How To Select the Right Journal for Publication
Very few if any academics and scientists would choose to have their writing published in a journal that is rarely read and cited by specialists in their fields – the kind of journal, that is, to which the most distinguished scholars would never even consider submitting their work. This means that journals currently at the bottom of the periodical hierarchy tend to have publishing space available, while highly cited and widely read journals are inundated with far more submissions than they are able to publish. With such a wide selection of papers to choose from and the ever-present necessity of rejecting most of the submissions received, many top-tier journals are much more likely to accept articles written by those distinguished and well-published academics and scientists, leaving scholars who are just starting their careers and have very few or no publications to their names with the odds stacked against them.
If your research is especially innovative, your results groundbreaking and your paper both beautifully written and formatted to meet all journal requirements with precision and consistency, there is a chance that your writing will be accepted for publication even by the most respected journals that boast the highest citation rates and the greatest number of submissions. Lacking a prestigious career and a long list of publications should not therefore prevent you from sending your writing to a top-tier journal, but you should certainly assess your research and paper critically and honestly before doing so. Each researcher must possess a healthy confidence in the value of his or her work, of course, but the point when choosing a journal for that work is to determine whether the subject matter, the level of specialisation, the methodology, the results and the implications really fit in the journal and measure up to papers it has recently published. It can be notoriously difficult to make such judgements about your own writing, so soliciting the help of a colleague or mentor who is familiar with the journal to read your paper and offer an opinion about its suitability can prove invaluable, especially if he or she also offers critical feedback to help you make the paper even better.
Increase Your Chances of Getting Published
Another potentially helpful strategy is to contact the journal, describe your paper briefly and ask if it might be a likely candidate for publication. Do not pursue this course if the journal’s web site indicates that the editor and other staff are not keen to receive such enquiries, but some journals will suggest initial contact of this sort, and knowing that your paper is unlikely to achieve publication in a certain journal can prevent you from wasting weeks or months waiting for nothing more than a rejection. This will be an especially important consideration if it is imperative that your research is published quickly, but do remember that there is a potential downside. The person you contact may make a quick decision and inform you that the journal is not interested, but your paper itself may be so engaging that submitting it would have garnered a better result. Therefore, if you do decide to enquire before you submit your writing, make sure that you describe your paper as enthusiastically and accurately as possible.
There are also a number of practical matters beyond content and available space that are worthy of attention as you decide upon a journal for your work. You should carefully read through the author instructions provided on the journal’s web site to ensure that your paper and each of its sections is an appropriate length, that the number and kinds of tables and figures you use can be accommodated and that your references are not too numerous. Some journals place restrictions on these and other elements of the articles they publish, just as some journals focus on positive research results and will not consider your paper if your results turn out negative. Finally, a primary concern is that the journal you choose, whether highly cited or a new player in your field, follows rigid editorial practices, including effective procedures for peer review.
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If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.
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