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How to choose a target journal
Submitting a manuscript to an unsuitable journal is a common mistake, and can cause journal editors to reject the manuscript without even sending it for peer review. Choosing a journal that matches your study is thus very important because it makes it more likely that your manuscript will be accepted. Some factors to consider are:
- The topics the journal publishes. If your research is applied, you should target a journal that publishes applied science; if it is clinical, you should target a clinical journal; if it is basic research, you should target a journal that publishes basic research.
- The journal’s target audience. If you think researchers in other fields will be interested in your study, a journal that covers a broad range of topics may be best. On the other hand, if only researchers in your field are likely to want to read your study, then a field-specific journal would be best.
- The types of articles the journal publishes. For example, if you want to publish a Review Article, find out whether the journal publishes these. If you wish to present a case study or a theorem, ensure that the journal you are targeting actually publishes the type of manuscript you wish to write.
- Length restrictions. Does the journal limit the number of words in the articles it publishes? Can your manuscript meet its requirements?
- The reputation of the journal. A journal’s impact factor is only one measure of its reputation, but not always the most important. You need to consider the prestige of the authors that publish in the journal, and the size of the journal’s readership. Objectively consider how important your research is and what level of journal it is best suited for; otherwise, you may find yourself wasting your valuable time submitting to one journal after another.
- Other factors to consider: Does the journal usually publish articles quickly; is the “time to publication” important for you? Would you prefer an open access journal that might give much greater exposure to a wider audience?
Types of journal manuscripts
You should put some thought into choosing your target journal before you start writing your manuscript. When looking for suitable journals in which to publish your own results, start with what you have read. You should already be familiar with published studies that are similar to yours. Which journal were those studies published in? The same journals may be appropriate for your manuscript, so make a list of them. If you need more journals to consider, you can do literature searches for other published articles in your field that are similar in scope and impact on the field, and see where they were published.
When you have a list of potential target journals, visit and read the websites for these journals. Every journal should have a page that provides instructions or guidelines for authors, including information on many of the factors listed above.
More on instructions for authors
Journals on your list that are not a match for your manuscript based on the factors listed above should be eliminated from consideration. Among the remaining journals, it is likely that one or more will stand out as a very good candidate. Consider if any additional experiments will give you a better chance of achieving publication in your top choice. If you are in a hurry to publish, consider which of the remaining journals offers rapid publication; if none do, consider which has the highest publication frequency. If your main goal is to reach as many readers as possible, strongly consider candidate journals that provide an open access option. access allows anyone to read your article, free of charge, online, which can make your article more likely to be read and cited.
When you have chosen the journal you think is the best fit for your study and your goals, it is usually a good idea to also identify your second- and third-choice journals. That way, if your paper is rejected from your first-choice journal, you can quickly submit to your second-choice journal.
More on revising your paper after peer review
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