This post is part one of a series covering topics found in the research guide Navigating the Article Publication Process.

As you begin to navigate the publication process—whether you are considering writing an article in the future, have an idea for an article, or a completed article that you’re ready to submit—this post aims to help you find and evaluate journals to determine the best fit for your work. 

The first step in deciding where to publish your article is making a list of journals you are already aware of that may be interested in your work. If you are unsure where to begin, think about the journal articles you have found helpful. Where were they published? Do your colleagues and/or advisors have any suggestions? You can also ask your subject librarian for some recommendations.   

Once you have a preliminary list of journals, there are many factors that you can use to determine which is the best fit for your article, including:

  • Does the subject matter of your work fall within scope of the journal?
  • Who is the audience of the journal? Is this the audience you want to reach?
  • Do the types of articles published and article length guidelines match with your submission?
  • What is the reputation of the journal? You can look at impact factor or other relevant metrics to help determine this.
  • Are articles in the journal peer-reviewed? Are the policies about peer-review clear?
  • Does the journal have an ISSN, and do articles have DOIs?
  • What are the journal’s copyright policies? Are there fees to publish?
  • How long do submissions usually take to be published?
  • Is the journal indexed or abstracted in a service that you use (for example: EBSCO, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Scopus, Web of Science, or PubMed)?

List adapted from Research Guides@Tufts’ Identify and Evaluate Journals.

It is helpful to think about where you might like to publish your work as early in the process as possible. This will allow you to tailor the style of your writing and format of your article to meet the journal’s specifications, which are usually available on the journal’s website—a section usually called “author guidelines” is a good place to begin.

Once you have a particular publication in mind, consider writing a pre-submission inquiry to the editors to gauge their interest in publishing your work. A pre-submission inquiry can save you time and effort, since you will have received feedback about whether the editors are likely to consider your article for publication before you have tailored it to that specific journal. If they let you know your work isn’t a good fit, you can aim to publish elsewhere, and adapt your style and format to that journal’s specifications. Not all journals accept pre-submission inquiries, but, if they do, there may be instructions for you to follow on the journal’s website. Make sure to adhere to any stated guidelines to make a professional impression as well as to receive the quickest possible response to your inquiry from the journal.

A typical pre-submission inquiry letter includes:

  • A greeting
  • A paragraph letting them know you’re writing to ask whether your article is a good fit for this journal. Be sure to use the journal’s name to demonstrate your investment in this particular publication and show that you’re not simply copying and pasting a form letter to many publications. Also include your reasons for believing your work is a good fit. For instance, you might address how your work falls within the stated scope of the journal. 
  • A closing
  • An attachment: at minimum, include the title and abstract of your article. If you have a full manuscript already prepared, you can also send it.

If you have questions about navigating the article publishing process, you can check out our research guide, contact a subject librarian, or send us an email: libkbhelp@lists.osu.edu. We are always happy to help! 

Please check back for upcoming blog posts in this series. The next post will cover evaluating open access journals, including discussion about predatory publishing and characteristics of reputable publishers and journals.