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How to choose an appropriate journal for publishing your paper: A step-by-step guide

How to choose an appropriate journal for publishing your paper: A step-by-step guide

Choosing an appropriate journal for your paper is a very important process in your research publication journey and worth your time and effort. If you submit your article to a journal that is not a good fit it will likely be sent back to you and often without any peer review. When you are looking for the best journal for your submission, you should first decide what your research topic is, who your desired audience is, what type of research methodology you are using and what type of article you are going to write.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how you can choose a suitable journal for your paper.

1. Read key articles

Reading key articles on your research topic will help you understand the types of papers that are published in different journals. You can also look at the reference lists of these seminal research articles to see what journals are listed there. This is a good starting point and can help you to identify journals to explore in more depth.

2. Visit the journal websites

Once you have identified journals you want to explore, visit the journal websites. Here you will be able to find the goals and scope of the journal, the types of articles they generally publish and their submission guidelines. Spend some time exploring the website and selecting some of their published articles to read. You can also see whether there are any calls for submissions around a theme that aligns with your work and when the submissions are due.

3. Evaluate the quality of the publication

Reading articles from a journal is a good way to evaluate the quality of the publication, which is especially helpful for journals that may not have developed enough of an audience to receive a high impact factor. Evaluate the quality of academic writing in the article and the degree of scientific and research knowledge exhibited in the publication. In addition, this will help you familiarize yourself with the kind of paper the journal publishes and decide whether this is the kind of paper you will write.

4. Evaluate the reputation of the journals

Choosing a journal that has a strong reputation and broad visibility will increase the impact of your research. Ultimately, academics aim to have some publications in top-tier journals. When starting out as an early career researcher (ECR) your aim should be to publish in a respected journal with a broad reach. Top-tier journals generally have lower acceptance rates, so getting an article published in one of these journals is challenging. Submitting to a respected second-tier journal will increase your chances of publication.

How do you evaluate the reputation of the journals you are considering?

  • Always look at the impact factor of the journal. The impact factor of a journal is simply a measure of journal performance and calculates the average number of citations that an article from that journal receives. Impact factor has been one of the most well-known approaches to measuring the performance of a journal. Remember that if a journal is more recent, like some open access journals, it may not yet have an impact factor and this does not necessarily reflect the quality of the journal.
  • High-quality journals gain a reputation which travels by word of mouth. Reputable journals are known to researchers in their discipline of focus and so if your colleagues and other researchers in your field are talking about a specific journal it is worth considering for publication. In addition, if researchers with a high reputation are publishing in that journal, it is also an indication of the journal’s quality.
  • Quality journals will also share details of a clear peer review process on their website. Visit the journal website and see how professional the website is and whether you can easily find a description of the peer review process used by that journal. While on the website, you should explore who serves on the editorial board. The makeup of the editorial board can provide you with information about the quality of the journal. Recognizable researchers with strong reputations in their field are a sign of a quality publication. You can also see whether the board members are active academics at reputable institutions.
  • When you have narrowed your choice down to 3–4 journals, you should look at the formatting guidelines and submission process to determine which one to choose. See whether you can find out information about the acceptance rates of that journal and the time it generally takes until an article in is print. You can research this information online, reach out to an editor or ask colleagues who have published in that journal or served as a peer reviewer for that journal.

5. Consider open access journals for your submission

There are many benefits to publishing your paper in an open access journal.

One of the most universally appreciated features of open access publishing is the increased visibility: as there is no barrier to accessing articles, more readers can find and read them. Indeed, one study found that, one year after publication, open access articles had been downloaded significantly more often than non-open access articles and had been viewed by significantly more individual readers.

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition Europe (SPARC) has also noted several studies suggesting that open access publications receive a greater number of citations than non-open access articles.

Ultimately, making your work freely available to all readers means that it has the potential to be communicated to a much wider audience than is typically reached by traditional journals. This is especially important in ensuring a more equal distribution of research results, which may not have otherwise been available to researchers in economically disadvantaged regions, and ties in closely to the theme of Open Access Week 2020 (OAW20) Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion. The discussions surrounding open access publishing throughout OAW20 are intended to specifically address the ‘structural racism, discrimination, and exclusion’ that are present in scientific research and publishing and to explore how open access can help make these fields more equitable.

6. Seek advice from experts

Finally, look for advice from experts if you are unsure of which journal is the right fit for you. Ask colleagues at your institution, or through professional networks for their thoughts. Speak to expert staff in your library to get help with finding journals.

You can also use a professional service, such as Charlesworth Author Services, to help you select the journal that is most appropriate for you. Looking for input and support can also reduce the time spent finding a journal, or a shortlist of journals, and you can spend that time on writing your paper and getting it ready for submission.

Looking for the best ways to find the right journal for publishing?

Our team of PhD educated editors will choose up to five journals in your specialized subject area to maximise your success in publishing. Charlesworth Author Services is a trusted brand supporting the world’s leading academic publishers, institutions and authors since 1928. We only work with native English-speaking editors with advanced or postdoctoral degrees in their disciplines. Visit us here to know more.

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