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Choose a journal

This page gathers some steps and elements to consider when choosing a journal, taken from the book available in Open Access: How and Where to publish? Publishing addiction science, a Guide for the Perplexed (third edition, Ubiquity Press, 2017).


Target audience

Language of publication

Multidisciplinary, disciplinary or specialized journals

Published content

Quality and integrity of the journal

Visibility of content

Acceptance rate

Publication deadlines

Impact Factor



enlightened​   Is your article primarily of interest to a national or an international audience? 

You will find information about the reach and audience of a journal by visiting its website. 


enlightened   Consider the language of publication

If you are targeting an international audience, it is wise to turn to a journal that publishes in English.  

If you write your article in your native language, or in the language of the country where your study was conducted, it is sometimes possible to publish it a second time in English. This requires prior authorization from the publishers concerned.

However, publishing in the national language has advantages: it allows the use of the language and terminology to be maintained in the scientific field concerned, and serves as a means of communication between scientists, professionals and regional and national political leaders.


enlightened   Consider whether to publish in a generic, disciplinary, or specialized  journal

Some journals are intended for the general scientific community (e.g. Nature). Other journals publish articles that focus on a particular discipline (e.g. Results in Physics), and others that focus on a specific topic (e.g. Neurovascular Imaging).

Be aware that it may be necessary to adapt the language used if you wish to publish in a journal for a wider scientific audience, and to write your article in a way that is understandable to those who do not have a thorough knowledge of your research field and its dialect. 


enlightened   Review the journal's content range 

Review several issues and visit the journal's home page. Select journals that have already shown an interest in your article topic.

If in doubt, do not hesitate to contact the editor of the journal you are interested in, and ask more experienced colleagues: you might get valuable insights into the editorial preferences and priorities of some journals.


enlightened   Evaluate the journal's quality and integrity   

The most important criterion for ensuring the quality of the journal is the peer-review process, under the supervision of the journal's editor and editorial board.

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of online journals without peer-review processes and without proper quality control, which divert the author-payer model from Open Access journals for the unique purpose of making a profit. You'll find more information to recognize and avoid these predatory journals here.


enlightened   Gauge your article's potential exposure by reviewing the journal’s indexing and abstracting services, as well as its open-access policy

The ability of a journal to reach the intended audience for its articles is determined by its dissemination capabilities.

Be careful that the journal is well indexed by databases that collect metadata of scientific publications from publishers (author, title, subject, reference, etc.), and that provide detailed information on the content of these articles (including the abstract of the article). These databases are search engines such as Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Science, DOAJ (for Open Access journals), Medline, etc.

The number of visits to the journal's website and the number of downloads are indicators of journal attendance. In addition, some journals have altmetrics (Article Level Metrics) that tell you the immediate impact of published articles. The Altmetrics donut, or the Dimension badge are examples of these metrics (which are available for your publications on your institutional repository, laugh).

Consider the journal's Open Access policy. Scientific publications available in Open Access are more consulted and downloaded than articles published in traditional journals available via a paid subscription. Access to these journals represents a barrier for academic and scientific members of institutions that have not subscribed, for professionals, and for researchers from developing countries. You will find more information on the effect of Open Access on the visibility of scientific publications here and here.   


enlightened     Evaluate your chances of acceptance 

Some journals display their submission acceptance rate, which you can use as an indicator. Note, however, that some journals have a high acceptance rate because they commission researchers to write articles on a given topic.

Beyond the acceptance rate of a journal, your chances of acceptance depend on many other scientific, stylistic (editorial quality, way of presenting the data) or administrative considerations (the length of the article, the number of revisions required, the adequacy of the subject of the article with the journal's mission).


enlightened   Take into account time to publication and other practical matters

Some journals take longer than others to process articles submitted and make a decision. Publication deadlines after acceptance of the revised articles also vary.

In general, journals that publish more frequently are likely to have a shorter lag time to publication. The best way to obtain information about the editorial process is to consult the instructions to authors or the journal's website.


enlightened   Consider, but don't be fooled by, impact factors

The Journal Impact Factor is an attempt to provide an objective measure of how often a scientific journal’s published work is cited. The impact of a journal on a field is based on the assumption that the more articles in a journal are cited, the more influence it has on that field.

A journal's FI is the average number of citations received per article published in that journal over the previous two years. The impact factor is widely used to compare journals in a particular field.  

But be aware that publishing in a journal with a high FI does not guarantee that your article receives more citations than in a journal with a lower FI, or without a FI.

In fact, the majority of articles published in a journal with a high FI received few or no citations. Only a small number of articles were strongly cited (e.g. Not-so-deep impact, Nature, vol. 435, No. 7045, 2005) and contributed to an increase in the IF of the journal in question.

Moreover, citations do not necessarily indicate the quality of an article. There are many reasons (in addition to its quality) for quoting a scientific publication: polemical reasons, because the theme of the article is "fashionable", to promote their own research (or that of their friends, colleagues or patrons), or even because the article in question is an example of bad scientific research.

The FI should be a secondary criterion in the choice of a journal, behind the quality of the peer-review process, the speed of editorial processing, and the presence of summary and indexing services.

Especially since there are many criticisms of the Impact Factor: the database used for the FI only covers a part of the scientific journals - a large part of the journals in the world do not receive FIs -, different research fields have different coverage in the database, there is a marked preference for English language journals and national or regional journals are poorly represented,...

In addition, FI is often misused. Here is a table that shows what it is reasonable to do with the Impact Factor, and how it should not be used.

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