If you find yourself to be the editor, board member, or publisher of a new, unindexed journal or are a contributor to a journal that is not indexed, here is how to get the journal indexed and the answers to some common questions.
Every index has its own list of requirements for inclusion and its own selection process. Some simply require appropriate metadata and a brief description. Some pride themselves on being exclusive while at the other end of the spectrum are indexes that are very permissive. Others may require access to published copies of the journal for review. Some only index journals that are peer reviewed, have been in existence with a stable publishing record that spans a number of years, and publish a minimal number of articles each year. Many indexes have subject experts on staff who examine sample issues submitted at the time of application. These subject experts determine whether the proposed title falls within the scope of what the index treats and is of sufficient quality for listing. A few indexes require articles (or at least the abstracts that accompany articles) to be in specific languages.
One can generally find what an index requires by looking at any given indexes' main website and searching for information on how to apply for inclusion. One should only approach an indexing agency if one meets all of the criteria that are specified in its selection process.
Yes. The name of the game is exposure. The easier it is for people to find the journal, the more the journal's content will be read and subsequently cited. In the field of Religion, for instance, one of the top journals, the Journal of Religious Studies, appears in more than 80 different indexes. Some indexes cover narrow subjects, some are more general. A key objective is to list your journal in all of the indexes that might apply, from the broadest and most inclusive to the most subject-specific databases. Here is an example of several indexes that might be targeted by a hypothetical journal dedicated to publishing articles on the last book of the Christian Bible -- Revelation. The important thing is that your journal content should be within the scope of what a particular index treats.
EXAMPLE of Indexes Selected for an Hypothetical Religion Journal
A. Experience -- Most editors or journal board members will have recommendations based on their own experience with researching and writing scholarly articles in their field. They can share what their favorite "go to" databases and indexes are for the type of material that your publication contains.
B. Vendor Lists of Databases -- Some vendors supply or have distribution licenses for multiple databases. Often one can look at their lists and their descriptions of their products to determine likely candidates to which to apply for indexing. For some, first contact is through the vendor. For others, one must do an internet search for the database owner, which likely has merely licensed its content to the vendor. Two of the largest vendors are Ebsco and Proquest. Clarivate, a third, produces the Web of Science which has expended beyond the sciences to include additional disciplines and fields.
Ebsco -- Product list NS descriptions of its research databases.
Proquest -- A to Z product list, with descriptions, for its academic databases.
Clarivate -- Web of Science associated databases.
Each index or database has different features. Editors, boards, and publicity arms of a journal should work in concert to determine overarching goals. For instance, some journals may emphasize discovery by patrons, and others prestige. A few may focus on other open access for users or, conversely, restriction of full-text content-- including embargo and licensing royalties with an eye to paying for publication costs.
Journal publishers may need basic contract legal advice when signing indexing agreements with vendors. Legal expertise regarding intellectual property may also be needed in cases where the full content of authors' contributions will be available in the database. It is important to ensure appropriate agreements are in place between the journal and its article authors.
Different indexes may offer different elements that should be considered as part of a journal's indexing strategy. Here are a few:
The following three journal directories are a good place to begin if a journal is relatively new and/or never before indexed. They are amongst the first to consider if one hasn't already developed a solid indexing strategy.
1) Google Scholar Indexing -- If the journal is online, particularly in one of the standard scholarly journal publishing or repository platforms, Google Scholar's crawler likely will eventually find it provided proper metadata is available at the journal and article level of the journal's site. Google Scholar provides examples and even guidance for formatting PDFs according to conventions that Google Scholar will eventually discover should metadata tags not be possible.
2) DOAJ -- The Directory of Open Access Publishing has an application by which online journals of any subject can be listed. Researchers using this database can search by title or by individual articles.
3) Ulrich'sWeb --This is a very broad and inclusive listing of scholarly journals--a global serials directory. It seeks to be comprehensive and lists both print and online periodicals. It occasionally harvests and includes items that publishers list in DOAJ, but accepts recommendations for inclusion that are not present in DOAJ.