index. As you may recall, journals do not accept articles outside their scope. This is the same with indexes. It is important for you to choose indexes within your field and understand the features each index provides. A detailed layout of the information provided on the index will be included on the index’s webpage to help you assess whether you want to pursue that index or not. In addition, you should understand the general selection process and the criteria that the index uses to evaluate a journal’s suitability for indexing. Ideally, when applying to indexes, you would first approach a company with multiple indexes, such as Elsevier or Clarivate (formerly Thomson Reuters). Additionally, it would be a good idea to look at the list of services offered and apply to the ones relevant to your journal (Rajagopalan, 2019). Once you’ve made sure that you’ve chosen the right index and your journal meets the indexing requirements, journals typically send in a formal application to the index and submit supporting documents and evidence. If the journal meets the criteria listed by the database, it gets indexed. The process of getting indexed is similar to the process of manuscript submission and peer review: journals submit their application and wait for the database review. If the criteria are not met, the journal can often make changes to become eligible.

Now that we have gone over the basics of indexes, it is time to look into the different options you have as a journal in terms of where you want to be indexed.

1) Web of Science: ISI Indexing: The Institute for Scientific Information was founded in 1960. After it was purchased by Thomas Reuters and merged with Clarivate, it became Web of Science or WOS. The database now has a wide selection of journals, books, and conference papers. WOS provides comprehensive information about every article by giving specifics that include author affiliations, abstracts and keywords, funding particulars (agency and grant number), and all the cited references. Due to WOS’s unification feature, researchers are able to look into the complete research profile of an academic or corporate institution. Other features allow the researcher to look into the major funders of a specific study and a paper’s citation impact by looking at citation information, such as publications and citations per year.

2) Scopus: This is the largest database that pertains to the citations and abstracts of peer-reviewed research. The database was introduced by Elsevier in 2004. It is younger than a lot of other databases but has consistent records since 1996. Since the database includes almost all the science journals covered under WOS, many scholars consider it a high-quality database. Scopus has a broader subject area and geography coverage too. You can also take a look at a paper’s reach and visibility by looking at the altmetrics data provided by Scopus.

3) PubMed: This database was developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). PubMed includes searchable citations and abstracts and is a free resource for researchers who want to publish in medicine and allied life sciences. The database provides access to citations, abstracts, and full text articles that range from nursing and dentistry to healthcare systems. Publishing your articles in PubMed-indexed journals will greatly help in increasing your reach and visibility (Murudkar, 2022).

Find the Right Journal for You and Increase Your Chances of Having Your Work Indexed in a Prominent Indexing and/or Abstracting Database

eContent Pro offers services to ensure that you find the right publisher and journal for your work. A major step in getting your work published and ensuring a smooth process during publication and after is selecting the most suitable and relevant journal or publisher for your specific work. This in turn will ensure that the journal and your research have the greatest potential for indexing inclusion. If you don’t have all the information on which publishers work best for your publication, that could result in a negative experience. To help ease the publisher selection process, eContent Pro gives users a free Journal Finder service that identifies up to five relevant journals in the field of expertise of the publication.

With the knowledge you gain from this blog, you will be able to determine the journals indexed with relevant databases that will increase your visibility and expand the reach of your work. As mentioned above, the impact of content directly correlates to its visibility. Without being seen in the right databases, your work is effectively silenced. Utilizing this free Journal Finder service will save you time and stress. The service will also help you avoid submitting your work to suspicious or predatory journals. By using this service and applying the techniques above, you ensure your publication’s reach to experts in the field and the general public. Should you decide to receive more detailed reporting about suitable journals for your publication, you can utilize eContent Pro’s Journal Recommendation link Services.

About eContent Pro: eContent Pro is a U.S.-based professional editorial and publishing services provider for authors, publishing houses, libraries, organizations, university presses, and societies. Offering professional copy editing, translation, scientific and scholarly editing, journal recommendation, typesetting, figure, chart, table, and equation conversions, as well as other production services, we have provided the highest quality editorial services and content advisement to scholarly outlets and individuals around the world. To learn more about eContent Pro, visit the website here or email customerservice@econtentpro.com.


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