Where should I submit my paper?

Even for experienced authors, selecting the right journal to submit a paper to can be a difficult decision. For inexperienced authors it can be downright confusing. Over the past few years the proliferation of open-access journals has resulted in more choice than ever, but as Declan Butler reports in this recent Nature article, some open-access publishers are ‘predatory’ and appear to prioritise profits ahead of scientific rigour. They are best avoided. The checklist in the Nature article is a handy guide you may wish to consult prior to submission. Briefly:

  • check the journal’s contact details,
  • ensure the editorial board is legitimate,
  • ensure the author fees are transparent prior to submission,
  • beware of journals originating from spam emails,
  • assess the quality of papers already published in the journal,
  • ensure the journal is a member of an industry association,
  • and use common sense!

We would also add that you should check that the journal is indexed in Pubmed or other relevant indexing and abstracting services. Since new journals are not indexed immediately they may still be worth considering as a suitable ‘home’ for your paper, but in our experience the papers we edit are easily of a standard that they deserve publication in an established, high-quality journal.

Of course there are many other factors that need considering when choosing which journal to publish in. Some of these are fairly predictable, such as impact factor, cost to publish, whether it is open-access, subject-specificity, and journal scope. Some other parameters are a little more subjective and require subject-specific expertise and an intimate knowledge of the field, journals, or journal editors’ preferences. Often the work requires external and unbiased appraisal so that the authors do not fall into the trap of either pitching the article too high or too low (the latter being more common in our experience).

If you do not have access to that kind of scientific publishing support, please contact us for assistance from our own subject-specific editors. In general, we target the highest possible impact factor after scientific appraisal of your manuscript, and we aim to ensure your manuscript is actually a) accessible and b) going to be read. Otherwise, what’s the point of publishing it in the first place?

However, one of the great things about our new forum for our Global Initiative Volunteers is that there has been some sharing of useful resources. We like JANE (Journal/Author Name Estimator) in particular (thanks to Jen for this tip). JANE is a freely available web-based tool that allows you to identify suitable journals based on the title of your manuscript or other suitable keywords. It can also be used to find peer reviewers or even citations relevant to your paper that you may have missed. Since the results are given an ‘Article Influence’ score, it can help you rank the journals so you have an impact-based strategy for getting published. While no substitute for professional academic support, it certainly is an extremely useful starting point.

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