Choosing a journal for publishing

Last changed: 02 February 2024
Close up of a pile of journals, photo.

An important part of your publishing strategy is to identify suitable journals to publish in. Which journal you choose to publish your research results in, affects how your research is disseminated. Here we guide you in your choice of journal.

Find and evaluate potential journals

An easy way to find potential journals to publish in is to perform a search in a database, e.g. Web of Science or Scopus. Do a search based on relevant terms and/or important authors within your subject area. In Refine the left-hand menu beside the list of reults, look at the list of Source Titles to get an overview over where other researchers in your field publish. 

You can also take a look at the subject categories in Journal Citation Reports (JCR) and Scimago Journal & Country Rank (SJR) and study the journal lists that appear.

In JCR and SJR you will also find journal level indicators and metrics that help you compare and evaluate the journals. JCR is the source for the well known Journal Impact Factor, but also includes information about number of issues per year, immediacy index and more. SJR delivers the indicator SJR for journal comparison. 

At the website of the journals you have selected, you can find information about:

  • Scope of the journal
  • Publication process and peer review (often under Author information)
  • Time from acceptance to published article (by looking at the dates on the articles)

Database coverage

The visibility and searchability of an article is greatly enhanced if it is available in one or more of the central reference databases. Usually you can find information on which databases a journal is indexed by on the journal website.

It is desirable that the journal is indexed by Web of Science and/or Scopus. Most universitites have access to at least one of these reference databases which means that most researchers around the world can search for and retrieve your publications.

Furthermore, national allocation of research funds to the universities, and allocation of research funds within SLU, is partly based on bibliometrics. The data source for this is Web of Science. There are also research funders that use Scopus data.

Publish with open access

Many research funders require open access publishing of research results.

Note that the journals don't have to be open access for allowing the author to make your scholarly texts openly available by self-archiving. Self-archiving fulfills the funders open access criteria. It also enhances the visibility of the publication, and its possibility to reach a larger audience.

SHERPA/RoMEO - contains information for each journal whether it is open access or not, and if and under which conditions there are possibilities for self-archiving of articles from that journal.

Evaluate credibility of open access journals

Unfortunately there is a market for dubious and potentially predatory publishers and journals. These journals are driven by financial self-interest at the expense of scholarship and science and often lack in publication standards and peer-review.

It is common for these actors to send out offers via email en masse and it can be hard to discern if an offer comes from a serious actor or not. There are however several things you can do in order to assess the credibility of a journal and/or publisher, e.g.:

If you need help with assessing journal credibility do not hesitate to contact the library.

Publish in a mega journal

Mega journals are open access, peer reviewed, have a broad subject scope and a quicker publication process.

Mega journals are not selective regarding subject (within a broad subject scope), which means that publications are only judged by scientific and methodological soundness. The readers decide whether an article is interesting, not the editors. This also speeds up the publication process.

Examples of mega journals

PLOS ONE was the first mega journal and has been very successful. It started in 2005/2006 and got its first Impact Factor in 2009. The journals in the above list are indexed in Web of Science.

Bibliometric aspects

Citation and publishing practices differ between subject fields and this is reflected in some bibliometric indicators. In order to do bibliometric analyses on publications belonging to different subject fields advanced bibliometric indicators are used. These are always normalised, eg. the publications are compared to other publications in the same subject area (or journal), the same publication year and of the same document type.

For basic bibliometric indicators like the Journal Impact Factor (Clarivate Analytics) there is no normalisation, which means that you can’t compare the values between subject fields.

The journals covered by Web of Science are classified within one or more subject category. In Journal Citation Reports (JCR) you can find the Journal Impact Factor and several other metrics. If the journal is classified within more than one subject category you can see how it is ranked in each subject. Besides the ranking information there are also values for Median Impact Factor and Aggregate Impact Factor (values based on all publications/journals within the subject area.)

In order to adequately evaluate a journal you should compare the metrics for the journal within the subject category/ies that the journal belongs to. It is best to choose a journal with an Impact Factor better than the average for the subject category.

The Journal Impact Factor gives a picture of the usage/popularity of the journal but it is important to have in mind that these measures are on journal level, not on article level.