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Scholarly Publishing

A guide to publishing, from the funding & research phases to final publication!

Online Journal Selectors

Guidelines for Choosing Journals

Everyone wants to put their manuscript into a high quality journal, but is that high quality journal the best match for your article? Submitting to a journal which doesn't publish your type of article OR doesn't focus in your area will delay successful publication. 

Some things to keep in mind when selecting a journal are: 

  • What topics are covered? Don't submit a bench research trial to a clinical journal, or submit clinical treatment articles to basic science journals. Spend some time getting familiar with the journals in your subject area. Work with your mentor or advisor to determine the best journal, or use a resource such as Journal Impact Factors (part of ISI Web of Science) to browse journals by subject. 
  • Who is the journal published for? The journal's target audience should be your target audience for your article. If something has broad application, consider a general or multi-disciplinary journal for your research. However, more specialized articles belong in a subject-specific journal. 
  • What kind of articles are published in the journal? Does your desired journal publish protocols, review articles, or original research? Check out the Instructions to Authors and the journal's recent few tables of contents to see what types of articles are commonly accepted. 
  • How long can an article be? Many journals have length requirements, and that may help determine how suitable your article is for a specific journal. 
  • How highly regarded is the journal? Check out the impact factors, as noted above, to help establish the journal's reputation. A journal's Impact Factor helps measure its reputation, but is not always the most important. It's a difficult balancing act to match the journal's reputation to your article. A journal with a smaller impact factor may be the best fit for the topic, and that's just as important as the journal's impact factor. Matching both prestige and topic will help you get published more quickly. 
  • Where is the journal indexed? How important is it that your item appear in Web of Science or PubMed? Proper indexing widens the knowledge of your article, making it easier to discover and marking it as more reputable for being published in one of these indexes. 
  • What else should I think about? Do you want your item available to everyone (an open access journal), or must the article be available to everyone (NIH Public Access Policy, for example)? How quickly does an article go through the peer-review process? Does the journal have a peer-review process? Can I retain my copyright, or the ability to re-use my work? 

Consider where it should go before and as you're writing the article. In what journals were your source materials published? These would all be likely candidates for your article. Use the Journal Impact Factors to help identify additional journals, or do a search on your topic in Web of Science or PubMed to see where other items have been published. 

Check the websites of the journal titles on your short list to see all the requirements for authorship, as well as types of articles and criteria for inclusion. 

These should all help you get to a short list with 2-3 options (at least) for your inclusion. If how fast it's published is a consideration, look for a journal with online before print access, or something that publishes frequently (weekly or monthly vs. quarterly or semi-annually). 

Guide to Publisher's Copyright Policies

Each publisher has their own written copyright policy authors must agree to before the juornal will be published. Check out these policies beforehand to ensure you're OK with the rights being assigned to the publisher and any restrictions they may place on you as a result of publication. 

A journal's instructions to authors page will typically discuss copyright, but also check SHERPA/RoMEO to see what authors are typically allowed to do as a result of the agreement. 

Guide to SHERPA/RoMEO Color Codes: