Doctorate by publication: notes on journals

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Recognised journals with peer review

If you plan to submit one or several publications as doctoral degree paper, the Doctoral Commission generally reserves the right to decide on recognition of the journals – and thus whether you will be allowed to use the publication/s towards the completion of your doctoral degree.

The Doctoral Commission will carefully review the journal if, for instance, it has doubts with regard to the journal’s assessment procedure or its nature as a journal – particularly with regards to "predatory journals". This, however, only occurs after you have submitted your publications and applied for initiation of your doctoral examination procedure. From your perspective, this is rather late.

If you want to avoid unpleasant surprises and wish to be on the safe side, please note the following:
The Doctoral Commission will in principle not have any hesitation to recognise the journal if it is among the two top quartiles (top 50 percent) of the journals for a specialist area, listed according to the impact factor in descending order (Journal Citation Reports SCIE, SSCI).

If the journal of your publication(s) does not fall into the “safe harbor”, the doctoral commission will, among other things, also draw on the information that your supervisors provide in their Votum Informativum. Please make sure, therefore, that your supervisors elaborated on the scientific character of the journal in their Votum Informativum (see form, field # 5.3) as detailed and extensive as possible. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • importance of the journal in the respective scientific field
  • composition of the editorial board
  • peer review process
  • ratio of accepted to submitted contribution
  • development of the impact factor in the past years

If the information is not sufficient, the doctoral commission will contact you and ask you to provide more details relating to, among other things, bibliometric data.

Please note:
If a journal in which your publication has been published is not on the list of recognised journals, this does not automatically mean that you will not be awarded your doctoral degree on the basis of this publication. It simply means that the Doctoral Commission will review the journal in detail, if it has doubts regarding its nature. This means that there is a risk that the review may have a negative outcome for you.

Predatory Open Access Publishing

This term refers to a publication practice or, to be more precise, a business model within the scope of which alleged journals charge a fee for the publication of scientific articles, and do not, however, conduct a quality assurance process - for instance by peer review - and no editorial processing is ensured. In some cases, a quality assurance is entirely feigned: The assessor or the members of the Editorial Boards do not exist or have never declared themselves prepared to carry out this function. In some cases, publication free of charge is implied at first and then after submission, publication fees are suddenly charged. The designs or names of the predatory journal are often selected to sound similar to renowned journals and strive to create the impression that these are also renowned journals.

Such practices are incompatible with the principles of good scientific practice and may even involve actions prosecutable under civil or criminal law.

Publications which have appeared in such journals are not recognised as doctoral theses at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin!

Please take due care when selecting a journal for your publication! The checklist by Think!Check!Submit! may help you with this. BIH QUEST also provides information on the phenomenon as well as in general on the topic of Open Access publications and provides a "whitelist" of reputable Open Access journals.

Top Journal

The Faculty Council decided on a new definition for top journals in its resolution passed in the meeting on 4 July 2018:

In future, a top journal (international leading journal with peer review) shall be a journal which is among the top 25 percent (instead of previously 30 percent) of the journals for a specialist area, listed according to impact factor in descending order (Journal Citation Reports SCIE, SSCI).

In addition, journals not among the top 25 percent can be approved for acceptance to the group of top journals at the justified request of a member of the Doctoral Committee or a party authorised to supervise doctorates at the Charité. Such a justified request can be made by the authorised parties to the chairperson of the Doctoral Committee at any time.

Please note:
For you and your publications, the date of submisison of your relevant publication will be decisive. If you have submitted before 4 July 2018, the former definition will apply: A top journal (international leading journal with peer review) is defined as a journal which is among the top 30 percent of the journals for a specialist area, listed according to impact factor in descending order (Journal Citation Reports SCIE, SSCI) and has a minimum Eigenfactor score of 0.01.

Impact factors on the intranet

On the Intranet of the Charité, you can find an overview of impact factors for journals, listed in alphabetic order according to specialist areas.