Running the Numbers?
For many academic researchers, the selection of the journal in which they want their research to be published is an obvious one. It has to be the most prestigious one in their respective field. Some will consider various ranking measurements – the Eigenfactor, the h-index, the impact factor – but mostly it’s all about recognition from your peers.
They share a common assessment of the leading journal in the field, and peer recognition carries considerable weight in academic research.
A More Pragmatic Perspective
The automatic pursuit of the best journal in your field represents a very confident choice, but unless your research results are so noteworthy as to spark a bidding war for your memoirs and immediate rumors of a Nobel Prize, your choice of journal probably warrants a more pragmatic perspective as to where you are in your academic career.
For experienced researchers with a track record of publication, journal selection may be an easier task. Journals that have published your work previously may welcome you with open arms if the proposed topic still resonates with their readers.
Your submission may even prompt immediate conference speaker offers and other opportunities to further promote your work.
For new researchers, the degree of receptivity will most likely not be as high. This sounds quite reasonable, given your lack of a track record, and for journals that closely measure their acceptance rates, submissions from unknown researchers are easier to justify, but this creates an ethical dilemma for those easily dismissed young academics.
An Ethical Dilemma
The pressure to ‘publish or perish,’ whether in pursuit of an increasingly rare tenured position, or to guarantee the re-signing of a renewable contract, can dramatically change the standards of a new researcher.
Confidence in the quality of the research and its value to a broader audience can often give way to concerns over rejection rates and the likelihood of ever getting the work published. You find yourself asking the question: Do you aim for the best journal or compromise and settle for the one where you have the best chance of being published?
Unfortunately, in these days of open access publishing, the bar for the “best chance” has been set fairly low – as long as you can afford the article processing fee (APF), there is no shortage of journals that will gladly take your money and your article. The question is, would you want your work associated with a journal of that standard?