More and more regional or local journals are looking to expand their scope and become international so that they can reach out to a global readership, attract a greater variety of research articles, and improve their quality. What exactly is an international scientific journal? And how can your regional journal make the transition to becoming international or getting indexed in SCIE?
In their article Towards a single language in science? A Spanish view, Bordons and Gómez (2004) talk about what makes a journal international.
It is clear that the national or international nature of a journal goes far beyond the language or the publishing country, as the latter is mainly a managerial task. More important factors to consider are the international composition of the scientific committee, the variety of countries of origin among contributing authors, and, of course, having an international audience. Finally, it is not a coincidence that international journals are mostly written in English, since it is the lingua franca in science chosen to facilitate communication among scientists from different countries…The main criterion followed in the selection of a journal for publication of recent research is supposedly to be able to reach out to the widest, but also the most appropriate, audience.
There are several ways in which journals can become exposed to a wider global platform. One effective and measurable solution is to get indexed in prestigious databases such as Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE), as did a dedicated taskforce in the Korean Journal of Internal Medicine (KJIM). In his case study, The Korean Journal of Internal Medicine’s long road to being listed in the Science Citation Index Expanded (2014), Chul Woo Yang documents KJIM’s seven-year-long efforts to prepare a strong application to get indexed by the SCIE, after being rejected once. Here are a few quick pointers, drawn from KJIM’s success, to help you learn what aspects you should focus on before you request databases such as SCIE to index your journal.
1. Build upon your journal’s reputation and recognition.
Focus on the unique features of your journal, and make it clear as to why SCIE should consider indexing your journal. For example, in addition to a rich publishing history in Korea, KJIM had several distinguishing accomplishments to showcase:
KJIM publishes highly qualified and relevant scientific articles in a timely manner that can benefit the readers and enrich the scientific database. The KJIM is now among the top 5 Korean journals in impact factor rankings. Furthermore, the KJIM is cited more by international researchers than Korean researchers, indicating that the content of the journal is now valued at the international level…The KJIM has been chosen as an outstanding international journal by the Korean Federation of Science and Technology Societies, and is currently being funded by the Korean government.
2. Ensure that your journal meets the basic publication standards required by the industry, so that SCIE is aware that your journal is worthy of being indexed by them.
Databases such as SCIE focus on whether journals meet global publication standards. So it is essential for them to know whether your journal meets the high standards expected of an international publication. At the time of its application to SCIE, KJIM was able to prove that the journal meets global publication standards:
Timeliness is one of the top priorities of the KJIM, and the journal maintains a strict peer-review process and includes funding acknowledgement. Every article is subjected to an English language editing process to ensure efficient transfer of knowledge and is provided free of charge to the authors [sic]. The KJIM follows international editorial conventions, and our editorial advisory board members and contributing authors include highly recognized scholars from all over the world.
3. Set up a convenient, author-friendly submission system
Authors often find journal submission to be a complex process, and it is up to the journal to simplify it for them. If your submission process is cumbersome, simplify it. SCIE is bound to consider your application favorably if you are able to indicate that your submission systems are author friendly. For instance, KJIM highlighted its convenient online electronic submission system and speedy turnaround times:
Median turnaround time needed to publish—considering all submissions including peer reviews, revisions, production, and distribution—is within 6 months.
4. Make it easy for readers to access your journal’s content
Accessibility and availability of published research is critical to improve readership and influence scientific advancements. Databases such as SCIE prefer to index journals that enable their readers to access them with ease. Here’s what KJIM mentioned in its application to SCIE:
The KJIM is an Open Access journal. The KJIM provides free, easy access to articles for readers throughout the world. The KJIM is listed in PubMed, PubMed Central, SCOPUS, EMBASE, CAS, KoreaMed, Synapse, and CrossRef. Readers can access free full-text archives of the KJIM via PubMed Central and the KJIM homepage (http://www.kjim.org).
5. Overcome the language barrier
According to Bordons and Gómez (2004), your journal does not have to be written in English to adjust itself to the “international character of science.” But English does dominate scientific publishing, and implementing a few changes will only serve to help your journal better. Consider going bilingual or publishing only abstracts or full texts in the regional language as well as in English. Encourage your authors to translate their regional-language articles into English, and exempt them from translation/proofreading/editing costs. You could also offer English-language editing services to your authors to improve the overall quality of submissions you receive. In your application to SCIE elaborate the measures you have taken to include content in the English language.
6. Diversify your content to make it more interesting for readers
If your journal publishes only original articles, consider diversifying your content to include review articles or letters to the editor. Databases such as SCIE prefer to index journals that include a variety of content for the benefit of readers. Here’s what KJIM did:
We created a diverse program, by adding sections for reviews, editorials, letters to the editors, images of interest, and guidelines, aside from original articles and case reports, in order to approach readers as a more interesting journal.
Getting indexed in SCIE will help your journal reach out at a global level to facilitate the exchange of scientific knowledge, as well as improve its credibility and quality.
Hope these tips help!
You might also be interested in reading this insightful interview with Dr. Jing Duan, Managing Editor, Acta Ecologica Sinica: Tips for journal editors transitioning from regional to international.