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Publishing a Scholarly Article: Choosing the Right Journal

This guide walks you through how publishing works, including choosing the right journal, the process of peer review, and what to expect if and when your paper is accepted for publication.

Why Publish a Scholarly Article?

There are many reasons you might choose to publish a scholarly article, including:

  1. Publishing is a way to disseminate your thoughts and/or research findings to a larger research community.
  2. It looks great on a resume, curriculum vitae, or graduate school application. It shows that you are capable of creating high-quality academic content.
  3. If you are a professor, publishing is likely part of your job. Professors often need to publish scholarly articles in order to get tenure or promotion.
  4. Research can change or even save lives! A published study about a revolutionary new medical procedure, for example, can have a direct and important impact on society.

Tips for Identifying Potential Journals

If you are fairly new to a field, identifying potential journals can be a daunting and time-consuming process. Some tips:

  • Ask a professor or trusted colleague if they have any recommendations.
  • Do a search in one of the library's many databases for a topic similar to yours (see link below). Take note of the journals that have published articles on topics related to yours.
  • Look online for lists of top journals. For example, Google Scholar Metrics (see link below) keeps lists of top journals.
  • Google call for papers (your topic). Often, journals will publish special issues comprised of articles on a specific topic.
  • You can also find calls for papers in the Cabell's database (see link below).
  • Check out Think Check Submit (link below) for more tips on choosing the right journal for your research.

Things to Consider

If you have a manuscript you think is worthy of publication, you will want to identify an appropriate venue based on the following criteria:

  • The journal's scope (this will tell you the type of subject matter, articles, studies, etc. that the journal publishes)
  • Journal impact factor or ranking (the higher the impact factor or ranking, the more influence the journal has in the field)
  • Journal acceptance rate (the lower the acceptance rate, the more prestigious the journal)
  • The timeframe/frequency of publication (some have a quick turnaround and publish many issues per year; others can take years to publish accepted articles, especially if only one or two issues are published per year)
  • Where the journal is indexed (through which databases the journal's content can be accessed)
  • Whether it is an open access publication (open access typically means that anyone can read a publication's articles for free; otherwise, they would have to either pay for the articles or access them through a library database)

You can typically locate this information on a journal's website. You can also use the Cabell's database (link below) to retrieve information on specific journals.


Check out these journals:

Skim the journals' websites to find the following:

  • What is the journal's scope?
  • Which citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) does the journal require?
  • What is the impact factor or ranking?
  • What is the acceptance rate?
  • How long does it take to review a manuscript?
  • How are manuscripts reviewed (blind, double blind, editorial board, etc.)?
  • How frequently does the journal publish?