When it comes to finding the right journal for your academic research, there can be thousands upon thousands of journals to sift through in your subject area. At the same time, there are thousands of other researchers vying for spots in the same group of publications. You also need to keep in mind that predatory publishers target academics who are unsure of how to find the proper journal for their research. When you group all these facts, finding the right journal can seem intimidating and potentially even impossible.
Not only can it be an intimidating process, but if you chose the incorrect journal, it can cost you valuable time. High impact journals can take up to a year to fully review and make a final decision on an article. Since there is a strict “no simultaneous submissions” policy in academia, you can wait for months and still end up with your article being rejected, causing the relevancy of your research to expire before you have a chance to resubmit elsewhere.
Even veteran academics can face the dread of submitting to an unfitting journal and wasting months for no compensation. Once a writer is published, they often return to the same publisher/journal over and over to submit their newest research, but as their research and career evolve, so should their journal choice.
Because of these factors, there is a lot of unease in the journal selection process, as the pressure to submit to the right journal on the first try can be desolating. Fortunately, there are journal recommendation resources available to researchers that can help you narrow down thousands of journals to a select few that meet your criteria. These services, free and or paid, offer a variety of different information about journals in your subject area to assist you in making informed decisions. Below, you can find the key aspects to evaluate in journals before submission and resources recommended by eContent Pro’s experienced researchers and editors.
Identify Your Requirements
When it comes to publishing your manuscript, you likely have some goals in mind regarding the type of publication where you would like to see it included. Some of these goals can be variable, but your vision for publication can also be non-negotiable, meaning some aspects of a journal are necessary for you to consider it. These hard requirements can help you immediately rule out unfitting journals from thousands of others. These requirements can include:
- Open vs. Closed Access
- Open access articles require the author to pay a copyright or article processing fee upfront, but this in turn removes the paywall from your research, allowing anyone with internet to access it, potentially increasing your citations.
- Closed access has been the norm in publishing since the very beginning. Also known as “traditional publishing,” all of the fees in the closed access publication process fall onto the publisher. While this saves the author money upfront, the reader must buy or rent access to the content, meaning that not all academics who may benefit from your work will be able to access it.
- Impact Factor/Ranking
- Some researchers not only strive for publication but also to have their research cited and easily discoverable by other academics studying in their field. If this is a primary concern, you might set a minimum impact factor or rating through a specific index to give your research a better chance of discovery. An impact factor is a specific score provided by Web of Science (one of the most prestigious indices) that gives an average number of citations an article in that journal garners in a given time. Other rankings are provided by other indices and typically measure journals on a similar scale. While these factors give a good idea of a journal’s popularity and citation impact, it is important to keep in mind that a journal’s impact factor is not necessarily the best metric to judge a journal by even if it is one of the most widely available.
- Time Constraints
- The type of journal you choose to submit your article to can be greatly affected by having a deadline for when you need to have your article published. A journal with greater popularity and citation impact often also receives a greater number of submissions and in turn has a longer waiting period for articles to be reviewed. If time is a concern, the most prestigious journals may not be an option; however, depending on your timeframe, utilizing professional services such as eContent Pro’s Copy Editing & Proofreading and Scientific and Scholarly Editing services can enhance your submission to a level that can attract the attention of a journal’s editor-in-chief and have your article selected for review before the others.
- Publication fees
- Open access journals charge an article processing fee that can be a hindrance to publishing in their journals. However, many open access publications are funded by outside organizations who cover the publishing fees. Traditional, closed access journals charge no publication fee. While money can be a deciding factor in where to publish, it is also important to note that only open access journals charge publication fees and closed-access journals requiring fees are almost undoubtedly predatory.
- Target Audience
- The journals within your subject area often target different audiences. Broad subject and interdisciplinary journals on your subject can reach a broader range of researchers and academics than ones focusing on specialized topics.
Watch for Predatory Journals
The journals you can find via Google and other search engines may not have a good reputation. If you choose to research on your own, you may fall victim to the many journals that advertise impossibly fast publication timelines to entice academics to submit their articles and then ask them to pay inflated fees. For this reason, it is vital to use a free online journal finder from a reputable publisher or a more-detailed, paid, recommendation service that lists only credible peer-reviewed journals. These services provide a list of journals tailored to the individual needs of your research paper and offer an in-depth view of the journal and their requirements.
Through utilizing these services you can avoid giving up the rights to your research just to have your work published in a journal that might already be blacklisted online. Having your name in a predatory journal can be detrimental to your career and your research will quickly lose all credibility by being associated with the journal. It can be difficult or even impossible to rebuild your reputation after it is corrupted by a predatory journal, so there are few things more important than avoiding them. Here are some things journal finders preemptively look for when it comes to a journal’s credibility.
- If you have never heard of the publisher of the journal, it may be predatory. Journals from major academic publishers such as IGI Global, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Elsevier, etc., as well as many university presses are typically trustworthy. Of course, just because you have not heard of a publisher does not mean it is predatory, so it is essential to further research every title before submitting to it.
- Many truly trustworthy journals and publications are members of prestigious committees such as the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE), which verifies a journal’s intentions and ethical practices as authentic. Journals with these affiliations will often have them listed on their webpage or can be found on the organization’s directory or member list.
- Publication Process
- Be sure that the journal lists the details of their publication process online, giving information such as the type of peer review they use and/or how they make their acceptance and rejection decisions.
- If the journal’s published articles (or the website itself) feature multiple grammar or calculation errors, manipulated or duplicated images, obvious plagiarism, or poor research ethics, this is a sign that the journal should not be trusted.
- Online Reputation
- A quick internet search of a journal title will give you an idea of its credibility. Those who have fallen victim to a journal’s predatory practices are often vocal about it online to save others from their fate. Be sure to scroll through the search results looking for blog posts, reviews, and appearances on trustworthy/predatory journal lists to get a good idea about the journal’s credibility, but keep in mind that one bad review does not necessarily mean a journal is predatory.
Free journal finders can help you narrow down an infinite list of journals to a short, credible list with some key information about the journals, but that won’t be enough to help you choose the most relevant journal for your research. Once you have a preliminary list of target journals to submit to, you can focus on the details that set the journals apart from one another. These minor details can help you choose between two otherwise identical journals.
- Aims and Scope/Topic Coverage
- Every journal offers a description of their publication and the kinds of submissions they are looking to publish. Some of these descriptions include lists of topics the journal covers while others display their topic list separately. If your research fits better into one journal’s topics than another, this could be a sign that you have a higher probability of acceptance with that journal.
- Indexing and Journal Rankings
- Some universities require that you not only publish your research but that it be published in a journal that is featured in a specific index or abstracting service. Popular indexing requirements include Scopus, Web of Science, EBSCO, and MedLine.
- Higher citation impacts come from better established journals with a greater readership. The same goes for other journal metrics and rating systems—better ratings generally mean there will be more eyes on your research.
- Restrictions and Guidelines
- Some journals have word count or page number limits and minimums as well as limits on the number of sources your article should cite and include. Be sure to check these guidelines with your manuscript to be sure everything matches accordingly.
- Similar Articles
- Look to see if the journal has recently published any articles on similar topics as your article. If your research builds off the concepts of one of their recently published articles, they may be more inclined to publish it. On the contrary, it can also be a good sign if they have not published articles on your topic recently. If your research aligns with the journal’s scope, it may be a sign that this is a novel idea/concept for that journal. Of course, if you cannot find any articles even remotely similar to your topic, this might mean the journal does not currently have an interest in that field. If this happens and you still believe your article fits within the journal’s scope, you can usually contact the Editor-in-Chief for information regarding the journal’s opinion on that subject matter.
By considering all the factors listed above and doing some research on your own, you can compile a generous list of journals fitting for your research. From there, you can eliminate journals as you look further into the details to find the publications that have all the things that matter to you and are most likely to accept an article on your topic. Afterward, you can determine your target journal and edit your article accord ingly.
If you are struggling to compile a preliminary list of journals or lack the time to research all of the details yourself, there are many services available that can help you, such as eContent Pro’s free Journal Finder. To use this free service and receive the most relevant journal recommendations for your article, simply enter your manuscript title, subject area, keywords, and abstract in the straightforward webform. Once submitted, it will provide you with five relevant Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) affiliated journals in your subject area along with their titles, publishers, and links to the journal’s website.
To further streamline this process and provide additional information, eContent Pro offers a Journal Recommendation service. This paid service builds upon the free journal finder and provides in-depth reports created by an expert eContent Pro editor. Simply just submit your manuscript and any key criteria (ie. specific indices, open access availability, etc.) They will review you requirements and provide a customized report of recommended journals that will include metrics and indexing, editorial board information, and important submission links. This paid service is ideal for researchers looking to save time, as navigating journal websites to find all of the necessary information you need to select a target journal can take hours or even days depending on your subject area and personal criteria. The expert journal recommendation team provides all the information you need in a single, personalized pdf in 3-5 business days.
While finding the perfect journal for your research may be one of the most important aspects of the research publication process, ensuring your research is the most polished it can be for submission is also vital. Whether you are faced with a quick turnaround time for a new round of edits or in need of a proof of copy-editing certificate, utilizing our high-quality, affordable, and expeditious editorial services on your manuscript can increase the chance of being accepted in a publication of your choice in the shortest amount of time.
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