Jamal El Ouahi

Helping researchers. Posts about scientific research & its process. Academia/Government Consulting.

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Jamal El Ouahi

Helping researchers. Posts about scientific research & its process. Academia/Government Consulting.

#9 How to find the right journals to publish your paper

Read time: 5 min.

Finding the best journal for scientific publication can be a challenge.

There are thousands of scientific journals and many databases aggregating these journals.

Yet, journals do not have the same profiles, the same audiences, the same reputation, the same influence, or the same level of quality.

I’m not even talking about the predatory journals.

If you submit your manuscript to an unsuitable journal, journal editors will reject it even before it goes through peer review.

You want to find a relevant journal for your paper.

This way it will have more chances to be accepted.

Here are some elements to check if a journal is relevant to you:

The aims and scope of the journal

Every journal has (or should have) a specific aim and scope.

This includes the subjects it focuses on and the type of manuscripts it publishes.

You don’t want to be off-topic.

So read the aim & scope of the journal to find out if your paper matches this important element.

Also, some journals focus on specific types of research: applied, clinical, or basic…

If it’s the case, the aim/scope of the journal mentions this.

The journal’s audience

You want to share your findings with the right people.

So, start exploring journals from your research or subject area.

if your study is interdisciplinary, your paper might be of interest to researchers in other (but related) fields.

In this case, a journal that covers a broad range of topics may also be a good candidate to consider.

The impact or influence of the journal

Is the impact of the journal important to you?

You can check the Journal Impact Factor of a specific journal as one measure of a journal’s overall influence.

You can also check the authors who publish in the journal and whether your research is similar to theirs.

Personal requirements

One common question I get from PhD students and researchers is the following:

Does the journal publish articles quickly?

So ask yourself whether the “time to publication” is also important for you.

The language of publication can also represent another personal preference.

Peer review

All serious journals are peer-reviewed. Stay away from non-peer-reviewed journals.

But, not all peer review processes are the same. Single-blind peer review, double-blind peer review, and time given to reviewers to submit their reports, etc are differences to consider.

Here are practical tips for identifying relevant journals:

What do you read?

When searching for journals to publish your findings, start with what you have read.

You should be familiar with published studies that are similar to yours.

Check the sources of the references of your manuscript.

Which journal were those studies published in?

The same journals are good targets for your manuscript.

Keep a short list of them.

Literature search?

If you need more journals to consider, you can do more literature searches.

Find publications that are like yours and see which journals published them. You could also put some filters on the language of publication as per your preferences.

You could also ask your colleagues for suggestions, including your supervisor or colleagues. Based on their publishing and peer-reviewing experience, they should be able to guide you.

Indexed journals?

You will often hear that a particular journal is an ISI journal, or a journal indexed in the Web of Science.

This means that the editors of the Web of Science have selected this journal for indexation by following a strict selection process related to impact and quality. They analyzed different elements such as peer review, timeliness of publication, publishing standards, editorial content, etc.

So, the indexation of a journal guarantees these criteria such as the peer review element seen earlier.

One way to find relevant indexed journals is to use the free Manuscript Match tool.

Simply put your title and abstract. You will get corresponding indexed journals, sorted on their relevancy score.

Talking about the Web of Science, there are now what we call open peer-review reports available in the Web of Science. These peer review reports are a good indication of what you can expect about peer review at a specific journal.

You can also ask your colleagues about their experience with the peer review of their papers.

Journals profiles

Manuscript Match will give you access to a free profile of the matching journals. These profiles can help you decide whether the suggested journals are good candidates.

You can also check the journal’s rank in its field based on its impact factor.

This rank is helpful to know how the journal stands against journals of the same field in terms of overall impact in a specific year.

When you have a list of potential target journals, check their websites.

Every serious journal should have a page with instructions for authors.

Such page includes information on many of the factors listed above.

Here, remove the journals that do not match your needs.

You have now a shorter list. And one or a few ones will stand out as good candidate(s).

Open Access

If your main goal is to reach as many readers as possible, you could also focus on candidate journals that provide an open-access option.

Anyone will be able to read your article online, free of charge.

This can make your article more likely to be read and cited.

Open Access comes with a cost, called Article Processing Charges (APCs) paid to the publisher by the author(s). Check if your institution covers the APCs. Or if you can get a discount based on your country of affiliation.

Publication speed

If you want to publish fast, check the “time to publication” of the journals in your shortlist.

Some journals display this information on their website.

Otherwise, you can still check the submission and publication date of several published papers as an indication of the time to publication.

If this data is not available, you can also consider which journal has the highest publication frequency.

Backup plans

With all these different elements, you should now be able to choose the most relevant journal for your manuscript.

But it’s important to have a second and third-choice journal.

That way, if your paper is rejected from the first journal, you can quickly submit it to the second one without going through the whole analysis again.

That’s it. This is a quick overview of my journal selection to submit a paper.

The keyword of this method is relevancy. Try to find the most relevant journal to publish your paper.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask away and I will reply.

See you in the next newsletter!


My favorite things this week

  1. My latest article about the Scientometric rules as a guide to transform science systems in the Middle East and North Africa is now published online. You can read it here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11192-023-04916-x
  2. I enjoyed very much the discussions and interactions with the participants of the last webinar, with some interesting points about the scientific publishing ecosystem.

Question of the Week

I would love it if you guys could try out this method and let me know what you think.

Did you find any journal that you did not consider already?

Any particular challenge with this method?

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