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Which journals should I publish in?

When you come to submit your work to journals, you want to identify the most appropriate and successful journals in your field. Publishing in high-quality peer-reviewed journals will enhance your reputation and help get your work cited by others. (See peer reviewed journals to find out more about identifying journals in your subject area.)

Open Access publishing might help your article to reach more people because it is a way of removing the subscription barrier. You can also find out more about the journals in your subject area which have the highest impact factor, which is an average measure of how many times the articles in that journal are cited.

Factors to consider are described in detail in the links on the below:

How do I find out about a journal?

If you already have a list of journal titles that you think might be appropriate for you to target, here is a check list of sources of information and factors to consider, about those journals:

  • Look at the journal's home page on the publisher's website. You'll probably find this through Google, and it will give you lots of information, often including calls for papers. Look at who the editors are and consider whether you know (or can get to know) any of them! Note that the journal's home page on the publisher's website is not always the same as the journal's record on a content provider's website: sometimes the library subscription is directly with the publisher, but at other times we use an aggregator service
  • Is it peer reviewed? It will probably state this on the journal's home page, but in any case you can check the Ulrich's Periodicals Directory for this information (The term "refereed" is more commonly used in the US but means the same thing as peer reviewed)
  • Is it open access? Sometimes journals can be hybrid and will offer you an open access option for a fee, even if they appear not to be open access journals. Look out for such options on the journal home page. If you have research funding that mandates open access publishing and allows you to claim for such fees or use one of the block grants, then you should investigate open access further
  • Does it have a high impact factor? This might or might not matter to you: after all, your paper will have maximum impact if published in the right title for your particular subject, which might not have such an impressive impact factor. However, you might like to target the high impact journals first.
  • Is it really the right title for your article? Try subscribing to the table of contents for a particular journal, either by RSS feed or by e-mail Zetoc is one of many alerting services that would help you to do this. Journals also often have detailed scope notes that will help guide you on the kinds of content they are looking for
  • What do your peers say about these journals? If you're just starting out in your career, you could also look at where the established authors are publishing and target the same publications. Look out for their personal web pages and their publications as listed in WRAP

How do I identify peer-reviewed journals?

This page briefly describes what peer-reviewed journals are, and how you can identify suitable titles to which you may want to submit your work.

What are peer-reviewed journals?

Peer reviewed journals are those containing only articles that have been evaluated by academic experts. Many articles are changed and improved through the peer review, before publication, and peer reviewed journals may also reject a high proportion of the articles submitted to them. Having your work published in such a journal will raise your profile and act as a seal of quality for the work you produce.

How can I check if a journal I know the title of is peer-reviewed?

The main source of information on journal titles is called Ulrich's Periodicals Directory (often simply called Ulrich's). Search this source for the journal you are interested in. When you find the title you want, check to see if it has the "refereed" icon next to its title, which looks a little like a sports shirt! If there is no such icon, it may be worth checking the journal's own web site. The lack of an icon on Ulrich's simply means that they do not know that the title is peer reviewed, so it may still be a peer reviewed title even if there is no such icon. You need to use an on- campus computer to access Ulrich's.

Some indexing databases only index the contents of journals that are peer-reviewed, or offer you a filtered search of only peer reviewed titles. An example is the Web of Science databases, available via the Web of Knowledge service.

How can I locate journals in a specific subject (especially if that subject is new to me)?

You can search a database that covers the subject you're interested in to find articles on a similar topic to yours (use the subject guides in the "resources" section of the library's website to find subject specific databases). Scan the results to identify the journal titles that crop up most frequently.

Check the database's help pages - if the database only indexes peer-reviewed journals then you know these articles have gone through the reviewing process. If you cannot find this information, note down the names of the most frequently-occurring journals and check them as described in the section above.

How do I know a journal is of high quality?

The fact that a journal is peer reviewed is in itself a mark of a certain level of quality. As you'd expect, though, some journals are of higher quality than others. One of the main ways of determining the prestige of a journal within its given field is to check its impact factor. Don't forget also to consult colleagues, who may have a good knowledge of which are the most prestigious journals in your subject area.

What are impact factors and how would I use them?

A journal's impact factor is based on how often articles published in that journal during the previous two years (e.g. 2000 and 2001) were cited by articles published in a particular year (e.g. 2002). The higher a journal's impact factor, the more frequently articles in that journal are cited by other articles. The impact factor can therefore give an approximate indication of how prestigious a journal is in its field.

There are different measures of impact factors, taken across different numbers of years, so be careful that you are comparing like with like. Impact factors are calculated by the Thomson Reuters (formerly known as Thomson ISI or Thomson Scientific). Not all journals have impact factors, and the importance of impact factors will vary between disciplines. They nevertheless provide a useful pointer to the more important journals in your subject.

The Eigenfactor is another way to estimate a journal's standing within the academic community and it also counts numbers of citations to a journal, but it weights those from other high impact journals higher. In this way, it works similarly to Google's PageRank.

Instructions on how to find a journal's impact factor are given below.

How do I find a journal's impact factor?

Use the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) available through the Web of Knowledge service. To check the impact factor of a specific journal you can search by title. Otherwise, you can browse by subject (subject categories are brought together in the Science and Social Science strands).

You can sort the information in many different ways - you will most likely wish to rank journals according to their impact factor. In addition to the impact factor you can check other aspects of a journal, such as immediacy index (a measure of how soon after publication the "average" article is cited - useful in comparing how quickly different journals are cited).

What is Open Access publishing?

In this context open access means research literature that has been made publicly and freely accessible. It can be reused without licensing restrictions for research, teaching or other purposes.

Open access is compatible with all forms of quality control and all the major open access initiatives insist on rigorous peer-review processes. Decisions on what to make open access are controlled by the copyright holders and use of open access material must be properly acknowledged.

What are the benefits of Open Access?

Open Access benefits both the author of the research and the audience.

  • Visibility - there is growing evidence that open access material is more likely to be found, read and cited than work solely published in traditional journals. This visibility can also help to attract prospective collaborators and research students
  • Discoverability - open access repositories, such as the Warwick Research Archive Portal (WRAP), are optimised to allow for better indexing and visibility in popular search engines, including Google and Google Scholar
  • Access - open access benefits researchers working independently, in small companies and in developing countries where the cost of subscription previously prevented access
  • Compliance - most research funders now mandate open access for funded research outputs

How is work made open access?

Today open access is chiefly achieved through two main routes; Green OA and Gold OA.

  • Green OA works alongside traditional publishing models and allows authors to take advantage of both traditional journal publishing and open access availability. At Warwick this is supported by WRAP, a service that makes permitted versions of research outputs available while the final version remains with the publisher. There are no charges to the author or Funders with Green OA. The WRAP team check publishers' permissions to ensure compliance with agreements you have made with your publisher. More information »
  • Gold OA refers to the Open Access Publishing model. This can be alongside articles in a traditional subscription journal (often known as hybrid OA) or in a journal that only publishes open access articles. These open access articles are peer reviewed in the normal way and made freely available to the world immediately upon publication. These journals cover their costs either through a subsidy from an institution or professional society or through charging an article processing charge or APC to be paid by the author or the author’s sponsor (employer, funding agency)

How can I make my work open access?

There are many ways in which you can get involved in the Open Access movement, here are a few ways for you to start:

  • Deposit your articles to WRAP
  • Consider using an open access journal for your next publication. The Directory of Open Access Journals currently lists 8372 open access journals and more are being added all the time
  • Take advantage of the funds/deals available to University researchers:
    • RCUK provides the institution with a fund to cover APCs on its funded research
    • The Wellcome Trust has granted the University a fund to cover APCs for Wellcome Trust funded research
    • The Library's subscriptions to BioMed Central and to the Royal Society entitles University researchers to a discount on the article processing charges

How should I prepare manuscripts for submission?

Each journal will have its own submission guidelines covering aspects such as article length, subscription style, communication procedures, etc. A couple of examples are below:

You can discover these in two ways - if you have a print copy of the journal you can consult the Notes for Authors/Contributors (usually found at the front or back of the journal), or in many cases by consulting the journal's home page on the Web. To find the journal's home page, do a search for the journal on Ulrich's Periodicals Directory and, once you've found the title you want, click through to the publisher information.

Reference management software products like RefWorks and EndNote can help you prepare manuscripts for submission. They each have hundreds of output styles to choose from, most of which are output styles for specific journals. With both RefWorks and EndNote, if the journal to which you want to submit your work is not among their listed output styles, you can request that the software suppliers create a new output style. The Library has information on using EndNote Online.

Also, see Versions Toolkit for advice about how to keep track of your versions - and make sure that you keep a copy of your own final draft, suitable for repository deposit in WRAP.