Explore the several factors to consider in choosing a journal to submit your research article.
What to consider
There are several factors to consider in choosing a journal to submit an article to:
- Relevance – the journal should be relevant to your work and the ERA Field of Research codes should be within a strategic area for your College or research centre.
- Quality – is the journal of a high enough quality, as measured by impact factors or journal rankings lists?
- Discoverability – is the journal indexed in key discipline based databases, or a citation database?
- Open access – can a version of your research output be open access? Consider publishing in Open Access journals. Victoria University may cover article processing fees for eligible researchers.
It’s generally a good idea to work out which journal you want to publish in first and then write a manuscript specifically targeting that journal.
- Check the aims and scope of the journal.
- Check your references to see which journals you frequently cite.
- Which field is better to publish in? For example, if your research is on bullying in schools does your research fit with psychology or education?
- Check Field of Research codes in ERA journal lists (the journal should be relevant to your work AND be within a strategic area for your organisational unit).
- Use journal databases to search by topic and then sort by ‘publication’ or ‘source’. Scopus is very good for this (and you can sort by highly cited).
A publication's reliability, integrity and quality needs to be considered when identifying where to publish. Evaluate publications in terms of the following attributes:
- peer review
- citation analysis indicated by impact factor or other ranking
- international editorial board
- international author base
- coverage by an abstracting indexing service.
A lot of the above information can be gained by consulting the journal directly, sometimes they will include this information on their website. You can also consult to find whether a journal is peer-reviewed and where it is indexed/abstracted.
Journal quality can be measured by impact factors or other ranking systems based on citations – they identify the most frequently cited journals in a field.
Be aware that:
- Many journals do not have an impact factor (in JCR) or are listed in a ranked list.
- The impact factor cannot assess the quality of individual articles.
- Only research articles, technical notes and reviews are “citable” items. Editorials, letters, news items and meeting abstracts are “non-citable items”.
- Only a small percentage of articles are highly cited and they are found in a small subset of journals. This small proportion accounts for a large percentage of citations.
- Controversial papers are not necessarily based on excellent research, they may be highly cited thus distorting the impact factor of a journal.
- Citation bias may exist. For example, English language resources may be favoured and authors may cite their own work.
- The ranking of a journal within a discipline is more important than a particular impact factor.
HERDC journal criteria
The following criteria must be satisfied for a journal article to be accepted for the HERDC:
- The article must be published in a scholarly journal (not a professional journal)
- The article must be peer reviewed
- The journal must have an ISSN – International Standard Serial Number
- At least one of the authors must be affiliated with VU
- The article must be clearly identifiable as research – e.g. meet the HERDC definition of research.
Publication checklist for journals
If you receive an offer to submit a paper to a journal, you must check the quality of the journal and also its discoverability and accessibility to other researchers:
- Is there a legitimate peer-review process? (This is sometimes hard to tell from their website as they may claim they are refereed when they are not.)
- What is the journal’s ranking? Is it ranked in or does it have an impact factor in Journal Citation Reports? Is it in the ERA list?
- Are articles from the journal indexed in journal databases relevant to your field, or in citation databases such as or ?
- Are articles harvested by Google Scholar? (Don't assume everything will be retrieved in a Google Scholar search – click on Advanced Scholar Search and type in publication name.)
- Can you find out information about rejection rates?
- Do authors have to pay to publish? (Note: This is a legitimate model for open access publishing, but is only of value if genuinely refereed.)
- What is their policy regarding having a pre- or post-peer review version of the article in the VU Institutional Repository? (Most reputable publishers allow this – be wary if they do not.)
- Are there spelling errors on the webpage or in the article titles of works already published with them?
- Please note there are some companies who combine an invitation to present at a conference with the invitation to publish in a journal – for a fee in both cases. Do your research for conference organisers in the same way as for a journal or a book publisher.