Writing - Written by on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 1:18 - 0 Comments

Choosing the Right Journal for Your Scholarly Manuscript

So, you’ve labored away at getting your scholarly manuscript just the way you want it and now you need to send it off to a journal for publication. This is where many researchers get stuck; they can’t seem to find a suitable journal. As a researcher myself, I know how hard it can be to find just the right journal.

As an academician, there are three questions you should ask yourself while selecting a journal. First, which journals count toward tenure or promotion? Second, do I want to publish in a general or a focused journal? Finally, which journals’ requirements does my manuscript meet?

Counting toward Tenure or Promotion

The first consideration when choosing a journal is whether publication in the journal will count toward your tenure or promotion. While some tenure/promotion committees accept any peer reviewed journal (especially those that appear in Cabell’s Directories of Academic Journals) when evaluating your publications, some have a much narrower view of what constitutes a good journal.

If you are unsure whether publication in a journal will count toward your tenure or promotion, consult with the dean of your school or directly with a member of the respective committee. There’s no point in conducting research and then publishing it in a journal that doesn’t count. In fact, doing so may count against you because a committee may wonder why you are wasting time with an inferior journal.

General vs. Narrowly-Focused Journals

Some journals cover a wider breadth of topics within a field than others. In fact, some minute parts of a field are so specialized that they have journals all their own. When choosing a journal for your scholarly manuscript, consider whether you want to publish your study in a general or narrowly-focused journal.

Suppose you conducted a study on the subject of leadership and are looking for an appropriate journal. While the Academy of Management Journal (AMJ) is a management journal that covers all aspects of management (finance, HRM, operations, accounting, etc,), a more focused journal such as Leadership Quarterly may be more appropriate for you needs as an academician. Generally, a narrowly-focused journal isn’t as prestigious as those that publish manuscripts covering many topics within a field. Still, publishing in narrowly-focused journals may look better to a tenure or promotion committee because it shows that your research has continuity. Consider how focused a journal is in a field and decide which type of journal is better for your career goals.

Journal Requirements

Hopefully, before you conducted your study, you created a short list of journals you would like to target when you finish your manuscript. This way, you are able to match the manuscript to the requirements of the journals you chose. If not, you need to take a careful look at what the submission/author requirements are at a target journal.

If your manuscript is 40 pages long and the journal you are considering has a page limit of 25, you have some work to do. You can try to convince the editor that the manuscript has to be its current length to do the topic justice, significantly cut the paper down to size, or look for another journal with more flexible length limits.

One researcher I know wrote a wonderful 8,000-word manuscript and later chose a journal whose length limit was 2,500 words. She asked me to copy edit the paper down to size. Instead, I suggested that she look for another journal. There was no point in losing almost 70% of what she had written just to conform to this one journal.

We looked around for about 30 minutes and found a journal that fit both her topic and her manuscript size. Be careful not to satisfice (selecting the first alternative that meets the minimum requirements) when it comes to choosing a journal for your manuscript. If you need to, ask for help but never unnecessarily sell your research or your manuscript short.

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John GargerJohn Garger is a copy editor, proofreader, dissertation coach, researcher, writer, and entrepreneur living in upstate New York, USA.

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