University Libraries

Is Your Journal Publisher Right For You?

Individual scholars differ in their goals when publishing journal articles - and one author's goals may vary over time. Sometimes, broad open access may be a primary concern; at other times, publication in a particular journal or within a particular timeframe may be the most important need. Here are a few things you may wish to consider when choosing where to submit articles.

The quality of the journal

Academic promotions may hinge on journal quality, difficult though it is to assess. Commonly-used measurement systems include Impact Factor, which can be looked up in Journal Citation Reports, and EigenFactor.

Alternative publications may not yet rank as highly on these measures of prestige as their traditional counterparts, but this can change as scholars support them in maintaining the traditional high standards of peer review. Additionally, scholars in a number of fields have raised questions as to the validity and reliability of some of these measures of publication quality, and a number of alternative metrics are being developed or evolving more organically in many fields.

For more information, see
Seglen, Per O. Why the impact factor of journals should not be used for evaluating research, BMJ 1997; 314:497.1
Adam, David. Citation analysis: The counting house, Nature 415, 726-729 (14 February 2002)

How widely the work can be read

The more accessible your work, the greater its potential impact. Some journals make their articles freely accessible, possibly after a defined delay period. Considering alternatives to traditional publishing models can increase your audience. Research suggests that Open Access articles are read and cited at a higher rate (see The effect of open access and downloads ('hits') on citation impact: a bibliography of studies, which highlights the fact that access barriers or lack of them determine whether research results are distributed as widely as intended.

Journal price

Another factor that can affect the accessibility of your work is price. Journals with high prices or other restrictions can only be read by those at institutions that can afford subscriptions. At one extreme, publishers set low subscription rates so as just to cover their minimized production costs. At the other, some publishers charge exorbitant prices to maximize their profit, forcing your library to buy back your research at high rates. There may be other factors at play, such as the use of subscription fees to support other society activities, but it is useful to check on the annual price or, more tellingly, the price per page to see where a journal fits in this range and if it offers good value for money.

Whether you, the author, will be able to use or share the article

A standard publication agreement often requires the author to give all copyrights to the publisher; then the author may not be able to mount any version of the article on his/her webpage, deposit it in an institutional repository, or give it to students for course reading. Authors can retain some or all of these rights by choosing publishers with more progressive agreements granting only non-exclusive publication rights. See Managing Your Rights.

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