Best Practices for Journal Websites

Introduction

Our recommendations for the development of journal web sites are intended to guide Editors and Publishers in presenting information about the journal that provides transparency for the public, particularly for prospective authors. The website content, specified below, should provide evidence of the credibility and value of a journal, clear statements of the purposes and scope of the journal, and information to guide manuscript preparation and submission.

These recommendations were developed by nursing journal editors whose collective experience covers a wide range of journal type, and expertise includes not only editorial leadership but expertise as authors in their own scholarly and clinical fields.  The recommendations we have developed are consistent with standards upon which quality professional publishing is based, in particular the following:  

Elements of Journal Website Content

The following sections address the elements of website content that are essential markers of a journal’s character.  There are four categories of content: 1) defining characteristics, 2) ethical standards and practices, 3)  journal metrics, and 4) author guidelines.  In each category we recommend certain essential elements, as well as content that is optional, or may be applicable only in certain circumstances.

Defining Characteristics

The characteristics that define a journal convey information to prospective authors that helps them determine if their work is well suited to the journal, and conveys information aboutt the integrity of the journal.  The essential characteristics that should appear prominently on the website include:

  • Unique journal name that is not prone to confusion with other journals in the field
  • Name and qualifications of the Editor-in-Chief with link to contact information, and information about this person’s credentials, affiliations and qualifications as an Editor.
  • Name and contact information for any other person who might receive manuscripts, and answer queries (ie, managing editor)
  • Names, credentials and professional affiliations of members of the Journal’s Advisory Board
  • Clear description of journal purpose, mission, audience
  • If the journal is affiliated with a professional association, the identity of that Association with a link to the association web site.
  • Clear, concise statement that expresses the journal’s purpose, mission and scope,
  • Description of the process that governs selection of journal content (peer reviewed, invited or unsolicited, etc.)
  • Journal formats and open access policies (if applicable)
  • Description of the journal’s provision for indexing and permanent accessibility and archiving of content.
  • Languages in which the journal is available, if applicable

Ethical Standards and Practices

The main Journal website should contain prominent content the provides general information about the ethical standards and practices that guide all journal procedures.  The content of the Author’s Guidelines (below) also reflect these standards and practices in further detail.

  • COPE membership or eligibility
  • Transparent copyright and licensing policies and practices
  • Advertising and marketing practices, including disclosure of any conflicts of interest
  • General characteristics of the peer review and manuscript selection processes
  • Policies related to misconduct, including the use of cross-reference or other plagiarism checking mechanisms.

Journal Metrics

Journal metrics reflect the standing of the journal within the discipline, as well as information that shape author expectations concerning practical aspects of journal management. The essential metrics that should be included are:

  • Any measure of journal impact, and the source from which this measure is derived (note that the only metric that is legitimately called “Impact Factor” is that provided by Thomson-Reuters).  Other impact measures can include publisher-generated scores, which should be identified as such.
  • Quantitative data related to journal practices, such as rate of acceptance/rejection rate, expected time from submission to editorial decision and publication, OR information about where this information can be found.
  • Frequency of publication of print, online or supplemental content.

Other optional content related to metrics?

Author Guidelines

The location of the Author Guidelines should be prominently identified on the journal website.  The contents of the Guidelines can vary depending on the needs of the journal, and may repeat some of the information shown above as recommended for the main journal website.  The following essential elements are recommended:

  • Date the Guidelines were last updated
  • Description of the types of manuscripts that the journal will consider, clearly related to the journal’s purpose and mission.
  • Details of manuscript preparation, including style and format standards, with links to any manual of style that governs manuscript preparation.
  • Detailed description of the review process that is used; if peer reviewed, the type of peer review process that is used.
  • Information about the general timelines to expect after submission, including when the author can expect communications from the editorial staff.
  • Open Access policies, including any article processing fee that is charged.  

 

Credits:

Leslie Nicoll, 

Elaine Miller,

Charon Pierson 

Edna Hull 

Bill Tony 

Anne P Manton 

Martha Swartz 

Peggy Chinn, Editor, Advances in Nursing Science