Scholarly Publishing and Open Access blog

The latest news and answers to your questions about scholarly publishing and open access.

Getting published: Tips for choosing an academic journal

Published by Ioana Liuta
As a graduate student, you may be interested in publishing an article in an academic journal. But how do you go about selecting a journal to submit to, and how can you tell if a journal is right for your work?
Ultimately the choice of where to submit your work comes down to your discipline and the topic of your paper, but as a general guide, there are three places we recommend looking for potential journals that might be suitable for your work:
  1. Your literature review. If you find you are citing several articles from the same journal in your paper, there's a good chance that your article fits into the conversation happening in that journal. It's worth investigating further to see if that journal is right for your work (more tips below).
  2. Recommendations from your supervisor / other researchers in your department. These folks often have a wealth of knowledge about publishing in your discipline and can be very helpful to go to for advice.
  3. Ask your liaison librarian. These librarians are subject specialists with knowledge of specific journals in your discipline.

Deciding if a journal is the right fit

If you've followed the steps above, you've likely narrowed your choices down to a few prospective journals that might be good choices for you to submit your work. Here are a few more considerations to help you narrow it down even further and decide if a journal is right for your work.

Consider the journal's aims, scope, and rejection rates

Visit the journal's website and read through their aims and scope, along with their submission requirements and guidelines. It may also be worth taking the time to read a few of their published articles, if you haven't already done this as part of your literature review. This is your opportunity to check to see if your work aligns with the types of articles the journal typically publishes.

Many journals also publish their rejection rates as an indication of how many of the submissions they receive are ultimately published. Remember that you can only submit your work to one journal at a time, and the process can take a long time. Try and be realistic about where you will be successful in publishing your work, especially if you're just starting out.

Consider your options for open access

It's important to consider how people will find and access the article you publish, and to ensure that your work reaches the broadest possible audience within and beyond academia. To ensure that your work has the greatest impact, you'll need to consider your options for making your work open access - either by publishing in an open access journal (the library has an Open Access Fund to help cover all or some of the charges that may exist for publishing in a qualifying journal), or by placing your work in Summit, the institutional repository. These options are outlined in the handout: How to make your work open access.

If you're considering an open access journal, we recommend seeing if it is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (this is a requirement if you are seeking Library funding for the publication charges). If you are considering an open access journal not listed in the DOAJ, contact the Library for support.

Consider the journal impact

You may also need to consider the Journal Impact Factor, or how the journal is ranked compared to others in the field. You can look up a journal in Journal Citation Reports to see how it is ranked.

Look out for predatory practices

Be wary of journals soliciting articles from you, especially if they are overly flattering or pushy in their solicitation. Predatory publishers produce journals and books that are not edited or peer reviewed, and frequently pose as legitimate open access publications. They often charge exorbitant fees to unsuspecting researchers who agree to publish their work with them. Check out our tips on How to assess a publisher, journal, or conference for more details. If you are ever in doubt about the legitimacy of a journal, feel free to contact the library ( and we can work with you to assess the quality of the journal.