Where to Publish Academic Research on Online Extremism and Terrorism?: What We Can Learn from Journal Article Entries in VOX-Pol’s Online Library

By Louise Laing and Maura Conway

One of the questions we get asked quite often at VOX-Pol—by not just PhD students and early career researchers, but established scholars too and, in fact, that we quite often ask ourselves! — is ‘what are appropriate academic journals for publication of research on online extremism and terrorism?’

A generic response is “make sure there is a match between the paper and the journal’s scope, but also aim high; so, basically, start by submitting to an appropriate high impact journal and go from there.” This is actually pretty good advice, but needs some parsing, which we seek to accomplish in this post via an analysis of the journal article entries in VOX-Pol’s Online Library.

VOX-Pol’s Online Library is a research and teaching resource, which collects in one place a large volume of publications related to the intersections of extremism, terrorism, and the Internet. Our searchable database comprises links to e-books, book chapters, journal articles, research reports, policy documents and reports, and PhD theses.

The Library, which launched in December 2015 and is continuously updated, contains—at time of writing—1,027 entries and is the most comprehensive listing in this field. Of these total entries, 475 are academic journal articles, with a total of 225 journals and conference proceedings represented, and it’s this data that’s analysed in this post.

This blog post is focused on two different characterisations of appropriate journals to submit articles on online extremism and terrorism to: 1.) those whose scope closely matches the content of your article and are also high-ranking in directly relevant fields and 2.) those that have a wide(r) remit and are (very) high-ranking generally.

Our analysis of VOX-Pol’s Online Library journal article entries shows that nearly half of those articles were published in journals falling into the first category, with just 6% appearing in publications falling into the second category. So let’s take a closer look at the journals actually composing each category.

Most Popular Journals for Publication of Online Extremism and Terrorism Research

Our April 2020 quantification of the academic journals containing the most articles addressing online extremism and terrorism and related issues appears in Table 1.

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism was the most preferred publication venue, accounting for almost 10% of all journal article entries in the Online Library. Explanations for this likely include the journal’s explicit terrorism focus, it’s high rank in the field, it’s monthly publication schedule and, increasingly, researchers’ awareness that it’s a publication venue open to work having a focus on the Internet. The latter is reflected in, for example, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism’s expanded 2019 special issue (Vol. 42, Iss. 1/2) titled ‘Islamic State’s Online Activity and Responses.’

Worth noting too is that Jytte Klausen’s ‘Tweeting the Jihad: Social Media Networks of Western Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq’ (2015) is both Studies in Conflict & Terrorism’s ‘Most Read’ and ‘Most Cited’ article. Also appearing on both of these lists, in fourth and eighth places respectively, is one of this post’s author’s article ‘Determining the Role of the Internet in Violent Extremism and Terrorism: Six Suggestions for Progressing Research’ (2017). The ‘Most Read’ list also includes, in ninth position, Simon Cottee and Jack Cunliffe’s ‘Watching ISIS: How Young Adults Engage with Official English-Language ISIS Videos’ (2020). A selection of articles in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism treating aspects of terrorism and the Internet are both widely read and highly cited, in other words; thus bearing out their authors’ choice of publication venue.

Table 1. Top 20 Academic Journals Publishing Research on Online Extremism and Terrorism By Number of Entries in VOX-Pol’s Online Library

No.

Journal Title No. of Articles in VOX-Pol’s Online Library

h-Index*

1 Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

44

43

2 Terrorism and Political Violence

25

44

3 Perspectives on Terrorism

20

3

4 Journal for Deradicalization

17

5 International Journal of Communication

11

27

6 Media, War & Conflict

11

17

7 Policy & Internet

10

17

8 Critical Studies on Terrorism

9

21

9 Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict

9

8

10 RUSI Journal

9

17

11 CTC Sentinel

8

12 Social Media + Society

7

16

13 Australian Journal of International Affairs

5

26

14 Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression

5

12

15 Contemporary Voices: St. Andrews Journal of International Relations

5

16 Critical Studies in Media Communication

5

42

17 First Monday

4

63

18 Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism

4

9

19 New Media & Society

4

87

20 Deviant Behavior

4

48

Total

216

* All h-Index scores were sourced from Scimago.

Similarly to Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, both the second and third most popular publication venues in Table 1 also have an explicit terrorism focus. In second place, Terrorism and Political Violence is routinely the most highly-ranked journal in the terrorism studies field while, in third place, Perspectives on Terrorism is notable for its free and open access (i.e. Gold OA) publishing model.

At least one attraction of publishing in Gold OA venues is the easy accessibility of articles in these journals to, among others,  policymakers, law enforcement, social media company representatives, and others professionally tasked with responding to online extremism and terrorism, along with also journalists,  scholars and students in the global south (who often don’t have bundled access to journals even through their university libraries), and the general public.

In addition to Perspectives on Terrorism, other Gold OA publications appearing in Table 1 include Journal for Deradicalization, International Journal of Communication, CTC Sentinel, Contemporary Voices: St Andrews Journal of International Relations, and First Monday. Contemporary Voices is the only one of the publication venues listed in either Table 1 or Table 2 that states that “[s]tudents (UG/PG/MPhil/PhD) are…warmly encouraged to submit work for publication.”

Highest Ranking Journals in Which Articles on Online Extremism and Terrorism Have Appeared

Table 2 shows the highest-ranking academic journals in which articles online extremism and terrorism have appeared. The h-Index scores on which this ranking is based were sourced from Scimago’s Journal & Country Rank.

Many fewer articles appear in this category than the first due to there being a much greater level of difficulty associated with getting published in very highly ranked journals, but with attendant kudos when successful.

Something to note however is that online extremism and terrorism articles appearing in the highest-ranking journals are generally less well known in our field and therefore no more highly cited than articles appearing in the lower ranking politics and security and media and communications journals dominating Table 1. To illustrate, the top three articles in Table 2 are listed below and have to-date been cited (according to Google Scholar data) 82, 9, and 37 times respectively:

Johnson, N.F., Zheng, M., Vorobyeva, Y., Gabriel, A., Qi, H., Velásquez, N., Manrique, P., Johnson, D., Restrepo, E., Song, C. and Wuchty, S., 2016. ‘New Online Ecology of Adversarial Aggregates: ISIS and Beyond.’ Science 352(6292);

Manrique, P.D, Zheng, M., Cao, Z., Restrepo, E.M. and Johnson, N.F. 2018. ‘Generalized Gelation Theory Describes Onset of Online Extremist Support.’ Physical Review Letters 121(4);

Mitts, T. 2019. ‘From Isolation to Radicalization: Anti-Muslim Hostility and Support for ISIS in the West.’ American Political Science Review113(1).

Table 2 nonetheless provides a useful listing of high- to very high-ranking journals that have published articles on online extremism and terrorism.

Table 2. Top 20 Highest Ranking Academic Journals Publishing Research on Online Extremism and Terrorism By Number of Entries in VOX-Pol’s Online Library

No.

Journal Title

h-Index

No. of Articles in VOX-Pol’s Online Library

1 Science

1058

1

2 Physical Review Letters

567

1

3 American Political Science Review

159

1

4 Information Sciences

154

1

5 Computers in Human Behavior

137

2

6 Operations Research

122

1

7 Social Forces

117

1

8 International Journal of Human-Computer Studies

109

2

9 Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

102

2

10 Journal of Conflict Resolution

94

1

11 American Behavioral Scientist

93

3

12 Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

93

1

13 Future Generation Computer Systems

93

1

14 Journal of Interpersonal Violence

93

1

15 Aggression and Violent Behavior

90

2

16 Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

88

1

17 New Media & Society

87

4

18 Foreign Affairs

86

1

19 British Journal of Criminology

82

2

20 Frontiers in Psychology

81

1

Total

30

* All h-Index scores were sourced from Scimago.

We hope that readers find our detailed analysis of appropriate academic journals for submission of articles on online extremism and terrorism and related issues useful. Once you have selected a journal, make sure your manuscript fits their formatting guidelines. Each journal name in Table 1 contains a link to their submission guidelines for this purpose. The hyperlinks in Table 2 will take readers to these journals’ home pages as the scope and purposes of some of these will be less familiar to researchers in our field and it is crucial to determine these prior to making a submission to one of these journals. Finally, don’t forget to drop us a line to onlinelibrary@voxpol.eu with your article’s citation details when it is published and we will add it to VOX-Pol’s Online Library.


Louise Laing is VOX-Pol’s Dublin City University-based project manager.

Maura Conway is Professor of International Security in the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University and Coordinator of VOX-Pol. Follow her on Twitter: @galwaygrrl.