Impact factors and where to publish

How do you decide where to publish your precious research? Do you have a small stable of journals ranked in your own mind? Do some papers clearly seem to be higher value than others? We knew the field much better when we worked on wasps because we had conceptual journals, very high impact journals, insect journals, and social insect journals. There isn’t a good taxon specific journal for Dictyostelium. It is in the Amoebazoa, so a protist. But it has been considered both a plant and a fungus, or at least old papers turn up in both American Journal of Botany and Mycology. But I digress. Where to publish is an important question.

It is important to pick the right journal so you don’t have to revise too often for new journals. It might be good to try a variety of journals to reach people that check different journals. I wonder if anyone has just switched entirely to PLoS One? It will be interesting to see how the Peerage of Science does. Under this model, we handle the submitting and reviewing, then the journals shop for papers there.

There’s a thoughtful post over on Jabberwocky on impact factors, networks, and a better way of evaluating journals based on paper networks, weighting a paper cited by other papers that are cited more than those that reach dead ends. My impression is that the  impact factor of journals is more important for researchers in Europe than here. Not that we don’t try for the top whenever we can. For me, that top is Science, a non-profit journal published by a scientific society I belong to.

In journal club, it is good to read papers from different journals and notice what they publish. We have had papers in genetics turned down by journals we thought were appropriate because they weren’t functional enough.

Most of all, do great, fun research, with the eventual journal in mind from the beginning. From my Creativity course, today, how to have fun!


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
This entry was posted in Publishing your work and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Impact factors and where to publish

  1. Ruth Lewis says:

    Interesting that we would both blog about impact factors on the same day

  2. tjvision says:

    Apropos of your post, the Journal Advisor tool ( takes an abstract and does a surprisingly good job at selecting a relevant journal. It allows you to filter by impact factor, open access, etc. It’s tough for me to imagine not knowing the target journal when I am writing a manuscript, but this might be handy for those who really aren’t sure or who are in the early stages of deciding.

  3. Liz Haswell says:

    I’m just getting started at this, so don’t have an established method for choosing a journal other than 1) my instincts about where a story would be best received and 2) a sense of where the papers I like have been published. Maybe going forward I will give more consideration to open access journals. Do you know about the WUSTL open access program ( Ruth put (legal) versions of all our papers up, even Current Biology!

    • Hi Liz,
      I did not know about the open scholarship. Thanks! Do we need to tell Ruth about the papers? I have some that are not listed at the link you sent. I suppose that also means we should link there from our own web pages instead of to the journals themselves. I wonder how many other people have such a thing at their university and not even know it! I love Wash U!

      • Ruth Lewis says:

        Yes. Just give me the go-ahead and I’ll start working on your papers. Sometimes I cannot post the published version due to copyright holder policies (when you have transferred copyrights to journals). In those cases I can often post author-versions if you have them. But I can let you know as I work through your publications.

  4. Liz Haswell says:

    Joan, Ruth did it ALL for me, I just told her that I wanted them up and she took care of all the legal stuff and posted them. Then I put a link from my webpage.

  5. Pingback: High vs. Low Impact-Factor Journals: What Difference Does It Make to Your Writing Style? « Academic Life

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