Clay Lord, Copy Editing, Writing and Proofreading Services

How to Choose the Right Journal

After you have written and edited your paper, approaching the wrong journal for publication consideration is a risky move. The editors of a given journal may take months to conduct their initial reviews of your manuscript, and if you have not selected an appropriate journal, you will have wasted a significant chunk of time, waiting up to six months for an eventual rejection.

As an aid to compiling a list of prospective journal candidates in your academic field, you can consult one of the available automated journal selection sites, which enable you to search and compare journal titles by name, subject area, publication speed, impact factor, and other criteria. Click the following link to read an article describing and linking to online journal selection tools.

Journal Selection, Step by Step

The first step before submission is to develop your short list of target publications. To begin, review a year’s worth of selected journals in your academic field and evaluate them on the basis of subject areas and types of articles. Examine each issue’s Table of Contents to verify those titles that have previously published articles on a similar topic. Once a journal you are considering passes that test, move on to the next step, screening for the type of articles each journal publishes. For example, some journals refuse to publish straight literature reviews or case studies; others publish only original research that their editorial committee and peer reviewers believe will make a significant contribution to the current literature in that field.

How important is the journal’s size of readership to you? Some journals are exclusive and specialized; if subscription costs are expensive, they may also have low circulation numbers. If you want the largest numbers of colleagues and students to read your article, you may wish to consider open access journals, which will allow any interested person to read your article online, free of charge. Open access not only maximizes the number of readers of your article, but may also increase the likelihood that your paper will be cited by other authors. Before deciding on open access, however, determine to Is this important to your university or employer?

After your initial research on journals’ subject matter, article types, and readership, other considerations can help you narrow your short list even further:

  • Reputation factors— among these are the prominence of the journal, its published authors, and the quality of the articles selected for publication. In short, if a list of the journal’s published authors includes some of the top names in your field, it will be a highly prestigious place for your article to appear.
  • The journal’s target audience— information about the intended and actual audience is typically available on the publication’s website. Does the target audience of the journal match your preferred criteria?
  • Time to publication— the more infrequently a journal is published, the longer it will take for a newly accepted contribution to appear in print. Journals can also differ widely in the amount of time required for editing and peer review; check with published colleagues regarding the length of time it typically takes from initial submission to receiving word of the publication decision.
  • Indexing level and the so-called “Impact Factor”— the impact factor of a journal is calculated from annual Journal Citation Reports compiled by Thomson Reuters. As a standard measure of how many times articles appearing in that publication are cited elsewhere, this statistic reveals how much impact articles appearing in that journal tend to have.