Location, location, location - where to get published
June 13, 2023
By Christopher Tancock
The importance of choosing the right journal
© istockphoto.com/Gam1983 You’ve probably spent quite a bit of time on your latest research project and there’s still the daunting prospect of the submission and peer review process yet to come. Before wrestling with referee reports, revisions, and proofs, however, there’s an all-important question to be answered: where do you want to get published?
Finding the right home for your paper
Well known in the parlance of (real) estate agents, the issue of location is a tremendously important consideration. It’s the same for academic publication. The choice of journal will, if not determine, at least strongly influence many factors for your article. How fast will it move through review? What kind of editor/reviewers will dissect your research? What sort of metrics will be attached if it gets published? Most of all, who will be reading your work? To ensure you get what you want from all these aspects, it’s worthwhile spending some time in carefully choosing where to submit.
So how do you home in on the right journal for your publication? Here are our recommendations. (Oh, and before we go any further, please don’t gamble and attempt to submit to more than one journal at the same time… It’s considered a serious breach of publishing ethics, you will get found out and though it’s a nuisance to have to await the outcome of peer review, it’s far quicker and less painful than being rejected and potentially made “unwelcome” in future by two journals).
What do you need from your publication?
Different journals do different things (and many do the same things differently!). You need to consider what you need from this experience. Speedy review? A big Impact Factor or CiteScore? Loads of downloads? Open access? A particular type of article? It’s time to do your homework. You need to examine your potential choices and ask how well each of them would respond to your needs. If it’s a fantastically well-rated journal (scores well in the “quality” metrics, loads of downloads etc.) but takes months to peer review when you need a fast turnaround, perhaps this isn’t the journal for you on this occasion…
Set your sights properly
When you’re considering journals, it’s important to be honest about the level of your work. We all produce output of different quality along our careers. There’s no shame in that, but it would be foolish to target a top-tier journal if your latest work is “B” or “C” level. All that will happen is rejection (which, though likely to come through quickly, might still serve simply to slow you down) so be sensible about what to aim for.
Check your references
Your own literature review and reference list will give you plenty of clues in where to aim. Particularly if there’s a journal name that keeps cropping up, that’s a good indication that it would be a sensible place to aim for your own publication.
Look at the names
Maybe you already know the big names in the field. Are any of them editing journals or on Boards? If someone you look up to is active on a journal, that’s another good clue that it might be a venue to consider for your article.
Need a helping hand?
If the above hasn’t worked for you, there are another couple of things we can try. First, why not ask around your professional network for suggestions? It might be that your supervisor/lab partner/librarian has a good idea about a home for your research. And if that fails, you can always rope in technology to guide you. Tools like Elsevier’s JournalFinder(opens in new tab/window) can examine your abstract and make personalized recommendations for titles you target.
Do your last-minute checks
Once you have got a journal in mind, make sure to check it out carefully. Read the aims & scope and the guide for authors. If you’re not already familiar with its output, browse a few recent issues and get a feel for the publication. Does this seem like the right home for your research? Be sure to check that it meets your needs e.g., OA article license variant, article type (not every journal accepts every sort of output), topic coverage, word count…
Following the above guidelines will ensure that once you decide on a journal, even if the outcome of the peer review process isn’t what you’d hoped for, it would nonetheless still be a good venue for your article. In any case, we wish you every success with your article and hope this advice helps you find it a good home!