Name: Journal acceptance rate
Can apply to: Journal articles, typically in peer-reviewed publications only
Metric definition: The percentage of manuscripts accepted for publication compared to all manuscripts submitted.
Metric calculation: The percentage is calculated by dividing the number of manuscripts accepted for publication in a given year by the number of manuscripts submitted in a given year.
Data sources: Journal editors and publishers.
Appropriate use cases: The acceptance rate for a journal is dependent upon the relative demand for publishing in a particular journal, the peer review processes in place, the mix of invited and unsolicited submissions, and time to publication, among others . As such, it may be a proxy for perceived prestige and demand as compared to availability.
Limitations: Many factors unrelated to quality can impact the acceptance rate for any particular journal. Sugimoto et al (2013) found statistically significant differences in article acceptance rates related to discipline, country affiliation of the editor, and number of reviewers per article. Acceptance rates were negatively correlated with citation-based indicators and positively correlated with journal age. Open access journals had statistically significantly higher acceptance rates than subscription only journals.
Inappropriate use cases: The acceptance rate should not be used as a measure of the quality of a particular manuscript. Manuscript rejection may result from other factors such as a mismatch between the journal’s focus, audience, or format and that of the manuscript. Lower acceptance rates should not be assumed to be the result of higher standards in peer review, according to Haensly et al (2008). Acceptance rate should not be used as a comparative metric across fields or disciplines, according to Haensly et al (2008) and Sugimoto et al (2013).
Available metric sources: Journal editors, Journal websites, Cabell’s Directories of Publishing Opportunities, and the Modern Language Association Directory of Periodicals.
Transparency: The data underlying acceptance rates are proprietary. Although some journals make their acceptance rate publicly available, many do not.