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Search Help

Get the most out of Google Scholar with some helpful tips on searches, email alerts, citation export, and more.

Finding recent papers

Your search results are normally sorted by relevance, not by date. To find newer articles, try the following options in the left sidebar:

  • click "Since Year" to show only recently published papers, sorted by relevance;
  • click "Sort by date" to show just the new additions, sorted by date;
  • click the envelope icon to have new results periodically delivered by email.

Locating the full text of an article

Abstracts are freely available for most of the articles. Alas, reading the entire article may require a subscription. Here're a few things to try:

  • click a library link, e.g., "FindIt@Harvard", to the right of the search result;
  • click a link labeled [PDF] to the right of the search result;
  • click "All versions" under the search result and check out the alternative sources;
  • click "Related articles" or "Cited by" under the search result to explore similar articles.

If you're affiliated with a university, but don't see links such as "FindIt@Harvard", please check with your local library about the best way to access their online subscriptions. You may need to do search from a computer on campus, or to configure your browser to use a library proxy.

Getting better answers

If you're new to the subject, it may be helpful to pick up the terminology from secondary sources. E.g., a Wikipedia article for "overweight" might suggest a Scholar search for "pediatric hyperalimentation".

If the search results are too specific for your needs, check out what they're citing in their "References" sections. Referenced works are often more general in nature.

Similarly, if the search results are too basic for you, click "Cited by" to see newer papers that referenced them. These newer papers will often be more specific.

Explore! There's rarely a single answer to a research question. Click "Related articles" or "Cited by" to see closely related work, or search for author's name and see what else they have written.

Searching Google Scholar

Use the "author:" operator, e.g., author:"d knuth" or author:"donald e knuth".

Put the paper's title in quotations: "A History of the China Sea".

You'll often get better results if you search only recent articles, but still sort them by relevance, not by date. E.g., click "Since 2018" in the left sidebar of the search results page.

To see the absolutely newest articles first, click "Sort by date" in the sidebar. If you use this feature a lot, you may also find it useful to setup email alerts to have new results automatically sent to you.

Note: On smaller screens that don't show the sidebar, these options are available in the dropdown menu labelled "Year" right below the search button.

Select the "Case law" option on the homepage or in the side drawer on the search results page.

It finds documents similar to the given search result.

It's in the side drawer. The advanced search window lets you search in the author, title, and publication fields, as well as limit your search results by date.

Select the "Case law" option and do a keyword search over all jurisdictions. Then, click the "Select courts" link in the left sidebar on the search results page.

Tip: To quickly search a frequently used selection of courts, bookmark a search results page with the desired selection.

Access to articles

For each Scholar search result, we try to find a version of the article that you can read. These access links are labelled [PDF] or [HTML] and appear to the right of the search result. For example:

A paper that you need to read

Access links cover a wide variety of ways in which articles may be available to you - articles that your library subscribes to, open access articles, free-to-read articles from publishers, preprints, articles in repositories, etc.

When you are on a campus network, access links automatically include your library subscriptions and direct you to subscribed versions of articles. On-campus access links cover subscriptions from primary publishers as well as aggregators.

Off-campus access

Off-campus access links let you take your library subscriptions with you when you are at home or traveling. You can read subscribed articles when you are off-campus just as easily as when you are on-campus. Off-campus access links work by recording your subscriptions when you visit Scholar while on-campus, and looking up the recorded subscriptions later when you are off-campus.

We use the recorded subscriptions to provide you with the same subscribed access links as you see on campus. We also indicate your subscription access to participating publishers so that they can allow you to read the full-text of these articles without logging in or using a proxy. The recorded subscription information expires after 30 days and is automatically deleted.

In addition to Google Scholar search results, off-campus access links can also appear on articles from publishers participating in the off-campus subscription access program. Look for links labeled [PDF] or [HTML] on the right hand side of article pages.

Anne Author , John Doe , Jane Smith , Someone Else

In this fascinating paper, we investigate various topics that would be of interest to you. We also describe new methods relevant to your project, and attempt to address several questions which you would also like to know the answer to. Lastly, we analyze …

You can disable off-campus access links on the Scholar settings page . Disabling off-campus access links will turn off recording of your library subscriptions. It will also turn off indicating subscription access to participating publishers. Once off-campus access links are disabled, you may need to identify and configure an alternate mechanism (e.g., an institutional proxy or VPN) to access your library subscriptions while off-campus.

Email Alerts

Do a search for the topic of interest, e.g., "M Theory"; click the envelope icon in the sidebar of the search results page; enter your email address, and click "Create alert". We'll then periodically email you newly published papers that match your search criteria.

No, you can enter any email address of your choice. If the email address isn't a Google account or doesn't match your Google account, then we'll email you a verification link, which you'll need to click to start receiving alerts.

This works best if you create a public profile , which is free and quick to do. Once you get to the homepage with your photo, click "Follow" next to your name, select "New citations to my articles", and click "Done". We will then email you when we find new articles that cite yours.

Search for the title of your paper, e.g., "Anti de Sitter space and holography"; click on the "Cited by" link at the bottom of the search result; and then click on the envelope icon in the left sidebar of the search results page.

First, do a search for your colleague's name, and see if they have a Scholar profile. If they do, click on it, click the "Follow" button next to their name, select "New articles by this author", and click "Done".

If they don't have a profile, do a search by author, e.g., [author:s-hawking], and click on the mighty envelope in the left sidebar of the search results page. If you find that several different people share the same name, you may need to add co-author names or topical keywords to limit results to the author you wish to follow.

We send the alerts right after we add new papers to Google Scholar. This usually happens several times a week, except that our search robots meticulously observe holidays.

There's a link to cancel the alert at the bottom of every notification email.

If you created alerts using a Google account, you can manage them all here . If you're not using a Google account, you'll need to unsubscribe from the individual alerts and subscribe to the new ones.

Google Scholar library

Google Scholar library is your personal collection of articles. You can save articles right off the search page, organize them by adding labels, and use the power of Scholar search to quickly find just the one you want - at any time and from anywhere. You decide what goes into your library, and we’ll keep the links up to date.

You get all the goodies that come with Scholar search results - links to PDF and to your university's subscriptions, formatted citations, citing articles, and more!

Library help

Find the article you want to add in Google Scholar and click the “Save” button under the search result.

Click “My library” at the top of the page or in the side drawer to view all articles in your library. To search the full text of these articles, enter your query as usual in the search box.

Find the article you want to remove, and then click the “Delete” button under it.

  • To add a label to an article, find the article in your library, click the “Label” button under it, select the label you want to apply, and click “Done”.
  • To view all the articles with a specific label, click the label name in the left sidebar of your library page.
  • To remove a label from an article, click the “Label” button under it, deselect the label you want to remove, and click “Done”.
  • To add, edit, or delete labels, click “Manage labels” in the left column of your library page.

Only you can see the articles in your library. If you create a Scholar profile and make it public, then the articles in your public profile (and only those articles) will be visible to everyone.

Your profile contains all the articles you have written yourself. It’s a way to present your work to others, as well as to keep track of citations to it. Your library is a way to organize the articles that you’d like to read or cite, not necessarily the ones you’ve written.

Citation Export

Click the "Cite" button under the search result and then select your bibliography manager at the bottom of the popup. We currently support BibTeX, EndNote, RefMan, and RefWorks.

Err, no, please respect our robots.txt when you access Google Scholar using automated software. As the wearers of crawler's shoes and webmaster's hat, we cannot recommend adherence to web standards highly enough.

Sorry, we're unable to provide bulk access. You'll need to make an arrangement directly with the source of the data you're interested in. Keep in mind that a lot of the records in Google Scholar come from commercial subscription services.

Sorry, we can only show up to 1,000 results for any particular search query. Try a different query to get more results.

Content Coverage

Google Scholar includes journal and conference papers, theses and dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, abstracts, technical reports and other scholarly literature from all broad areas of research. You'll find works from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies and university repositories, as well as scholarly articles available anywhere across the web. Google Scholar also includes court opinions and patents.

We index research articles and abstracts from most major academic publishers and repositories worldwide, including both free and subscription sources. To check current coverage of a specific source in Google Scholar, search for a sample of their article titles in quotes.

While we try to be comprehensive, it isn't possible to guarantee uninterrupted coverage of any particular source. We index articles from sources all over the web and link to these websites in our search results. If one of these websites becomes unavailable to our search robots or to a large number of web users, we have to remove it from Google Scholar until it becomes available again.

Our meticulous search robots generally try to index every paper from every website they visit, including most major sources and also many lesser known ones.

That said, Google Scholar is primarily a search of academic papers. Shorter articles, such as book reviews, news sections, editorials, announcements and letters, may or may not be included. Untitled documents and documents without authors are usually not included. Website URLs that aren't available to our search robots or to the majority of web users are, obviously, not included either. Nor do we include websites that require you to sign up for an account, install a browser plugin, watch four colorful ads, and turn around three times and say coo-coo before you can read the listing of titles scanned at 10 DPI... You get the idea, we cover academic papers from sensible websites.

That's usually because we index many of these papers from other websites, such as the websites of their primary publishers. The "site:" operator currently only searches the primary version of each paper.

It could also be that the papers are located on, not on Please make sure you're searching for the "right" website.

That said, the best way to check coverage of a specific source is to search for a sample of their papers using the title of the paper.

Ahem, we index papers, not journals. You should also ask about our coverage of universities, research groups, proteins, seminal breakthroughs, and other dimensions that are of interest to users. All such questions are best answered by searching for a statistical sample of papers that has the property of interest - journal, author, protein, etc. Many coverage comparisons are available if you search for [allintitle:"google scholar"], but some of them are more statistically valid than others.

Currently, Google Scholar allows you to search and read published opinions of US state appellate and supreme court cases since 1950, US federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts since 1923 and US Supreme Court cases since 1791. In addition, it includes citations for cases cited by indexed opinions or journal articles which allows you to find influential cases (usually older or international) which are not yet online or publicly available.

Legal opinions in Google Scholar are provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed lawyer. Google does not warrant that the information is complete or accurate.

We normally add new papers several times a week. However, updates to existing records take 6-9 months to a year or longer, because in order to update our records, we need to first recrawl them from the source website. For many larger websites, the speed at which we can update their records is limited by the crawl rate that they allow.

Inclusion and Corrections

We apologize, and we assure you the error was unintentional. Automated extraction of information from articles in diverse fields can be tricky, so an error sometimes sneaks through.

Please write to the owner of the website where the erroneous search result is coming from, and encourage them to provide correct bibliographic data to us, as described in the technical guidelines . Once the data is corrected on their website, it usually takes 6-9 months to a year or longer for it to be updated in Google Scholar. We appreciate your help and your patience.

If you can't find your papers when you search for them by title and by author, please refer your publisher to our technical guidelines .

You can also deposit your papers into your institutional repository or put their PDF versions on your personal website, but please follow your publisher's requirements when you do so. See our technical guidelines for more details on the inclusion process.

We normally add new papers several times a week; however, it might take us some time to crawl larger websites, and corrections to already included papers can take 6-9 months to a year or longer.

Google Scholar generally reflects the state of the web as it is currently visible to our search robots and to the majority of users. When you're searching for relevant papers to read, you wouldn't want it any other way!

If your citation counts have gone down, chances are that either your paper or papers that cite it have either disappeared from the web entirely, or have become unavailable to our search robots, or, perhaps, have been reformatted in a way that made it difficult for our automated software to identify their bibliographic data and references. If you wish to correct this, you'll need to identify the specific documents with indexing problems and ask your publisher to fix them. Please refer to the technical guidelines .

Please do let us know . Please include the URL for the opinion, the corrected information and a source where we can verify the correction.

We're only able to make corrections to court opinions that are hosted on our own website. For corrections to academic papers, books, dissertations and other third-party material, click on the search result in question and contact the owner of the website where the document came from. For corrections to books from Google Book Search, click on the book's title and locate the link to provide feedback at the bottom of the book's page.

General Questions

These are articles which other scholarly articles have referred to, but which we haven't found online. To exclude them from your search results, uncheck the "include citations" box on the left sidebar.

First, click on links labeled [PDF] or [HTML] to the right of the search result's title. Also, check out the "All versions" link at the bottom of the search result.

Second, if you're affiliated with a university, using a computer on campus will often let you access your library's online subscriptions. Look for links labeled with your library's name to the right of the search result's title. Also, see if there's a link to the full text on the publisher's page with the abstract.

Keep in mind that final published versions are often only available to subscribers, and that some articles are not available online at all. Good luck!

Technically, your web browser remembers your settings in a "cookie" on your computer's disk, and sends this cookie to our website along with every search. Check that your browser isn't configured to discard our cookies. Also, check if disabling various proxies or overly helpful privacy settings does the trick. Either way, your settings are stored on your computer, not on our servers, so a long hard look at your browser's preferences or internet options should help cure the machine's forgetfulness.

Not even close. That phrase is our acknowledgement that much of scholarly research involves building on what others have already discovered. It's taken from Sir Isaac Newton's famous quote, "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

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  • Working with sources

How to Find Sources | Scholarly Articles, Books, Etc.

Published on June 13, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on May 31, 2023.

It’s important to know how to find relevant sources when writing a  research paper , literature review , or systematic review .

The types of sources you need will depend on the stage you are at in the research process , but all sources that you use should be credible , up to date, and relevant to your research topic.

There are three main places to look for sources to use in your research:

Research databases

  • Your institution’s library
  • Other online resources

Table of contents

Library resources, other online sources, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about finding sources.

You can search for scholarly sources online using databases and search engines like Google Scholar . These provide a range of search functions that can help you to find the most relevant sources.

If you are searching for a specific article or book, include the title or the author’s name. Alternatively, if you’re just looking for sources related to your research problem , you can search using keywords. In this case, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the scope of your project and of the most relevant keywords.

Databases can be general (interdisciplinary) or subject-specific.

  • You can use subject-specific databases to ensure that the results are relevant to your field.
  • When using a general database or search engine, you can still filter results by selecting specific subjects or disciplines.

Example: JSTOR discipline search filter

Filtering by discipline

Check the table below to find a database that’s relevant to your research.

Google Scholar

To get started, you might also try Google Scholar , an academic search engine that can help you find relevant books and articles. Its “Cited by” function lets you see the number of times a source has been cited. This can tell you something about a source’s credibility and importance to the field.

Example: Google Scholar “Cited by” function

Google Scholar cited by function

Boolean operators

Boolean operators can also help to narrow or expand your search.

Boolean operators are words and symbols like AND , OR , and NOT that you can use to include or exclude keywords to refine your results. For example, a search for “Nietzsche NOT nihilism” will provide results that include the word “Nietzsche” but exclude results that contain the word “nihilism.”

Many databases and search engines have an advanced search function that allows you to refine results in a similar way without typing the Boolean operators manually.

Example: Project Muse advanced search

Project Muse advanced search

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

You can find helpful print sources in your institution’s library. These include:

  • Journal articles
  • Encyclopedias
  • Newspapers and magazines

Make sure that the sources you consult are appropriate to your research.

You can find these sources using your institution’s library database. This will allow you to explore the library’s catalog and to search relevant keywords. You can refine your results using Boolean operators .

Once you have found a relevant print source in the library:

  • Consider what books are beside it. This can be a great way to find related sources, especially when you’ve found a secondary or tertiary source instead of a primary source .
  • Consult the index and bibliography to find the bibliographic information of other relevant sources.

You can consult popular online sources to learn more about your topic. These include:

  • Crowdsourced encyclopedias like Wikipedia

You can find these sources using search engines. To refine your search, use Boolean operators in combination with relevant keywords.

However, exercise caution when using online sources. Consider what kinds of sources are appropriate for your research and make sure the sites are credible .

Look for sites with trusted domain extensions:

  • URLs that end with .edu are educational resources.
  • URLs that end with .gov are government-related resources.
  • DOIs often indicate that an article is published in a peer-reviewed , scientific article.

Other sites can still be used, but you should evaluate them carefully and consider alternatives.

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Paraphrasing


  • Types of plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

You can find sources online using databases and search engines like Google Scholar . Use Boolean operators or advanced search functions to narrow or expand your search.

For print sources, you can use your institution’s library database. This will allow you to explore the library’s catalog and to search relevant keywords.

It is important to find credible sources and use those that you can be sure are sufficiently scholarly .

  • Consult your institute’s library to find out what books, journals, research databases, and other types of sources they provide access to.
  • Look for books published by respected academic publishing houses and university presses, as these are typically considered trustworthy sources.
  • Look for journals that use a peer review process. This means that experts in the field assess the quality and credibility of an article before it is published.

When searching for sources in databases, think of specific keywords that are relevant to your topic , and consider variations on them or synonyms that might be relevant.

Once you have a clear idea of your research parameters and key terms, choose a database that is relevant to your research (e.g., Medline, JSTOR, Project MUSE).

Find out if the database has a “subject search” option. This can help to refine your search. Use Boolean operators to combine your keywords, exclude specific search terms, and search exact phrases to find the most relevant sources.

There are many types of sources commonly used in research. These include:

You’ll likely use a variety of these sources throughout the research process , and the kinds of sources you use will depend on your research topic and goals.

Scholarly sources are written by experts in their field and are typically subjected to peer review . They are intended for a scholarly audience, include a full bibliography, and use scholarly or technical language. For these reasons, they are typically considered credible sources .

Popular sources like magazines and news articles are typically written by journalists. These types of sources usually don’t include a bibliography and are written for a popular, rather than academic, audience. They are not always reliable and may be written from a biased or uninformed perspective, but they can still be cited in some contexts.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Ryan, E. (2023, May 31). How to Find Sources | Scholarly Articles, Books, Etc.. Scribbr. Retrieved October 30, 2023, from

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11 How to find Academic Journal Articles

Using google scholar.

Using a library database

In the “Academic Search Complete” database

Under “General/All Subjects” at left, click on “Academic Search Complete.”

Type keywords for your subtopic in the search bar.

Next to the Search Bar, under the “select a field” drop-down menu, select “subject terms.”

You may have to experiment to find the right keywords for your subtopic. Try to use the search terms that autocomplete if they are applicable to your subtopic.

At the left under “Limit to” click the box next to “Scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals.”

Be sure “Full Text” is also checked.

Below that, under publication date, type 2015-present year. (Experiment with dates to reduce or increase the number of search results.)

Skim the titles to find a source that sounds like it will work for your paper.

Read the Abstract to see what the article is about and decide whether it is relevant to your topic.

Click “PDF full text” to view. (usually)

Skim the article to find and read the relevant sections. For example, you don’t typically need to read about the Methodology of the study. Introduction, Analysis, and Conclusions are all important sections to read. Tables and graphs are typically helpful as well.

If you decide to use the source, click the cite button and cut/paste the citation into your annotated bibliography.

Licenses and Attribution

“How to find academic journal articles” by Jeff Sanger is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Library Search

How to use One Search in the library to find sources (video)

Using Research to Support Scholarly Writing Copyright © 2021 by Matthew Bloom; Christine Jones; Cameron MacElvee; Jeffrey Sanger; and Lori Walk is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Doing Your Research From Home: Finding Scholarly Journal Articles

  • Help is Readily Available
  • Choosing & Narrowing Topics
  • Finding & Using E-Books
  • Request Items for Pickup
  • Finding Scholarly Journal Articles
  • Citing Your Sources

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      A lso known as: peer reviewed articles,  academic journals,  juried publications,  original research,  primary research, or  refereed publications.


     The video tutorials below highlight just two of the Pfau Library's more than 150 databases you can use to find scholarly journal articles, however, although some details will vary, the basic strategies are the same for any database.

Direct Link: Find Articles the Easy Way

Direct Link: Find Articles in a Database .


  • Articles from OneSearch This link opens in a new window Find articles from a variety of sources. Tips: Limit to "Peer-reviewed journals" if you need scholarly articles only. Limit to "Full text online" if you want articles that are immediately available.
  • EBSCOhost Academic Search Premier This link opens in a new window Good starting point for most topics. Covers both scholarly journals and popular magazines.
  • JSTOR This link opens in a new window Access to a wide variety of scholarly journals, plus ebooks from university presses.


  • What are Scholarly Journals? This guide defines and describes scholarly journals; gives examples; and gives tips for finding them.
  • Quantitative and Empirical Research vs. Other Types of Research Learn how to identify different kinds of research so you can choose the right scholarly journal articles for your assignment.
  • Keyword Search Strategies How to use keywords to make your searches more effective.
  • Maximize Your Full Text! Having a difficult time finding full text for the articles you want? You need this Library Guide!

     If you need an article or a book that's not available at the Pfau Library, Interlibrary Loan's free service can usually get it for you.  See our guide, Using Interlibrary Loan Services .

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  • Next: Citing Your Sources >>
  • Last Updated: Aug 29, 2023 12:14 PM
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Ask a Librarian

Research Guide: Scholarly Journals

  • Find Scholarly Journal Articles
  • Why Use Scholarly Journals?
  • What does "Peer-Reviewed" mean?
  • What is *NOT* a Scholarly Journal Article?
  • Interlibrary Loan for Journal Articles
  • Introduction: Hypothesis/Thesis
  • Reading the Citation
  • Authors' Credentials
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Results/Data
  • Discussion/Conclusions
  • APA Citations for Scholarly Journal Articles
  • MLA Citations for Scholarly Journal Articles

Video Tutorial - How to Identify, Find, Use and Cite Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journal Articles

Limiting by source type in the databases, finding scholarly journal articles in library databases.

When searching for articles in library databases, you can limit your search to only scholarly journals. The screenshots of the databases shown below outline where you can limit by source type to find the type of article you need. Remember that academic articles and scholarly articles are the same thing; different databases use the different terms but you can know that they are the same!

Limiting to academic journals in Ebsco's  Academic Search Complete database

(click on image to enlarge)

search results

Limiting to scholarly journals in ProQuest Combined Databases

Limiting in this database is very similar to other advanced searches in the library's databases. You can click to limit to full-text articles, to peer-reviewed articles, and you can use the built in Boolean tools (AND, OR, NOT) to change your search results and combine your simple keywords.

(Click on image to enlarge)

This image shows a screeshot of the database search page, showing how you can search by topic or keyword in the search boxes provided, and how you can then check a box to limit to full-text and to scholarly journals

Find Articles with Holman Library One Search

Find scholarly journal articles in one search.

Search across most library databases at once using the One Search tool:

Tips: How to Use the Holman Library One Search

Find Articles in Your Subject Area

  • Holman Library Databases by Subject See all of the library's database collections, sorted by subject area. This list is a good place to see the entire list of electronic article resources available in a specific field. You will need to log in with your GRC email address and password to access off-campus.

Look for the menu that looks like this (see image below) - showing all of the library's databases listed out by topic, or subject area.

databases by subject - what you will see when you click the link above

  • << Previous: What is *NOT* a Scholarly Journal Article?
  • Next: Interlibrary Loan for Journal Articles >>
  • Last Updated: Oct 10, 2023 9:57 AM
  • URL:


Writing Your Research Papers

  • Thesis Statement
  • Find a Topic
  • How to Search
  • Find Trade Journals, Newspapers, Magazines
  • Find Scholarly Journals
  • Assignments
  • How to Cite

Finding Scholarly, Peer-reviewed Journal Articles - TUTORIALS

  • Finding Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles (6 min. tutorial)
  • Customizing Google Scholar Learn how to use Google Scholar with SJSU GetText and RefWorks

How to Find Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles are written by experts in the field (usually people with PhDs) and have been reviewed by other experts in the field (peers) for accuracy and bias.

Scholars journals have names like :

  • The Journal of Adolescent Psychology
  • Nursing Science Quarterly
  • Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Popular magazines and newspapers have names like :

  • Time Magazine
  • The San Jose Mercury News
  • Business Weekly

Scholarly articles are kept in databases , usually by discipline or subject area. To find the best databases for articles in your discipline, we suggest you use the Library Research Guides . Look for the tab marked something like Find Articles or Find Scholarly Articles.

Google has a scholarly article database too -

Watch the utorials on this page to learn more about using SJSU databases and Google Scholar.

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How to find the right journal for your research (using actual data)

how to find academic journal articles

Joanna Wilkinson

Want to help your research flourish? We share tips for using publisher-neutral data and statistics to find the right journal for your research paper.

The right journal helps your research flourish. It puts you in the best position to reach a relevant and engaged audience, and can extend the impact of your paper through a high-quality publishing process.

Unfortunately, finding the right journal is a particular pain point for inexperienced authors and those who publish on interdisciplinary topics. The sheer number of journals published today is one reason for this. More than 42,000 active scholarly peer-reviewed journals were published in 2018 alone, and there’s been accelerated growth of more than 5% in recent years.

The overwhelming growth in journals has left many researchers struggling to find the best home for their manuscripts which can be a daunting prospect after several long months producing research. Submitting to the wrong journal can hinder the impact of your manuscript. It could even result in a series of rejections, stalling both your research and career. Conversely, the right journal can help you showcase your research to the world in an environment consistent with your values.

Keep reading to learn how solutions like Journal Citation Reports ™ (JCR) and Master Journal List   can help you find the right journal for your research in the fastest possible time.

What to look for in a journal and why

To find the right journal for your research paper, it’s important to consider what you need and want out of the publishing process.

The goal for many researchers is to find a prestigious, peer-reviewed journal to publish in. This might be one that can support an application for tenure, promotion or future funding. It’s not always that simple, however. If your research is in a specialized field, you may want to avoid a journal with a multidisciplinary focus. And if you have ground-breaking results, you may want to pay attention to journals with a speedy review process and frequent publication schedule. Moreover, you may want to publish your paper as open access so that it’s accessible to everyone—and your institution or funder may also require this.

With so many points to consider, it’s good practice to have a journal in mind before you start writing. We published an earlier post to help you with this: Find top journals in a research field, step-by-step guide . Check it out to discover where the top researchers in your field are publishing.

Already written your manuscript? No problem: this blog will help you use publisher-neutral data and statistics to choose the right journal for your paper.

First stop: Manuscript Matcher in the Master Journal List

Master Journal List Manuscript Matcher is the ultimate place to begin your search for journals. It is a free tool that helps you narrow down your journal options based on your research topic and goals.

Find the right journal with Master Journal List

Pairing your research with a journal

Manuscript Matcher, also available via EndNote™ , provides a list of relevant journals indexed in the Web of Science™ . First, you’ll want to input your title and abstract (or keywords, if you prefer). You can then filter your results using the options shown on the left-hand sidebar, or simply click on the profile page of any journal listed.

Each journal page details the journal’s coverage in the Web of Science. Where available, it may also display a wealth of information, including:

  • open access information (including whether a journal is Gold OA)
  • the journal’s aims and scope
  • download statistics
  • average number of weeks from submission to publication, and
  • peer review information (including type and policy)

Ready to try Manuscript Matcher? Follow this link .

journal for labout market research

Identify the journals that are a good topical fit for your research using Manuscript Matcher. You can then move to Journal Citation Reports to understand their citation impact, audience and open access statistics.

Find the right journal with Journal Citation Reports

Journal Citation Reports   is the most powerful solution for journal intelligence. It uses transparent, publisher-neutral data and statistics to provide unique insight into a journal’s role and influence. This will help you produce a definitive list of journals best-placed to publish your findings, and more.

how to find academic journal articles

Three data points exist on every journal page to help you assess a journal as a home for your research. These are: citation metrics, article relevance and audience.

Citation Metrics

The Journal Impact Factor™ (JIF) is included as part of the rich array of citation metrics offered on each journal page. It shows how often a journal’s recently published material is cited on average.

Learn how the JIF is calculated in this guide .

It’s important to note that the JIF has its limitations and no researcher should depend on the impact factor alone when assessing the usefulness or prestige of a journal. Journal Citation Reports helps you understand the context of a journal’s JIF and how to use the metric responsibly.

The JCR Trend Graph, for example, places the JIF in the context of time and subject category performance. Citation behavior varies across disciplines, and journals in JCR may be placed across multiple subject categories depending on the scope of their content. The Trend Graph shows you how the journal performs against others in the same subject category. It also gives you an understanding of how stable that performance is year-on-year.

You can learn more about this here .

The 2021 JCR release introduced a new, field-normalized metric for measuring the citation impact of a journal’s recent publications. By normalizing for different fields of research and their widely varying rates of publication and citation, the Journal Citation Indicator provides a single journal-level metric that can be easily interpreted and compared across disciplines. Learn more about the Journal Citation Indicator here .

Article relevance

The Contributing Items section in JCR demonstrates whether the journal is a good match for your paper. It can also validate the information you found in the Manuscript Matcher. You can view the full list in the Web of Science by selecting “Show all.”

JCR helps you understand the scholarly community engaging with a journal on both a country and an institutional level. This information provides insight on where in the world your own paper might have an impact if published in that particular journal. It also gives you a sense of general readership, and who you might be talking to if you choose that journal.

Start using Journal Citation Reports today .

Ready to find the right journal for your paper?

The expansion of scholarly journals in previous years has made it difficult for researchers to choose the right journal for their research. This isn’t a good position to be in when you’ve spent many long months preparing your research for the world. Journal Citation Reports , Manuscript Matcher by Master Journal List  and the Web of Science  are all products dedicated to helping you find the right home for your paper. Try them out today and help your research flourish.

Stay connected

Want to learn more?  You can also read related articles in our Research Smarter series,  with guidance on finding the relevant papers for your research  and how you can save hundreds of hours in the writing process . You can also read about the 2022 JCR release here . Finally, subscribe to receive our latest news, resources and events to help make your research journey a smart one.

Subscribe to receive regular updates on how to research smarter

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how to find academic journal articles


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Library Databases

Scholarly only, scholarly and popular both, finding scholarly articles, getting an article.

Frequently referred to as the invisible or deep web -- as opposed to the free web -- Healey Library's subscription databases provide well organized and highly selective coverage of scholarly journals.

Some databases contain scholarly journals, exclusively. Others have a mix of scholarly journals, popular magazines, newspapers and other material. In these databases, you can limit your search to scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals.

  • Browzine Library: Peer-Reviewed Journals in a Browsable Format This link opens in a new window Browse, read and organize scholarly journals from your mobile device or computer
  • JSTOR This link opens in a new window JSTOR is a collection of thousands of high-quality academic journals and ebooks across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The journal archive includes back issues and some current issues.
  • ScienceDirect This link opens in a new window ScienceDirect provides full text online access to over 4500 Elsevier journals and ebooks. The Backfiles program offers the ability to search a historical archive of over 6.75 million articles. This set of journals is a key component of Healey Library's online scholarly journal collection.
  • Web of Science This link opens in a new window Web of Science provides access to the combined Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Science Citation Index, and Social Sciences Citation Index. This is one of the largest scholarly databases to which Healey Library subscribes. Use Cited Reference to find out who used a particular book or article for his/her research.
  • Academic OneFile This link opens in a new window Contains scholarly journals, popular interest magazines and reference sources. Multidisciplinary coverage, including arts, humanities, sciences and technology. Provides full text coverage to the New York Times from 1985 to the present.
  • Academic Search Complete This link opens in a new window Academic Search Complete features thousands of full-text journals. This scholarly collection offers unmatched coverage of information spanning a broad range of important areas of academic study including: anthropology, astronomy, biology, chemistry, civil engineering, engineering, ethnic & multicultural studies, geology, law, materials science, mathematics, music, pharmaceutical sciences, physics, psychology, religion & theology, veterinary science, women's studies, zoology, and many other fields.
  • ProQuest Central This link opens in a new window ProQuest Central is a comprehensive multidisciplinary research database. It provides access to databases across all major subject areas, including business, health and medical, social sciences, arts and humanities, education, science and technology, and religion. The collection includes thousands of full-text scholarly journals, newspapers, magazines, dissertations, working papers, and market reports all together in one platform.

To find scholarly articles in a library database:

  • Go to the  Healey Library homepage
  • Click on  Databases List  from the menu on the left
  • Select a database by title, subject or material type
  • If you are off-campus, you will need to enter your  campus username  and  password
  • If there is an option, select  Peer-Reviewed or Scholarly Journal
  • Type your keywords in the search box 
  • In the results list, look for PDF or full text links to the article title
  • Click on the link to access the full article

To find scholarly articles in UMBrella :

  • For example: for articles about child abuse, type  “child abuse”  in the search box. Quotation marks around a phrase will search for that exact phrase.
  • Then select  Articles  under  Material Type
  • limit your results to articles that are immediately available, by checking Full Text Online
  • limit to peer-reviewed articles, by checking Peer-reviewed Journals
  • Click on an article title that interests you
  • Look under  Find Online  to see how you can access the article's full text
  • Click one of the links
  • If you are off campus, you will need to enter your  campus username  and  password

While some  databases  include the full text of articles, others only provide citations. Citations may include a link to the full text which will take you to the complete article. For help getting an article, follow these steps:

  • Check if the library has a subscription to the  journal  through the  J ournal Finder
  • Download the browser extension  Lean Library  to be notified if the library has full-text access  
  • Search  Google Scholar
  • Request a copy of the article from  Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
  • Ask a librarian  for help
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Selecting a Journal for Publication: Find a Journal

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Tools for Finding a Journal for Publication

  • Elsevier Journal Finder Elsevier Journal Finder helps you find Elsevier journals that could be best suited for publishing your scientific article. The Journal Finder uses smart search technology and field-of-research specific vocabularies to match your article to Elsevier journals.
  • EndNote Match: Find the Best Fit Journals for Your Manuscript With a few key pieces of information—your title, abstract, and references—EndNote Match can help you find the right journal for your manuscript.
  • Journal/Author Name Estimator (JANE) Have you recently written a paper, but you're not sure to which journal you should submit it? Or maybe you want to find relevant articles to cite in your paper? Or are you an editor, and do you need to find reviewers for a particular paper? Jane can help!
  • Publish or Flourish Open Access FlourishOA is a resource for identifying high-quality, high-value open access journals.
  • Springer Journal Suggester Use the Springer Journal Selector to search for all Springer and BioMed Central journals to find a journal for your manuscript.
  • Think. Check. Submit Think. Check. Submit. is a campaign to help researchers identify trusted journals for their research. It is a simple checklist researchers can use to assess the credentials of a journal or publisher.
  • Web of Science Master List The Web of Science Master list contains a list of approximately 24,000 journals indexed by the Web of Science platform. A manuscript matcher tool is also available.

How to Make Your Own Work Open Access?

Looking for ideas on how to make your work openly available? Review the list of suggestions from Peter Suber: How to Make Your Own Work Open Access .

Among the suggestions are:

  • Publish in an Open Access Journal.
  • Deposit your work to a repository.
  • Retain rights to your work.

Video: Think. Check. Submit.

Journal Listings

  • AAMC Annotated Bibliography of Journals for Educational Scholarship 2019 The AAMC Annotated Bibliography provides scholars and researchers with detailed information about the topics, types of manuscripts, and audiences for more than 60 journals that publish health professions education manuscripts.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) DOAJ contains more than 10,000 open access journals covering all areas of science, technology, medicine, social science and humanities. DOAJ is co-author to the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing (Principles), a list of criteria used for listing of journals and DOAJ members are expected to follow these principles as a condition of membership.
  • Embase Journal List Embase provides 32 million+ records from almost 8,300 currently published journals and includes six million+ records and 2,900+ journals that are not covered by MEDLINE.
  • Journals that Follow the ICMJE Recommendations Consult this list for journals whose editors or publishers have contacted the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) to request listing as a journal that follows the ICMJE's Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals.
  • NLM Catalog: Journals Currently Indexed by MEDLINE/PubMed This resource is a list of journals currently indexed in MEDLINE.
  • Scopus Journal List Check the Scopus list of indexed journals including those no longer indexed due due to publication concerns.
  • Web of Science Master Journal List The Master Journal List includes all journal titles covered in Web of Science.
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  • Find journal articles
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You may need to use articles from a range of different journal types in the course of your studies. 

You may be asked to only use articles from a peer-reviewed or refereed journal. Our peer-reviewed journal articles guide explains what peer review is and how to find peer-reviewed articles.

Find out about different journal types and how to find the articles you need.

What is a journal?

Why use journal articles, find a particular article, find articles by subject or keyword.

A journal is a magazine that focuses on a particular discipline or subject matter. Journals are sometimes referred to as magazines, periodicals, or serials. Journals:

  • concern a particular discipline or subject area
  • are published regularly (weekly, monthly, quarterly)
  • contain articles, book reviews and editorial content.

There are many types of journals, including:

  • peer-reviewed
  • scholarly and academic journals
  • trade journals
  • professional journal
  • current affairs journals.

Information found in journals is:

  • authoritative and often peer-reviewed
  • digestible (with an easily understandable structure: Abstract, introduction, methodology, discussion and conclusion)
  • provides information on a specific topic
  • answers a specific question (presents findings).

Journal articles are not suitable for all occasions. Journals articles generally do not provide:

  • an introduction to a subject area
  • a broad overview of a particular topic.

If you have the journal article citation, to get the full text of the article check in Library Search  first.

For example, to find this citation - 

Serry, T. A., & Oberklaid, F. (2015). Children with reading problems: Missed opportunities to make a difference. Australian Journal of Education , 59(1), 22-34. 

  • Go to Library Search
  • Enter the article title - "Children with reading problems: Missed opportunities to make a difference"   
  • Verify that the result is the correct Journal, author, year, volume, page number etc
  • Click on the title to access or locate the article

Search Library Search for the journal title to find out:

  • Whether the library holds the journal
  • If it is published online or in print
  • Which database holds the journal
  • Which volumes/years are held.

To search for journal titles:

  • Go to Library Search  on the Library homepage
  • Select Journals from the drop down options
  • enter the journal title , for example -  Australian Journal of Education

If you only have partial information on the journal article, search Google Scholar for the full citation. Once you have the journal citation you can go back to Library Search to look up the journal title.

Find the full text of a particular journal article (YouTube, 2m56s)

If you still can't locate your journal article, place a  document delivery request  and we will try to get it for you.

Library Search is a good place to start as it searches across many databases.

Searching further on your topic:

  • Subject guides  - our librarians have selected the most relevant databases in your subject area
  • Database Search  - browse key databases by subject category
  • Google Scholar  (use you UQ log in to enter Google Scholar for greater access to full-text material).

Get more tips on searching in databases .

  • Searching in databases
  • Peer reviewed journal articles
  • Literature reviews
  • Systematic reviews
  • Find specific information formats
  • Web searching

Find the Full Text of an Article: 4 Ways to Find an Article

  • 4 Ways to Find an Article
  • By Article Title
  • By Journal Name
  • On the Open Web

There are four ways to find articles from the library homepage:

KNOWN ARTICLE:   For an article you already know about use SEARCH EVERYTHING from the library homepage (i.e. paste in the title or title words and author's last name)

BY KEYWORD:  To find articles on a subject use SEARCH EVERYTHING and type in subject keywords or choose a subject specific database to narrow the search pool.  (This searches almost all of the library databases at once.)

WITHIN A SPECIFIC JOURNAL:  Use the Journals+ tab  to search for a specific periodical title (i.e. Harvard Business Review) to locate the journal on the library website.  Choose the database based on dates available.  Then browse by date or issue, or search within the title.

BY SUBJECT:   Choose the databases tab and select a database related to the subject you want to search.  Use the drop-down for our frequently used databases, use the A-Z link if you know which database you want, or use "databases by subject" to find databases that cover your subject.  Hard to choose?  Contact a librarian.

When you are off-campus, always start from the library homepage

This is to guarantee that you will be asked to authenticate with your UCID and avoid the PAYWALL

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Measuring Your Scholarly Impact

Journal rankings & evaluation, author & article impact, visualization software, statements on responsible research metrics, article & author impact.

  • Web of Science (Harvard Login) A multidisciplinary database, with searchable author abstracts, covering the journal literature of the sciences, social sciences and arts. Create personal account to generate citation reports by author and create citation maps for articles.
  • Google Scholar Citations Track citations to your publications. Determine which authors are citing to your publications. Graph your citations over time. Note: You must register for a Google account using an academic email account. Authors of scholarly articles should claim their Google Scholar page to verify that your publications listings are accurate and complete. You can also create an author profile by following the instructions on the Google Scholar Citation page
  • Publish or Perish A free author and journal impact metrics software program developed by Anne Wil Harzing that retrieves and analyzes citations to articles and books. The software uses Google Scholar to obtain the raw citations. The tool can be used to locate most cited articles and books by searching in general citations field.
  • ORCID Register for an ORCID number. An ORCID is a unique id number that distinguishes you from every other researcher. This id is essential if you have a common last and first name as it distinguishes you from other scholars. Read more about ORCID at the Library's ORCID page. You can also use Harvard ORCID Connect to allow Harvard to access your ORCID more easily. This means internal scholarly and administrative systems can pull in your public ORCID data, saving you time, maintaining the accuracy and consistency of your data, and creating meaningful connections between systems. The id can be integrated into the research workflow such as manuscript and grant submissions and it supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities.

Journal Metrics

Journal metrics are used to identify key journals in a research field.  This identification may be most useful to authors who are considering which journals to submit manuscripts to for future publication.

The Impact Factor may be the most familiar metric in academics. Eugene Garfield of Thomson Scientific first introduced this idea in the 1950s. Impact Factor calculations are now available through Thomson’s Journal Citation Reports (JCR) and the Elsevier product, Scopus.

Despite their merits, journal metrics can be misused for evaluating individual authors. Altmetrics is an alternative for measuring scholarly impact. Altmetrics measures the use of social media tools such as bookmarks, links, blog postings, and tweets to gauge the importance of scholarly output by authors.  Using altmetrics as a measure of scholarly impact is controversial as social media tweets and mentions can be gamed by authors.

Journal Evaluation Resources

  • Journal Citation Reports (Harvard Login) Database for journal evaluation, using citation data drawn from over 8,400 scholarly and technical journals worldwide in the sciences and social sciences. Coverage is both multidisciplinary and international, and incorporates journals from over 3,000 publishers in 60 nations.
  • 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. more... less... For additional information about google inclusion and exclusion policies for metrics, go to
  • 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.
  • SciRev 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.

Conducting Literature Reviews

Scholars will often publish journal articles that evaluate the top ranked journals in their discipline. Conduct a search in a large interdisciplinary database such as Proquest Social Sciences Premium Collection or Ebsco's Academic Search Premier using keywords such as "top journals" or "highly ranked journals" and the field. For example, you could search in Academic Search Premier using the terms "top ranked journals" and "economics". You can also select a narrower subject specific database such as EconLit .  Alternatively search across a number of different databases for full-text articles using the Google Scholar search option.

Defining Altmetrics

The term "altmetrics" (alternative metrics) is used to describe approaches to measure the impact of scholarship by using new social media tools such as bookmarks, links, blog postings, inclusion in citation management tools, mentions and tweets to measure the importance of scholarly output.

Proponents of altmetrics believe that using altmetrics will help measure the impact of an article in a more comperhensive and objective way than was done with more traditional scholarly impact measures such as journal impact factor.  However, there are limits to this approach and caution should be used to not rely on any one particular measure in evaluting the importance of scholarship.

  • 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.
  • Altmetric (Free Tools) Private company that sells access to altmetrics products. Individual researchers can download a free bookmarklet to check altmetrics on individual articles.
  • 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.
  • Leiden Madtrics Leiden Madtrics is the official blog of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University. The blog looks specifically at the processes of evaluating research, developing research policy, and the myriad ways academic research makes an impact in society

Free Software for Visualizing Citations

  • CitNetExplorer 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.
  • Gephi An open-source software for visualizing and analysing large networks graphs. Gephi uses a 3D render engine to display graphs in real-time and speed up the exploration. You can use it to explore, analyse, spatialise, filter, cluterize, manipulate and export all types of graphs.
  • Sci2 Network visualization tool that allows for easy data import from standard comma-separated lists and generates network analytics as well as visualizations.
  • VOSviewer Created by Leiden University's CWTS, a software tool for constructing and visualizing bibliometric networks. Offers text mining functionality that can be used to construct and visualize networks of important terms extracted from a body of scientific literature.
  • Local Citation Network Construct and visualizes citation networks to identify the most influential papers in a given topic or field.
  • 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.You can connect to your Zotero libraries.
  • Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics
  • San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment
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  • How to Find Scholarly Articles

Articles in scholarly publications are usually published by academic publishers or by scholarly or professional societies and organizations. The intended audience consists of specialists in professions and academic disciplines, teachers, and researchers. These journals are often subscribed to by individual scholars or by college and university libraries.

Articles in scholarly publications receive what is called in the academic world "peer review." Prior to acceptance for publication, all manuscripts of proposed articles are reviewed by scholars in the field to judge scholarly merit, research value, and accuracy. Scholarly articles normally indicate the credentials of the author, explain the methodology used in the research, and list footnotes or references to document the source material used in writing the article.

Try these multidisciplinary databases for access to scholarly articles:

  • OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center (all scholarly)
  • Web of Knowledge (all scholarly)
  • Academic Search Complete (some scholarly, some popular)

Subject-specific databases are listed by subject area. A few examples are ERIC in Education, GeoRef in Geology, and RILM in Music.

Once you find a citation of interest, look for links to the text of the article itself.

  • In some databases, full text displays automatically, or a link such as Attached Full Text , PDF , or HTML , etc. finds full text within the database.
  • The link Find It uses standard protocols to look for online full text in other sources, including other OhioLINK databases and library e-journal subscriptions.
  • Find It also indicates whether your own library or other OhioLINK libraries subscribe to the journal in print or electronically.
  • If you cannot find the article in any database or at your library, contact the Interlibrary Loan department of your library.

Check with the reference librarians at your library. They have information about the services of your own library and further recommendations on appropriate sources (electronic or print) to meet your information needs.

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How to Find Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

How to Identify a Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed Journal Article

  • Peer Review & Academic/Scholarly Journals
  • Finding Academic/Scholarly Journal Articles in Library Databases

Terms & Definitions

Scholar: A highly educated specialist who conducts research in a particular branch of study

Periodical: A type of publication produced as an open-ended series at regular intervals, or “periods,” such as daily, monthly, quarterly or annually

Scholarly/Academic Journal: A type of periodical that includes original research articles written by researchers and experts in a particular academic discipline, providing a forum for the production and critique of knowledge

Research Article: A formally written article that describes new knowledge or ideas based on original research, analysis and/or interpretation

Peer Review: The process by which scholars critically evaluate each other's research article prior to publication in an academic journal.

Editor: An individual who reviews, corrects, and determines the final content of a publication<

Scholarly Communication: "The system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use. The system includes both formal means of communication, such as publication in peer-reviewed journals, and informal channels, such as electronic listservs" (ACRL)

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Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles will have most of the characteristics listed below. Ask yourself these questions and look at the article to check if if the way it looks and is written indicates it is a reliable, accurate source:

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  • Example of a Peer-Reviewed Journal Article
  • Identifying Peer-Reviewed Research Articles
  • Clues an Article is NOT Peer-Reviewed
  • Types of Publications: Scholarly, Trade & Popular

how to find academic journal articles

The following terms and characteristics indicate an article is news or opinion-based information or published in a trade or professional journal. 

  • Short title and abstract with simple, plain language 
  • Provides advice, information and/or news of interest to a professional or practitioner of the discipline, field or industry
  • Short or no reference list, footnotes and/or endnotes
  • ​Advertising targeted at individuals or companies associated with the profession. For example: job boards, industry supplies/equipment
  • Professional, educational, and opinion-based terms, such as:

how to find academic journal articles

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  • Last Updated: Apr 12, 2023 7:08 PM
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How to Read an Academic Journal Article

What is in an academic journal.

  • Anatomy of a Journal Article
  • How to Read an Article

Publishing in scholarly, academic journals is one of the main ways researchers share their work with each other. You will find many types of things included in an academic journal, but the main purpose is to present scholars’ findings written up in primary or original articles, which undergo a peer review process, meaning they are systematically critiqued by other scholars in the relevant fields and judged for relevance, accuracy, validity, significance, and appropriate use of research methodologies, before being accepted for publication.

Here is what you will find in a typical academic journal:

Primary / Original articles - Detailed presentations of the results of the authors' original research. These will likely be the type of article you will use most. See the section on "Anatomy of a Journal Article" to see how they are typically structured. These are peer reviewed before being published.

Review article - A methodical review, critique, and synthesis of a set (usually large) of primary research articles on a particular topic, to provide an overview of current research on that topic. If you can find a recently published review article on your topic, that is usually a great place to start your research (they usually include the word ‘review’ in the title, so look for those).

Meta-analysis - Takes the data from a set of other studies (often previously reported in primary articles) to perform a statistical analysis of a much larger combined data set. So the experiments, field work, etc., to collect data are not original to the study, but the statistical analysis is, so these are peer reviewed.

Methodology articles - Detailed descriptions of new or improved methods, tests, or procedures for experiments, fieldwork, data analysis, etc.

Theoretical articles - Contribute to the theoretical foundations of a field or discipline, by proposing a new theoretical approach or analyzing current theoretical principles.

Short reports / News / Brief communications - Brief reports about, or data from, ongoing original research that may be of timely interest to other researchers. Depending on the field or journal, these may undergo different levels of brief or less thorough peer review, or only editorial review, before publication.

Editorial / Commentary / Letters - Brief opinion pieces written by a journal's editors or submitted by readers, offering commentaries on content published in the journal or on relevant work in the field. Letters submitted by readers are reviewed by editors before publication, but they are not peer reviewed studies, just informed opinions.

Book reviews - Reviews of recently published academic books relevant to the field covered by the journal, written by scholars in the field.

  • Next: Anatomy of a Journal Article >>
  • Last Updated: Oct 27, 2023 11:59 AM
  • URL:

Grad Coach

How To Skim Read Journal Articles

Fast-Track Your Literature Review By Focusing On Three Sections

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | May 2020

How to read scientific journal articles quickly and efficiently.

If you’ve just started your literature review process, you’re probably sitting on a pile of scientific journal articles and papers that are (1) lengthy and (2) written in very dense , academic language that is difficult to digest (at the best of times). It’s intimidating, for sure – and you’re probably wondering how on earth you’re going to get through it all.

You might be asking yourself some of these questions:

  • Do I need to read every journal article to make sure I cover everything?
  • Do I need to read every section of each article to understand it?
  • If not, which sections should I focus on?

First things first, relax (I can feel your tension!). In this post, I’m going answer these questions and explain how to approach your review of the literature the smart way , so that you focus only on the most relevant literature and don’t waste time on low-value activities.

So, grab a nice hot cup of coffee (or tea, or whatever – just no beers) and let’s take a look at those questions, one at a time.

Webinar - how to write a literature review

Question 1:

Do i need to read every journal article on my topic when doing my literature review.

The good news is that you don’t need to read every single journal article on your topic. Doing so would just be a waste of your time, as you’re generally looking to understand the current state of the literature – not the full history of it.

But… and this is an important but. You do need to read quite a bit to make sure that you have a comprehensive view of the current state of the literature (and of knowledge) in your area of research.

Quality trumps quantity when it comes to reviewing the literature. In other words, you need to focus on reading the journal articles that are most cited (i.e. that other academics have referenced) in relation to your topic keyword(s). You should focus on articles that are recent, relevant and well cited .

But how do I know if an article is well cited?

Thankfully, you can check the number of citations for any article really easily using Google Scholar . Just enter the article title in Google Scholar and it will show you how many citations it has – here’s an example:

How to read journal articles quickly and efficiently

In fact, Google Scholar is a great way to find the key journal articles for any keyword (topic) in general, so chances are you’ll be using this to find your journal articles in the first place. Therefore, be sure to keep an eye on citation count while you’re sourcing articles. It would also be smart to dedicate a column to it in your literature review catalogue (you can download one for free here ) so that you can quickly filter and sort by citation count.

A quick caveat – citation count is not a perfect metric for the quality of a journal article (unfortunately there is no unicorn metric that indicates quality). While its usually a good indicator of how popular an article is, it doesn’t mean the findings of the article are perfect (remember, the Kardashians are popular too – enough said). To the contrary, it could indicate that there’s a lot of controversy regarding the findings (sounds like the Kardashians again).

So, long story short – don’t be conned by citation count alone. Be sure to also pay attention the to quality of the journal each article is published in (you can check journal rank here ), and pay attention to what other articles say about any given popular article.

Need a helping hand?

how to find academic journal articles

Question 2:

Do i need to read the full journal journal article when doing my literature review.

Some more good news – no, you don’t need to read every single word in each journal article you review as part of your literature review. When you’re just starting your literature review, you need to get a big picture view of what each journal article is saying (in other words, the key questions and findings). Generally you can get a good feel for this by reading a few key sections in each article (we’ll get to these next).

That said (ah, there had to be a catch, right?), as you refine your literature review and establish more of a focus, you’ll need to dive deeper into the most important articles. Some articles will be central to your research – but you probably still don’t need to read them from first page to the last.

Question 3:

Which sections of each journal article should i read.

To get a big-picture view of what any article is all about, there are three sections that are very useful. These three sections generally explain both what the article is about (i.e. what questions they were trying to answer) and what the findings were (i.e. what their answers were). This is exactly what you’re looking for, so these three sections provide a great way for you to save time during your literature review.

So, let’s take a look at the three sections:

1 – The abstract (or executive summary)

The abstract (which is located right up front) provides a high-level overview of what the article is about. This is giving you the first little taste of the soup , so to speak. Generally, it will discuss what the research objectives were was and why they were important. This will give you a clear indication of how relevant the article is to your specific research, so pay close attention.

Sometimes the abstract will also discuss the findings of the article (much like a thesis abstract ), but this is not always the case (yeah, the abstract can be such a tease sometimes). If it does, it’s a bonus. But even so, you should still read the other sections, as the abstract only provides a very high-level view, and can miss out on specific nuances of the research.

2 – The introduction section

The introduction section will go into more detail about the topic being investigated and why this is important for the field of research. This will help you understand a bit more detail about what exactly they were investigating and in what context . Context is really important, so pay close attention to that.

For example, they might be investigating your exact topic, but in a country other than your own, or a different industry. In that case, you’d know that you need to pay very close attention to exactly how they undertook their research.

So, make sure you pay close attention to the introduction chapter to fully understand the focus of the research and the context in which it took place . Both will be important when it comes to writing your literature review, as you’ll need to use this information to build your arguments.

3 – The conclusion

While the introduction section tells you what the high-level questions the researchers asked, the conclusion section tells you what answers they found . This provides you with something of a shortcut to grasping the gist of the article, without reading all the dull and dry detail – yeah, it’s a little cheeky, I know. Of course, the conclusion is not going to highlight every nuance of the analysis findings, so if the article is highly relevant to your research, you should make sure to also pay close attention to the analysis findings section.

In addition to the findings of the research, the conclusion section will generally also highlight areas that require further research . In other words, they’ll outline areas that genuinely require further academic investigation (aka research gaps ). This is a gold mine for refining your topic into something highly original and well-rooted in the existing literature – just make sure that the article is recent, or someone else may have already exploited the research gap. If you’re still looking to identify a research topic, be sure to check out our video covering that here .

By reviewing these three sections of each article, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, while still getting a good understanding of what each article is saying. Keep in mind that as your literature review progresses, you focus will narrow and you’ll develop a set of core highly relevant articles, which you should sink your teeth into more deeply.

To fast-track your reading, always start by working through the abstract, the introduction section and the conclusion section.

Let’s Recap

In this post, we looked at how to read academic journal articles quickly and efficiently, to save you many hours of pain while undertaking your literature review.

The key takeaways to remember are:

  • You don’t need to read every single journal article covering your topic – focus on the most popular, authoritative and recent ones
  • You don’t need to read every word of every article. To start, you just need to get a high-level understanding of the literature, which you can get by focusing on three key areas in each journal article.
  • The three sections of each journal article to review are the abstract , the introduction and the conclusion .
  • Once you’ve narrowed down your focus and have a core set of highly relevant, highly authoritative articles, you can dive deeper into them, paying closer attention to the methodology and analysis findings.

And there you have it – now go on and hammer through that pile of articles at warp speed. While you’re at it, why not also check out our other posts and videos covering research topic ideation , dissertation and thesis proposal , literature review , methodology , analysis and more.

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling Udemy Course, Literature Review Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

You Might Also Like:

How to structure the literature review chapter


Aletta Malatji

Thanks Derek for the tips

Reviewing the Literature can be overwhelming if you do not have the plan or the right structure to navigate the pool of information

Derek Jansen

You’re most welcome, Aletta. All the best with your literature review.

Dennyson Mulenga

I personally have found these tips as a key to my long standing problem of reading articles. Thanks a million times

Rishen Moodley

Simple and easy to read guidance… funny too

Great to hear that, Rishen 🙂

Mazwakhe Mkhulisi

Much appreciated Derek. I already realized I could not read everything, but you confirming that has brought a lot of relief.

Great to hear that, Mazwakhe 🙂

Sangappa Vaggar

Derek sir, I’m really happy for you.You made me to think very smart and effective way to do the review of literature.

Thank you so much.


Dear Derek, thank you for your easy and straight forward guidance,

Sanoon Fasana

Thanks for the interesting and informative article

You’re most welcome, Sanoon. Glad it was useful.


Thanks for the insights, I am about to start my literature review and this article as well as the other material from GradCoach will help me on the jorney.

You’re most welcome! Good luck writing your literature review

Aimal Waziri Waziri

It was a great and effective information.


Thank you that was very helpful. I am taking a directed studies summer course, and I have to submit a literature review by end of August. That article was short, straight to the point and interesting 🙂 thank you Derek

You’re welcome, Emy 🙂 Good luck with your studies!


Thanks Derek. Reading this article has given me a boost because I have been so stock on how to go about my literature review.Though I know I am not meant to read the whole article.But your explanation has given me a greater insight.


Thank you very much sir for your great explanation 😄 Hopefully I’ve enough diligence and courage to start

You’re most welcome, Felicia. Good luck with your research.

Tamim Adnan

thanks, it was helpful.


Thanks Derek for doing such a wonderful job of helping. Blessings Bro!


Concise and applicable, nice! what a great help. I am now doing a literature review section on my thesis, I used to waste so much time on reading articles that is not relevant back and forth.

M.Tameem Mubarak

Thank for your great help!


Hi Derek, i am busy with my research literature. I submited my 1st draft but it was way irrelevant as per comments made by my supervisor… i gave myself time to find out where i diverted until i lesson to some of your videos. As we speak now, i am starting following the guidelines and i feel confident that i am on the right track now. Thanks a lot my brother

You’re most welcome 🙂


I can’t explain my mood when I realised I had to study more than 40 articles about my study field. It was indeed a game-changer. Thank you very much, Derek. Also, Kardashian was the best example that can be used for this situation :)))


Thank you for posting this. It truly takes a load off! I’m new to Doctoral research and peer review study and “Overwhelmed” doesn’t quite sum up how I felt. This is a tremendous help!


Thank you for the advice. Question, how do one keep count of all the articles considered from starting point to narrowed down. Manually, or is there another way?


  • What Is A Literature Review (In A Dissertation Or Thesis) - Grad Coach - […] first step of any literature review is to hunt down and read through the existing research that’s relevant to your research…

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  • Published: 25 October 2023

How are exclusively data journals indexed in major scholarly databases? An examination of four databases

  • Chenyue Jiao 1 ,
  • Kai Li   ORCID: 2 &
  • Zhichao Fang 3 , 4  

Scientific Data volume  10 , Article number:  737 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

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  • Research data

The data paper is becoming a popular way for researchers to publish their research data. The growing numbers of data papers and journals hosting them have made them an important data source for understanding how research data is published and reused. One barrier to this research agenda is a lack of knowledge as to how data journals and their publications are indexed in the scholarly databases used for quantitative analysis. To address this gap, this study examines how a list of 18 exclusively data journals (i.e., journals that primarily accept data papers) are indexed in four popular scholarly databases: the Web of Science, Scopus, Dimensions, and OpenAlex. We investigate how comprehensively these databases cover the selected data journals and, in particular, how they present the document type information of data papers. We find that the coverage of data papers, as well as their document type information, is highly inconsistent across databases, which creates major challenges for future efforts to study them quantitatively, which should be addressed in the future.


Research data has become one of the most important objects in the research system during the past decade. Researchers across knowledge domains are relying on larger quantities of data to understand their research topics, which has brought significant changes to how our research system works and how research is conducted 1 , 2 . In particular, it is commonly agreed that the increasing amount of research data has raised distinct new requirements for data collection, processing, publishing, and sharing 3 , which cannot be sufficiently fulfilled without support from new infrastructure 4 . One recent development in this area is the 2016 proposal of the FAIR principles as guidelines for various stakeholders in the e-Science domain to enhance the findability and usability of data objects 5 . The 15 principles form a clear and actionable framework for the development of data-related initiatives and have been embraced by many parties in the research community.

Another significant recent development concerning research data is the academic genre of the data paper, which gradually took shape in the early 2010s. It is officially defined as a “scholarly publication of a searchable metadata document describing a particular online accessible dataset, or a group of datasets, published in accordance to the standard academic practices” 6 . Serving as a descriptor and citable proxy of data objects in the bibliographic universe, it can make research data more findable, citable, and reusable under the current research infrastructure 7 , 8 , 9 , goals that are consistent with the FAIR principles 10 , 11 . Moreover, data papers are making it easier for research data to be peer-reviewed, a significant prerequisite for the integration of data objects into the research system 12 , 13 . From this perspective, we are also not trying to distinguish the variant names assigned to this type of documents, such as “data article” in Data in Brief , “data description paper” in Earth System Science Data and “data descriptor” by Scientific Data .

Over time, more journals have begun accepting data papers. In this research, all periodicals accepting data papers are termed data journals ; and more specifically, we distinguish journals primarily publishing data papers (i.e., exclusively data journals ; the operationalization of this concept is discussed in the Methods section) from the rest that accept data papers just as a genre in addition to research articles (i.e., mixed data journals ), following how these categories are defined in previous studies 9 , 14 .

As data papers are becoming a popular way for researchers to publish their research data in many disciplines 14 , 15 , this new genre has become an important data source for investigating how data is used by scientists. This echoes increasing interest in research data from the field of quantitative science studies 16 , 17 . Numerous studies have been conducted using quantitative methods and large-scale datasets to understand the relationship between research data and scientific studies and outputs, such as how data objects are cited and/or mentioned in scientific publications 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 and the disciplines behind the datasets 22 . The majority of existing research uses citations to data repositories, such as DataCite 23 and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) data repository 22 , 24 as well as Clarivate’s Data Citation Index 25 , 26 , which is also primarily based on data repositories 27 . However, despite the growing importance of data papers, very few studies in this line of research have analyzed them directly, with a few exceptions based on small numbers of individual data journals 7 , 9 , 28 .

The absence of data papers from large-scale empirical studies represents a major gap in the existing research infrastructure for effectively tracing data papers. Efforts have been made to identify data journals 14 , 29 , but to our knowledge, no research has been conducted to understand how these journals and their publications are indexed in scholarly databases, such as the Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus, which are frequently used as the direct data source in quantitative science studies. This gap makes it harder for researchers to easily extract a large body of data papers from scholarly databases and analyze them, especially using quantitative methods.

To bridge this important gap, this research aims to examine the coverage of data journals and data papers published in these journals indexed in major scholarly databases used in quantitative science studies, including the WoS, Scopus, Dimensions, and OpenAlex. We selected a list of exclusively data journals from lists of data journals that have been compiled by other researchers. Using this list, we evaluated how data papers in these journals are indexed in the above databases, particularly from the perspectives of document types used to describe the publications and changes in coverage over time. More specific research questions include:

RQ1: Which exclusively data journals are indexed in major scholarly databases?

Using various lists of data journals (discussed in Methods), we compile a list of exclusively data journals based on our operationalization of this concept and quantitatively examine their presence in the databases listed above. This will serve as the basis for future quantitative studies on the genre of data papers.

RQ2: How are data papers in these journals indexed over time?

Building upon the survey of data journals in RQ1, we further examine how different databases index publications (most of which being data papers) from these exclusively data journals over time, to understand the coverage of this genre from a more granular and dynamic perspective.

RQ3: Are data papers indexed accurately in terms of document type?

The last question aims to offer a survey of the extent to which data papers in the journals are labeled as data papers in the selected databases. Correct labeling is the first step for data papers to be distinguished from other types of publications (especially research articles) in a database and analyzed separately. Answers to this research question will lead to a better understanding of the gaps in the current infrastructure for data papers and facilitate more meaningful support of data publication in the future.

Identifying exclusively data journals

Data journals, as a new venue for data sharing and publishing, have gained increasing attention from scholars. There are many resources that provide lists of data journals. In this study, we resorted to the following resources to compile a list of exclusively data journals: (1) Candela and colleagues’ survey 14 , (2) an updated journal list by Walters 29 , (3) a list of data journals compiled by Kindling and Strecker 30 , (4) data journal lists created by academic libraries and other parties indexed by Google (e.g., the list of data journals created by the University of Pittsburgh available at: ), and (5) journals with “data” or “database” in the title included in the Journal Citation Reports or Scopus List of Journals.

From these sources, we further selected exclusively data journals based on the following criteria: (1) the journal primarily accepts data papers based on its statement of aims and scopes, operationalized as a greater than 50% share of data papers among all publications on the journal website, (2) the journal is active as of January 2023, and (3) the journal only publishes English-language articles. We manually examined all candidate journals against these criteria. For example, only about one-quarter of all publications in Biodiversity Data Journal are data papers, leading us to remove this periodical from the present study, despite the fact that it is mentioned as an important data journal in previous studies 6 , 7 . We also excluded Arxius de Miscellania Zoologica , which publishes data papers in Catalan, English, and Spanish. Genomics Data was excluded because it was published from 2013 to 2017; the journal is now part of Data in Brief . Finally, we selected the 18 journals shown in Table  1 as the analytical sample for this research.

Collecting data papers from major databases

In this study, we strove to answer our research questions using the WoS, Scopus, Dimensions, and OpenAlex, as these are among the most commonly used large-scale bibliographic data sources in quantitative science studies.

For each database, we collected the metadata information of all publications from each journal in our final list that was indexed in the database. We used the online portal of the WoS and Scopus for data collection. As for Dimensions and OpenAlex, we retrieved the data from the in-house Dimensions database (version: June 2022) and OpenAlex database (version: October 2022) hosted at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) of Leiden University, respectively. We only considered papers published by the end of 2021.

Comparing document types of our sample

The classification of document types varies by database. In Dimensions and OpenAlex, all publications from indexed data journals are classified as Article , whereas various document types appear in WoS and Scopus. Therefore, we only compared the document types between the latter two databases. Table  2 shows how the two main document types of interest, Article and Data paper , are defined by these two databases, as quoted from their documentation. Based on their definitions and their presentation in the data, we classified publications into these two types. Our classification also includes other document types, such as Correction and Editorial material , which are categorized as Other in this research. We note that, based on our examination, the WoS retrospectively assigned Data paper to articles published before 2016, when this type was introduced. However, it was unclear when the Data paper tag was introduced into Scopus. As a result, our analysis of the document type must be based on the data collected at this time.

To examine the accuracy of document types in these databases, we collected the papers’ classification on the journal website and compared it with the document types assigned by the two databases. We focused on one journal in our list, Scientific Data , as a case study for two reasons: first, Scientific Data is the most influential data journal, especially in terms of impact factor; second, publications in this journal are searchable by article type on the website ( ) so that it is easy to collect the classifications of each publication.

We collected 1,913 publications published by the end of 2021 in Scientific Data for this case study. The document types defined by the journal and the count of publications in each type are presented in Table  3 . According to the definitions, we counted Data descriptor as Data paper , Article as Article , and all remaining categories as Other in our analysis. We then compared the count of publications in these categories from the journal website, WoS, and Scopus to examine the extent to which data journal publications are classified correctly in databases.

How are data journals and publications indexed?

The numbers of data journals and the year in which they were indexed in the database vary significantly among these four popular scholarly databases (see Table  4 ). Only eight data journals are indexed in WoS and 11 in Scopus, but Dimensions and OpenAlex have full coverage of the journal list. In terms of the indexed year, even though most of the journals are indexed in these databases in very similar manners, there are some notable differences, the majority of which are due to the fact that WoS is the most selective database among these four. Another notable observation is that the indexed years of Journal of Chemical and Engineering Data in three databases are prior to its established year. This is because a few publications were indexed by their first published dates instead of their formal published dates. Additionally, the fact that the WoS has later indexed years than most of the other databases is consistent with the fact that it has the most selective criteria for journals among the most popular databases 31 . It should also be noted that IUCrData and Journal of Open Humanities Data were indexed in Scopus from 2022, which is not covered by our publication window.

Table  5 presents the number of data journals established in three periods of time. We acknowledge that there may be other ways to classify the history of data journals; however, we selected the year 2014 because of its importance: multiple important data journals were established in this year, such as Scientific Data and Data in Brief . The earliest data journal is the Journal of Chemical and Engineering Data which was first published in 1959, followed by two others founded in the 1970s. We included these three data journals even though their inchoate publications may not be totally consistent with how data papers are defined today. A notable trend that can be observed from Table  5 is that most data journals in our list were established between 2014 and 2016, indicating that the data paper is a new and growing academic genre.

Since the coverage and indexed year of data journals vary among databases, the number of publications also varies greatly. Table  6 illustrates the number of publications from each journal in the four databases. We found that OpenAlex has the most comprehensive coverage of publications, whereas the WoS has the fewest publications. For most journals, there is a small variance in the number of publications indexed in the databases, despite the identical publication window taken by these different databases. One notable issue we found in Table  6 , compared to the data collected from Scientific Data (Table  3 ), is that three of the databases have more publications than the number of publications on the journal’s website per se. We double-checked our data collection pipeline and found that the extra publications are primarily ascribable to indexing errors, where the same publication is assigned different IDs and/or titles. To highlight this quality issue, we decided not to remove the duplicated publications from our analytical sample.

We further examined the numbers of journals and publications covered by each database over time. Figure  1 shows the trend on the journal level (Panel A) and the publication level (Panel B) respectively. We see a similar increasing trend for both journals and publications over time, especially from 2014 onwards. By the year of 2000, more than 15 exclusively data journals published more than 3,500 data papers every year, which shows the growth of this new academic genre. However, a notable difference between the databases can also be observed by comparing the two panels in Fig.  1 : even though the number of journals covered by Dimensions and OpenAlex is much larger than that of the other two, their indexed publications are similar in size. This is because most of the journals covered by WoS and Scopus are larger than those omitted; being more selective, these two databases included journals that are potentially more established and important. As a result, despite the fairly large difference in the number of data journals from these databases, we can still use the WoS and Scopus to retrieve a large enough and potentially more representative sample of data papers from these exclusively data journals.

figure 1

Numbers of data journals (Panel A) and data papers (Panel B) indexed in the four databases over time.

Are publication types indexed consistently in the scholarly databases?

Each database has their own classification system of document types. Dimensions and OpenAlex assign Article to all data papers as they do for research articles, whereas WoS and Scopus have a specific category for data papers. Following the classification principles mentioned in Methods, Table  7 presents the share of all publications in each document type from the four databases. The distributions of publication in WoS and Scopus are similar to each other.

We further evaluate the above trend from WoS and Scopus over time for four journals that are fully covered by both databases. Figure  2 shows that, despite the similar overall distributions in Table  7 between the two databases, there are vast differences in how document types are assigned in individual journals over time and between the two databases. This clearly shows that the assignment of the Data paper tag is far from consistent in any of these databases and cannot be reliably used to retrieve data papers in these two databases.

figure 2

Share of data papers in each journal in each database over time.

We further analyzed how publications from Scientific Data are indexed in WoS and Scopus, to understand the accuracy of document type assignment in a more granular manner. From the website of Scientific Data , there are 1,636 data papers, 69 articles, and 208 other publications, based on our classification. Table  8 shows how these publications are treated in the two databases. Even though both databases have many mislabeled articles, the WoS has a much higher accuracy (84.32%) than Scopus (59.27%).

In this work, we analyzed how exclusively data journals and publications in these journals are indexed in four major scholarly databases, as a first step towards establishing a comprehensive sample of data papers for future quantitative analyses. More specifically, we compiled a list of 18 exclusively data journals using existing efforts and analyzed how these journals and their publications are indexed and labelled by four such databases. Our results show significant inconsistencies in the indexing and labeling of data journals and papers by the popular databases, a major gap to be addressed by future efforts to improve the infrastructure that supports data publication and citation.

On the journal level, our results show that the two newer databases, Dimensions and OpenAlex, enjoy a strong advantage over the two more traditional databases, WoS and Scopus. The former two databases cover all of the exclusively data journals, whereas Scopus and WoS only cover 11 and 8 journals, respectively. Our results echo findings from past research that new databases in the market, such as Microsoft Academic Graph (the predecessor of OpenAlex) and Dimensions, are generally more comprehensive in terms of the research outputs indexed 32 , 33 . This trend is especially applicable to data journals because many of the exclusively data journals are relatively new and do not have many publications and citations, which makes these journals much less likely to be indexed in more established and selective databases.

Despite the large difference in the number of journals covered by these databases, we also find that the numbers of articles covered by the databases are much more similar to each other. Scopus and WoS cover about 90% and 75% of all articles in OpenAlex, respectively. This is because most of the data journals indexed in Scopus and WoS are also those with higher impact and more publications. This also shows that we will be able to collect a “good enough” and potentially more representative sample of data papers by simply using Scopus and, to a lesser extent, WoS.

Both of the above results suggest that the coverage of data publications in our existing knowledge infrastructure is still insufficient for such publications to be thoroughly and consistently retrieved and studied. Meta-research on data publication still needs to be based on scrupulous selection of the publication sample, given the limitations discussed above. In addition, we argue that this gap is also part of the insufficient integration of research data into the research system and can have strong negative impacts on how research data will be reused. Even though most of the data journals require the authors to supply the link to the data repository page in the data paper 14 , however, as a published document, such data papers can still be cited alone to represent a dataset. As a result, the data publication is an important method for research data to be identified in scholarly databases, which are fundamental data sources in various quantitative studies of science fields.

Beyond the data journals and papers indexed in the databases, we also examined the document type tag used for data papers in these databases, as this is the metadata element that will need to be used to retrieve data articles. Among the four databases we examined, all data papers are counted as regular research articles in Dimensions and OpenAlex, making it very challenging for researchers to acquire a full sample of data papers from them, despite their more comprehensive coverage of data papers. This is consistent with existing empirical evidence that the document type tag suffers from quality issues in most scholarly databases 34 , 35 but the metadata quality in these emerging databases is often lower than in the more established databases 33 , 36 . By comparison, in Scopus and WoS, even though the Data paper document type is defined and used, papers bearing this label were introduced into these databases in different years, which contributes to inconsistent encoding of data papers. More importantly, we also find a stark gap in how publications in some of the data journals are encoded in these two databases. Through a more granular analysis using the case of Scientific Data , we find that the accuracy of this metadata element is significantly higher in WoS than in Scopus, which compensates for the less comprehensive coverage of data papers in the former data source.

Based on the results above, we argue that the inconsistent policies and implementation of the Data paper document type between popular scholarly databases pose a major issue for a more comprehensive identification of data papers from academic journals and the understanding of their roles in the research system. This is especially so given the facts that (1) the document type is the most important marker to distinguish data papers from research papers in scholarly databases and (2) many data papers are published in mixed data journals, where data papers and research articles are published together. As a result, the inaccuracies of this label in scholarly databases strongly prevents a thorough sample of data papers from being established for future quantitative studies. As a result, we believe this is an important issue to be solved through more communications among database vendors, data journal publishers and the open science community, so that research data will have great visibility in the research infrastructure and the quality of scholarly databases will be improved.

To sum up, our results highlight major limitations in existing scholarly databases to index and label data papers, an emerging and important representation of research data across various knowledge domains. This will lead to future efforts to improve our research infrastructure to support data-driven research and establish a more comprehensive and representative sample of data journals and publication for future metadata-analyses.

However, as the first step towards achieving the goals, our research has a major limitation that we are only focusing on exclusively data journals in this research, which offers only a partial view of the landscape of data publication. Whereas these journals are most strongly connected to data publication, many data papers are also published in mixed data journals, along with regular research articles. As the next step of the project, we will focus on identifying data papers from such mixed journals and understanding how data papers are published in these journals. In particular, we will design and experiment machine learning algorithm to distinguish data papers from research articles in mixed data journals.

Moreover, we will combine exclusively and mixed data journals to construct a large dataset of data papers, which will be critical for establishing a more comprehensive understanding of data publication. By using this novel dataset, we will be able to investigate new questions that are critical to the understanding of the relationship between research data and knowledge. Such questions include how the publishing and reusing of research data is connected to the discipline, gender, geography, and institution of researchers. These perspectives are central to the overall science studies communities and the investigation of how research data is produced and consumed from these perspectives will contribute to a better integration of data with the research system and have strong implications for future data-related research policies 37 , 38 .

Data availability

The raw data examined in this research is available at Figshare repository 39 .

Code availability

The code used in this research is available at Figshare repository 39 .

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Chenyue Jiao: Conceptualization. Data curation. Formal Analysis. Investigation. Methodology. Writing – original draft. Kai Li: Conceptualization. Formal Analysis. Investigation. Methodology. Visualization. Writing – original draft. Writing – review & editing. Zhichao Fang: Resource. Validation. Writing – review & editing.

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The Scholarly Kitchen

What’s Hot and Cooking In Scholarly Publishing

Quantifying Consolidation in the Scholarly Journals Market

  • Business Models
  • Metrics and Analytics
  • Open Access
  • Research Societies
  • World of Tomorrow

Scientists are trained to never to accept anything at face value. Even the most obvious of statements requires supporting data, otherwise it must be treated with skepticism.That training has been on my mind over the last few months as I’ve worked with colleagues to put together a large scale report on trends in the journals publishing market. A key trend, obvious to any publishing consultant or acquisitions editor buried in a seemingly endless (and seemingly rising) stream of independent journals seeking a partnership with a larger publisher, is the ongoing and ever-increasing market consolidation that has been accelerated by the move to open access (OA). We all know this to be true, but where is the data?

Looking at the literature, the references I can find are out of date, the most recent being Lariviére et al. , from 2015, looking at conditions in 2013. With nothing available for the last decade, I set out to see if the obvious was indeed true.

Caveats: Issues with DOIs, publisher metadata, and bibliometrics databases

A trip to a local university’s library offered access to all the major bibliometric databases. While I have frequently used these databases to look at the current (or at least recent) state of individual journals and journal portfolios, this was one of the first large scale historical analyses I’ve done, and I learned many lessons along the way. What at first seemed a fairly straightforward research project very quickly got a lot more complicated, due to the, er, persistent nature of persistent identifiers (PIDs). Many of the bibliometric databases we use to analyze the literature are based around DOIs (digital object identifiers) for articles. DOIs are awesome, because they aim to resolve to their targets even if the location of that target moves somewhere new. That’s what makes them persistent, and it offers tremendous benefits when you want to find something today. But it raises problems for trying to figure out where it was yesterday.

As an example, the journal GENETICS was independently published by the Genetics Society of America (GSA), beginning in 1916. In 2021, the GSA signed a publishing services agreement with Oxford University Press (OUP). All of the journal’s back issues moved over to the OUP platform, and all of the DOIs associated with those articles now resolve to OUP. Which means that bibliometric databases that find articles based on DOIs will now tell you that OUP has always been the publisher of GENETICS , all the way back to its founding, because that’s where the DOIs point.

And that makes historical trend analysis difficult. And so I turned the Web of Science (WoS). WoS has the advantage of creating an annual snapshot of the literature that isn’t dynamically updated. Publisher information is still kind of spotty in WoS – unlike other databases, WoS still sees GENETICS as independently published by GSA (all 2022 articles are credited to the society as the publisher, despite having moved to the OUP platform). And like other bibliometric databases, WoS has failed to recognize some of the major mergers that have taken place over the last two decades. Nature journals are still listed separately and not included under “Springer Nature” despite the two merging in 2015. Hindawi remains a separate entity from its 2021 owner, Wiley. For my analysis, these mergers had to be adjusted for manually and the companies treated as one after their respective mergers. Next year’s study will likely need to manually merge De Gruyter and Brill. I don’t know if these issues are due to poor metadata supplied by publishers or are based on how each individual database chooses to capture its sources. I’ve not vetted the WoS data on a journal-by-journal basis, so the results presented below may need to be taken with a grain of salt and show large scale trends rather than accuracy on a detailed level.

One useful benefit of WoS is that it allows the user to readily filter out Meeting Abstract articles. Many journals publish the abstracts from their host society’s annual meeting, which can inflate the article totals for a journal by thousands, even if these aren’t full articles that were vetted through peer review by the journal’s editorial board. This sort of filtering much is more difficult, if it’s even possible, in some of the other major bibliometric databases.

The downside to WoS is that it is a selective database — that is, it only indexes a subset of the literature, those journals that have passed Clarivate’s criteria and been deemed worthy of inclusion. Though not a comprehensive measure of the field at large, it does at least give us a sense of what’s going on with a large portion of the journals seen as important by the research community (i.e., those with Impact Factors). So I’m using it here as a proxy for the entire market, although my conclusions should be taken with the caveat that the limited sample size ignores things like non-English language journals, regional journals, or anything beneath Clarivate’s level of inclusion.

Quantifying the Market

To get a sense of market consolidation, I first quantified the number of articles in the WoS per year (excluding Meeting Abstracts). This can be seen in Figure 1 below. In 2018, the WoS added a huge number of journals to its database via the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), but as these journals weren’t counted in earlier years, I excluded them as well to keep things consistent.

line chart showing upward sloping quantities of a articles found in the web of science database from 2000 to 2022

2018 appears to be something of an inflection point. After three straight years of the corpus increasing by around 60,000 articles per year, 2018 saw an increase of more than 90,000 articles, followed by an additional 228,000 in 2019. This was followed by the pandemic years (2020 and 2021) which each saw more than 300,000 additional articles than the previous year. In 2022, the pandemic spike dropped off with only a 42,000-article increase over the previous year. I’ve not uncovered a clear reason for the non-pandemic aspects of this jump, although it has not escaped my attention that 2018 is the year Plan S was launched. It also coincides with significant publication volume growth from MDPI and a big jump in the publication of special issues by MDPI and Frontiers.

Quantifying Consolidation

With a set of measurements for the size of the WoS corpus between 2000 and 2022, I then sought to measure consolidation through determining how much of that corpus could be found in the 5 largest (by article volume), the 10 largest, and the 20 largest publishers each year.

The percentages of the WoS corpus encompassed by the 5, 10, and 20 biggest publishers each year can be seen below in Figure 2.

line chart showing increased consolidation year over year in the WoS

Overall, the market has significantly consolidated since 2000 — when the top 5 publishers held 39% of the market of articles to 2022 where they control 61% of it. Looking at larger sets of publishers makes the consolidation even more extreme, as the top 10 largest publishers went from 47% of the market in 2000 to 75% in 2023, and the top 20 largest publishers from 54% to controlling 83% of the corpus.

These data show two main waves of market consolidation. The first wave aligns with the rise of The Big Deal journal subscription package model, roughly 2000 to 2006. During this period, it became increasingly difficult to remain independent, as large journal packages began to swallow up more and more of each library’s budget. Getting into a Big Deal package provided financial stability as independent journals became much easier for libraries to cancel than large packages of hundreds or thousands of journals. Over this period, the top 5 largest publisher increased their share of the market from 39% to 49%, the top 10 largest increased from 47% to 58%, and the top 20 from 54% to 65%.

After that, there was a period of relative stability. From 2006 through 2018, there was only minor movement toward consolidation. The largest 5 publishers’ share remained fairly stable, moving from 49% in 2006 to 52% in 2018. On a larger scale though, the largest 10 publishers grew from 58% to 64% and the largest 20 from 65% to 74% — significant growth but still less than the previous (and shorter) 6 year period. This period of stability encompasses both the 2013 US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Holdren Memo public access policy and the 2013 RCUK (now UKRI) OA policy. The 12-month embargo of the Holdren Memo and the relatively small percentage of the literature that fell under RCUK seem to have reduced their impact on market consolidation, which climbed 2% (top 5), 3% (top 10), and 5% (top 20) in the five years after their implementation.

The next wave of market consolidation began in 2018 and continues through the present day, presumably driven by the rise of OA due to new funder regulations. In a mere four years (2018 to 2022), the percentage of the market controlled by the 5 largest publishers has leaped from 52% to 61%, the 10 largest from 64% to 75%, and 20 largest from 74% to 83%. As 2018 turned into 2019, when I declared that we had entered “ The Great Acceleration ,” I was clearly on to something.

Unintended Consequences

The dominant business models for OA are volume based and reward scale, driving the biggest companies to get bigger, and smaller organizations to seek the shelter of a larger partner. Publication volume is the essential measurement of success in an author-pays OA market. Transformative agreements (aka, the “Bigger Big Deal”) have become the preferred purchasing model for journals, again favoring scale, because the resource-intensiveness required to negotiate and administer such deals leads to the benefits accruing to large publishers with large numbers of journals for researchers and scholars to publish in.

Though it was clearly not the intention of cOAlition S to consolidate market power in the hands of a small number of large commercial organizations, this is an unfortunate result of forcing the market into a rapid state of change rather than allowing a more measured evolution. As the biggest publishers continue their rapid pace of merging, acquiring new partners, launching new journals, and growing their existing journals, it’s unlikely this trend will slow any time soon.

Please Check My Work!

I would greatly appreciate any insights that bibliometricians and other analysts can add. The spreadsheet behind these charts can be downloaded here . Is there a better way to measure/track market consolidation? Do you see other trends or other reasons for the various shifts? Let me know below in the Comments, thanks!

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.

23 Thoughts on "Quantifying Consolidation in the Scholarly Journals Market"

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I opened your spreadsheet in hopes of finding out what you characterizes as the top 5 etc publishers, only to find only the summary data, not the per-publisher data. So there wasn’t much I could do to “check your work”, aside from notice that your percent formulae seemed correct, but that’s trivial.

I’m not sure your conclusion about the causal relationship between cOAlition S and these numbers is justified. Even if the change is due to OA, the OA movement is a lot bigger than that one coalition. And the very fact that one giant change seems to have happened in exactly the same year is a red flag to me, as it seems unlikely the publishers moved that fast so it’s likely those changes were already in the works. As to MDPI and Frontiers being significant, that’s part of why I wanted to see the actual list of publishers in your data groups.

You may also want to know about the Transfer database, which might have helped track journal transfers, just fyi for the next such study:

  • By Melissa Belvadi
  • Oct 30, 2023, 7:54 AM
  • Reply to Comment

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Hi Melissa, I don’t have that data in the spreadsheet because it’s not the question I was looking to answer. By “check my work” what I’m really interested in is if the logic follows or if there’s a better way to quantify these changes in the market.

To briefly answer your question though (at least for the top 5 publishers), it’s largely stable, beginning in 2000 with: Elsevier Wiley Springer LWW T&F In 2003, T&F moved ahead of LWW In 2005 ACS replaced LWW at the 5 spot In 2009 Springer moved ahead of Wiley to the 2 spot In 2015 OUP moved into the 5 spot replacing ACS In 2016 Sage replaced OUP in the 5 spot In 2017 ACS replaced Sage reclaiming the 5 spot In 2018 MDPI replaced ACS in the 5 spot In 2021 MDPI moved up to the 4 spot In 2022 MDPI moved up to the 3 spot

Specifically for MDPI, they hit the top 20 in 2015, climbed 5 spots in 2016 to number 15, jumped to the 5 spot (from 13) in 2018, and moved up as noted above. For Frontiers, they hit the top 20 in 2014, top 15 in 2017, jumped to 7 (from 12) in 2021, and now sit at number 6.

I agree with you that the rise of OA is multi-faceted and can’t be credited/blamed solely to cOAlition S. There are far too many confounders to make that determination (e.g., the rise of megajournals, special issue strategies). But from an anecdotal viewpoint, as someone doing acquisitions at the time for a publisher, and someone now doing RFPs on behalf of research societies, Plan S was a remarkable accelerant, and the quantity we dealt with who stated that Plan S was why they were abandoning independent publishing spiked up rapidly. We’re seeing a similar spike now with the Nelson Memo, which I suspect will show even more consolidation in future years.

Thank you for the tip on the transfer database. The summary statistics are really interesting:

  • By David Crotty
  • Oct 30, 2023, 9:47 AM

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RE: Scientific societies worry about threat from Plan S Authors Malcolm L. McCallum Publication date 2019/3/14 Journal Science

  • By malcolm mccallum
  • Oct 30, 2023, 10:43 AM

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Thanks David. Interesting analysis. The question you ask at the outset is whether there is data on independent journals joining bigger publishers. The question you answer is whether big publishers have increased market share. Those are two discrete questions. As you say, much recent growth in the ‘big’ publishers will be driven by OA publishers like MDPI and Frontiers. Will you write again on the question you ask at the beginning – whether independent journals are moving? I am not clear what recent trends are myself (my feeling is that the past 2-3 years are different to what went before)

  • By Rod Cookson
  • Oct 30, 2023, 11:52 AM

Hi Rod, to me it’s a difference without a distinction — market share is market share. If a journal is owned by Springer Nature or is partnered with and published by Springer Nature, that’s still Springer Nature market share.

But I do think there’s an interesting question to be asked about acquisitions and whether the pace has changed. The quality of the data in all the big bibliometrics databases makes this really difficult to pull out. One thought might be to use something like the Wayback Machine to track the lists of journals each publisher has on their website over time, although for someone of my limited to non-existent coding ability, that would be extremely time consuming. But in a comment above, Melissa Belvadi has pointed to the Transfer database which might be a way to get at the question:

  • Oct 30, 2023, 12:41 PM

I think there IS a distinction, and it has to do with absolute numbers versus percentages (market share). It could well be that independents aren’t moving much at all, and their number of journals is staying stable (not surprising that non-profit societies can’t handle more journals than they already do). But with the Big Guys constantly increasing their number of titles, including splits, new Gold OA, as well as purchasing from other non-independent publishers, the Big Guys market share as a percent of the total number published will increase, with no actual damage to the little guys.

  • Oct 30, 2023, 12:48 PM

Even with no acquisitions, there’s still potential damage. For example, all the articles that used to be submitted to Nature and got rejected would then get submitted to a top subject-specific journal, often one owned by a society. But now there’s a whole family of Nature journals from the top down through the Nature subject journals, then Nature Communications, the Nature partner journals, then Scientific Reports, so far less escapes the gravity of the portfolio. That might be more evident from tracking the size of independent journals over time.

  • Oct 30, 2023, 12:58 PM

True, but that’s been true since long before OA. As a librarian, I’ve been watching print journals split and split over many decades (cataloging librarians have to pay attention to coding the “preceding” and “succeeding” names/ISSNs in the MARC 780/785 for instance). Most of those Nature “family of journals” are not OA, in fact.

  • Oct 30, 2023, 2:55 PM

And yet 73% of what they published in 2022 was OA. Makes for an awful nice feeder system (and that’s not even counting Scientific Reports!).

  • Oct 30, 2023, 3:04 PM

For me, there is a difference between the two questions, and Melissa does spell aspects of the difference out. Going on anecdotal conversations (which may of course not be representative), my impression is that the consolidation of independent journals into the portfolios of big publishers has greatly slowed and possibly stopped in the past 2-3 years. Many big publishers have been looking at society publishing contracts with critical eyes and a portion haven’t been renewed. That would be a reversal of the consolidation trend that had occurred for the preceding 25 years. It would be a significant change, as the independent journals do represent the academy more closely than purely commercial publishers do.

The very big publishers are undoubtedly growing in the way you describe, David, and their market share is becoming very large. It is possible that acquiring independent journals has ceased to be a factor in this growth. The engine is now – as stated elsewhere in the comments by you and others – driven by very large journals (which are mostly OA) growing rapidly bigger.

I do appreciate the difficulties of separating out the historic data on who published which journal at which point in time. I have never seen a simple way to resolve it.

As a final thought, if one extrapolates forward from SciForum data – with all the caveats that brings – it appears that Elsevier is on track to become the largest publisher of OA articles in 2024, overtaking MDPI. That is a specific facet of the ‘market share’ consolidation you discuss. It would be a major stage in the evolution of the OA journal market and not what many would have predicted even a few years ago.

  • Oct 31, 2023, 4:05 AM

Your experience is very different from mine. From the announcement of Plan S, when I was at OUP, we were swamped with RFPs from societies looking for a partner publisher. Now as a publishing consultant, the flow has only increased since the Nelson Memo came out. The acquisition activity of the big publishers is always kind of cyclical though, and depends on their current strategies. One big company will bid aggressively for years, then stop going after societies, but then another will jump in and start going after those societies. There are also the publishers in the 5-10 range who realize that scale is essential for their survival, and are in massive growth mode looking to bring in as many societies as possible. The Brill-De Gruyter merger last week is an example of how the need for scale is consolidating the market (the new De Gruyter Brill combo now moves into the top 20 at number 18, at least by 2022 numbers). I can tell you that we’re receiving really strong bids from a lot of publishers for RFPs (not to mention really really strong bids for journal purchases when those are available), and that both Frontiers and MDPI have entered the market seeking to add society partners as well.

And that combines with the mega journals and special issues. As far as Elsevier potentially surpassing MDPI in OA content, I don’t think anyone should be surprised by their ability to adapt to market conditions and thrive. That’s what they do.

  • Oct 31, 2023, 8:57 AM

Hello David. I agree with many of the points you make. The fact that our perceptions differ – mine based on many conversations with society publishers, and also with some of the big publishers – suggests that there is still a question about independent journals to be answered here.

  • Oct 31, 2023, 9:50 AM

Was thinking also that with the corpus growing from 1M articles to 3M over this period, it takes a lot more to move the needle. Pulling in 10K articles in 2000 would have increased your share by 1%, now it takes 30,000 articles, so similar numbers of journals moving would make less of an impact.

  • Oct 31, 2023, 5:22 PM

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The problem of tracking journal to publisher relationships over time seems like a solvable one given how many parties are interested in this and likely already have some data to hand. A ROR like registry for publishers and their imprints (past and present), and then a mechanism to store that identity somewhere, either at the DOI level or at a minimum a publication year. Perhaps CrossRef could accept these identifiers in addition to pointing to where the content is currently hosted?

  • By Iain Craig
  • Oct 30, 2023, 4:59 PM

Makes sense, but the question would be in filling in the back data. Has anyone been with that publisher long enough to remember when journal X moved to (or from) their platform? Would work going forward though….

  • Oct 30, 2023, 5:19 PM

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Interesting comparison with what I found in Crossref data in 2020 – I think the trend I was seeing was quite different

  • By Adam Day
  • Oct 30, 2023, 5:31 PM

Really interesting! I suspect the difference is in the expansiveness of your data set and the limited nature of mine. Crossref DOIs include all sorts of things that aren’t journal articles — did you limit your study to just journal articles, or were things like books, book chapters, standards, preprints, grants, peer reviews, databases, datasets, or the vaguely worded “components” included?

I limited things to WoS journals (i.e., those with Impact Factors), and also removed meeting abstracts from my data (which is as many as 300-400K articles per year). You would have picked up the much wider world of all sorts of smaller or regional journals that issue DOIs (or predatory journals that do so as well — some do this as a false way of implying validity). Crossref seems to have around 19,000 members, so either my sample size is too small to see the full picture or your sample size has too low a signal to noise ratio.

Regardless, my data set doesn’t increase anywhere near as fast as yours does. Elsevier’s share is relatively flat across the 2020 – 2022 period though. Starts at 19.7%, bounces up and down between 20% and 22% until 2018 when it hops up to 24%, then a few down years back to 22%, up to 24% in 2021 and down to 21% in 2022. But I suspect what I’m seeing is that the aggregate increases in the top 5, 10, 20 are able to overcome the long tail increases that you see overcoming single publishers. Also, it’s worth noting that some of the publishers seeing big growth moved into my top 5-20 categories, so where you’d see them counting against your one publisher, I’d have them counting toward the dominance of the set that they’re now in.

  • Oct 30, 2023, 6:06 PM

Hi David, thank you for your reply. It was a while ago, but I think I probably would have limited the data to the ‘journal-article’ type. You’re right that there’s a big lot of uncertainty in the data I used there! I think it does look like there’s a different trend in Crossref data than in WoS data. I’m not sure why, but I guess publishers would prefer to target journals already indexed by WoS for acquisition, and that would mean that market-growth outside of WoS results in less consolidation.

  • Oct 31, 2023, 10:52 AM

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Interesting write-up, and timely too. Thanks for doing this! Interesting to see parallel patterns between our preprint (intersect of WoS + Scopus) and your WoS-only analysis in terms of total articles annually.

Per Fig 2, if you could check my understanding… doesn’t it show the consolidation is taking place almost entirely in the Top 5? I suppose MDPI/Frontiers aside, as they grew per journal in that time. But the paralleling of lines and growth spikes in the Top 5, 10, or 20 just suggests the Top drive the change primarily, no? And no matter what year you look at, the 6th-20th add a fairly consistent proportion of articles?

  • By Mark A Hanson
  • Oct 30, 2023, 6:41 PM

Yes, I think you’re generally correct — the top 5 accounts for the bulk of the consolidation, although it varies year to year. If all the consolidation was in the top 5, then when the top 5 goes up by 2%, then the top 10 and top 20 would similarly only go up by 2%, correct? And that happens some years, but in other years the top 10 and top 20 go up significantly more than the top 5.

For example, 2002 — 2003, the top 5 goes from 41% to 43% (31,161 more articles), the top 10 from 50% — 52% (36,566 more articles), and the top 20 from 57% to 59% (36,755 more articles). In that year, the bulk of the consolidation was indeed in the top 5 (31,161 of the 36,755 total increase in articles).

But other years, say 2017 — 2018, the top 5 stayed flat at 52% (51,699 more articles), the top 10 went up from 63% to 64% (82,239 more articles), and the top 20 went up from 72% to 74% (101,842 more articles). In that year, there was nearly as much of an increase in articles outside of the top 5 as there was within it (52,699 articles and 50,143 respectively).

Overall the top 5 went up 22%, the top 10 28%, and the top 20 29%. So yes, the bulk of the consolidation was indeed in the top 5% but not entirely limited to it.

  • Oct 30, 2023, 7:32 PM

Thanks! Your note and the timeframes there do make me curious what the analysis would look like if you removed MDPI and Frontiers, given their significant rise in time periods like 2017-2018. If the goal is to look at consolidation of journal articles, then removing the special issue-associated hyper-growth from these groups might give a… not ‘better’ sense, but different view on where consolidation itself is taking place? Absent MDPI and Frontiers, is the consolidation from 2000-2022 basically entirely in the Top 5 publishers circa 2000?

  • Oct 31, 2023, 1:55 AM

Will take a look.

  • Oct 31, 2023, 8:43 AM

Here’s a comparison with and without MDPI and Frontiers. I started with 2015 to save myself some work as that’s when MDPI first enters the top 20. The numbers show not much of an impact until around 2018, and then, quite a bit:

Table of data

  • Oct 31, 2023, 9:42 AM

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