Today's post is all about how to choose a journal in which to publish. For those of you starting out on the publication route, it is tempting to submit to any old journal in the hope that you'll get to see your name in print. This will definitely fast track your resume, but may backfire in the long run, as your peers twig to the fact that you've published in journals of a low standard.
So what criteria do you need to consider when choosing journals in which to publish?
1. Suitability of the journal
Above all else, the journal to which you submit a paper must suit the type of research you're doing. A good idea is to visit the journal's website. All journal websites have an 'About' section, which explains the research focus of the journal. Think about whether your topic corresponds to the research focus of the journal.
Also pay attention to whether a journal has a qualitative or quantitative focus -- there is little point submitting a grounded theory paper to a journal specialising in quantitative research methods.
2. Is the journal peer reviewed?
A peer reviewed journal contains articles that have been reviewed by a panel of experts prior to publication. In other words, peer reviewed journals are the gold standard in academic publishing.
Check Ulrich's Periodicals Directory to see if a journal is peer reviewed. Please note that 'refereed' is synonymous with 'peer reviewed'.
3. What is the 'publishing impact' of the journal?
The final criterion to consider is whether the journal in question has a high or low publishing impact. That is, does the journal contain articles that are highly cited, or do experts in the field generally ignore its content? You want to make sure you publish in a journal that is highly respected by the academic community you're working in.
There are two tools you can use to determine the publishing impact of journals. The most well known is Journal Citation Reports, an ISI Web of Knowledge product. The other tool at your disposal is Journal Analyzer in Scopus. You should use both when comparing the publishing impact of one or more journals.
JCR used to be the undisputed leader in this field. In recent years, however, Scopus has gained ground. In many academic circles, Scopus is the preferred tool as it has better coverage of Social Science titles as well as new and more obscure titles. It is also very easy to use.
If you keep all of these in mind as you whittle down your journal list, you can't go wrong!