Friday, 2 December 2011

How to Choose a Journal for your Scientific Publication?

Obtained from Science for All

Resources for Scientists and Science Lovers

How to Choose a Journal for your Scientific Publication?

Each journal has a set of guidelines that you will need to follow strictly before submitting your manuscript. Usually, you will find these guidelines on the Journal’s homepage under the Instructions to Authors section. You can choose the journal where you will submit your article before you start writing it and I encourage you to do so. However, most of the time, authors find it more convenient to start writing while they think about it. There are many ways to choose a journal and this is a really important decision that you shouldn’t take slightly. I recommend you to evaluate in order:

The scope. You will usually find information on the field of expertise of each journal on their homepage or in a specific rubric. Depending on the journal, the scope can be really vast or on the opposite really narrow. The larger the scope, the more difficult it is to publish an article usually, considering the number of submissions you would have to compete with. The chances are less people are working on the exact same specific field as you, so if you find a journal that specializes in it, you might have a better chance to publish your article. The country of issue of the journal can also be an important factor to consider. Why not try a journal in your own language for example?

The impact factor. This is the most widely used criterion to estimate the value of a journal and even of a scientist. The impact factor is based on the number of times a journal or article is referred to in other publications, and gives an authority index. All impact factors are indexed every year in the Thomson’s Reuter’s Journal Citation Reports and in the ISI Web of Knowledge. They can depend highly on the discipline but in any case a higher number means a more important contribution.

The last articles published and the guidelines. A good indication to what article could be accepted in a specific journal would be the publications of the last issues. Indeed, trying to publish an article on the genetics of a neurological disease in a journal of neurology that never published any genetic studies might not be a very smart decision. Thankfully, the editor who receives your paper is the one who decides if the article is suitable for the journal and if not, will send it back to you within a week. On another hand, if the journal you are interested in just published a study very similar to yours, you might want to try another journal. Check also the guidelines. Some journals are more stringent than others and if you are having trouble formatting your article, you might want to consider another journal.

The turnaround and publication speed. It is almost impossible to predict how long it will take for you to receive an answer from the editor and the reviewers, since those be different for each paper. However, the usual turnaround time varies between 1 week and 6 months. An option is to ask colleagues who published in the same journal to have an idea of how long they waited. Concerning the publication speed, you can find it on most articles, usually on the first page, where the journal will publish an article history wit the dates of reception, acceptance and final publication. If you want to publish your results as soon as possible, you might want to try a short or special report instead.

Past experience and editor. After all, who knows better than yourself where to send the article? Think carefully about your article and estimate its level of importance. Keep in mind the other articles you read on the same subject and where they were published. Remember the other articles you published and where you had the most pleasant experience. You can also investigate the editor’s identity; it’s a good indication on the authority of the journal.

Finally, considering the rush you have and the importance of your paper, one option is to try the highest journal you’d like and if it gets rejected, to send it a lower authority journal until it is finally accepted for publication.

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