How to choose a target journal for a scientific paper- Part I: free online journal selectors

The publication of a scientific article in a journal is similar in many ways to finding a new job. There is no candidate that is absolutely better than all others, there are only candidates whose suitability for a particular job exceeds that of others. At the same time, there is no perfect job, just a job whose characteristics are most suitable for a given job seeker. The same goes for journals and the papers they publish.

Think about the project that you would like to publish. What is its scientific topic? If the answer is composed of several different topics, then there is an even greater number of journals that can serve as potential targets for publication of your article.

Major publishers provide free search engines that can help in selecting a target journal from their catalogue. In order to use these engines, you need a draft abstract, a general description of the research or a list of key concepts. You can paste one of these into the search box of the BiomedCentral, Elsevier or Springer search engines, or use the general free search engine JournalGuide that is not limited to the collection of a specific publisher. Each of these engines employs a different algorithm, but the output from the search is usually a list of journals rated by a “match index " with information about the impact factor, open access, publishing speed and more. Optimal utilization of these resources is use of several search engines to create a long basic list of journals that you can consider for your publication.

A simple preliminary step towards shortening your initial list can be based on the issue of open access. Journals that provide open access, free for the reader, charge publication fees. Fees are high (thousands of dollars) so, if there is no budget to pay them, all the journals whose models are exclusively open access should be omitted from the list. My suggestion is to leave the journals operating on a hybrid model (open and restricted access) for the next round of elimination that will be based on other considerations, which I will discuss in Part B of this post.

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