At some point in your publication planning, you will
have to choose the journals where you will submit your articles. Finding the right journal is important
because if your article isn’t published in a timely fashion, say within a year
or two of a congress presentation, no one will know about it, and a delay will
make one ask “why so long?”
you are in basic or medical research, no pubs mean no funding – simple as that.
If you are in pharma, delayed pubs mean that potential prescribers and patients
might not know about your research results when your product is licensed. Even
more important, study protocols and study results for therapeutics, whether
sponsored by industry, universities, clinical research networks or other
organizations, are posted on public websites, e.g. http://www.clinicaltrials.gov.If
those data are not published, there will be no public, peer-reviewed validation
of the significance of the study results.
say you’ve “done the necessary” and your protocol or research plan was reviewed
and approved by your mentor, institution or clinical study team. You’ve
followed clinical and ethical good practices in the conduct of your research,
taken care in the analysis of your data, and had writing or editing assistance
if needed. Then your article is publishable. Rejections happen to
everyone, usually not because manuscripts are of insufficient quality, but
because they didn’t match the journal’s objectives or scope or what the editors
believe are the interests of their readership. Not necessarily lacking in
anything, but just submitted to the wrong journal.
biggest problem with rejection is having a longer timeline to publication. Some
journals, many of them “prestige” journals with high rejection rates, have a
preliminary review process to screen submissions. If they don’t want to
consider yours, you lose 2 or 3 weeks. Otherwise you will wind up waiting 2 to
3 months for a decision. Granted, rejection letters usually contain
constructive comments, but they put you back to “square one.” It pays to spend
some time and effort to find the best journal for your paper.
a short list of target journals. Which journals do you read frequently? Which
journals are used by the main researchers/authors in your field? You must
already have an idea of which ones they are, but discuss preferences with the
other investigators/authors. If the study results have been presented at a
congress, does that professional association have a journal? Check out the
publication history of similar studies in indexed journals – PubMed is good for
journals turn up the most often? There’s another great tool for finding target
journals called etblast at http://etest.vbi.vt.edu/etblast3/. It’s a
unique word similarity-based search engine that identifies journals indexed in
MedLine and a number of other databases that have been published on your topic.
Now that you’ve found some candidate journals in your
subject area, find out more about them. Visit their websites to see if the
scope and aims are consistent with what you will present. If the target
audience is international, select a journal with an international focus. If the
target audience consists of experts in a research area or medical specialty, select
a journal with a narrow rather than a multidisciplinary or generalist focus.
Are you targeting a clinical or research, applied or theoretical audience?
Remember, the primary goal is to find an indexed, peer-review journal that is
known and read by the people to whom you want to communicate your results and
the journal’s internet site and read the “Information for Authors” section. It
describes the types of articles they publish and gives writing and submission
guidelines. It also gives the specifications for each type of article that is
accepted, the maximum number of tables and figures, the format and style
requirements and other information. Easy access to most health and life
sciences journals indexed in PubMed can be found at http://mulford.meduohio.edu/instr/.
What is the average length of time from submission to
publication? There are three critical intervals: how long it takes for peer
review; how long after re-submitting your revised manuscript before you hear
about acceptance; and how long after acceptance before your paper will be
published. Also consider the frequency of journal publication. The journal
website should have this information; if not, you can email or call the
editorial office. Expect to wait 9 to 12 months for paper publication, maybe
less for online.
What is the acceptance
the journal very selective, or do they publish many of the manuscripts that are
submitted? Is the competition for space so great that you’ll be wasting time
submitting to that journal? The editorial office will usually tell you their
acceptance rate. Don’t hesitate to describe (or send an abstract of) your
article to the editor-in-chief and ask if there would be an interest in publishing
your paper (pending review of course).
Does the journal have an online version? This provides quick
access to the publication. Also, some journals accept supplemental data or
information associated with an article and allow for access to the data on the
the journal an open access journal? If so, there is probably a fee to be paid,
which might come from your grant or the financial sponsor. If your research was
funded by the NIH, ensure your publishing agreement allows the paper to be
available in accordance with the NIH Public Access Policy.
What about journal ranking algorithms like the ISI Impact
Factor or PageRank? I’m just not much into them. Remember, your aim is to find
a good, indexed, peer-review journal that has the audience you are looking for
and will be interested in reading what you have to say.
Cheers for now, Clem
Weinberger PhD, The Stylus Communications