Wikipedia:WikiProject Academic Journals/Writing guide

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For advice on writing articles about professional, hobbyist and other non-scholarly publications, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Magazines/Writing guide.

This guide is intended to assist editors in the creation and writing of articles on academic journals. 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.

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 has a historic purpose or has a significant history.
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 a selective database, or has an impact factor, this will be enough to establish notability.
  • 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. However library catalogs can sometimes provide clues, but care should be exercised, as such catalogs are often outdated and may contain errors.


  • Location: 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 universally known in an abbreviated form (FASEB Journal, not Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal).
    • The: If the "The" is part of the official full name, the article should be located at that name (American Journal of Physics, not The American Journal of Physics, but The American Journal of Medicine, not American Journal of Medicine).
    • 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.
  • Capitalization: Use title case (American Journal of Physics, not American journal of physics).
  • Italics: Italicize the title of the page as appropriate and the name of the journal everywhere in the text. Usually this will be done automatically by the infobox. Note that the {{italic title}} template included with the infobox does not work for longer titles. In these cases, one should place {{Italic title|force=yes}} at the top of the article or, if an infobox is present, add the line | italic title = force to it.
  • Sorting: 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.
  • Redirects: Redirect every likely capitalisation, alternative spelling and abbreviated form (dotted and undotted). For example, American Journal of Physics should have the following redirects
These redirect pages should be tagged with {{R from ISO 4}}, {{R from abbreviation}}, {{R from other capitalisation}} or {{R from alternative spelling}}. Note that it can be best to have a disambiguation page for certain abbreviations. Tag these redirects and disambiguation pages on their talk page with {{WPJournals|class=Redirect}} and {{WPJournals|class=Disambiguation}} respectively.

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. An infobox does not replace prose, it simply presents key information (such as ISSN, language, license, impact factor, journal website, etc...) in a consistent manner from article to article, and in a machine-readable form. 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.

Moving from the infobox to prose[edit]

Now 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 migration. It was founded in 1924 by the Austrian biologist John Doe, and is published by Acme on a weekly basis.

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

The article should have a brief description of the journal's scope. 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

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

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 editors-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 for an example).

Abstracting and indexing information, impact factor

This 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. 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 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 2013 [[impact factor]] of<ref name=WoS>{{cite book |year=2014 |chapter=JOURNALNAME |title=2013 [[Journal Citation Reports]] |publisher=[[Thomson Reuters]] |edition=Science |series=[[Web of Science]] |postscript=.}}</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 2013 [[impact factor]] of, ranking it xxth out of xxx journals in the category "CATEGORY".<ref name=WoS>{{cite book |year=2014 |chapter=Journals Ranked by Impact: CATEGORYNAME |title=2013 [[Journal Citation Reports]] |publisher=[[Thomson Reuters]] |edition=Science |series=[[Web of Science]] |postscript=.}}</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.

What not to include[edit]

Aims, readership

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 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

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 more than an in-passing way.

Other things

Things like

  • Author rights and permissions
  • Contact information (emails, phone numbers, ...)
  • FAQs
  • 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.

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). If these publications are notable on their own (such as Physical Review Letters), consider creating a standalone article for them.

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.

Stub templates and categories[edit]

The finishing touches should be added (at the bottom of the page):

If any category is missing, contact WikiProject Academic Journals and let us know that the category is missing.

Wikiprojects and planning for the long-term[edit]

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

It is very important for the long-term development of articles that their talk pages be tagged with an appropriate WikiProject template. You should add the WikiProject Academic Journals template {{WP Journals}} AND other relevant Wikiprojects template when possible (such as {{WP Medicine}}). This 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.

See also[edit]