Which Journal to Submit to?

One part of being an academic is (trying to) publish research in peer-reviewed journals (well, most do…). There are literally thousands of journals, so which one should we choose? There are different ways to approach this problem, but I’m afraid no easy answers.

Apparently there are scholars who undertake research with a particular journal in mind: the research design and writing process is geared towards this journal. This sounds great, but actually just shifts the problem. Moreover, what do you do when the targeted journal rejects the article?

An easier way is to look at your references. Which journals do you cite most often? Which debates do you relate to? I find this one of the most useful approaches, although one problem is that even simple and unexciting papers often refer to papers in top journals. The challenge is to distinguish between “referring to” a paper, and “engaging with” a paper or debate.

Perhaps easier still is asking a senior colleague in the field. This only works if you know what the contribution of the paper is (or what you want it to be), which usually means having a good abstract in hand. Knowledge of journals comes from reading these journals, but also from having submitted papers to journal. Sites like SciRev, laudable as they are by letting us review journals and the submission process, are, however, no substitute to knowledge of the field. And remember, apparently even the most seasoned academics sometimes get it wrong…

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