Sustainability to level 0 in 2023

Photo of a notebook and pen.

The chairs of the Publication Forum panels have decided to downgrade Sustainability journal from level 1 to level 0 from the beginning of 2023.

The chairs of the 23 discipline-specific Publication Forum panels decided in their meeting on 1.9.2022 that the journal Sustainability will be downgraded to level 0. There has been a critical discussion about the journal in the panels for a long time, and several proposals for downgrading have been received from the scientific community. In Norway, a decision was made earlier this year to downgrade the journal to level 0 from the beginning of 2023.

According to the Publication Forum evaluation criteria, the panels do not need to award level 1 to publication channels formally meeting the criteria if their scientific quality is not credible. Sustainability was discussed with all of the Publication Forum panels already in fall 2021, and the panels found the quality of the journal very variable.

Sustainability also publishes high-quality articles, but the wide scope, large publication volume and fast publication processes have undermined confidence that the journal's procedures to ensure scientific quality work reliably down the line. The large variability in quality is partly the result of thousands of special issues that are common also in other MDPI journals. However, the chairs emphasize that classification decisions are not made based on the publisher, and each journal is evaluated independently.

In the JUFO portal, Sustainability has received several proposals for downgrading, more than any other publication channel classified in the Publication Forum. Also in Norway, the feedback from the research community led to the decision to downgrade Sustainability to level 0 (pdf, in Norwegian). The feedback concerned e.g. insufficient peer-review and publication of manuscripts before peer-review was completed (in Norwegian).

The panels normally have to decide on downgrades by 30.6. each year. However, Sustainability belongs to the shared list of multidisciplinary publication channels of all panels so the decision could only be made after the summer at the first meeting of the panel chairs.

The decision was discussed at the meeting of the Publication Forum Steering Group on 13.9. The Steering Group decided that Sustainability can be downgraded from the beginning of 2023, in line with the Norwegian classification. The new level therefore applies to articles published in Sustainability with a publication year of 2023 or later.

According to Sustainability websites, the manuscripts are peer-reviewed and the authors will receive the first decision approx. in 16,7 days after submission, and acceptance to publication in 3,5 days. It is therefore likely that the manuscripts already submitted to the journal by Finnish researchers will be published by the beginning of 2023.

This year the Publication Forum panels re-evaluate levels 2 and 3. Panels’ preliminary classifications have been open for comments through the JUFO portal. The panels will finalise the classifications in their autumn meetings and they will be published in the beginning of 2023. During the spring of 2023, the panels’ task is to review level 1 publication channels.

Photo: Mohammad Danish, Pexels.

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