How to find a suitable journal to publish your work?
I am often asked this question at the university, and I believe that this is a common question that many researchers ask themselves every day. That is why I want to address some of the critical points that will benefit you in your academic career.
Typically when you are asking yourself such a question, you are about to write your article, or you have already written one. Now you are looking for a suitable journal to publish the result of your work. Great! The fact that you are asking this question demonstrates that there is a challenge, and don't think you are alone as professors with years of experience have the same dilemma each time they are about to publish their papers.
Many people believe it is all about the name of the journal. Others believe it is the number of published articles per issue or where the journal citation index position. You should evaluate the factors involved as they can easily differ by a positive or negative influence by just the utilization factor. That is why on this page, I would like to share my experience and view on how to publish your article and have your desired outcome from it.
The critical factors that one should evaluate would be the following items, do not worry; we would go into detail describing each item:
- Journal's name
- Journal's location
- Journal's publishing structure
- Journal's legal structure
- Journal's copyright policy
- Journal's citation index condition
Unless you are publishing in one of the top ten journals in your field of research where it enriches your resume, it would not matter which journal you have published your article as no one would recall the name of the journal.
On the contrary, I would strongly recommend being more careful about the journal's location. That is for two primary reasons, first publishing your article in a journal from a country which does not have a well-established academic infrastructure could potentially give a cynical look to your valuable research. It is as if you would publish your paper in a journal located in the Bahamas or Cancun instead of going there on vacation. No offence to the journal in Bahamas or Cancun as the maybe prominent ones, but the perception it conveys to the reader would be of reluctance.
The second reason that I would publish my articles in countries that have been known to have a well-established academic structure and centre of excellence regionally or globally is the fact that in those countries, research institutes have a close collaboration for preservation and storage of sciences through their libraries. One example could be the advantage of publishing your paper in the UK, whereby law all publishers shall send a copy of their issues to the British Library or universities that archive the publications at the own or local libraries.
The next point that you need to pay attention to is the structure that the journal functions. Traditionally journals were not charging or charging a low fee from the author. After accepting the papers, they would make the abstract available to the public and charge the readers who want to have access to the full text. In essence, the method was very good to the authors as they would not need to pay to publish, or they would make a small contribution. The publishing house would cover their cost by the readers, that was the principal practice for big publishing houses.
On the other hand, the disadvantage of this method is that your paper would be distributed and seen by fewer readers. In other words, your paper would have a much lower potential for being cited and used by a wide range of researchers who would be interested in reading your findings.
So apart from having low visibility, it is not aligned with a vision of free access to scientific knowledge for all. This is one of the reasons that critical knowledge is kept by the developed countries where they have research institutes and centres that can pay for premium access to knowledge like traditional "cartels".
As the world is moving toward advancement in free sharing and spreading of knowledge, a new approach for publishing structure has been created as Open Access. Under an Open Access Journal, full-text of articles are available to the public for free, which enhances the visibility of the papers to the audience and make the latest researched and finding open to the whole world.
The disadvantage of this structure has also been evaluated under many studied and are two main point that you need to be aware, firstly the publisher usually covers their cost by charging the author, and the second point is that lack of quality control while this is not a concern from reputable journals, ones can argue that the structure gives incentive the publisher to publish as many papers as possible.
Another key point to consider before choosing the right journal for your article is to check the copyright status of your work after the journal has accepted your paper. Most of the journals would want to transfer your copyrights to themselves for later financial benefits. This could initially bring down your cost to publish your paper but would also bring down the citation from our research as each time that someone would want to use, distribute in the form of reprinting or adaptation of material, they shall get written approval from the publisher.
Just imagine the workload and amount of request that a publisher would get and if they would prioritize management of your copyright that allocating resources to new papers. The alternative and the recommendation would be to publish with journals that are using under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0). Under this license, you give the right to share, copy, and redistribute in any medium or format and adapt, remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially. For more information regarding this license, I would recommend you to visit the creative commons organization site that included detailed information about the licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
You also must have heard many times in the scientific communities terms such as indexing, citation index, citation impact, the impact factor (IF), or journal impact factor (JIF). They may seems confusing and misleading as there are also many incidents of malpractice from the journals, especially the one identified as predatory publishers as marketing tools to attract more authors to submit to their journal. Let go through them step by step to know what they are, why they are essential, and how not to get into a marketing trap or even worst to submitting your manuscript to a predatory publisher. There are two definitions that we need to get straight from the beginning citation index and citation impact.
Citation index refers to the companies, libraries, institutes, organizations, bodies that will index the articles published in a journal. Typically journals will go through a "qualification process" to be index. Imagine it as being the hotel star ranking system. The Google Scholar, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) Index, the Science Citation Index (SCI), and Elsevier's Scopus are the most established in the field of Engineering and applied science.
You may find journals that are indexed in other places, although the more the journal is index, the better it should make your paper visible. You should always verify their source as it common that predatory publishers to list non-existing indexing sources or naming indexes without being listed there. It is also necessary to point out that the qualification process to be indexed by the earlier mentioned organization may need a few years for a journal to achieve.
You may also publish in a journal with quality without currently having those qualifications. Because typically those journals are highly motivated, they will tend to provide you with better service and support. According to public information, a well-reputed publishing company like Nature, in 2017, has accepted around 8 % of all submitted articles. Considering many of the articles has been rejected without going to a review process while they would need minor modifications.
That would be a concern for you, especially at the start of your research career when submitting to journals with high impact factors or journals that are indexed by multiple high demand index. As they tend to receive many articles, and they would select few which are convenient to process. The recommended approach is to aim for a journal that would support you in giving you the tool, information, and support to improve your research where possible and not to reject it when there is room for improvement.