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Where should I send this darned manuscript, anyway?

By stojdllab, Dec 10 2014 05:39PM

As an academic scientist, this question usually hits you right after you've written your results section, but haven't had a chance to square up to the pit of seething hell that is the discussion. It's a blissful point where you can stop and carve out a moment to joyfully delay the inevitable. There are a few ways to choose which journal will have the honour of taking on your magnificent manuscript:-

Nail, meet hammer

The bluntest approach is to go through your reference list manually, and compile a list of each journal as it appears, as well as the number of times it shows up. Shuffle these into the order of the most frequent, and you can easily pinpoint the top five journals in your manuscript. If you want to be extra fastidious, you can look up the impact factors of the journals in your list (or at least those of the top five), and factor those in, too.

Online tools to the rescue!

A slightly more elegant approach is to use online tools created to solve this exact dilemma. My favourite is probably JANE: the Journal/Author Name Estimator, made by Martijn Schuemie from the Biosemantics group at Erasmus MC in The Netherlands. Pop your abstract into the search box, hit Find Journals, and prepare to be presented with a heady list of journals that have published articles similar to yours. These potential journals are ranked in terms of 'confidence', or how tight the match is between your input abstract and the past article output of that journal. While bona fide impact factors aren't displayed, you do get provided with probably the next best thing: the Article Influence (AI) score. This measures the average influence of articles published from that journal based on how often they got cited within the first five years after publication. The AI score is weighted based on which journal is doing the citing - so a citation in a big impact factor journal, like Science, bolsters the AI score to a more significant degree.

If you don't like the look of JANE, the Virginia Tech University Library has also compiled this helpful list of other web-based tools that can help you find a nice good-looking journal to publish in.

Happy manuscript submissions!

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