Monday, July 24, 2006

Choosing the right academic journal

One of Michelle’s recent posts about her travails in getting a particular article published got me thinking about a topic that, to my knowledge, is rarely discussed: how do you go about choosing a journal? Especially for graduate students and untenured faculty, this is a critically important decision, because choosing the wrong journal can lead to long delays.

I think it is an art more than a science, thought you can use some empirical evidence to help you out. It can actually get quite complicated. These can be tweaked depending on the discipline, but as I think of journals, I need to assess:

--if the journal has published on my topic (and even whether I am engaging a debate surrounding previous articles in the journal)
--if the journal has recently published too much on my topic
--if the methodology meshes with the journal (though a good many journals are open in this regard)
--whether I should aim at a Latin America journal, a Political Science journal, or a “developing world” journal (this can be quite important, because each has different expectations and audiences)
--whether the journal is acceptable to the department in terms of merit pay, tenure, and and/or promotion (of course, this varies widely)
--whether changes in editorship have changed the orientation of the journal (personal note—at my own journal I am open to any topic on Latin America, regardless of discipline, methodology, etc.!)

I always have a journal in mind when I embark on a paper. This does not mean I always choose well—on the contrary, there have been times (as with my last submission) where after reading the reviews, I realize the given journal had not been a good choice. Sometimes I change my mind halfway through writing, but I try to keep my potential journal audience in mind as I write.


MSS 3:37 PM  

Choosing the "right" journal for a paper is something I don't think I have mastered yet!

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