Top health research funders' guidance on selecting journals for funded research [version 2; peer review]

Larissa Shamseer, Kelly D Cobey, Matthew J Page, Jamie C Brehaut, Jeremy M Grimshaw, Sharon E Straus, Lesley A Stewart, David Moher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Funded health research is being published in journals that many regard as "predatory", deceptive, and non-credible. We do not currently know whether funders provide guidance on how to select a journal in which to publish funded health research. Methods: We identified the largest 46 philanthropic, public, development assistance, public-private partnership, and multilateral funders of health research by expenditure, globally as well as four public funders from lower-middle income countries, from the list at One of us identified guidance on disseminating funded research from each funders' website (August/September 2017), then extracted information about selecting journals, which was verified by another assessor. Discrepancies were resolved by discussion. Results were summarized descriptively. This research used publicly available information; we did not seek verification with funding bodies. Results: The majority (44/50) of sampled funders indicated funding health research. 38 (of 44, 86%) had publicly available information about disseminating funded research, typically called "policies" (29, 76%). Of these 38, 36 (95%) mentioned journal publication for dissemination of which 13 (36.11%) offer variable guidance on selecting a journal, all of which relate to the funder's open access mandate. Six funders (17%) outlined publisher requirements or features by which to select a journal. One funder linked to a document providing features of journals to look for (e.g. listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals) and to be wary of (e.g., no journal scope statement, uses direct and unsolicited marketing). Conclusions: Few funders provided guidance on how to select a journal in which to publish funded research. Funders have a duty to ensure that the research they fund is discoverable by others. This research is a benchmark for funder guidance on journal selection prior to the January 2021 implementation of Plan S (a global, funder-led initiative to ensure immediate, open access to funded, published research).

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
Early online date16 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Final approved version


  • Periodicals as Topic

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