10 tips for choosing the right journal for submitting your work
Your study is finished and you have analyzed your data. You have a good idea of what your results mean and their implications. Now, you need to let the rest of the interested scientific community know, too. You can submit an abstract to a conference, but of course, the ultimate goal is to publish your findings in an appropriate journal.
Below are 10 key tips to choosing the journal that could be the best fit for your work.
Tip 1: Try writing your introduction (see also our article, “How to write an introduction”). When you have a draft, look at the work you cite. Which journals published these articles? They might be a good place to start your list.
Tip 2: Make a list of all of the fields that overlap within your work. If you’ve conducted a study that seems to be focused on hormones but evaluates their effect on heart rate, then you can look beyond endocrinology journals. You might consider also cardiology research journals, exercise or sports physiology, or general interest publications.
Tip 3: Speaking of general interest, one of the most difficult decisions you might need to make is whether or not your work and results would be most interesting to a specialist audience or have broader appeal. Many researchers would like to publish in a “glamor” journal with a high impact factor, but your reach within your own field might be more powerful if you choose an appropriate specialist journal for your work.
Tip 4: After you have a list of target journals, for each journal, take a look at their “About this journal” page. You will find information about which subject areas most interest them and about which kinds of articles they publish. For example, not all journals take case studies or reviews, but some journals focus entirely on one or the other. Some journals will consider review papers, but require authors to query the editors first.
Tip 5: Make sure that the journals that top your list are not “predatory journals.” These are vanity publications that take money from authors to publish anything. They sometimes go through a pretense of peer review, but in reality, they publish what authors send them without any processing or quality checks at all and usually require payment to do so. That does not mean that all journals that ask for payment are predatory—many open-access publications will request a publication fee because these monies are how they offer open access to readers. You can find several lists online of journals that have been flagged for researchers to avoid.
Tip 6: In deciding on your journal, think about how you can angle your work to fit the journal’s desired submission areas and readership. If you’re submitting on endocrinology with a cardiology edge and decide on a cardiology journal, you will definitely want to emphasize the cardiology aspects of your research and findings and how they are relevant for a cardiology-focused readership. If you are targeting a general interest journal, then you will need to make an argument for why your researcher and findings would interest readers outside of your own subject area.
Tip 7: Consider your own publication record. Although it is fine to publish in the same journal more than once, you might want to avoid submitting over and over again to the same journal.
Tip 8: Talk with your co-authors (of course). They may have ideas or want to go through this same process, producing lists of journal candidates that you can then use to achieve consensus.
Tip 9: Think about the journal’s scope and audience. If your work involved a US-specific patient group or US-specific system, then you probably will want to look most closely at US-based journals. However, if you think that your findings could generalize beyond a specific region, then a journal with a broader scope could be suitable.
Tip 10: Ask the editors. Many journals invite authors who are not sure about the suitability of their research for the publication to send a query to the editors. Editors will certainly express interest in work that they believe might interest readers of their journal.