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Scholarly Publishing

Provides information about journals, books, and open access for authors looking to publish scholarly works.

Finding Journals in Your Field

You’ve written an article, and now you need to find a home for it. Understanding the publishing landscape of an academic field can be challenging for scholars who do not have established professional networks, for those who are seeking to publish in different venues than their mentors and advisors have used in the past, and for those whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries. The following questions can help you to identify appropriate journals in your field:

  • What is the audience for my article? Where does that audience go when they want to read something new in their field?
  • Are there professional societies or organizations for my field? Or perhaps conferences, annual meetings, or other events?
  • Where was the material I cited in my article published?
  • If I wanted to read articles on a similar topic, where would I find them?

The resources below offer a good starting point for finding journals in your field and, ultimately, the right journal for your article.

Choosing a Journal for Your Work

After you have identified some appropriate journals in your field, you'll want to narrow down your options to select the best place to submit your article. For each possible journal, consider the following:

  • Look at the journal's editorial board. Are any of its members in your sub-field?
  • Look at a few issues of the journal and the information provided on the journal’s webpage. Does your article fit within the journal’s typical subject areas and scope?
  • Does the methodology of your work fit what this journal typically publishes? (e.g. quantitative, qualitative, case study, survey, meta-analysis, etc.)
  • Be realistic about your journal selection (don’t aim too high or too low), but don't let fear of rejection guide your choice.
  • Ask colleagues in your research area where they have submitted work.
  • Are bibliometrics like impact factors or Eigenfactors important in your discipline? If so, find out the relevant metrics for journals you are considering. If your field doesn't use formal bibliometrics, consider these other possible measures of "impact":
    • Who is on the journal's editorial board or publishing in the journal? Are they recognized scholars in your field?
    • Examine Google Scholar Metrics or Google Scholar Citations, if available.
    • Is the journal indexed in databases relevant to your field? (e.g. JSTOR, Web of Science, MLA, etc.)
    • Is the journal affiliated with a professional organization, scholarly society, or conference relevant to your subject area?

Once you have decided to submit your work to a particular journal, make sure your submission meets its 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 certain 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.

Avoiding Predatory Publishers

While the internet has allowed more transparent access to research, it has also spawned a cottage industry of fake journals who exist for the purpose of generating revenue rather than furthering scholarship. Keep these tips in mind to avoid being fooled by a "predatory publisher."

  • Reputable journals and conferences don’t make cold calls. Be exceedingly wary of unsolicited calls for proposals sent to you via email by people you do not know.
  • Consider the entity suspect if questions about peer review, selection criteria, fees, business models, or organizational affiliation cannot be answered. Do not agree to submit manuscripts to, review submissions for, or join the editorial board of a journal you are not intimately familiar with. Speak to editors, other authors, and staff to determine if a journal or conference is legitimate.
  • Fact check any claims made by the publisher or conference organizer. If they list someone as a member of their editorial board, confirm that with the person in question. If they claim an impact factor or inclusion in a disciplinary index, independently confirm those details.
  • Make sure your own professional online presence is accurate and up to date. Having correct information about yourself on a departmental, institutional, or personal website is the best way to combat your name appearing on disreputable journal editorial boards or conference sites. Make it easier for others to perform the kind of due diligence described above.
  • Talk to your colleagues about how to avoid being duped by predatory publishers. These publishers typically trick unsuspecting academics—sometimes even respected, senior scholars—into recruiting colleagues for suspect editorial boards or soliciting their own networks for article submissions.
  • When in doubt about the authenticity of a journal or conference, talk to a librarian. The best defense against being duped by a predatory publisher is a strong understanding of the publishing landscape in your own field. To learn more about where and how scholars in your discipline share their work, contact your librarian.

This material was adapted from Meredith Kahn, "Sharing your scholarship while avoiding the predators: Guidelines for medical physicists interested in open access publishing," Medical Physics 41, no. 7 (July 2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1118/1.4883836. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.