Finding a journal to publish in
Recently I sat down with Dr Rachael Fox to reflect on our publishing experiences, both independently and as collaborators. In the process we discussed some tips and tricks for publishing. In this post I have drawn out some key points specifically about finding a journal for your paper.
If you want to hear the whole conversation, you can listen on the Psych Attack podcast website or on your preferred podcast platform (e.g., Spotify or Apple Podcasts).
Dr Rachael Fox is Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology, Charles State University. Rachael’s qualitative research is mostly in the areas of Community Psychology and Critical Psychology. Rachael is one of two editors of the Australian Community Psychologist, an open access journal by the Australia Psychological Society.
1. Find a journal before you finish writing your paper
- The scope, requirements, and audience of the journal will need to be taken into account while writing your paper.
- Make sure that the topic and kind of paper matches the kind of work the journal usually publishes.
2. How to find journals that might be a good fit for your work
- Use your literature review. The literature you have read and used in your paper (e.g., in the Introduction) is a good starting point when thinking about possible places to publish your own work. Can you see a pattern in the kinds of journals the literature you have used comes from?
- Use a journal search tool like Master Journal List (Clarivate) or Jane (Biosemantics). These are websites where you can enter key words relating to your work and see which journals are best associated with those words.
- Have two or three top journal options. Doing this background work prior to submission makes it easier to bounce back if the first journal you submit to rejects your paper. You will already have a plan B and C, if needed.
- Start developing your own list of relevant journals. In reality, you don’t start from scratch each time you want to publish a paper. Over time and with experience, you can start developing your own database of suitable journals to go back to. I use an Excel spreadsheet and include hyperlinks to journal scope information and guidelines for authors.
3. Communication and relationships
- Reaching out to journal editors. If you find a journal you think might be a good fit but you aren’t quite sure, it is ok to contact the editor and ask. Checking in with an editor before submission can save you and the editor a lot of time if, for whatever reason, the work is not a good fit for the journal. In this case, editors will sometimes give advice about a suitable journal to target instead. Communicating with the editor prior to submission can sometimes give you a sense of how keen the editor is to receive the work. I have also had editors tell me what they would like me to address in the method section of my paper, especially when the research is a little different to the kinds of research they usually publish but the topic is a good fit.
- Remember there are people behind the submission portals and generic email addresses. Eventually, your choices start to not only be guided by the scope, aims or rank of the journal but also by the experiences you have had with submitting work to them and what the review process is like. Similarly, the previous experiences that the people working for the journal have had when working with you will impact how likely they’ll want to work with you again.
For other interesting information about psychological research and practice, check out my other blog posts and have a listen to my podcast Psych Attack.