As a researcher, choosing where to publish and how to promote your research is critical. Strategic scholarly publishing involves following a systematic approach to ensure you publish in the most effective outlet and maximise success in publishing endeavours. This will help raise your academic profile, increase the visibility and impact of your work and add to the reputation of UQ as a world class research institution and contribute to scholarly discussions in your field.

2. Think

Which journal? 

A primary goal of publishing is to communicate your research findings to your field and your choice of journal should support this. Basic factors to consider are:

  • journal quality
  • journal reputation and practices
  • publisher reputation and practices
  • relevance to your topic
  • discipline specific requirements

Creating a shortlist

Choosing which journal to publish in is a decision best made early in the writing process. A good starting list of titles will enable you to compare a range of measures, prioritise your specific needs to give a final shortlist, and shape your strategic publishing decisions. Three approaches to pre-select your journal titles are:

1. Which journals do you cite?

2. Which journals do your supervisor and/or successful colleagues publish in?  Have any specific titles been recommended to you?

3. Use online journal selection tools - It is important to remember that tools developed by publishers will only suggest journals drawn from their suite.  The generic tools have been developed to cover a broader range of titles and may not include granular information such as details about licences, article processing charges and the publishing process. Also be aware that some may offer additional reporting or manuscript editing services for a fee. 

Service

Coverage

(No. of Titles)

Searches Across
Cofactor Journal Selector 95 Primarily Biology & Medicine journals from different publishers.
Edanz Journal Selector 25,487 Multi-disciplinary journals – not specific to any publisher.
Research Square JournalGuide >46,000 Broad coverage of disciplines and publishers
JANE Journal Author Name Estimator (The Biosemantics Group) Varies with time- updated monthly All PubMed journals published in the last 10 years.
Elsevier Journal finder >2,200 Health Sciences, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences from Elsevier journals only.
Springer Journal Suggester >2,500 Multi-disciplinary journals in Springer and BioMed Central.
SJFinder Journal Recommender >30,000 Multi-disciplinary journals – not specific to any publisher.
Endnote Manuscript Matcher – need to have an EndNote Online account setup >8,200 Multi-disciplinary journals from Web of Science Collections.

Download the UQ journal/publisher comparison and evaluation tool:

This is a Macro-enabled Excel Workbook to use on Windows only. The comparison and evaluation tool has been designed to take you through a series of questions about your choice of journal and the associated publisher. Where possible and relevant, links will direct you to the specific tools or resources to answer questions.


Refining your shortlist

You can further refine your journal choice by looking at:

  • aims and scope of the journal 
  • journal quality
  • peer review process
  • publisher reputation and credibility
  • promotion and availability of your article.

Aims and scope of the journal

Each journal will have information about their aims and scope available on the journal website. These may be found in sections such as "Instructions for authors", "About the journal" or "Aims and scope". You should evaluate your research against the aims and scope of the journal, to make sure that your article fits in the subject area of the journal and will appeal to the readers. 

Journal quality 

The Australian Research Council defines research quality as "The standard of reliability, validity, credibility and ethical practice of a piece of research" (PDF, 367KB)This definition can be extended to journals as well.

To assess journal quality it is recommended that you compare journal titles across a range of points. There are well-accepted and defined standards used to assess the quality of scholarly publications such as: 

  • indexing
  • metrics
  • peer review process
  • discipline specific prestige.
Indexing

Journals can be indexed in a variety of databases such as Scopus, Web of Science or PubMed. Journals that are indexed by services such as these must go through a rigorous selection process. For example the Scopus journal indexing selection criteria  and Web of Science journal selection process both look for journals which have:  

  • high-quality peer reviewed content
  • regular publishing schedules
  • content with international appeal
  • publication ethics statements.

Some of the journals you are considering publishing in may not be indexed. This does not mean they are poor quality. Newer journals or journals with a specific regional interest may not be indexed but may still be appropriate outlets for your research. If you would like to engage with a specific group of researchers then a publication that is not indexed may be the best place for your article. 

From the shortlist of journals you created earlier, search for titles in Scopus, Web of Science or other databases that are used in your discipline to determine where they are indexed. 

 
Metrics 

There are a number of different metrics used to measure journal impact such as journal ranking and impact factors. Impact factors, h-indexes and rankings of journals are based on measurements such as percentage of documents cited, citations per article from within or outside the journal, self-citations and international collaboration. 

Each indexing service has their own journal rating system. Some of the common ones are SCImago and Journal Citation Reports. If you would like to publish in a Q1 journal then metrics may be an important factor in your decision making. 

Depending on your research area there may also discipline specific factors to consider. For example, if your research is in business you may also look at the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) Journal rankings (requires a registration to view the list).

Peer review process 

An important indicator of journal quality is a stringent peer review process. After you have submitted an article to a journal, it will go through editorial review, where it may be rejected (known as "on the desk rejection"). If passed, it will go to peer review. This involves a review of your research by others in the field.

Peer review is designed to ensure only high quality research is published and is usually either: 

  • Single blind: the reviewers know you are the author, but you don't know who is reviewing your article. 
  • Double blind: the reviewers don't know who authored the article, and you are unaware of who is reviewing the article. 
  • Open review: the reviewers know who wrote the article, and you are aware of who is reviewing it. 

Diagram of the peer review process after article submission, illustrating the description covered in the text.

Most journals do not make the peer reviews publically available, though a growing number are starting to do so. You can use Publons to see what type of peer review is operated by the journals you are considering. 
 

Use Ulrichsweb to check whether the journals you have shortlisted have a peer review process. Ulrichsweb also provides information about the journal, such as whether it has undergone a name change and where it is indexed.  

 

Publisher reputation and credibility 

You should always ensure you are submitting your research to a credible publisher. Visit the journal or publisher website and look at the quality of the site - does it have easy navigation, good grammar and spelling and clear contact details? Are the author instructions easy to find? These are all indicators of a reputable publisher. You should also look at:

Editorial board / staff: Does the journal clearly state who is on the editorial board? Are the editors respected researchers in their fields? 

Publishing polices: Does the publisher have policies relating to peer review, authorship, copyright, open access, article sharing and dispute resolution? 

Memberships: Is the publisher a member of COPE, OASPA, WAME or another organisation? Memberships to recognised authorities indicate the publisher participates in, and abides by ethical practices and standards. 

As well as the journal website, you can also search online or in academic forums to see whether the journal has received mostly positive feedback from other researchers. 

Promotion and availability of your research

The exposure of your research will depend on the outlet being easy to discover and access. Choose a publisher with a good track record of author support in regards to providing opportunities and resources to ensure dissemination of your work.  Consider these questions to determine how the publisher will provide support for the accessibility and visibility of your article:

  • Does this publisher offer an option to make your work open access, and which models do they support?
  • Does this option include a charge for publication, e.g Article processing charges (APCs)?
  • What is the expected turnaround time for publication?  Is timeliness to publish important for your research?
  • Will you receive an electronic link to share your published work with colleagues upon publication? (limited number of downloads permitted)
  • Does the publisher offer alternatives to publish in languages other than English - if this is important?
  • To what extent will the publisher provide promotional support for your work - if at all?
  • Is there support for optimising the visibility of your work through recognised persistent identifiers (ISSN, DOI, ORCID iD)?

Strategic publishing 

A strategic publishing strategy is supported by informed decisions about possible outlets for your work, prior to publication. The indicators listed in the previous paragraph can help you select the journal to submit your research to, but you should also consider the outcome you are looking for. This outcome will vary from researcher to researcher, and also depend on the stage of your academic career.

Some examples of success for you may be:

  • to showcase your work and that of the institution
  • reflect well on your scholarly publication record
  • wider dissemination of your research
  • increased funding and collaborative opportunities, and
  • create a deeper engagement with the broader community. 

No matter your aim, aligning your choice of a publishing outlet to a wider strategy can help to build a solid reputation for yourself and your institution, and assist you to accelerate your academic career path.