Things to consider before choosing a journal

There are many different reasons why it’s important to think carefully about which journal to submit to. Targeting the right journal can help to make the publishing process as smooth as possible and increase your chance of acceptance. 

It is important to think critically and realistically about your work when choosing a journal to submit to. Journals have their own criteria about what they publish, so working out where your paper can sit within it is essential. 

Questions to ask when assessing your research

  • How novel is it?
  • Is it a ‘hot topic’?
  • Will it be of interest to a broad audience?
  • What type of article is it?

Once you have assessed your own paper, you now need to decide which journal will suit your work the best.

Questions to ask when assessing a journal’s suitability

  • Is it a predatory journal
  • Does the journal publish in your field?
  • Have you seen similar papers to yours there? Does it publish the type of paper that you have written (e.g methods papers, opinion pieces etc)?
  • Do you and your peers read and/or cite articles from this publication?
  • Do you know authors who have published there?
  • Do you recognise names on the Editorial Board?
  • Is the journal indexed in all of the places that you browse to find new research?
  • Is content free to access or only for subscribers?
  • Does the publisher offer free access to developing countries?
  • Does the publisher offer press releases and marketing for individual papers?
  • How fast will my paper be processed?
  • Do you like the look and functionality of the content online?
  • Does the journal have high production standards?
  • Will they be able to cater to any special requirements e.g video content or large data sets?
  • Does the publisher provide tools to help you disseminate your research?

Are journal metrics important?

Metrics can give you some insight into a journal’s performance but we always urge authors to be careful when using these. For example, a journal’s impact factor is often used to make assessments on research output. However, the impact factor is an average and can therefore be affected by one or two very highly cited papers, giving you a skewed idea of how your own paper might perform. Looking at the metrics of an individual paper (citations, Altmetrics and download data) that is similar to yours could be a lot more useful.

Which Royal Society journal?

Would you like to publish in a Royal Society journal? Find out which journal and article type would be most suitable for you.

Useful resources to help you choose