Selecting an Appropriate Journal

The first step is identifying your audience and the journal to which you will submit your manuscript for consideration of publication. Likely for your first paper, your research advisor will identify the journal where you’re your paper will be submitted. However, he/she may ask you for a suggestion. So, how do you go about selecting the best journal in which to publish your paper?

Several considerations will be extremely useful in guiding your selection of an appropriate journal:

  • What is the degree of importance of your work? Has your work contributed to a better understanding of a universally important problem or to an issue of significance in a very limited field of study? If your work is narrowly applicable to a specific field of study, your paper may be more suitable for publication in a specialty journal. Specialty journals are those that publish work in one specific field or using one type of instrument. Titles of some specialty journals include Electrophoresis, Journal of Proteome Research, and Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry. If your research is truly ground-breaking then it may be more appropriate to submit your paper to a high-profile journal with an audience possessing a wider range of interests such as Cell, Science, or Nature.
  • How novel is your work? Does your paper present research that has not yet been published in the peer-reviewed literature? In general, technical articles considered for publication in most journals must meet this standard. However, review articles which summarize and contextualize the findings of individual research studies often due to their very nature present work that has been previously published.
  • How carefully/skillfully has your work been carried out? Important considerations in this regard are the quality of the reagents, methods, results, and analysis. Higher quality journals generally have more stringent requirements regarding the quality of the work described in a technical paper.