February 22, 2012

Ask a Librarian: How do I choose which journal to publish in?

This is the first post in our new "Ask a Librarian" series; every month, Jenny Delasalle (Academic Support Manager) will reply to a question from an ECR around research dissemination, publishing, and other issues relating to the library's support for researchers. If you have a question, email researchexchange@warwick.ac.uk

Q: How do I choose which journal to publish in?

A: This is always a tricky question to answer because there are so many different factors to consider, and how you weight each factor will depend on your discipline and your particular career or communication needs at the time of asking. A lot of the factors are about either the suitability of the journal to your needs, or the quality of the journal. Obviously, the aim would be to publish in the highest quality journal that is also the most suitable, but sometimes there might be a trade-off to be done in terms of a suitability factor against a quality one, eg if you want to publish quickly then it might be worth submitting to a less prestigious title which has a faster turnaround time.

In this post I have listed factors and sources of information on considering the quality of the journal; suitability should also be considered, but that's a whole other question!

Quality of the journal

- Reputation amongst people who you know in the discipline. Note that your article might be assessed in years to come, so the likely reputation of the journal in 5 years time might be more important than its current or past reputation. This might be a case of best guesses!

- Impact factor from JCR or Scimago? See the Research Exchange guides [http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/researchexchange/postgraduates/resources] on these factors to read all about how they can be used. There are many kinds of citation measurement, and all have their flaws! Scimago shows nice graphs of impact factor trajectories over time, and gives information about other factors such as the balance of papers which are cited against those not cited in a journal, and the number of international collaborations in a journal’s papers. I would recommend looking at both sources.

- Other ranking systems might be available for your discipline. Have a look at Anne-Wil Harzing’s site: http://www.harzing.com/jql.htm. Or the European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH): https://www2.esf.org/asp/ERIH/Foreword/search.asp

- Assess for yourself from journal information: start on the journal home page (although that is another factor: is it online?!) and investigate questions such as the following:

o Who is the editor and who is on peer review panel?

o How rigorous is the peer review process?

o Who reads it/subscribes to it? A journal might advertise its reach or else you could look to see if particular institutions’ libraries have a subscription. COPAC is a union catalogue that might help you to ascertain other UK institutions’ subscriptions: http://copac.ac.uk/

o Where is the journal indexed: is this somewhere where other researchers will look and therefore discover your article?

o Has it won any awards? (eg from societies)

o Is it doing something exciting and innovative to promote authors’ works?

Thanks Jen! Next month: tips on assessing the suitability of a journal for your research.

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