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Evaluating Journal Quality — Standards

A guide to the tools and methods for evaluating the quality of scholarly journals. Intended for authors, editors and reviewers.

Overview of Journal Standards Organizations

As with any professional field, journal publishing and editing have standards available to which any publisher or editor can conform. Three journal standard organization of note are recognized as authoritative and as having important standards for journals in their respective areas.

These are the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), mainly focusing on journal editors; the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), which relates to open access publishers; and the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), which oversees medical journal publishing. All three standards organizations are described below.

COPE - Committee on Publication Ethics

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) is an international ethics organization for journal editors especially regarding research and publication misconduct. All COPE members are expected to follow the Code of Conduct for Journal Editors, provides minimum standards to which all COPE members should adhere. It also provides aspirational Best Practice Guidelines in a variety of areas.


The flowcharts on handling ethical publication problems, based on the Code of Conduct, are also quite useful (see link provided). These have a CC BY ND license and are available in multiple languages.

A journal whose editor(s) is a member of COPE has guidance on ethical practices and is expected to follow a specific code which emphasizes quality and integrity. A link to a list of members and publisher members is also available on this page.

OASPA - Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association

The OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association) is an international trade organization includes both Open Access (OA) journal and book publishers. Organizations must pass a rigorous review process to be accepted, based on their membership criteria (see link provided). Part of the stated missions of the OASPA includes promoting best practice and ethical standards for OA publishing and disseminating.


The OASPA offers online seminars on a variety of topics, a licensing FAQ, and an annual international conference for the OA publishing community. Most importantly, OA publishers who are members of the OASPA have passed the Membership Criteria and must continue to adhere to the OASPA Code of Conduct. A link to a list of member organizations is available on this page.

WAME - World Association of Medical Editors

The World Association of Medical Editors or WAME is a nonprofit voluntary association of editors of peer-reviewed medical journals from countries throughout the world who seek to foster international cooperation among and education of medical journal editors.

These recommendations review best practice and ethical standards in the conduct and reporting of research and other material published in medical journals. It is intended for authors, editors and others involved in peer review and publishing. Journal editors who follow the recommendations can request membership so that their name be posted on the WAME site. Journal listing doesn't mean that the journal itself is a member, as WAME neither indexes nor includes journals but only journal editors.