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Publishing in the Life Sciences: Complete Guide

Information on Citation

Citing Your Sources

If you are collecting references for a project, looking for information on how to cite within a particular discipline, or interested in using software to collect and automatically format your list of references in the proper citation style, the following pages may be of use:

If you are writing a paper for a course, ask your professors what citation style they recommend. If you are publishing a journal article in the health sciences, consult the instructions for authors database or the journal website to find out what citation style they require your references to be formatted in.

 

General Tips on Writing

Reporting Guidelines Based on Study Design

Tools to Help You Write Your Article

Formatting Your Article for Final Submission

Advance Planning: Formatting Your Article for Final Submission

When authors take on the task of writing up their research for publication, it is good practice to prepare the report in a format that resembles most closely the final submission. In order to prepare, researchers should pre-select the publication (in the life sciences, usually a peer-reviewed journal) to which they intend to submit.

Tips for Choosing a Publication

Which Journals May Publish Your Article?

  • Ask colleagues for advice about which journal to publish in.
  • Look at the references in your article.
    • Which journal(s) appear?
    • Which journals appear in your references' references? Or:
  • Search your research topic in a database in your field (e.g., MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, BIOSIS, PsycINFO, Web of Science).
    • Browse the results and see which publications tend to publish on your topic.
  • Search you research topic in Scopus.
    • Use the "Source Title" filter to see which journals have published the most articles on the topic of your search.
  • Check the Instructions to Authors pages of the journals that interest you.
    • You may also wish to email the journal to find out if the subject fits in the publication's scope, or in a particular theme issue.
    • Note: Author guidelines will also include important information like citation style, inclusion of data sets, etc.
  • Consider the intended audience of the journal.
    • E.g., If the journal only publishes medical articles of general interest on research on humans, they may not consider your manuscript on translational regulation of release factor 2, no matter how good it is.

 

Check for Quality

  • What is the quality of the articles published in the journal? Read a few of the journal's published articles.
  • Is it a scholarly/research journal or a trade publication?
  • Does it have a peer review process?
  • Determine the popularity and prestige of the journal, using impact measures such as the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) Journal Impact Factor. Beware of counterfeit impact factors. Be aware that those not published by JCR may be less meaningful to the academic community. See other metrics such as Eigenfactor, and CiteScore.  See this guide to learn more about impact factors and metrics.
  • Useful Checklist for Review of Journal Qualilty: Blobaum, Paul M., "Blobaum’s Checklist for Review of Journal Quality for Submission of Scholarly Manuscripts" (2013). Faculty Research and Creative Activity. 27.

 

Check for Legitimacy

 

Consider Open Access

  • Is the journal open access, or does it allow for the author to post in an institutional repository such as eScholarship@McGill? Some grants (such as CIHR) will require that your research output is made freely available within a certain amount of time.

 

Consider Publishing Your Study Protocol

 

Is the Timing Right?

  • The publication's lag time, that is, the time it takes once a manuscript is accepted for it to be published. This can range from immediately (in the case of some online open access publishers) to more than a year.
  • The lag time for review is also of importance. If it is not stated in the author guidelines, ask the editor how long it usually takes for a submission to be reviewed. Note that it is considered inappropriate to submit a manuscript to more than one journal at a time. Note: An extremely short review time may be a red flag indicating that the peer review process is nonexistant.

Additional Resources for Journal Selection

List of Additional Resources for Journal Selection

Finding Open Access Journals

Finding Open Access Journals

  • BioMed Central - All the original research articles in journals published by BioMed Central are immediately and permanently available online without charge. McGill University is a supporting member of BMC, entitling authors to a 15% reduction of the article publication fee.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) - A comprehensive directory listing free, full-text, quality-controlled scientific and scholarly journals, covering all subjects and languages. If choosing an open access journal, journal listing in DOAJ can be used as a positive indicator
  • Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)- If choosing an open access journal, journal membership in OASPA can be used as a positive indicator
  • PubMed Central - U.S. National Library of Medicine's permanent digital archive of life sciences journal literature.
  • PubMed Central Canada
  • Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing
  • Public Library of Science - A non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. PLoS Publishes its own journals.

 

Measures of Journal Impact and Prestige

  • Impact Factor - From ISI Journal Citation Reports (on Web of Science platform)
  • Eigenfactor - an alternative or complement to the impact factor; can also be accessed through Journal Citation Reports
  • Scimago Journal and Country Rank - Can filter by subject area/category; developed from information found in Scopus, a subscription-based, multidisciplinary, bibliographic database
  • The Australian Research Council evaluated over 20,000 peer reviewed journals and ranked each into four quality tiers. Over 4300 of these journals are in the health sciences. The ERA rankings can be searched by discipline or by journal title
  • The Special Library Association Biomedical & Life Sciences Division ranked the Top 100 Journals in Biology and Medicine in 2010

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