You have probably spent what seems like an eternity perfecting your paper, and now you need to get it out there for the world to read in all its glory. You want to receive constructive feedback, reach your intended audience, be recognized internationally and be given appropriate credit. Luckily for you, all this is perfectly achievable, but there are many issues to consider and various pitfalls to avoid. Here are our top tips on how to find the right home for your paper.
Harness the power of preprints
Before diving straight in and submitting to the top journal in your field, take a minute to explore all the options. You might want to consider posting your article to a preprint server such as SSRN before submitting to a journal. This is common practice in some fields and is becoming more common in others. You do not need to go through peer review to be published on a preprint platform, so this is a quick and easy way to make your research publicly available. By doing so, you can receive feedback about your article from your peers to help improve or clarify points and upload new versions as you edit. Your preprint will receive a DOI (digital object identifier number) so it can be referenced properly by other publications. You may decide to submit your paper to a journal after it has been live as a preprint for a period of time. What’s more, preprints can be shared anywhere at any time, in line with Elsevier's sharing policy.
Consider your article type (and choose a publication accordingly!)
Take a moment to consider the most appropriate article type for your paper. Sometimes a short report, a rapid communication or even a case study may be more appropriate than a full-length research article – there are many ways to codify your work, after all.
There are many options open to you at this stage. For example, have you considered a results masked review article, where the reviewers do not see the results initially? This can be helpful for papers that include unusual or non-significant results to ensure that reviewer bias does not occur. Or perhaps you are interested open science and would like to publish a registered report, in which your study protocol goes through peer review and is given a conditional accept in the journal before conducting the data collection and analysis. This method ensures your protocol is made public as soon as possible so other researchers can see what you are working on and ensures that the peer review process is not biased due to the results of your study.
What about if you just have some data, software or simply a set of materials & methods which you think would be valuable to share with the wider community? Good news: there’s a home for these types of article, too! The article types offered vary from journal to journal, so do take a look at the options in the guide for authors. It’s really important to get this step right. Not doing so could mean a long, fruitless delay, so do your homework at this stage and make sure the journal you’re considering definitely accommodates what you have to offer.
Give yourself a helping hand with tools such as JournalFinder
Once you’ve fixed on the right article type for your paper, there’s still the question of choosing the right journal for your work. There are various ways to approach this, but you might be glad of a helping hand with this process… Many publishers have a tool that uses the title and abstract of your paper to point you towards journals to which you might wish to consider submitting. Elsevier’s offering is called JournalFinder. This software matches your title and abstract not only to the title and scope of a journal, but also to the content of articles the journal has published. This may give you options that you had not previously considered. JournalFinder has been recently upgraded so you can now also filter results by open access or subscription, impact and speed of peer review as well as seeing a visualization of metrics associated with the suggested titles.
Use cues from your own work and community
A great source of inspiration for where to submit can be found in your own work! Take another look at your reference list… Usually the journals that you are referencing are a good indication of the journals to which you should consider submitting your own work. Chances are that if you’re repeatedly citing work from one journal, it will be a good home for your own output. You can expand this approach by considering popular journals used by your own community. Or why not reach out to your supervisor and/or colleagues for their advice in terms of where you should try to get published?
We hope this has been useful so far! Stay tuned for part II where we will continue our advice on how to find the best home for your work...
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