what makes a journal national or international?





Often a time many do ask what is the criteria under which a journal is termed ‘National’ or ‘International’?. Terming a journal ‘national’ or ‘international’ is very dicey! There are lots of criteria to be considered!

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 people opine that any journal that is not published in Nigeria is termed ‘international’. In other words, any journal that is published from any other country except from Nigeria can be termed ‘international’.

Do 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 Nigeria. On the other hand there are many open journals whose contact addresses lists a ‘foreign’ P.O. Box for communication but for all purposes is in Nigeria. 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 criterion 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: journal has Editorial board that is truly international in its composition. Majority of editors especially the editor-in-charge should be from countries other than Nigeria. It should be noted that sometimes Chief Editor changes over time and ‘maybe’ from different countries including Nigeria. If the Chief Editor is from Nigeria it does not automatically qualify as ‘national’. Majority of published papers in the journal should be such papers that would be accepted anywhere in international standard.

Criteria for ‘National’ Journal:

*If journal is published in any one of the Nigerian languages. Many journals are published in Bi-lingual/Tri-lingual/Multi-lingual and even in English language in Nigeria as English is generally accepted as the lingua franca for scholarly communication.

*If journal has Editorial board only from one country.

Note: Nigeria 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 Nigerians working in other countries or one/two Indians who have migrated and taken citizenship of other countries or one/two foreigners. If majority in editorial board are Nigerians and journal is being published in Nigeria 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 Nigerians 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 Nigeria only with an occasional reviewer from ‘abroad’.

*If the scope of journal is ‘national’ but deals ‘majorly’ with subject/topics that are ‘local’ in content but also accepts ‘international’ relevant articles. Those journals must be accepted  in country-wise citation indexes .

The terms ‘National’ or ‘International’ are not important especially when it’s Impact Factor that drives the journal is 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 to influence jobs/projects they receive.

‘National’ or ‘International’ journal should not be 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.  Moreover, like-minded people who are doing research on a similar topic to be able to gain citations for their work.


Dr P Divakar Former Librarian, CCMB, Hyd

Dr Achala Munigal.

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