How to Choose a Journal for Your Manuscript: An Alternative to Eeny Meeny Miny Mo

Updated: Apr 12, 2019

Selecting a journal is a critical part of the publication process that can be somewhat overwhelming given the hundreds and even thousands of journals that are out there. It is especially important when you consider that many manuscripts get rejected purely on the mismatch between the aims and scope of the journal selected and the topic/focus of the manuscript. So how does one choose? What do seasoned professionals look for in a journal? Well, there are several basic things that you need to consider:

1) Be realistic! – We would all like to publish in Nature or Science, but in many cases, our data does not support such a publication (and that is fine!). Be realistic about the quality and quantity of data that you have and target a journal with the appropriate prestige and scientific standing (this can be difficult to quantify, but roughly base this on impact factor).

2) You want impact! – It is just the name of the game to get your science manuscript published in the journal with the highest impact factor possible. Indeed, your research career will often depend on publishing in high-impact journals.

3) Worldwide reach – This is usually not a huge issue in today’s day and age, but ensure that the selected journal is available to researchers worldwide. Open access is quite beneficial as it will lead to more citations. Also, good indexing is essential to get you paper noticed.

Other important notes to consider:

- If you are having trouble selecting a journal, look at your reference list for a guide as to where your fellow researchers are publishing.

- Ask peers and colleagues for suggestions for places to publish.

- Some journals are invitation-only so check before you start writing and submitting to that journal!

- Publication fees may be a factor for you, so make sure the journal selected is within budget.

- Make sure that the type of article you are writing is acceptable for that journal (e.g., some journals do not accept Short Communications).

- Check turnaround times. If a journal is only published one per year, as opposed to once per month, you may get a delayed turnaround time, which could be critical in competitive fields.

- There are several journal finder tools (listed below), but they are usually through publisher sites and will only give you journals by that publisher (;

NOTE: It is often best, if possible, to choose your journal BEFORE you start to write your manuscript. This will aid in formatting your paper as you go and will help determine the focus of your paper (i.e., a paper sent to Developmental Cell will be written with a different focus than Nature Structural and Molecular Biology).

Good luck in your journal hunt!

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