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Scholarly Communication: Targeting a Journal to Publish My Paper

Try these services in selecting a journal

Finding a Journal to publish your paper

I am nearing completion of a paper and still undecided about which journal would be best for it.  What should I be thinking about in selecting a journal? 

I know I want it to be published in a journal that is respected in my field, a journal that will be interested in the topic of my paper, and a journal where readers will find it.    How do I best go about finding this journal and are there other factors I should consider?



1. Search keywords related to the topic of your paper in a library article database that specializes in the disciplines covered in the paper.

For example:  A paper on “counseling adolescents suffering effects of online bullying”.  Search sociology, counseling, and psychology article databases via the library website to find similar articles and see where they were published.

With the result list of articles on the topic, reduce that list by using the limit tools on the side to:
1a.  reduce the list to the last 5 to 10 years of publication years
1b.  reduce the list to "scholarly journals" or "peer-reviewed journals"

1c.  Analyze the journals found that have published articles on similar topics:  Look at the journal's website to see the mission, aim, & scope of the journal, information for authors, and to see other articles they have recently published.  Look up the ranking of the journals found in Journal Citation Reports [ See step 2] and other information about the journal in UlrichsWeb [See Step 3]

1d.  If you find a recent article that is very similar in topic to yours, in addition to considering the journal within which it was published, examine its list of cited works and its literature review for other potential journals in which to publish.


2.  Get a list of Top Tier Journals in your field from Journal Citation Reports. [This can be found in the library databases, alphabetical listing - J]. See if any of the journals found from searches done in step 1 are on this list. Also look up a potential journal in JCR.


3.  Use ULRICHSWeb Serial Directory to create a list of journals in your field or topic.  Can refine search to journals only, to open access, to peer reviewed, to specific publishers, to online, to English language, etc. Also use this resource to find out more information about a journal in question.



1. Choose a journal that is realistically in reach. Sure, the top tier, high “impact Factor” journals look great on the CV but those journals may not be interested in your topic and received a great number of submissions.  A journal's impact factor is only one measure of its reputation, but not always the most important. You need to consider the prestige of the authors that publish in the journal, the size of the journal's readership, and if that journal generally publishes articles in you sub-discipline or on your topic.. Objectively consider how important your research is and what level and/or type of journal it is best suited for; otherwise, you may find yourself wasting your valuable time submitting to one journal after another.


2. Choose a journal that specializes in your sub-area. With the proliferation of specialized & interdisciplinary journals, consider a journal that is especially interested in your niche area.  If your research is applied, you should target a journal that publishes applied science; if it is clinical, you should target a clinical journal; if it is basic research, you should target a journal that publishes basic research. There may be a journal that is especially interested in publishing articles in your sub-area.


3. Choose a journal that permits self-archiving.  Most journal publishers now allow authors to post the final version on the author’s website and/or open access institutional repository but not all do. You could end up publishing an article that you are refused the right to post or share. Check the Sherpa/Romeo website to see if a journal permits self-archiving.  In our increasingly interconnected world it is increasingly important to have the option to make you works open access to other scholars.  Studies have shown that articles that are published in traditional subscription journals that are also archived open access have a greater readership and thus a greater impact.

3b. The Open Access Journal Option:  If gaining as wide a readership as possible is important to you consider publishing your paper in an open access journal publisher (example: BioMed Central).  Other OA journals can be found using the Directory of Open Access Journals ( Be sure to select a journal that is reputable. [See tabs on Benefits of Open Access & Avoiding Predatory Publishers]



1. Consider a journal that has a reasonable subscription cost.  Some journals, while not open access, still strive to keep their subscription costs low ( such as Berkeley Electronic Press Journals). You might wonder why your library does not subscribe to a journal you just published in until you discover that the subscription cost is thousands of dollars a year. Examine the subscription cost at the publisher’s website or on ULRICHSWEB.  If you want more data on how a journal ranks in terms of cost see  


2. Avoid “predatory publishers” – When choosing an open access journals, check to be sure it is a reputable open access journal and is not “predatory” that is out to just get your author submission money. [See Tab on Avoiding Predatory Publishers]

Social Sciences Librarian

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Allan Scherlen
Belk Library, Office no. 224
P.O. Box 32026
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608