Publication usually represents the culmination of most research efforts. The process of selecting the appropriate journal has become increasingly complex due to the proliferation of journals, areas of specialization and emergence of interdisciplinary topics. Authors have to optimize between many criteria or constraints before reaching a decision about where to publish. Listed below are some tips about the factors which need to be considered and the approach to be adopted.
The first step should be to clearly define the goals of the proposed article. Once this is done, information on various aspects relevant to these goals can be gathered, after which an informed decision can be made about the journal and article type which offers the best fit for the particular situation.
The various stages in the decision-making process can be summarized as follows:
Knowing the options: It is essential to obtain reasonably comprehensive knowledge about available journals in the given subject area. This can be done by consulting your peers, searching through online listings, and checking with professional associations.
Determining the impact: The recognition factor is obviously an important consideration. Quantitative measures such as the Impact Factor, Journal Rank, Article Influence and H-Index are used. These are generally linked to the citation rate for articles published in the journal however these values and the absolute numbers of citations can both be scrutinized.
Journal scope and policies: The subject areas covered and the types of articles published should be ascertained. This will contribute towards addressing the suitable target audience. Further, information about the editorial policies and practices should be obtained in order to anticipate any situations that may emerge during the submission and peer-review process.
Journal requirements and distribution: Most journals follow a certain style and specify requirements for the article. Consistency of the article with these requirements should be ensured. The mode of distribution (print/online) and number of subscribers decides the reach of the journal. For open-access journals, where the content is available to all, having an estimate of the typical number of readers helps.
Peer-review factors: Information about the peer-review process for the specific journal, including stature of reviewers, objectivity and timelines, should also be gleaned from a variety of sources. Actual values or estimates of rejection rates should be obtained.
Urgency of publication and cost: There is a time lag between submission and publication of an article, which is dependent on editorial processing schedules, time for peer review, and periodicity of production and publication. This time lag should be taken into account for timely dissemination of the research. The costs involved in publishing (whether page or peer-review charges) may also be a factor based on the available research budget. For new journals, future viability should be taken into account.
Using the above considerations and following the various steps mentioned should allow selection of the best possible journal in terms of visibility and quality, and publication and dissemination of the research within the specified constraints.