Locating acceptance rates for individual journals or for specific disciplines can be difficult, yet is necessary information for promotion and tenure activities. Journals with lower article acceptance rates are frequently considered to be more prestigious and more “meritorious”.
The method of calculating acceptance rates varies among journals. Some journals use all manuscripts received as a base for computing this rate. Other journals allow the editor to choose which papers are sent to reviewers and calculate the acceptance rate on those that are reviewed that is less than the total manuscripts received. Also, many editors do not maintain accurate records on this data and provide only a rough estimate. Furthermore, the number of people associated with a particular area of specialization influences the acceptance rate. If only a few people can write papers in an area, it tends to increase the journal's acceptance rate.
The Libraries have a number of resources in the collection that may be useful to you. They are arranged alphabetically by broad subject in the Information by Subject section below. Many disciplines do not publish collated acceptance rates. Please see below for tips on finding acceptance rates for journals in these disciplines.
Some journals will include the acceptance rate in the “information for authors” area of the print journal or on the home pages for the journal.
Some societies will also publish acceptance rates for their journals on their home pages. A Google search using the name of the journal or the name of the society will usually take you to the home page.
Occasionally, societies or other parties will publish acceptance rates for journals within a particular discipline. Again, a Google search may help find these. Useful keywords are “acceptance rates and biology” (replace biology with the name of the discipline you are interested in).
You can try contacting the editor of the journal to see if s/he will share the acceptance rate.
Mitenko, G. R., & Diamond, J. M. (1994). "Publication policies and practices of major finance journals: A survey of editors." Financial Practice & Education, 4(2), 88.
From the European Economic Association, this paper provides rankings of academic journals and institutions in Economics. [pdf]
Education Journal Acceptance Ratings This is an Excel file compiled by Judy Walker from University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Click on the Journal Acceptance Rates link. Also notice the link below that for impact factors.
Journals in the field of Instructional Technology hosted by Penn State/Galbraith/Bentley. No date. Includes some acceptance rates as well as publishing and contact information.
Reference Guide of Professional Journals/Publications (Ohio State University Extension). Lists selected publications with information about publication guidelines, including article acceptance rates. Has sections for Agriculture, Behavioral Science, Community Development, Cognition, Communications, Creativity, Diversity, Evaluation, Extension/Agricultural Education, Family and Consumer Sciences, Food Science, Human Ecology, Human Resources, Leadership, Leisure, Psychology, Reading, Sociology, Violence. http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~admin/publication.htm
American Psychological Association journal acceptance rates are listed at http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/statistics.aspx
A Compendium of Journals (published by the Family and Consumer Sciences Research Institute at Iowa State University) and hosted by the Iowa State University Family and Consumer Sciences Research:. Has sections for: Economics/finance, sociology, psychology, child development. (1999).