Best Practices for Journal Websites


These recommendations for the development of journal web sites are guidelines for publishers to use in order to serve prospective authors who are seeking evidence of a journal’s credibility and value,  and clear purpose and scope statements as well as information to guide manuscript preparation and submission.

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

Elements of Journal Website Content

The following four categories  address  website content that are essential markers of a journal’s character and  provide sufficient information for authors:  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 about 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.
  • Name and contact information for any other person, i.e., managing editor, who might receive manuscripts and answer queries.
  • Names, credentials, and professional affiliations of members of the Journal’s Advisory Board.
  • Clear description of the Journal’s purpose, mission, and audience.
  • List Journal’s affiliation with a professional association (including link to website).
  • 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.

Other defining characteristics that can be published include: Languages in which the journal is available, and details about any assistance that is offered for writing and editing papers written by authors whose primary language is not English.

Ethical Standards and Practices

The main Journal website should contain prominent content that provides general information about the ethical standards and practices that guide all journal procedures, including:  (The Author’s Guidelines listed 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

Other optional content related to ethical standards and practices: ??

        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 a link to location of this information.
  • Frequency of publication of print, online, or supplemental content.

Other optional content related to metrics?

        Author Guidelines

The location of Author Guidelines should be prominently identified on the journal website.  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.


Leslie Nicoll, Editor-in-Chief, CIN: Computers, Informatices, Nursing; Editor, Nurse Author & Editor
Elaine Miller, Editor, Rehabilitation Nursing
Charon Pierson, COPE Council Members
Edna Hull,
Bill Tony, Publisher, Oncology Nursing Society; Oncology Nursing Forum and Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing
Anne P Manton, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Emergency Nursing
Martha Swartz, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Pediatric Health Care
Peggy Chinn, Editor, Advance in Nursing Science

April 3, 2016