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Research Analytics: Which journal?

How to use publishing and citation data to evidence your strengths, develop your publishing strategy and make connections

Find and evaluate journals

Develop your publishing strategy by drawing up a shortlist of aspirational journals.

Ways to identify relevant journals include:

  • Publications you cite: which journal titles do you cite regularly?
  • Topic search: search Scopus, Web of Science or a specialist subject database for keywords or phrases relevant to your research. You can access these databases via the Library website. Which journals have publications matching your search terms? Scopus and Web of Science have analysis tools that provide a breakdown of search results by journal title.
  • Leading researchers: browse the publication lists of leading researchers in your field, which journals have they published in?
  • Ask colleagues for advice.

Once you've identified some journals, be sure to check their aims and scope (usually available from the journal’s website) to make sure that they cover your research area. Also consider what type of material the journal publishes, e.g. methods, new advances. 

When deciding which journal to publish in, you will need to consider whether it is of good quality and whether it will reach the people who you want to read your research. Here are some factors to take into account:

  • Audience and reputation: is the journal widely read and well regarded by academics in your field and/or relevant practitioners?
  • How easy is it to find and access the research published in the journal? Is the journal indexed in databases of academic literature such as Web of Science and Scopus? What happens if you search Google or Google Scholar for a recent paper in the journal? If you publish in this journal, will you be able to make your article open access (i.e. freely available online)?
  • Peer review: what form of peer review does the journal use? What criteria are peer reviewers asked to use? Some journals set the standard for passing peer review at technically sound methodology, others also require originality and importance to the field.
  • Who is on the editorial board? A prestigious editorial board can be a sign of a high quality journal.
  • Metrics and rankings: How does the journal compare to other titles in the same research area when assessing citation based metrics such as the journal's impact factor or SNIP, or in subject journal rankings like the ABS Guide to Academic Journal Quality for business and management titles?
Publishers that charge a fee for publishing but do not provide genuine editorial and publishing services, such as rigorous peer review and reliable dissemination, are known as ‘predatory publishers’. Emails soliciting contributions, particularly from publishers or journals that you’ve never heard of, are a common warning sign. If you visit the journal's website and you can't find detailed information about where the publisher is based or who is involved, for example editors, then also be cautious. If you are unsure about a journal, contact the Library for advice.
Note: many respected journals charge publication fees - it’s the quality of the publishing operation rather than the fee that makes a publisher predatory.

Journal indicators

Impact Factor, CiteScore, SNIP and SJR are all citation based journal indicators. They can be accessed from Data sources and tools.  

See the Which Journal? handout for a step-by-step guide to using Scopus and Journal Citation Reports as tools to access and compare journal indicators. 

As average citation based scores for whole journals, journal indicators such as Impact Factor, CiteScore, SNIP and SJR are very limited indicators of journal quality. Remember to take other factors into account as well and keep to the University of Bath's Principles of research assessment and management