What is criteria under which a journal can be termed as ‘national’ or ‘international’?

When I was taking a lecture recently… A question was posed to me by one of the participants: What is criteria under which a journal is termed ‘National’ or ‘International’?
Terming a journal ‘national’ or ‘international’ is very dicey! There are lot of criteria to be considered! For those interested there are discussions around this at QuoraResearchGate & LISLinks.


Many assume that it is simple

  • Journals that have International‘ ‘Global‘ ‘World in their journal name is ‘international journal’ even if it is published in a ‘given country’ (India in this instance)
  • Most opine any journal that is not published in India is is termed ‘international’. In other words, any journal that is published from any other country except from India can be termed ‘international’.

Does the above criteria make a journal truly ‘international’?

In globalized economy physical location does not matter as most ‘foreign’ publishers  have based their operations in India. On the other hand there are many open journals whose contact address lists a ‘foreign’ PO Box for communication but for all purposes is in India.

There is lot of confusion to most ‘novice’ researchers.

  • Does language of the journal impact? Does the journal become international if it publishes in one/multiple ‘foreign’ languages?
  • English is generally accepted as the lingua franca for scholarly communication. Will journal be ‘international’ if it publishes only in English language that is considered a common communication language in which most journals are published? There are many Indian journals that are not ‘international’, but are being published in English. A language by itself cannot be a single criteria to be termed international.
  • Will journal be ‘international’ if the scope of journal is international that deals with subject/topics that are truly ‘international’ not ‘local’ in nature?

Many argue that any journal whose ISSN is assigned from a ‘given country’ is termed national for that country. But ISSN assigning agencies have been established in various countries for convenience and has no influence in terming a journal as national or international.

We can safely say a journal is ‘International’ if

  • If journal has Editorial board that is truly international in its composition. Majority of editors should be from countries other than India. It should be noted that sometimes Chief Editor changes over time and ‘maybe’ from different countries including India. If the  Chief Editor is Indian it does not automatically qualify as ‘national’.
  • Majority of published papers in the journal should be ‘international’ submissions. Not sure if authors of Indian origin residing in various countries or citizens from various global countries publish singly or in collaboration with Indians termed international.
  • Majority subscriptions should originate from ‘global’ subscribers (individuals or institutions)
  • Reviewers (experts of given discipline) from countries all over the world
  • Published by a University or Association from any other country other than India
  • Mention of journal in citation indexes that are accepted worldwide (as there a lot of bogus impact factors and predatory citation indexes mentioned by predatory publishers of their predatory journals)

Check out Jan J van Wingerden criteria for an International journal 


Criteria for ‘National’ Journal

  • If journal published in any one of the Indian languages. Many journals are published in Bi-lingual/Tri-lingual/Multi-lingual and even in English language in India…. as English is generally accepted as the lingua franca for scholarly communication.
  • If journal has Editorial board only from one country.
    • Note – India has many states. Editorial board can be from one state or from many states.

Sometimes editorial board of ‘national’ journal comprises of

  • one/two editors who are Indians working in other countries
  • one/two Indians who have migrated and taken citizenship of other countries
  • one/two foreigners.

If majority in editorial board are Indians and journal is being published in India then journal is termed ‘National’.

  • Majority of published papers in the journal are from within the country with a smattering of papers from abroad either as single authorship or collaborations with Indians is still termed ‘national’.
  • Majority subscriptions should originate from within the country subscribers (individuals or institutions). There ‘maybe’ ‘few’ subscriptions from abroad also. Especially as journals are being published online it is easier for global reach.
  • Majority of Reviewers (experts of given discipline) are from India only with an occasional reviewer from ‘abroad’.
  • If the scope of journal is ‘national’ deals ‘majorly’ with subject/topics that are ‘local’ in content but also accepts ‘international’ relevant articles.
  • Published by a University or Association of that country
  • Mention of journal in country-wise citation indexes that are accepted worldwide

‘Many’ find the terms ‘National’ or ‘International’ are not important especially when it is Impact Factor that drives journal ranking. There are many bogus Impact Factors generated by Predatory Open Publishers/Journals which the researcher may not be aware of.  ‘Others’ stress the importance of ‘National’ or ‘International’ journals influencing jobs/projects they receive.

‘National’ or ‘International’ journal should not be a criteria for a researcher to publish. Researchers should find a correct vehicle to publish their article to be able to get a far wider readership or intended readership – Like minded people who are doing research on similar topic to be able to gain citations for their work.

Hope this helps.

Request all LIS professionals to read it and get in touch with me at AchalaMunigalRao@gmail.com if there is any discrepancy found.


  • Dr P Divakar Former Librarian, CCMB, Hyd

What is criteria under which a journal can be termed as ‘national’ or ‘international’? by Dr Achala Munigal is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Choose your CC license at https://creativecommons.org/choose/

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