The Scholarly Communication Department often helps graduate students find a journal for their work. Students come to us after they have reworked a course paper or thesis into an article manuscript. They need guidance on how to find journals that offer the readership and impact they’re interested in. In addition to helping students pinpoint venues, we help them understand and weigh the processes and policies of the journals we identify. This includes understanding journals’ peer review process and self-archiving policy. This post summarizes some common strategies and tools we recommend to graduate students, regardless of their discipline.
Find Journal Venues
Evaluate which journals you’re already citing
A quick and easy way to find journal venues is to look at your citation list! Which journals are you citing? Are there journals you seem to cite again and again?
Look at other scholars’ CVs and profiles
Another strategy for finding journal venues is to look at where others in your subfield are publishing. It was be helpful to browse the CVs or Google Scholar profiles of your advisor, top scholars in your field, or scholars that you continually cite or follow. For example, if you were a scholar in scientometrics, Cassidy Sugimoto’s profile would be useful.
Cassidy Sugimoto’s Google Scholar Profile
This strategy can be overwhelming as you have to sift through several journals, some of which are likely out of scope, but if you’d like to create a comprehensive list it can be useful.
Analyze current journal lists
Some disciplines maintain listings of top journals in a specific field. However, these can be difficult to find and sometimes it’s unclear how recently they were updated. The IU Libraries maintains a listing of electronic journals in each discipline. This list is limited, as coverage is limited to what the library has decided to purchase. Still, this strategy can be used as a “quick start” for finding titles. Be sure to navigate into a subfield (for example, “Painting” within Art & Architecture) in order to limit your search to a manageable number of results.
Ask your advisor and subject librarian
Your advisor is incredibly knowledgeable about publishing practices in your field. Don’t forget to consult with them! Faculty advisors can often name the top 5 journals for your specific work, giving you an excellent starting point and cutting down on the amount of research you’ll need to do to curate a list of potential journals. Similarly, subject librarians curate and purchase key journals in your field. Find your subject librarian by visiting the library website.
Evaluate Journal Venues
You have a list of potential journals! Now, how do you evaluate them in order to select the most appropriate venue for your work? In addition to the readership the journal provides, the following considerations are important for authors to weigh before they submit their work. Most of this information can be found on the journal’s website- if not, details about potential tools you might utilize in order to find this information are provided.
Open access policy and article processing charges
If you submit your work to this journal will readers only be able to access it by paying a fee or subscription? Is there an option for making your work open access or openly available for anyone to read? If so, are authors required to pay a fee (often called an article processing charge or APC)?
An example of a journal’s APC information
Even if the journal is “closed” or only available to readers with a subscription, does this journal allow authors to share a version of their work open access in a repository? Many journal won’t allow authors to share the final version but will allow authors to share a pre-print or postprint (defined below). If this is permitted, which version does the journal support?
Definitions of Pre-Print, Postprint, and Version of Record
If this information isn’t explicit on the journal’s website, search for the journal in Sherpa ROMEO, a community database of publisher’s self-archiving policies.
Does the journal provide the full-text of the copyright agreement they expect authors to sign? Sometimes this will be called the “author agreement” or it might fall under a larger heading entitled copyright policy. It’s important to understand if the journal requires authors to transfer their copyright before submission. If you can’t find this information, ask the editor! Remember that regardless of the policy, our Copyright Program helps authors negotiate these agreements.
Peer review model used
Journals employ different peer-review models: often either double-blind peer review, single-blind peer review, or open peer review. In double blind, authors and reviewers don’t know the identities of each other. In single blind, the reviewer knows the author’ identity but the author doesn’t know who the reviewer is. In open peer review, both the author and the reviewer know each other’s’ identities. Each model has limitations and benefits related to eliminating bias, increasing transparency, and facilitating constructive feedback. It’s important to remember that even within these models journal practices vary, making double-blind review at one journal a little different that double-blind review at another. Look for the peer review policy on the journal’s website. Scholarly Communication staff can help you find and understand details about the peer review process and weigh that process with your goals for having your work reviewed. If the peer review policy for the journal you’re examining seems unusual (for example they promise that double-blind peer review will take two weeks), review our guide on identifying and avoiding predatory publishers.
Index and database coverage
Readership is so important when selecting a journal venue! One of the ways that scholars search for relevant articles when doing a literature review is by using library databases that “index” or include details (and sometimes the full text) of articles in their field. For example, if you’re a scholar in literature and languages you probably know about MLA Bibliography–it’s the place to start your research. In short, it’s important to consider where your potential journal venue is indexed as it will impact other scholars that look for your work in library databases.
A tool called Ulrichs provides this information (and many more details!) for thousands of journals. Simply search for a journal title, click on the title, and then select “Abstracting and Indexing.”
Databases and Indexes the journal Nature appears in
Finally, if you’re interested in going into academia, metrics like journal impact factor can be important factors in selecting a journal. Journal impact factor calculates the average number of citations a particular journal has over a two year period, quantifying how much it is cited in other works. While these kinds of metrics have been heavily critiqued, search committees and tenure review committees commonly take these metrics into account when reviewing your work.
A tool called Journal Citation Reports (JCR) provides the impact factor and other citation information for thousands of journals, mostly in the sciences and social sciences. Simply search for the journal title and JCR will provide the impact factor.
Impact factor and citation information for the Journal of Nutrition
This number doesn’t mean anything without context and impact factors vary significantly by discipline. You can also search for a listing of journals in your field and sort them by impact factor, which can be helpful for understanding what an average impact factor in your area is.
Below is a summary of the tools mentioned. Many are available through the library website!
- Ulrichs: provides detailed information, including editorial board information, indexing/ database coverage, peer review status, and open access information for more than 164,000 serials published throughout the world
- Sherpa ROMEO: a crowdsourced database of publisher self-archiving policies, including journals and book publishers
- Predatory Publishers Guide: a guide with details about predatory publishing practices and tips for ensuring that a journal is legitimate
- Journal Citation Reports (JCR): a database of citation data for 12,000 scholarly and technical journals from approximately 3,300 publishers. Coverage is heavily focused on the sciences and social sciences.
Still have questions? Schedule a consultation by e-mailing email@example.com! We also always recommend that you meet with your faculty advisor as they are knowledgeable about publishing practices and norms within your discipline and area of interest.