Most academics are aware of the need to "publish or perish," and the current state of the job market makes the imperative to publish even more pressing. In this post, I discuss the first step to publishing a journal article: choosing an academic journal for your article.
The past few posts this semester have dealt with learning skills that enhance your scholarly productivity, including: planning your Fall semester, making time for writing, planning your week, and writing every day.
Time management and daily writing are skills and habits you can learn by practice. For example, I learned about the skill of daily writing in a class on writing with Sherryl Kleinman in 2004. However, I did not form the habit of daily writing until I joined an online discussion forum organized by Kerry Ann Rockquemore in 2007. That discussion forum encouraged participants to develop the habit of daily writing, and it worked wonders for my productivity. If daily writing has not yet become a habit for you, check out this post for more strategies on how to make writing part of your life.
Similar to time management and daily writing, publishing is also a skill you can learn. No academic was born knowing how to publish. We all learn by doing. The more you write and submit articles, the easier it gets. For the remainder of the semester, we will focus on the nuts and bolts of writing and publishing, drawing from my own experience publishing ten journal articles and two books and reading about academic publishing in venues such as Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success, by Wendy Belcher. This post is dedicated to explaining how to find a home for your academic article. However, if you do not already have Wendy Belcher's book, I suggest you order it now!
How to Choose an Academic JournalIf you do not yet have an article ready for submission, there is no need to worry. You can decide where you will submit your article before you begin to write it. However, if you are reading this blog, it is likely that you have at least one seminar paper, thesis draft, or dissertation chapter that you could transform into a publishable article. If not, with daily writing, you will have a draft in no time.
Look in your bibliography
The first place to look for an appropriate journal to publish your article is in your own bibliography. The works you have cited are the works with which you are engaging in conversation. If you are citing several articles from a particular journal, that is a good sign that journal may be an appropriate place to submit your article.
Find other journals in your area
After looking through your own citations, have a look at other journals in your field. You can do this online. However, it can also be a great experience to actually go into the library and have a look at the journals in person. You also can ask your librarian area specialist. Many colleges and universities have librarians whose job requires expertise in academic publications. They can be a great resource when considering where to submit your article.
Figure out the impact factor and journal rankings
Journal ratings are important. A journal's rating is based on a variety of metrics, which are different ways of counting how many times the articles in the journal have been cited. Articles that have been cited more often are thought to have a greater impact in the field, and thereby bring prestige to the journal in which they were published.
Because journal ratings are important, you should take them into account before making a final decision about where to submit your article. Here are three ways to find out information on the relative quality of a journal.
- You can use the software, Publish or Perish, to get data on the impact factor and citation rate of journals in your field.
- You can access Web of Knowledge through your university's library to get rankings of the journals in a particular area or discipline. For example, Web of Knowledge lists rankings within the discipline of Sociology, but also within the sub-field of Race and Ethnic Relations.
- You can visit the journal's website to find out information about the journal in question. When investigating a particular journal, you should try to figure out whether or not the articles in the journal are peer-reviewed, what percentage of submitted articles they accept, and whether or not the journal is accessible through major scholarly databases such as JSTOR, Elsevier, or Sage.