Choosing an appropriate target journal for your research is a tricky prospect, especially for those starting out their research careers. Get it right and celebrations all round; get it wrong and it can be the start of a demoralising succession of rejections, revisions and resubmissions. Here are a few pointers to choosing the correct target journal first time:
Who is your target audience?
Consider who will be most interested in your study findings. Is your study applicable across a range of disciplines, of interest to researchers and clinicians alike, or more targeted to a specific interest group (e.g. molecular microbiologists or marine ecologists)? Journals vary greatly in the breadth of their readership and the scope of the journal is usually detailed on their website. Also consider whether the journal has a global audience or one that is based just in the US for example.
Is the impact rating of the journal appropriate for your study?
All researchers strive for double-figure impact factors but it is important to be realistic when evaluating your research. Higher impact ratings do not always equate to the most appropriate home for your work.
Have similar studies been published by this journal?
Check whether your subject matter matches the scope of the target journal. Investigate where similar studies in your field are published and whether your target journal has published similar studies before.
Is rapid publication important?
If your results are time-sensitive in a rapidly moving field, then fast publication time will be a priority. Compare journals based on their average speed of publication from acceptance to publication. Some journals also publicise the average time taken for peer review. Both factors will affect your waiting time. Journals that offer online pre-publication often ensure that your manuscript is accessible to readers the same day that it is accepted.
Do you want your paper to be visible internationally?
Choosing a journal that is indexed in international databases will improve the accessibility and visibility of your manuscript, ensuring that it is read by an international audience.
Once you have come up with a shortlist of possible target journals, a pre-submission enquiry detailing your main objectives and findings is a quick way to gauge whether a journal is interested in your study. Then, all that is left is to format your article to the specific journal guidelines, submit and hope for the best.