Wikipedia:WikiProject Academic Journals/Writing guide

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This guide is intended to assist editors in the creation and writing of articles on academic journals, conference proceedings, monographic series, and other scholarly serial publications. After following this, you should have a "perfect stub", and bigger articles should feel a bit more "mainstream". Note that this guide is not intended to replace Wikipedia's Manual of Style and that articles should follow the usual layout/formatting guidelines.

For the sake of simplicity, these publications will be referred as 'journals' in this guideline, unless otherwise noted.

Editing with a conflict of interest [edit]

If you are affiliated with a journal or its publisher, this puts you in a conflict of interest. Wikipedia has several policies on the topic, with which you must comply to ensure a neutral point of view. The highlights are if you are compensated for editing, or are asked to edit an article as part of your job, you must disclose it. Likewise, if you are not compensated but stand to gain standing, gain status in your field, get credit in a course, or advance a cause, you must disclose it. If you do not disclose such conflicts of interest, you may be blocked from editing. See Wikipedia:Paid-contribution disclosure and Wikipedia:Conflict of interest for more information.

Disclosing these conflicts of interest can be done as follows:

To declare Place On To display...
Paid editing {{Paid|employer=Foobar Publishing}} User page
$ This user, in accordance with the Wikimedia Foundation's Terms of Use, discloses that they have been paid by Foobar Publishing for their contributions to Wikipedia.
{{Connected contributor (paid)|User1=Example|U1-employer=Foobar Publishing}} Article talk page
Other conflicts of interest {{UserboxCOI|Foobar Publishing}} User page
This user has publicly declared that they have a conflict of interest regarding the Wikipedia article Foobar Publishing.
{{Connected contributor|User1=Example}} Article talk page

For example, an employee of Foobar Publishing (from interns, to editorial board members, to a journal's editor-in-chief) would be required to disclose their connection to Foobar Publishing. Note that this also covers edits made to competitors and affiliates of the employer. Likewise, a scientist that publishes research in a journal can also have a conflict of interest since a scientist's status is often judged based on where they publish their research. This is particularly true of recently established journals, niche journals, or fringe journals. While Science's and Nature's reputation are well established by now, this may not be true of a recently established journal (roughly anything established in the last 20 years or so), of a niche journal of interest to only a handful of people (e.g. Horological Institute of America Journal), or of a fringe/pseudoscience journal (e.g. Answers Research Journal).

Note that disclosing your conflicts of interest does not grant you a "right" to edit, or give you license to advocate or advertise, it is simply a minimum requirement for participation. If you are in a conflict of interest, it is best to limit yourself to this guide and stick to adding/updating non-controversial information (see what to include and what not to include) such as updating journal articles related to your publisher to have the most up-to-date impact factors, document history (merges/splits, current/previous editor(s)-in-chief), uploading missing cover images, fixing links to official websites, or expanding the further reading section. Updating existing routine information based on updated sources is also non-controversial. However, if you wanted to add a section on how the journal recently won some recognition, or the specific business practices of the journal/publisher, it is probably best to suggest doing so on the article's talk page (with sources) and let other editors decide if this is warranted.

If something is unclear, or if you are unsure of something or need help getting around, you can always ask for advice at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Academic journals. If you are here to improve the encyclopedia and want to edit in line with community expectations, you will find helpful editors. If you are here to promote a journal, attempt search engine optimization, or otherwise try to game Wikipedia, your efforts will most likely be in vain and may be blocked. Your efforts may even backfire, as Wikipedians are prone to purge anything remotely promotional in an attempt to sanitize articles edited by those with COIs (leaving the article more negative than it would have otherwise been). You may also cause a PR nightmare for yourself by making the news for attempting to subvert Wikipedia, causing the general public to vandalise the article with rather unflattering claims.

Step-by-step guide[edit]

Getting started[edit]

Before starting to write an article on a journal, it helps to keep a few things in mind.

  • First, search for the journal's article on Wikipedia. It might already exist under a slightly different name than you were expecting.
  • Second, make sure the journal is notable according to our notability guidelines, otherwise it will probably be deleted. A journal will usually be considered notable if at least one of the three following criteria are met:
  1. The journal is considered by reliable sources to be influential in its subject area.
  2. The journal is frequently cited by other reliable sources.
  3. The journal is historically important in its subject area.
This makes it hard for newly established journals to get an article on Wikipedia, as they usually have not had time to become influential journals. As a rule of thumb, if a journal is indexed in high-selectivity bibliographic databases in its field (e.g. Scopus or Science Citation Index) or has an impact factor, this will usually be enough to establish notability. Being indexed in low-selectivity (e.g. Emerging Sources Citation Index, Directory of Open Access Journals), or comprehensive (e.g. Google Scholar) bibliographic databases is not enough. An alternative to a standalone article is to create a section in another relevant article. For instance Bird Notes is detailed in a section of our Royal Society for the Protection of Birds article.
  • Writing an article about a journal usually is easier if you have an issue of the journal next to you, or the journal's website loaded in your browser, or both.
  • Tracking down the history of a journal can be a bit complicated. Merges, splits, renaming, etc... are sometimes mentioned on the website, but are often omitted. The National Library of Australia's catalogue is a good place to look for such information. The CODEN database is also a good place. While library catalogs can sometimes provide clues, care should be exercised as they can be outdated or contain errors.

Article name[edit]

The article should be located at the official full name of the journal (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, not PNAS) unless it is officially known in an abbreviated form (FASEB Journal, not Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal). Use title case, rather than sentence case (The Lancet, not The lancet) per WP:NCCAPS.

  • The: If the "The" is part of the official full name, the article should be located at that name (The American Journal of Medicine, not American Journal of Medicine, but American Journal of Physics, not The American Journal of Physics).
  • Subtitle: Subtitles are not part of the title. For example, use European Journal of Physics, and not European Journal of Physics: A Journal of the European Physical Society.
    • "Topical" subtitles can be included in the lead section if they clarify the topic of the journal. For example, see Journal of Physics A, with Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical is a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by IOP Publishing... in its lead section, since it is not immediately obvious what the topic of the journal (especially when part of a series like Journal of Physics A/B/C/D/E/F/G each covering different topics). "Fluff" subtitles, like An International Journal or Official Organ of the International Foobar Society should be omitted entirely.
  • Capitalization: Use title case (American Journal of Physics, not American journal of physics). In foreign languages, honor the native usage (e.g., Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences, not Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences – but create a redirect, see below.)
  • Disambiguation: If the journal title is already used for a more important subject, add the suffix "(journal)", as in Injury (journal).

See below for guidance on how to deal with alternate spelling and former names.

The infobox[edit]

Note: For professional or trade magazines, you'll want to use {{infobox magazine}} instead of {{infobox journal}}.

The first step of creating a journal article is to add the {{infobox journal}} template to a page, and fill as many entries as you can. You can copy-paste the code from the documentation page in the article, rather than type it all yourself. It is OK to leave blank fields. An infobox does not replace prose, it simply presents key information (such as ISSN, language, license, impact factor, journal website, etc...) in a consistent (and machine-readable) manner from article to article. Filling this infobox will also help with the writing of the article. Please read the documentation for this infobox carefully before filling in the different fields.

The ISSN is usually listed on the journal's website, but the other identifiers such as LCCN, OCLC, CODEN will usually need to be looked up. See Wikipedia:WikiProject Academic Journals/Resources for where to look for those.

Moving from the infobox to prose[edit]

After you're done filling the infobox, convert what you can into prose. For example, if the Journal of Foo is a peer-reviewed journal published weekly by Acme focusing on codfish reproduction and migration, founded in 1924 by John Doe, you can write something like:

The '''''Journal of Foo''''' is a [[peer-reviewed]] [[academic journal]] which focuses on [[codfish]] [[reproduction]] and [[fish migration|migration]]. It was founded in 1924 by the Austrian biologist [[John Doe]], and is published by [[Acme Corporation|Acme]] on a weekly basis.

(Replace "academic journal" with "scientific journal" or "medical journal" if that is more appropriate.) Pretty much everything from the infobox can be included in prose, but leave out things like ISSN, OCLC identifier, website, and other "technical" information. Good descriptions of the journals can usually be found in the first few pages of the journal, or on their website, but sometimes they are overly precise and need to be "condensed".

Please reference everything you write. You can use a citation template to facilitate your task. The {{cite web}} and {{cite journal}} templates will usually prove particularly handy. If you use the same source multiple times, you can write <ref name="NAME">{{cite xxx|author=|year=|title=|url=|publisher=|accessdate=}}</ref> the first time, and <ref name="NAME"/> subsequent times (replace NAME with something you like, such as JFooWebsite). This tool can greatly facilitate filling out the templates.

Never copy-paste descriptions (or anything else) from journal websites. These cannot be trusted to be neutral and are likely to be copyrighted material. Beware of weasel words, such as "is a leading journal...", "publishes high-quality research...", etc...

What to include [edit]

Journal scope[edit]

The article should have a brief description of the journal's scope and fields of interest (which is different from its aims). Explicitly mention if the journal is peer-reviewed or not. Not being peer-reviewed is exceedingly rare for academic journals, so this usually means that the publication is better treated as a magazine (see the magazine article writing guide). Unless there is a lot to say, this information can be included in the lead.

Official affiliations[edit]

If the journal is affiliated with scientific societies (i.e. is their official journal), or part of an independent network of publications (such as the Geoscience e-Journals, the Budapest Open Access Initiative, or SCOAP3, but not ScienceDirect or Wiley Online Library), this should be mentioned. Unless there is a lot to say on this topic, this information can be included in the lead.

Publication history[edit]

The article should have information about any of the following which apply

  • Year of establishment and disestablishment
  • Former title(s)
  • Founding editor(s)
  • Language of publication (if non-English, or in addition to English)
  • Mergers and splits with other journals
  • Main journal series or directly affiliated publications
  • Previous and current editor(s)-in-chief (or equivalent position)
  • Previous and current publisher(s)
  • Previous and current frequency of publication

If only little information is available (such as just one previous title), this should be included in the lead. Otherwise, create a subheading named "History" (see Journal of the National Cancer Institute § History or Journal of Optics § History for examples).

Supplements and side publications[edit]

Some journals have supplemental issues or side publications (such as The Astrophysical Journal, with The Astrophysical Journal Letters and The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series). If this is the case, mention them along with relevant information (editor, ISSN, year of establishment, impact factor, abstracting/indexing information, etc.). If these publications are notable on their own (such as Physical Review Letters), consider creating a standalone article for them.

Abstracting and indexing information[edit]

This information can often be obtained from the journal's website, or through MIAR. The information is generally best presented in its own subsection titled "Abstracting and indexing". List any selective or topical databases. These are crucial to establish that the journal passes our notability guidelines, e.g.:

The journal is [[abstracting and indexing|abstracted and indexed]] in the [[Social Sciences Citation Index]], [[Current Contents]]/Social & Behavioral Sciences, and [[Scopus]].

Selective or topical database mean things like the Astrophysics Data System, the British Humanities Index, MEDLINE, INIS Atomindex, PASCAL, Scopus, (Social) Science Citation Index, etc. Trivial listings in non-selective or non-topical databases such as the ISSN Register, Google Scholar, Index Copernicus, or Directory of Open Access Journals should be omitted.

Finish the section with the journal's impact factor as given in the Journal Citation Reports. Do not give a list of past impact factors, but only the most recent one (the below text can be directly copied and pasted into the article with the missing information filled in):

According to the ''[[Journal Citation Reports]]'', the journal has a 2020 [[impact factor]] of<ref name=WoS>{{cite book |year=2021 |chapter=JOURNALNAME |title=2020 [[Journal Citation Reports]] |publisher=[[Clarivate]] |edition=Science |series=[[Web of Science]]}}</ref>

Preferably, include the ranking information provided by the Journal Citation Reports. In this case, use this text instead:

According to the ''[[Journal Citation Reports]]'', the journal has a 2020 [[impact factor]] of, ranking it xxth out of xxx journals in the category "CATEGORY".<ref name=WoS>{{cite book |year=2021 |chapter=Journals Ranked by Impact: CATEGORYNAME |title=2020 [[Journal Citation Reports]] |publisher=[[Clarivate]] |edition=Science |series=[[Web of Science]]}}</ref>

It is acceptable to take this information from the journal publisher's website and use the above references as a source, even if you don't have access to the Journal Citation Reports yourself.

Landmark papers[edit]

If the journal has published particularly famous papers (e.g. papers that are notable enough to warrant their own Wikipedia article), like the 1964 PRL symmetry breaking papers (published in Physical Review Letters), or "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" (published in The Philosophical Review), mention those. You can also mention particular papers that have attracted significant coverage in independent sources. A small number of quotations, especially in local news media or blogs, is not unexpected for papers and so falls short of this mark.

Further reading[edit]

Retrospective articles about the history of a journal, or news items/web pages/books detailing specific milestones, are particularly desirable additions to our articles. If you know of such sources, include them in a 'Further reading' section. While they are rarely independent sources, they might be acceptable as primary references for uncontroversial claims, and will offer valuable insider views to the reader. For instance

  • Asghar Abbas; Syed Asim Ali (10 July 2015). Print Culture: Sir Syed's Aligarh Institute Gazette 1866-1897. Primus Books. ISBN 978-93-84082-29-1.
  • Wheeler, CE (January 1985). "The American Journal of Nursing and the socialization of a profession, 1900-1920". Advances in Nursing Science. 7 (2): 20–34. doi:10.1097/00012272-198501000-00006. PMID 3917644. S2CID 12462549.
  • "Physical Review Letters Celebrates 50 Years". Physical Review Letters. 13 February 2014.

would add a lot of value to the relevant articles (Aligarh Institute Gazette, American Journal of Nursing, and Physical Review Letters, respectively).

What not to include [edit]

Aims, mission statements, readership[edit]

A journal of oncology can be assumed to have the goals of furthering research in oncology and related fields, as well as be aimed towards oncologists and related professions. If you correctly described the scope of the journal, e.g. "Journal of Foobar is a peer-reviewed scientific journal of oncology with a focus on chemo- and radiotheraphy methods.", then the aims of the journal and its readership will be obvious.

List of authors and full editorial boards[edit]

Journals often like to list well-known or prestigious academics, or to include them on their editorial board to add to their reputation. While journals are free to do whatever they want on their websites, authors have little impact on the daily operations of the journal, as do most of the editorial board. Therefore, lists of contributors and full editorial boards should be left out of articles, unless there are independent reliable sources discussing their involvement with the journal in a more-than-in-passing way.

Other things[edit]

Things like

  • Author rights and permissions
  • Contact information
  • FAQs
  • Index-like list of articles published in the journal
  • Physical address
  • Pricing and subscription information
  • Submission guidelines

are all best left out of the article. Anyone who truly cares about that can consult the journal's website.


If possible, you should upload an image of the cover of the journal and place it in the infobox. You can usually find low-resolution images on the journal's website (or on the publisher's website) that can be uploaded under our non-free media use guidelines. For an example of a cover upload, see here.

External links[edit]

Here give a link to the homepage of the journal. It is already present in the infobox, but a link to the home page of an organization needs to be added in this section. Also, give the homepage of its affiliated society/organization if it has one and this has no article of its own. Something like:

  • {{Official website|}}
  • [ Foo Society of Sierra Gordo]

Publisher homepages are usually of very little relevance, so do not include them unless they are of particular relevance (for example if the publisher was founded to publish that specific journal). Likewise, omit links to social media sites (such as Facebook and Twitter pages). For more general guidelines on this subject, see Wikipedia:External links#Official links and Wikipedia:External links#Links normally to be avoided.

Finishing touches[edit]

Remember to italicize the title of the page as appropriate. Usually this will be done automatically by the infobox, but can also be achieved by placing {{italic title}} at the top of the page if no infobox is present. Also make sure to italicize the name of the journal everywhere in the text.


Several categories should be added to the article when possible.

If the page starts with a The (such as The Journal of Foo), add the appropriate sortkey at the bottom of the page ({{DEFAULTSORT:Journal Of Foo, The}}). See Wikipedia:Categorization#Sort keys if you are unfamiliar with sortkeys.If any category is missing, contact WikiProject Academic Journals and let us know that the category is missing.


Create redirects for the following and tag them with the relevant {{R from}} template.

Note that {{Infobox journal}} will automatically ask you to create abbreviations for the ISO 4, Bluebook, NLM, and MathSciNet standards once you fill the |abbreviation=/|bluebook=/|mathscinet=/|nlm= parameters of the infobox. Generic/non-standard abbreviations can be created manually and tagged with {{R from abbreviation}}.
  • Acronyms: Acronyms can be redirected to the journal if they are unique to the journal (if so, create them and tag with {{R from acronym}}). However, many acronyms will refer to multiple things. Those are best handled as a disambiguation page. Variants of acronyms should also point to the disambiguation page.
with an entry for the journal added to the disambiguation page.
  • Typos: If there is a likely or common typo for the journal, you can create a redirect for it as well, tagged with {{R from typo}}
However, this is not critical and you can skip this step for most typos. Misspellings due to differences between American and British English are more important to identify however (e.g. Journal of Archeology vs Journal of Archaeology).

Stub templates[edit]

If the article is missing the some of the information suggested by this guide (completed infobox, scope, affiliations, publication history, and abstracting/indexing information), add a stub template such as {{Biology-journal-stub}} (see list of journals stub templates for more) at the bottom of the article. If no specific stub template can be found, you can use the more generic {{Academic-journal-stub}}. The stub template will correctly categorize the page in the appropriate stub category—you do not need to add the stub category directly.

Wikiprojects tagging and planning for the long-term[edit]

Note: For professional or trade magazines, you'll usually want to use {{WikiProject Magazines}} instead of {{WikiProject Academic Journals}}. However, sometimes both {{WikiProject Academic Journals}} and {{WikiProject Magazines}} might be appropriate.

It is important for the long-term development of articles that their talk pages be tagged with an appropriate WikiProject template and given an assessment rating. You should add the WikiProject Academic Journals template {{WikiProject Academic Journals}} and other relevant WikiProject templates when possible (such as {{WikiProject Physics}}; see Category:WikiProjects by discipline for more). Doing so will ensure that the relevant WikiProjects will be contacted if the article is (for example) nominated for deletion (if they subscribe to the Article Alerts system), and will be categorized in the appropriate Cleanup Listings, on top of providing convenient links to WikiProjects for editors looking for help.

This also applies to relevant disambiguation pages. There is no need to tag redirects, but it is not wrong to do so either. For example, see

For clarity, each template should be on their own line at the top of the talk page, e.g.:

{{WikiProject Academic Journals|class=...}}
{{WikiProject Physics|class=...}}

How to assess articles[edit]

In general, rating articles as Stub/Start/C/B class based on your 'gut feeling' is fairly uncontroversial and can be done unilaterally. The threshold between C class and B class is often difficult to gauge, and it doesn't terribly matter which of these two ratings the article gets, but typically C is more appropriate than B class for 'short' articles. You can rate articles by placing |class=Stub, |class=Start, |class=C, |class=B and so on in their Wikiproject template (e.g. {{WikiProject Academic Journals|class=Stub}}).

  • If the article is missing the some of the information suggested by this guide (completed infobox, scope, affiliations, publication history, and abstracting/indexing information), it should be rated as 'Stub' class.
  • If the article contains all the information suggested by this guide (completed infobox, scope, affiliations, publication history, and abstracting/indexing information), it should be rated 'Start' class.
  • If the article contains more than the 'basic' information suggested by this guide (e.g. if it has a substantively developed history section), it may be appropriate to rate the article 'C' or 'B' class (|class=C or |class=B) (see assessment rating). If unsure, rate as C class over B class.
  • If the article is substantially developed and well written, you may considered nominating it for a good or featured article status. Do not unilaterally assess them as such yourself. As of 2015, only two journal articles have reached good-article status: The Accounting Review and Genes, Brain and Behavior. No journal article has reached featured-article status.

See also[edit]