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Choosing Where To Publish Your Research: Other Indicators of Journal Quality

This guide discusses factors that researchers should consider when evaluating journals and choosing where to submit their manuscript.ir research products

Other Indicators of Journal Quality

Go beyond the numbers!

When evaluating a journal, don’t limit yourself to the metrics. Engage with actual issues of the publication and examine the content. Consider factors such as the following:

  • Are the articles well structured and well written?
  • Is data provided to support the reported findings?
  • Does the journal publish articles about the central topics being discussed in your field?
  • What is the journal’s scope, in terms of topics addressed by articles?
  • What is the journal's audience?
  • Do your peers know about the journal? Do they read it?
  • How well does your topic fit within the scope of the journal?

Scope

The issue of scope is of particular importance when deciding whether to submit your manuscript to a specific journal. No matter how good your study is, your paper will probably not be accepted if it falls outside of the topics covered by the journal.

Many journal homepages have a section called "Aims and Scope" or something along those lines. Reviewing this section will give you a more precise idea of how well the topic of your manuscript fits within the journal.

Below is a screenshot of the homepage of the publication Journal of Second Language Writing. Besides Journal Impact Factor and CiteScore figures on the upper right, you can see there is a link in the "About" section titled "Aims and scope".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discoverability

In order for other researchers to be able to read and cite your article, they first have to find it. The possibility of them locating your paper is increased if it is published in a journal that is readily accessible through databases and other online platforms. Databases provide features like keyword searching and filters, which make it a lot easier for researchers to find articles that fit their interests. Therefore, if your paper is accessible through a widely-used database, it is more probable that it will be found by scholars studying topics related to yours. This increases your chances of getting cited.

Also, think about the audience you want to target. Mainly, you want your article to be discoverable to the people in your field. Think about whether your peers are likely to find and view the journal you are considering.

Finally, think about the journal's publishing model and level of access. Is it an open access publication? Or is it a paid subscription journal which is not as widely accessible? If it is a subscription journal, check if it provides open access options such as permission to deposit in an institutional repository. Options like this one can considerably enhance your visibility. 

These are some questions related to discoverability that you might want to consider:

  • Where is the journal indexed?
  • Is the journal easy to find and access online?
  • What databases provide access to the journal?
  • Do you encounter this journal often in your topic searches?
  • Does this journal provide open access options for additional dissemination?

Editorial Process

It is also a good idea to look into the journal's editorial process. This can tell you a lot about the journal's level of professionalism, its commitment to quality, its transparency, and its sustainability. Information about the editorial process will frequently be available in the journal's website.

Here are some questions to consider: 

  • Is the journal peer-reviewed?
  • Is the editorial process clearly explained?
  • Does the journal have an author guide?
  • Does the journal follow a consistent publishing pattern?
  • Who are the members of the editorial board?
  • What are the acceptance rates and turn-around times?

Acceptance rates and turn-around times

Even though we mentioned these two factors under the “Editorial Process” heading, we feel it is good to elaborate on them a bit.

Often, time is of the essence when publishing research findings. But at the same time, you want to publish in a prominent journal because of the prestige this may garner you and the visibility it may give to your study. These journals may have longer turnaround times due to them having a rigorous peer-review process and a high number of submissions. Additionally, the acceptance rates of these journals will frequently be low because many people want to publish in them.

What we want to convey is that you have to balance these factors when deciding whether to submit to a specific journal. Remember that you are not allowed to submit to various journals at the same time, so you have to be wise with your choice. If you are thinking about submitting to a journal with very competitive acceptance rates, be sure to check its “Aims and Scope” section. Make sure that your manuscript falls within the range of topics covered by the publication. This will help you make a more informed decision.

Also, think hard about the merits of your manuscript. What is new or groundbreaking about your study? What makes the paper stand out? Compare this to articles in the journal you are aiming for. Do you feel you have a strong chance?

If you feel you do, and you feel the longer turnaround time will not affect you much, then go for it!

Short Communications

If you have very important findings that you feel you should disseminate quickly, know that you can opt for publishing what is known as a short communication. This type of publication is designed exactly for that; to get significant findings out to the community of researchers fast. The Journal of the American Institute for Conservation has a brief publication titled "Short Communications and Technical Notes" that explains these kinds of writings very well. To access it, go to https://www.culturalheritage.org/docs/default-source/publications/2019-jaic-short-communications-and-technical-notes.pdf?sfvrsn=5dca0f20_6

Predatory Journals

Finally, it is important to mention predatory journals here. These are journals that lure authors by basically guaranteeing acceptance and promising very quick turn-around times to publication. However, they charge authors steep publication fees.

Predatory journals are labeled as such because they do not show a commitment to scholarship, and are only in scholarly communications to obtain these fees from researchers. For example, the extremely short turn-around times are probably due to the fact that the journal does not have a legit peer-review process in place. Authors who are in a hurry to publish may be more susceptible to being misled and submitting to one of these journals. The problem is that publishing in one of these journals very probably will not bring you any kind of real benefit or recognition. Even worse, it is very unlikely that you will be able to resubmit the article to another journal.

For more information on predatory journals, you can visit the "About Predatory Publishing" page in the ThinkCheckSubmit website.