Skip to Main Content

Scholarly Journal Publishing: Selecting a Journal That's Right for You

Set Yourself Up for Success!

The whole point of writing your article is to get published.  A little planning and research before you submit can save you from both the heartache and headache of rejection.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. You cannot submit your article to more than one journal at a time.
    • A rejection can significantly delay your publication.  It can take three to twelve months for you to receive a decision about your article, and a rejection letter means starting the entire process all over again with a new journal.  Such delays can be catastrophic, particularly if you are trying to publish time-sensitive materials.
  2.  Is the top-tier journal in your discipline really the right fit for you?
    • There is a great deal of pressure to publish in the most prestigious journal possible.  Even though a journal is the most prestigious in your field that doesn't guarantee that it's the right fit for you and your article.  Does your article meet the journal's requirements for publication?  If it doesn't, find one that does.  There is a perfect journal out there for you somewhere.
  3. "Refereed" journals are king.
    • Most universities are only going to "reward" you for publishing in "refereed" academic journals. Not all academic journal are refereed, i.e., not all journals vet their manuscripts using a peer review process.  Don't waste your time publishing in a non-refereed journal, because it's not going to help you in the long run.  Do your homework!

Browse Journal Websites

If you already have a journal in mind, go straight to the journal publisher's website for info.  Each journal will have its own information page with a scope note, information about journal submission, and access to the table of contents and abstract of current issue as well as older issues.

Below is a list of some of the largest academic publishers in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

Researching Journals

Below are a couple of online resources that you can use to help you identify and learn about journals in your discipline.

Journal Rankings

When is comes to journal rankings, the sciences and sometimes the social sciences take a different approach from the humanities. 

In the humanities, journals are ranked qualitatively.  It's all based on general observation and opinion.  A humanities journal is nothing without a good reputation, which is often tied to the prestige of the editor, editorial board, and authors, as well as the journal's impact on the field in the past, present and future.

The sciences and social sciences rank their journals quantitatively.  Data on the influence of a journal is rigorously collected and analyzed and the major resource for this data is Journal Citation Reports (JCR).  This is a subscription resource available through the Web of Knowledge database.

The JCR reports on a journal's rank and Impact Factor.  A journal's rank is calculated by dividing the number of citations a journal's articles received in one year by articles published by the journal in the previous two years. 

The journal Impact Factor is the average number of times articles from the journal published in the past two years have been cited in the JCR year.  The Impact Factor is calculated by dividing the number of citation in the JCR year by the total number of articles published in the two previous years.

It's important to be aware of a journal's rank and Impact Factor, but don't obsess about publishing in a journal with the highest rank and Impact Factor.  Starting at the top sounds like a good idea, but I find that people who start in the middle get a better return on their investment.