This week’s guest post comes from Carly Tetley PhD student and graduate Teaching Assistant at Salford University. Continuing with our series on getting published in journal articles Carly talks about her own journal selection strategy. (You can follow Carly on twitter here)
During our very first meeting, before I had even started my PhD, my supervisor set me a target: to write and publish a review paper before the end of my first year. This exercise has helped me to focus my reading and the resulting paper will be very useful as a base for a chapter of my future thesis. I would definitely recommend this as a worthwhile exercise for new PhD students. Six months on, the paper has been written and my supervisor and I are making a few final adjustments and corrections before we submit it for peer review. So the next question is: which journal should we submit to?
At first, I approached the question of where to publish rather tentatively and the names of a few journals immediately sprang to mind. These were journals that I’m familiar with, have cited articles from, and whose subject area encompasses the topic of the paper. I checked the guidelines for authors for each journal to make sure the paper fell within its aims, scope and word count, and that the journal accepted review articles. I use the word “tentative” above because the journals on my list were quite narrow in scope and had impact factors ranging between 0.695 and 2.890.
A journal’s impact factor gives an indication of how often articles in the journal are cited. So, generally speaking, articles in a journal with a high impact factor are cited (and read) more often than those published in journals with lower impact factors. Therefore, authors try and publish in journals with impact factors that are as high as possible, which are seen as more prestigious. However, I am of the opinion that the decision of where to publish should not be made on impact factor alone and there are also many caveats to the use of impact factors. Journals with high impact factors can be quite difficult to publish in – for example, in 2009 Nature had an impact factor of 34.480 and only 6.8% of submitted articles were accepted for publication (Nature Publishing Group, 2011). In fact, given that peer review can be a lengthy process and articles can only be submitted to one journal at a time, sometimes a more specialist journal with a lower impact factor may be a more appropriate place to publish. (More information on journal impact factors can be found here.) (Journal Impact Factor will be returned to on PhD2Published in a series of posts coming up in June 2011 Ed.)
My supervisor has an “aim high” philosophy and didn’t seem too impressed with my initial list of suggestions! Review articles are a good way for people outside the immediate subject area to learn about the field. In addition, if the review paper makes recommendations for advancing research in the field, it should be published in the best place for those recommendations to be read. So I went back to the drawing board and looked for other journals, still in my field, but with a slightly broader scope. Some of the journals I added to my list exclusively publish review papers, and some have impact factors that are three times as high as those on my original list. However, my supervisor and I are of the opinion that submitting to these journals would be worthwhile.
I now have a list of six target journals for the paper, ranked in order of impact factor, which has the journal with the highest impact factor of the six at the top. I plan to submit the paper to the top one first and should it be rejected, I’ll submit to the next on the list, and so on. If we need to submit to a different journal, a few revisions will have to be made to the paper, as different journals have different word counts, formatting requirements and referencing standards. And since the paper can only be submitted to one journal at a time, it may be a while before it appears anywhere. Although I do hope that I won’t have to move too far down the list before the paper is accepted!
Nature Publishing Group. 2011. Getting Published in Nature: For Authors and Referees. URL: http://www.nature.com/nature/authors/get_published/index.html. Page accessed 6th May, 2011.