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Scholarly Publishing @Downstate: Finding a Journal to Publish Your Work

The Scholarly Publishing Cycle

What does the Publishing Cycle look like?

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Finding the right journal to submit your work

MEDLINE currently indexes over 5600 journals in medicine and the life sciences. The Web of Science master journal list indexes over 24,000 journals covering 254 subject disciplines. With so many potential outlets for your work, it can be a daunting task finding a journal that is the right fit. 

There are a few steps you can take at the beginning to help you narrow your focus and get you started on a short list of potential journals.

  • You should already be familiar with the most influential journals in your field. Take a look at their scope statements and types of research published.
  • Ask your colleagues and supervisors. They may have a greater awareness of the spectrum of relevant publications.
  • Look at the articles you cite in your reference list. What journals are they in?
  • Keep an eye out for "call for papers." Many journals will put out requests for papers on special topic issues they are putting together. Some publishers provide searchable interfaces.
  • Use journal/manuscript matching tools. A lot of these tools have come to the fore recently. You can copy/paste your manuscript title, abstract and (sometimes) keywords into the the search interface and it will return journals which have published similar articles. 

Completing these steps should give you enough information to draft a short list of potential journals for you to evaluate and narrow down. Here are a few things to think about when evaluating your short list:

  • Would you prefer your work to be published in a generalist journal or a specialist publication?
  • Is your work within the scope of the journal? Check the journal site. Some journals won't accept case reports or reviews.
  • Is your work regional or does it have international appeal?
  • What is the peer review process?
  • What is the submission process?
  • What is the submission timeline?
  • What charges are involved?
  • Do you want to publish in an Open Access journal?
  • How important are journal metrics to you? Impact factor?

Need a brief primer on using journal metrics and what they are? Check out this article in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology:

"Publishing your research work: Updated concepts and nuances of few metrics used to assess journal quality"

Manuscript matching tools

These journal/manuscript matchers have been developed by various entities and results will vary depending on which one you are using. They can be helpful in developing your short list of journals to investigate for submission. They can be also be a good tool to familiarize yourself with journals that publish in your area of research. 

Journal matching tools

  • JOT - A new open-source tool developed by the Yale School of Public Health. 
  • B!son - Open Access Journal matcher. (This tool is still under active development so verify your results at the journal site.)
  • Web of Science Journal Matcher - Compares against 24k journals indexed in WOS. Users must create a free account before using this tool.
  • JANE Journal/Author Name Estimator - Provides some evaluation info like "indexed in MEDLINE" and "High Quality Open Access"
  • SPI-Hub - Tool created at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Works best as keyword/topic search matching vs. abstract matching.
  • Journal Guide - Resource created by Research Square. Claims to index 46,000 journals so results may require further investigation for quality. (See predatory journals)
  • IEEE Publication Matcher - This tool is focused on matching with technology journals but could potentially provide relevant journals where topics overlap.

Publisher Journal Matching Tools

Note that these tools were created by their respective publishers and will only return results for journals published by them.

Dimensions - This "research and innovation" database links multiple sources together with more than 98 million publications and 150 million patents. Their data can provide insight into which journals have published research similar to yours. 


Once you have decided which journal to submit your manuscript to, go to that journal's site and find the "Guide for Authors" page to see how you need to prepare your manuscript for submission.

Once you submit your manuscript the publisher will determine what happens next. There are several different ways this could go:

  • Accepted - Rare to happen on first submission, but it does happen.
  • Desk Reject - Rejected without review. Very common. Happens to about 40%-90% of manuscripts depending on the journal. Often due to quality threshold or scope.
  • Major Revision - Significant deficiencies must be corrected before acceptance. Usually involves significant text modifications and possibly additional experiments. After revision, manuscript will usually be sent for peer review again.
  • Minor Revision - Some elements in manuscript must be clarified, restructured, shortened or expanded. Minor revision does NOT guarantee acceptance, but it often does.

Remember you can only submit any given manuscript to one journal at a time. Simultaneous submissions are prohibited.

Scholarly publishing terms

Terms used in scholarly publishing

  • Preprint server - online repository where researchers can share manuscripts for public comment before they are submitted to a journal for peer review. (e.g. medRxiv, bioRxiv)
  • Peer review - Critical evaluation of a submitted manuscript for scientific rigor, significance and originality.
  • DOI (Digital Object Identifier) - Unique alphanumeric code assigned to a digital object (e.g. journal article) 
  • Open Access -  the practice of making scholarly or research outputs, such as journal articles, conference papers, and datasets, freely available online to anyone without cost or access barriers.
  • Article Processing Charge (APC) - fee charged by some open access journals or publishers to cover the costs associated with the publication process. APCs are typically paid by the author, their institution, or funding agencies.
  • Creative Commons Licensing - free, standardized copyright licenses that allow creators to share and distribute their work while retaining some control over how it is used and credited.

Manuscript types - Your manuscript "version" depends on what stage of the publishing process it is at. It's a good idea to keep all versions of your manuscript.

  • Submitted version (Preprint) - Initial version of a manuscript that is submitted to a publisher. Has not been peer-reviewed or edited by the publisher.
  • Accepted version (Postprint) - manuscript that has been peer-reviewed, revised, and accepted for publication, but has not undergone the final formatting and copyediting process carried out by the publisher.
  • Version of record (Published version) - the final and official version of a published article that has been typeset, copy-edited, and formatted by the publisher, and is assigned a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) or other unique identifier.

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Creative Commons

Want to learn about licensing your work with a Creative Commons license?

Check out our Creative Commons LibGuide!

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