Google Scholar is a search engine for scholarly writings. It is free to use, probably the most popular index among readers, and, research has shown, the most comprehensive in coverage.1
By being indexed in Google Scholar, a journal’s content is more visible and accessible.2 Also, Google Scholar provides citation counts for a journal’s articles,3 which are used to calculate its h5-index and h5-median.4 These metrics are used to evaluate the journal’s impact and compare it to other journals.5
It costs time and effort to get indexed in Google Scholar. The amount of time depends on the journal’s content, infrastructure, capabilities, and technical expertise. There is no associated fee.
Technically, Google Scholar’s policy is, “Ahem, we index papers, not journals.”6 Ok, fine; whatever. Leaving aside the caveat, there are two answers to the above question. Both concern Google Scholar’s Inclusion Guidelines for Webmasters. They detail what is needed for your journal(’s articles) to be indexed in Google Scholar.
You may not need to know much about those guidelines. My publishing platform (PubPub) takes care of everything. The platform is designed to be in technical compliance with Google Scholar. Eventually, Google Scholar would happen upon, and start indexing, any journal on the platform. To speed up the process, I ask someone at PubPub to ping someone at Google Scholar to request a more timely start to indexing. If your journal is on another publishing platform, it is probably built to the same standards. I do not know whether you can contact its representative to get in touch with Google Scholar, but worth a try (and let me know what happens).
If your journal is produced outside a publishing platform (e.g., you build a website on WordCloud), it is imperative to be aware of and comply with the inclusion guidelines. It is best for you to consult those directly, rather than read the information on this page. Also, you should read Google Scholar’s Publisher Support page. I do not know whether you can directly ask Google Scholar to start indexing. Please let me know if you do.
It takes time for Google Scholar to start indexing a journal and, after that, to update its information. According to my contact at PubPub, the start of indexing typically takes 30 to 90 days from the time of the ping—and that is the fast route. Without a ping, it can take up to a year. After that, the journal may not show up near the top of the search results; this gets better with time. Also early on, variants of the journal title seem to have a bigger effect on search results (e.g., use of “&” vs. “and”).7 Be aware that Google Scholar will not display a journal’s h5 scores until it meets certain requirements (e.g., published more than 100 articles during the prior five years).8