Following Jeremy Fox interesting blog post, and at least three other people follow-up (here, here and here). Here are my thoughts on where to submit your paper. In a nutshell, I think times are changing. If you are in a strong position, you can bet for the model you think is best. But if you are not settled yet, I think is wise to have a compromise between publishing some old school papers based on journals prestige, but also make your bet by submitting other manuscripts to faster and open access Journals. That way you can defend your position in a variety of situations.
Following Jeremy’s points:
- Aim as high as you reasonably can. Agreed, but “high” is a vague term. Impact factor is not a reliable measure and “prestige” is difficult to asses. I think like Jan, that the difference is between the 3 top interdisciplinary journals, the top journals of your field, and then everything else. Within this categories, I don’t worry anymore about the journal in terms of “high impact”. (OA discussed below)
- Don’t just go by journal prestige; consider “fit”. I do think fit is important, but not in terms of people finding your paper (despite lots of researchers keep using TOC’s of a few well-known journals), but because having a type of journal (or reader) in mind helps you frame your article. For example, I’d expect different things from the same title in Am Nat, than in Ecology.
- How much will it cost? Important only if you don’t have the money.
- How likely is the journal to send your paper out for external review? I liked Ethan’s advice on the importance of the speed of the process. By maximizing your chances of being sent to review, not only you can accumulate citations faster but also it reduce the amount of frustration.
- Is the journal open access? Ideally, Yes, is very important for me. In reality, well, my projects rarely have the money to pay for it, so I end up not making them open.
- Does the journal evaluate papers only on technical soundness? I think this is a model that will substitute all low tier journals. I’m writing mainly three types of papers. Papers that I hope can make a great advance on Ecology and that I would like to see in a top journal. Papers that has an specific niche, and where I want to target people working on this niche. And good papers that I think can make its moderate contribution, and I want them out there fast for people to read. This papers are ideal for open access and evaluated on technical soundness.
- Is the journal part of a review cascade? Again, completely agree with Ethan. In fact I would love a model where papers are valued on technical soundness and then there is an “editors choice” or something like that.
- Is it a society journal? I value supporting Societies. But most important: Is the publisher making profit? Is Copyright retained to the author? Society journals or other organisational journals (i.e. PLOS) has the great advantage from my point of view that revert the benefits to the community, and usually they require a licence to publish, but not a copyright transfer. It’s important for me to avoid as much as possible making a business of science.
- Have you had good experiences with the journal in the past? I don’t think that’s relevant.
- Is there anyone on the editorial board who’d be a good person to handle your paper? I’ve never thought on that.
- Publish in a diversity of journals: If you want to increase your readership, increase the spectrum of journals you publish. Publish in general ecology Journals, in more specialised journals, Plos ONE stile. That would help you gain experience with the system too.
- Listen to your feelings: Is there any journal you like (rationally or irrationally) specially? Forget the pros and cons. Publishing is hard, and its also important to fulfil your whims.