Selecting the Right Journal for your Publication

After months of hard work of analysis and writing, you are finally ready to submit the results of you investigator initiated trial to a reputable journal. But which one should you submit to? Considering there are tens of thousands of journals, it can be a challenge to select the right one. Many researchers will often leave the decision on which journal to publish with until the very end of the research process; however, this can lead to several problems. Each journal has its own set of requirements for publication, so more often than not, you will have to reformat your manuscript to match the journal’s expectations. In some cases, you may even have to complete additional experiments. So instead of leaving this important decision to end, we recommend that it’s one of the first questions that you answer early on to help save you time and effort later on. In this article, we’ll cover some of the key aspects of selecting the best journal for your study.

Make a list of Suitable Journals

The first step is to create a list of all the potential journals for publishing your work. To start, select the journals that your research centre typically uses for publishing research work. You can also select journals based on the research papers that you have read and cited. There is a good chance that you can publish your work in the same journals. Lastly, if you’re still in doubt or unsure, there are websites such as Journalfinder that can help you identify which journal to submit your work to, based on your title and abstract.

Choosing the Journals

Once you’ve created a list of journals, it’s time to narrow it down to the top 5 journals based on the following criteria:

  1. Relevance: ensure that the scope of your paper matches the scope of the journal. For instance, if your study is on evaluating the comfort of different contact lenses, then you may want to submit the manuscript to an ocular or biomaterials journal, but not a pharmaceutical journal. If your study is clinical, then submit to journals that publish clinical work, whereas if your topic is basic research, then publish with journals that specialize in basic research. One of the biggest reasons for rejection is a mismatch between the journal’s scope and the content of your study. One strategy to avoid this problem is to ensure a good match between the keywords of your paper with the journal’s scope.
  1. Audience: ensure the audience of the journal is who you want to target with the publication. Are they engineers, chemists, or clinicians? Will the people who read this study be genuinely interested in your research such that they will not only read but also cite your work?
  1. Type of work: each journal will have a list of the types of work that they accept and publish, ranging from original research articles, theoretical articles, review, research methodologies, reports and observation studies, news and opinions, and educational material. Make sure that the journal will accept your type of research work.
  2. Impact factor: the journal’s impact factor reflects its reputation; the higher the impact factor, the better, but also the harder it is to publish in with that journal. However, if you’re successful, then publishing with a higher impact journal will get you higher recognition in the field.
  1. Time to publish: Some journals publish faster than others which depends on the journal’s impact factor and the cost to publish. Typically, those with a higher impact factor and zero cost to publication tend to publish at a slower rate. If you need a publication to be published quickly, then it may be wise to go with a journal with a lower impact factor.
  1. Cost: most journals will publish your work without any fees, but as a consequence, it will be more difficult for others outside of academia to read your work. Only those with access to an institutional subscription will be able to retrieve your publication. The Open Access route allows your article to be read free of charge and shared easily with the entire world. This option will allow your publication to reach a wider audience and therefore increase the number of citations you will receive. In return, you will have to pay the publication fee, typically around $2000 to $3000.

After you’ve selected your top 5 journals, it’s finally time to rank them, starting with your top choice. As long as your work satisfies the journals’ requirements, we recommend that you aim for the highest-ranking journal possible and move down the list if you get rejected. The worst that could happen is getting rejected but receiving feedback that will help you refine your work even further. Don’t worry about rejections – it’s part of the process of making you a better researcher.

Be Aware of Predatory Journals

There is a growing number of predatory journals that will try to scam you into publishing your work with them. These publishers will charge you a publication fee without providing any actual editorial or peer-review process, which legitimizes the integrity of your work. We’ve written a previous article to cover how to avoid these journals, but in brief, do your due diligence when selecting a journal for publication. If you need more help in journal selection, please contact Sengi.