Journal selection is an important part of the publication process that is often neglected by authors of scientific manuscripts. So concerned are they with getting their findings written up and published, they ignore a vital step: selecting the journal most appropriate for their work.

Submitting a paper to an inappropriate journal can (and often does) lead to immediate rejection without review. In addition to the intense disappointment felt when receiving such a rejection, the author must now spend valuable time reformatting the paper in preparation for submission to another journal. All this can be avoided by following a few simple steps.

 

A simple guide to journal selection

  1. Read the “Aims and scope” section on the target journals website and make sure your paper falls within them (this may seem obvious but many authors do not bother to do this).
  1. Target audience: know your target audience and identify a journal that is most likely to reach it (for example, is the paper most suitable for a general audience or is it directed at those working in a specific field or on a specialist topic?)
  1. Decide whether you favour an open access journal or a more traditional subscription journal (both models have advantages and disadvantages).
  1. If time is of the essence then you may wish to consider a journal with a rapid turnaround time. Many journals provide this information on their website.
  1. Impact factor. Notice that this is not at the top of the list. Many authors base their journal selection policy on impact factor alone. For the majority, this is a mistake and is more likely to lead to rejection because high impact factor journals reject a high percentage of the papers they receive. Impact factor is an important consideration, but items 1 and 2 on the list should always be considered first. Once you have narrowed down your list of targets, then impact factor becomes an important consideration. Only if you truly believe that your work is highly significant and in a “topical” or “popular” area should you base your journal selection on impact factor alone.

 

As an author, you must decide which of the above factors is most important to you, and select your journal accordingly.

When making your decision based on the above, ask yourself the following questions (and be honest with yourself):

  • How new are my findings?
  • To whom are they most relevant?
  • Are they of specific or general interest?
  • Do they substantially improve our understanding of a phenomenon or provide a new technology or disease treatment?
  • Is my work in “popular” or “topical” area (e.g., climate change, stem cell research, Alzheimer’s disease)? If so then you may wish to consider a journal with a high impact factor.

Many journals offer an automated “journal selection service”, which uses semantic technology to select a journal based on the title of the paper and/or the content of the abstract. You will be provided with a list of “potentially suitable” journals – meaning that you still have to go through the steps outlined above to identify the most suitable journal from the list.

We hope that you find this short guide to journal selection useful. A few simple steps can increase the chances of your paper being put forward for peer review. It won’t guarantee acceptance, but it will reduce the chances of your paper falling at the first hurdle.


With the aim of making this whole process easier for authors, Bioedit offer a bespoke Journal Selection Service for authors who are uncertain as to where their work is best published. As part of one of our English editing packages, our PhD-qualified science editors will read and evaluate your work, taking into account its subject area and relative novelty, and then present you with a detailed report of three potential journals at varying levels of impact, which you may consider submitting your work to. For more details on how Bioedit can help you get your manuscript published, please contact us.