Is It the Right Journal for Your Academic or Scientific Paper?
This is a perennial question for academics and scientists, and the answer can be notoriously difficult to ascertain. Let us say, for instance, that you just met with the instructor of one of the graduate courses you are taking and discovered that he or she is immensely pleased with the paper you recently submitted for grading. After discussing your research for a while, the instructor suggests that you should submit the paper for publication and names ‘the perfect journal’ for your work. It is a wonderful moment and you make your way home that day with your head high and your feet elevated ever so slightly above the pavement.
This does not mean, however, that the path ahead of you is simple or straightforward. Yes, you have a particular journal to begin considering, which makes the task easier than it would be were you still searching for a journal. Yes, it is probably a journal known for sound research and excellent publications or it is unlikely that your instructor would have mentioned it. And, yes, the instructor who recommended it will almost certainly prove helpful as you work to achieve publication. You have a lot going for you in this scenario, yet the question remains. Is it the right journal for your paper? Only you can provide the final answer and you will need information to make the best decision for you and your work.
You may already know something about the journal – perhaps you have read and used articles from it while preparing your paper – but you should nonetheless begin by finding the journal’s website and reading every bit of information the journal provides for authors and readers. Keep in mind that the instructor may not know everything about the publication and that details can change over time. Be sure that you discover exactly what sort of material the journal generally publishes by reading about its goals and reviewing the articles it has published in the past. It is essential to assess the content of your paper honestly to determine if it really does fit within the range and scope of the periodical. Keep your eye on the kinds of paper the journal tends to publish as well. For example, even if the topic and content of your paper is appropriate, you are unlikely to be successful if the journal does not publish case studies and your paper is in fact a case study.
Finally, it is wise to pay immediate attention to all the details provided in author instructions and journal guidelines. If you decide to submit your work to the journal, you will certainly need to format your manuscript to meet requirements for structure, length, documentation style and other aspects of scholarly writing. However, these requirements can also help you decide if the journal will be a good fit for your work. If the length limit for your kind of paper is simply too short for your study or the journal only allows two tables or twenty references and you cannot help but exceed these numbers while reporting your research, it will be a good idea to look into other possibilities. You may even want to discuss the situation further with that instructor in order to benefit from additional suggestions and a little more of that inspiring enthusiasm.
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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.