Getting Your Journal Indexed: a SPARC Guide

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To be recognized as an authoritative, high-quality source of information, a journal must be widely available. Indexing and abstracting services facilitate the broadest dissemination of information by pointing researchers to articles that are relevant to the field. Once a journal is launched and has a track record of timely publication and solid content, it is appropriate to contact indexing and abstracting services for consideration.

The decision to include a journal is based on several factors, most importantly a great deal of high quality content, with much more in the pipeline, that is produced on schedule. Please note that electronic journals may be seen as less attractive by some services, although this is beginning to change.

Once on firm ground with respect to the quantity/quality/schedule issue, it is time to approach one or more indexing and abstracting services. Though each discipline may have indexing and abstracting services specific to the field, the most well-known, well-regarded services include:

  • AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access)
  • Biosis Previews®
  • Chemical Abstracts
  • ISI® Web of Science
  • PubMed

We welcome additions and corrections. Please send any suggestions to sparc [at] arl [dot] org. Descriptions of the main indexing and abstracting services follow:

AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access)

A bibliographic database of citations to the agricultural literature created by the National Agricultural Library and its cooperators. Production of these records in electronic form began in 1970, but the database covers materials in all formats, including printed works from the 15th century. The records describe publications and resources encompassing all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines, including animal and veterinary sciences, entomology, plant sciences, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries, farming and farming systems, agricultural economics, extension and education, food and human nutrition, and earth and environmental sciences.

The National Agricultural Library (NAL) uses a panel of indexers, subject experts and technical services managers to review all new journals received for the NAL collection that are candidates for indexing in the AGRICOLA database. The Journal Election Panel (JEP) meets 3-4 times a year to review titles and make recommendations for indexing treatment. The JEP also reviews titles from the current List of Journals Indexed in AGRICOLA that have been referred by indexers or other staff for reconsideration because they have changed emphasis or scope and may no longer meet the criteria for inclusion in AGRICOLA. The JEP appreciates receiving notice of newly published titles in agricultural and related subject areas for consideration. Any title recommended for indexing must first meet the scope and coverage policies for acquisition to the collection; however, not all journals acquired by NAL are indexed. Anyone who wishes to recommend a journal for acquisition by NAL and consideration for AGRICOLA should send at least three current issues of the title to:

AGRICOLA Journal Evaluation Panel
Technical Services Division
National Agricultural Library
10301 Baltimore Avenue
Beltsville, MD, 20705
Phone: 301.504.7294


A bibliographic database covering worldwide literature on all biological and biomedical topics. Records contain bibliographic data, indexing information, and abstracts for most references. In order for a journal to be considered for inclusion, submit the journal to the BIOSIS Information Authority and Distribution Department. Candidates are evaluated for possible inclusion based on a variety of criteria which include subject, geographical scope, peer-review, productivity, and other factors. Evaluation does not guarantee acceptance for inclusion in the BIOSIS database. Additional factors, including space limitations will play a role in this decision-making process. Items should be mailed to:

Information Authority and Distribution Department
2001 Market Street, Suite 700
Philadelphia, PA 19103-7095

Chemical Abstracts

Since 1907, Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) has indexed and summarized chemistry-related articles from more than 40,000 scientific journals, in addition to patents, conference proceedings and other documents pertinent to chemistry, life sciences and many other fields. In total, abstracts for more than 22 million documents are accessible online through CAS. Through the printed CA, CA on CD, STN, the CAS files distributed through licensed vendors, the SciFinder and SciFinder Scholar desktop research tools, and the STN Easy or STN on the Web services, data produced by CAS is accessible to virtually any scientific researcher worldwide in industry, governmental research institutions, and academia.

Publishers interested in having a journal considered for inclusion in Chemical Abstracts should send either a copy of the first issue (if it is a new publication) or 3 different and recent issues if it has already been published for some time to:

Acquisitions/Evaluation Dept.
P.O. Box 3012
Columbus, OH 43210

Electronic journal publishers can send URL pointers to:

ISI Web of Science®

Thomson ISI Web of Science provides seamless access to Science Citation Expanded®, Social Sciences Citation Index®, Arts & Humanities Citation Index(TM) -- and now also to in-depth chemistry information via Index Chemicus®, and Current Chemical Reactions®. It enables users to search current and retrospective multidisciplinary information from approximately 8,500 of the most prestigious, high impact research journals in the world. Web of Science also provides a unique search method, cited reference searching. With it, users can navigate forward, backward, and through the literature, searching all disciplines and time spans to uncover all the information relevant to their research. Users can also navigate to electronic full-text journal articles.

For more information, see: The ISI® Database: The Journal Selection Process


PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine, includes over 14 million citations for biomedical articles back to the 1950's. These citations are from MEDLINE and additional life science journals. PubMed includes links to many sites providing full text articles and other related resources.

MEDLINE is NLM's database of indexed journal citations and abstracts now covering nearly 4,500 journals published in the United States and more than 70 other countries covering the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, and the preclinical sciences. Available for online searching since 1971, MEDLINE includes references to articles indexed from 1966 to the present. New citations are added weekly. Citations prior to the mid-1960s can be found in the NLM database, OLDMEDLINE.

All citations in MEDLINE are assigned MeSH® Terms and Publication Types from NLM's controlled vocabulary. MEDLINE citations and abstracts are available as the primary component of NLM's PubMed database, which is searchable via the Internet.

In addition to providing access to MEDLINE, PubMed provides access to:

  • The out-of-scope citations (e.g., articles on plate tectonics or astrophysics) from certain MEDLINE journals, primarily general science and chemistry journals, for which the life sciences articles are indexed for MEDLINE.
  • Citations that precede the date that a journal was selected for MEDLINE indexing.
  • Some additional life science journals that submit full text to PubMedCentral(TM) and receive a qualitative review by NLM.

Information about whether or not NLM will index a journal for these services is available from Journal Selection for Index Medicus/MEDLINE®.