10 things to consider when choosing which journal to publish in

Which journal to publish in

There’s no straightforward answer to this question! Nonetheless, it’s an important question to ask, as selecting the right journal enables your research to reach its target audience, increasing the likelihood of it making a tangible impact on both the research community and society.

Here’s what you should consider -

1. Talk to colleagues: Senior academic colleagues and professional academic contacts in your field can give expert advice.

2. Peer-reviewed: Except for in a few rare cases, the journal must always be peer-reviewed. This helps to ensure the quality of the research it publishes.

3. Selective: If a journal or conference appears to accept almost any article for publication then avoid it.  Where you publish should have a competitive element to getting your work accepted and must have a rigorous peer-review and editorial process. This indicates to the reader of your research that it has met a certain quality threshold, as it has been reviewed by a panel of experts.

4. Editors: Are the editors and board members credible people with a good professional reputation in your field? Are they established academics with a strong publication record themselves?

5. Appropriateness: Consider the appropriateness of the journal for your research. Think about where the articles that you've found most valuable and influential were published. A specialist journal can be a good place to publish if they are publishing high quality work. Due to their more focused readership, specialist journals may not be as highly ranked (see below), however, this shouldn't be considered to be a problem.

6. Reach and readership: Related to the appropriateness, ensure the journal or conference you chose reaches your target audience. Consider questions such as, is the journal cited by key academics in my field, does the journal have an international readership, is the journal read by practitioners in my field? Depending on your research, the importance you place on each question will vary. For example, a pure mathematics researcher may be more concerned with reaching a wider academic audience, whereas a medical or business researcher may be more concerned with reaching people working in the field outside of academic (ie. practitioners). 

7. Cost and Open Access (OA): Ensuring that your research is OA is important, as it maximises the number of people who can read it. Most publishers let you make your research OA for free by uploading a copy to Pure, where it’s made OA after an embargo period. (This is the University's preferred route.) Most publishers also allow you to pay a fee (article processing charge) to remove this embargo period and allow your research to be OA as soon as it's published. To do this you need to apply to the University for funding.

8. Rankings and metrics: You should not base the decision of where to publish on journal rankings or metrics, as the other issues outlined above must also be considered. However, its sensible to be aware of the ranking of the journal you're targeting. Always look at where the journal ranks within it's field, as opposed to looking at absolute metrics. The main rankings are: Scopus (Science, technology and some social science subjects), ABS list (business and law subjects), CORE (computing conferences). Journal metrics and rankings are not widely used in arts and humanities. 

9. 'Predatory' journals: These journals provide little or no peer-review and editorial services, and so their quality is low and reputation poor. Do not publish in these journals. How to identify predatory journals. 

10. Promote your research after publication: Publishing is just the start! Does the journal promote your work further after publication? You should also promote your article via the Press Office (pressoffice@port.ac.uk), on social media and on online academic communities (e.g. twitter, blogs, academic.edu, etc), and Pure. Plus, discuss its real world impact by contacting the Impact Officer (dee.summers@port.ac.uk) and monitor its global reach using Scopus citation alerts and Altmetrics.

For further help, contact libraryresearch@port.ac.uk. Plus, don’t forget to sign up for a personal ORCID publishing identification number to ensure your work is correctly attributed to you, and use the "University of Portsmouth" as your affiliation.