Classification criteria

Last updated 16.12.2021

Only academic publication channels are eligible for the Publication Forum classification (levels 1, 2 and 3). The term ‘academic publication channel’ refers to book publishers, conferences as well as printed and digital publication series specialised in the publication of scientific research results. These forums have an editorial board composed of experts and they follow the peer-review practice. Academic publication channels are evaluated merely in terms of their impact on science, not their societal impact. Open access journals are evaluated using the same criteria applicable to other publication series.

Series publications and conferences are divided by discipline among the Panels so that the responsibility for the evaluation of each publication channel is carried by one Panel only. Instead, the evaluations of all book publishers and certain multidisciplinary journals (e.g. Nature, Science, PNAS) are made by all Panels.

When evaluating publication channels, the Panels consider the publication practices typical of their research fields, the current appreciation enjoyed by the respective channels within the scientific community as well as the equal presence of various disciplines in the higher quality levels. Levels 2 and 3 have quotas for each Panel. To support their work, the Panellists can utilise a number of different impact indicators and indexing data, as well as data on the levels awarded in the corresponding Norwegian and Danish systems. The Panellists are also instructed to consult their background communities, especially during the re-evaluation of levels 2 and 3.

Level category criteria

Level 1

Level 1 can be awarded to domestic and foreign journals, series and conferences considered to be most important from the Finnish research perspective, as well as book publishers who meet the following criteria:

  • Identifier: The publication channel has a registered ISSN or ISBN number.
  • Transparency: The publication channel's website has a transparent description of the editorial board and the peer review process. (A book publisher may meet Level 1 criteria even if the editorial board and peer review process are not described on the website.)
  • Scientific focus: The publication channel is specialised in the publication of scientific or scholarly research outcomes and it publishes peer-reviewed scientific publications on a regular basis.
  • Editorial board: The publication channel’s editorial board constitutes of experts, who mainly include researchers working in universities or research institutes.
  • Peer review: The entire manuscripts of scientific or scholarly articles or books are subject to peer review, which is carried out blindly or openly by external scientific experts invited by the editors. (A book publisher may meet the Level 1 criteria if it has a credible quality assessment by the book’s editors.)
  • Scope: The publication channel is used by a national or international scientific community, with over half (1/2) of the editorial board or authors coming from a different research organisation than the publisher organisation.
  • Credibility: The publication channel is scientifically relevant in its field for the international or Finnish scientific community, and its procedure for ensuring scientific quality is credible.

The Panels need not award Level 1 to publication channels formally meeting the criteria if their factual quality or relevance is questionable. Therefore, it is possible to exclude certain channels (so-called predatory journals) with questionable operating principles or other channels which publish scholarly writings for a fee or other consideration but without proper quality assessment.

If a publication channel has been operating less than a year, or if there are too few issues/publications to make the assessment, the Panels can rate it Level 0. In this case, the publication channel will be later re-evaluated.

Level 2 international

Level 2 can be awarded to leading scientific publication channels of the various disciplines that meet the following criteria:

  • Publication channel has a wide reach and high respect among international experts in the field.
  • Researchers from different countries seek to publish their best results in it.
  • Editors, authors and readers represent various nationalities.

All publication channels meeting the criteria are not necessarily included in Level 2. The Panels must choose, within the framework of their Level 2 quota (see below), the publication channels where the highest-level publications are directed as a result of extensive competition and demanding peer-reviewing. Since the Panels cover a comprehensive field, they must themselves see that publication channels representing different disciplines are included in Level 2. The journals publishing only review articles must not account for an overly large share of the whole.

Level 2 national

In Humanities and Social Sciences (Panels 14 and 16–23), Level 2 can also include leading Finnish or Swedish-language publication channels covering research which specialises in the aspects of the Finnish society, culture or history in their particular field as widely as possible. Publishing in these channels is seen to be as important a merit as publishing in an international Level 2 channel.

Due to the lack of citation data, the impact of domestic publication channels cannot be measured but certain minimum criteria are set for proposed Level 2 publication channels:

  • The quality assessment of the scholarly writings must be in line with the best practices.
  • The publication series must cover research in the respective discipline – and the book publishers in their main discipline – most widely and be used by the entire national research community in the discipline.
  • The context of research problems is strongly focused on the Finnish society or the Finnish or Swedish-speaking culture.

All publication channels meeting these criteria are not rated as Level 2. Only a selection of the highest-quality and most comprehensive Finnish and Swedish-language publication channels covering the disciplines where it is justified to produce and publish new research in the national languages is included. The rating is based on a joint consensual decision by the Chairs of the SSH Panels.

Level 3

Level 3 can include the supreme-level publication channels of various disciplines meeting the following requirements:

  • The research published in them represents the highest level in the discipline and has extremely consistent impact (e.g., as measured through citation indicators).
  • The channels cover the discipline comprehensively, and is not limited to the discussion of narrow special themes.
  • The channels have international authors and readers and the editorial boards are constituted by the leading researcher in the field.
  • Publishing in these channels is highly appreciated among the international research community of the field.

The Panel Chairs take consensual decisions to include publication series in the Level 3 category.

Level 0

Level 0 includes all publication channels that do not meet one or several of the Level 1 criteria. Please read more under FAQ: "What is Level 0?".

Level 2 and 3 quotas for series

The Panel quotas determine how many series publications each Panel can classify in Levels 2 and 3. Starting from the year 2015, the quota calculation criterion is the publication volume of the forums in question, no longer the number of titles. Therefore, the number of publication channels in Levels 2 and 3 varies between Panels.

The combined publication volume of the series rated to Levels 2 and 3 can be maximum 25% of the aggregate publication volume (Levels 1–3) assigned to the Panel in question, and Level 3 10%.

In this context, 'publication volume' refers to the aggregate three-year average of domestic and foreign scholarly articles in the series or conference proceedings. The volume-based quotas were introduced because in certain areas of Science and Medicine, the abundant offer to the leading publication channels has made them grow very large. One fifth of titles may publish over half of the articles produced in the discipline in question. In Social Sciences and Humanities, on the contrary, corresponding differences in volume between the basic and best journals do not exist, and therefore the previous quota system resulted in an uneven final outcome among the disciplines when focusing on the number of articles.

Classification of book publishers

The list of book publishers is shared by all Panels. Ratings to Levels 2 and 3 are based on consensual decisions by the Panel Chairs. About 10% of all publishers can be classified as Level 2 and about 10% of Level 2 publishers can become Level 3. The quotas are thus determined on the basis of the number of publishers and not the volume of publications produced.