Stack of journals
HealthSeptember 09, 2021

Choosing a journal for your manuscript

Choosing a journal for your manuscript is the critical final step in the publishing process and making a misstep will cost you valuable time. Here are some tried and true guidelines to follow.

Do your homework

Before you send a manuscript off to a journal, you need to do your homework. There are important questions to ask yourself:

  • Does my manuscript match the journal’s scope?
  • Does the journal accept this article type?
  • Does the journal have the right readership?
  • Is the journal peer reviewed?
  • Is the journal indexed?
  • Does the journal offer an open access option?

It all comes down to finding the right fit for your manuscript, and a journal that meets your needs.

Be realistic about which journal

You’ve done your homework and narrowed your list of potential journals down to a precious few. A word of realism is in order at this point. On the one hand, you want the most prestigious journal for your manuscript, but you also need to be realistic.

By all means aim high in your choice of journals, but you also need to be aware that submitting to some of these top-tier titles comes with a 90% or higher chance of rejection. And you may have lost weeks or even months waiting for their answer. Top-tier titles — all journals, really — want papers that lie at the intersection of novelty and quality. Two final questions to ask yourself are: (1) “Is my study novel enough?” and (2) “Is my manuscript well-written enough?”

Editors see novel studies that are poorly written, as well as well-written papers that are not particularly novel. If your paper occupies the sweet spot of novelty and quality, your options are many.

Follow the author publishing rules

Once you’ve settled on a journal to submit your work, take the time to carefully read its Instructions for authors. Doing so will help you avoid a quick rejection. It’s also highly likely that you will need to structure your paper to meet the journal’s guidelines, all of which will be in the instructions for authors.

Get publishing assistance … if necessary

If writing isn’t your strong suit, or if English is your second language and you’re submitting to an English language journal, getting some manuscript assistance might be a good move. This is where you can potentially move the needle in the quality part of the “novelty-quality” dynamic. There are a number of manuscript services from which authors can choose. At Lippincott®, for example, we have partnered with Editage to offer authors a host of manuscript services. Depending on your needs, this could be a wise move prior to submitting.

Best of luck with your manuscript!

Learn more

Lippincott webinar (previously recorded): Journal Selection: Where Should You Submit Your Manuscript
Choosing an Open Access Journal (free download)
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
Editage author services
Article: Finding the right journal
List of Lippincott gold open access journals
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