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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
- Check our web page on illegitimate journals to figure out if you can trust a particular journal; keep in mind that information on illegitimate (aka predatory) journals' websites may be false (e.g., editorial board members, impact factor)
- Note that open access does NOT in and of itself = illegitimate.
- Note that author fees in and of themselves do not = illegitimate. There are many publishing models within open access. Learn more about open access.
- Is the journal indexed in the databases you use to search for literature in your subject area (e.g., MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, BIOSIS, PsycINFO, Web of Science)? You can use a directory like Ulrichsweb to find abstracting and indexing information on individual journal titles, but double-check within the database itself.
- Is the journal publisher a member of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) (or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) if it's an open access publication)?
- View this guide by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries: How to assess a Journal
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
- Jocalyn Clark: How to Avoid Predatory Journals—A Five Point Plan - Posted on BMJ Blogs, recommended by Trish Groves, Head of Research, BMJ, Editor-in-Chief, BMJ Open
- Beall's List of Publishers (archived version from Jan. 11, 2017) - List of Individual Journals also available (archived version from Jan. 11, 2017) Note: Use with a critical eye; the pages were taken down in Jan 2017
- Genamics JournalSeek - A categorized database of over 75000 journal titles with basic information
- JANE: Jounal/Author Name Estimator - Insert your title and/or abstract and the system suggests journal titles suitable for your topic
- Elsevier Journal Finder - Insert your title, abstract, and field(s) of research and the system suggests journal titles suitable for your topic; information provided includes impact factor, open access status, editorial times, acceptance rates, and production times. Limited to journals published by Elsevier
- List of Journals Indexed for MEDLINE (U.S. National Library of Medlcine) - Inclusion in MEDLINE can be used as an indicator of journal quality (Note: Journals may be included in PubMed but not indexed in MEDLINE)
- Open access journals - Consult this list to select an open access journal
- SHERPA: Publisher Copyright Policies & Self-Archiving (University of Nottingham)
- Ulrichsweb - Search or browse for publications in all disciplines
Librarians are here to answer your questions and help you find what you are looking for.
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