While the peer review process for journals can vary, it typically follows the pattern described below.
Very few articles are accepted without revisions. Being asked to revise your work is a foundational practice in scholarly publishing, and often results in the work being stronger after it has undergone review.
You’ve written an article, and now you need to find a home for it. Understanding the publishing landscape of your own field can be challenging for new scholars without established professional networks, and for those who are seeking to publish in different venues than their mentors and advisors have used in the past, or for authors whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries. It can be helpful to ask yourself a few questions as you try to determine the outlines of your own disciplinary domain:
A librarian in your subject area can help you work through all of these questions, and help you find other scholarship in your field. In addition, you may also want to ask your advisor and your colleagues for other recommendations.
Disciplinary indexes and databases are the best way to find articles like your own, and every subject area has its own specialized resources. You can use the U-M Library’s Search Tools to see a list of databases in your discipline and access full text using your U-M credentials. For example, if your work is in the areas of literature, language, or linguistics, the MLA International Bibliography would be an excellent place to start searching, while if you work in the areas of psychology or psychiatry, PsycINFO would be an important resource. If your work is highly interdisciplinary, Google Scholar can be a place to start.
In many disciplines, there are resources devoted specifically to the task of finding publication venues. Scholars in business, education, psychology, and other social science fields can use Cabell's Directory of Publishing Opportunities to search for information about journals’ areas of focus, acceptance rates, and submission policies. The American Psychological Association Journal Statistics site offers information about manuscript rejection rates, circulation data, and publication lag time. The MLA Directory of Periodicals describes the scope of journals in many areas of literature and language study, including circulation figures, submission guidelines, information on whether or not journals are peer reviewed, and publication statistics. The Journal / Author Name Estimator allows you to compare your work to published articles in Medline to approximate possible publication venues.
For more information about finding journals in your field, talk to your librarian.
After you have identified appropriate journals in your field, you'll want to select the best home for your submission.
What about the journal's impact? You'll often hear advice about publishing in "high impact" journals. But how do you determine a given journal's impact if your field doesn't use bibliometrics impact factors or Eigenfactors? There are several criteria you can use to suss out possible measures of "impact":
Once you have decided to submit your work to a particular journal, make sure your submission meets their basic requirements. Nearly all journals include instructions for authors. Read them carefully and follow specific instructions such as word limits, preferred citation styles, document formatting, file types, etc. If you're not sure where you'd like to submit, but you have a target publication in mind, start working from their requirements in order to prevent headaches later on. In addition, have friends and colleagues read your work and provide feedback before you submit. A fresh pair of eyes can be incredibly helpful for spotting mistakes and areas in need of improvement.
Below are resources that provide suggestions and guidelines for responding to reviewer feedback: