Journal Indexing: What it is, and What it’s Not

Not all are abstracting and indexing services.

One of the things I notice when I examine predatory publishers’ and predatory journals’ websites is that they often brag about how many abstracting and indexing services cover their journals.

To explain, an abstracting and indexing (A&I) service is a product a company sells or makes available. The product indexes content at the article level by assigning subject headings (descriptors or keywords) to each one and then making them searchable in the product’s database. These services also index other bibliographic elements of journal articles, including authors, titles, date of publication, etc.

(Recently, some A&I services have even begun to index at more granular levels, including, for example, indexing individual images.)

Today, most journals require that their authors compose an abstract (a summary) of their article, so A&I services generally don’t compose abstracts anymore — they just create a searchable database with subject, author, and title access to individual articles from a selection of journals they choose to include in their database.

It is a great advantage for a journal to be covered by A&I services. The Springer website says,

Being represented in the relevant online A&I services is without question an essential factor for the success of a … journal. Today all searching is done online, so it is imperative that a journal is represented in the relevant online search systems. Moreover, authors rely on finding articles through A&I services and therefore boost their usage when reading them. When they come across high-quality articles of a certain journal in their search, they are also very likely to consider the journal a good outlet to publish in themselves.

Because predatory publishers want to attract more author fees, they want authors to believe that they are covered by the most prestigious and greatest number of abstracting and indexing services.

The problem I observe very frequently is that predatory publishers claim their journals are indexed in services that are not abstracting and indexing services. Thus they are making a false claim and displaying their ignorance about journal indexing.

Here are some non-A&I services that many publishers claim to be “indexed” in: Scribd, Cabells Directories, SlideShare, Google Docs, Open J-Gate (now defunct), and NewJour.

On the other hand, when predatory publishers claim that they are indexed in Google Scholar they are probably telling the truth. Google Scholar indexes almost all the predatory publishers — it does not screen for quality. It is the largest A+I service in existence and probably accounts for more than half of all referrals to online journals.

Finally, when predatory publishers claim to be covered by legitimate abstracting and indexing services, such as EBSCO, Embase, Scopus, etc., they are usually lying.

[The image at the top is from the International Journal of Engineering and Advanced Technology.]

12 Responses to Journal Indexing: What it is, and What it’s Not

  1. Paul Blobaum says:

    I have to laugh even with some of the legit publications, the claim to be indexed is almost meaningless. Such as the claim to be “indexed in Ulrich’s Web”.. Ulrich’s merely publishes information sent to it from publishers, and I find it full of errors.

    • SD says:

      Where can we find a list of real indexing services so that we know which are “fake”?

      • Paul Blobaum says:

        sd, “REAL” indexing services are often those published by a society (such as Social Work Abstracts, from the National Association of Social Workers) and MEDLINE (which is the authoritative index to biomedical literature… PubMed merely reports articles depisited in pubMed Central, and also Medline citations, and publisher provided citations that are not indexed for MEDLINE). Look for who the publisher is, and who the market is. Other reputable publishers also have scholarly indexes, such as EBSCO, Proquest. CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health) is published by Ebsco but was originally published by a non-profit clearinghouse that built a reputation for quality over the years. When it comes down to it, if in doubt, ask a professional librarian.

  2. Guria says:

    Although journals are indexed by Scopus, it is still possible they are not peer-reviewed. Thank you very much for your kind reply:

  3. naser says:

    Check this out. I think this is really scam one. I hope this is not a repeat one. They have recently sent spam email and claim they are us based.

  4. Yikmi Smeral says:

    MicrobiologyOpen is supported by other journals published by Wiley, including a number of society owned journals. The journals listed below support MicrobiologyOpen and participate in the Manuscript Transfer Program by referring articles of suitable quality and offering authors the option to have their paper, with any peer review reports, automatically transferred to MicrobiologyOpen.

    What is hidden motive of Manuscript Transfer Program?

  5. Abuh Adah says:

    How do I get my journal indexed?

  6. Thanks for sharing the useful information. We will take care of these information in our journal.

  7. Paul Blobaum says:

    Cabell’s directories. I am finding faculty have a misconception that inclusion of titles in Cabell’s signifies authenticity and scholarly reputation. I have found no vetting process for Cabell’s, so my view is that Cabell’s is a directory and reports the information publishers send them. I don’t see inclusion criteria.

  8. […] genomslagskraft.  Tillförlitlig information om tidskriftens A&I-tjänster är värdefull (en del skojartidskrifter ljuger friskt om […]

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