Academic Publishing 101: The Journal Process

Often we assume that new researchers are already aware of how the process of submitting an article to a journal goes, and how long it takes, so this is a back-to-basics post to take you through the process step-by-step.

First things first: Choosing a Journal

There seems to be a new Journal announced online every other week, and this includes ‘predatory journals’ so how can you tell if a journal you may want to submit to is legitimate?

There are some online services designed to help you choose a journal – for example, Elsevier Journal FinderJournal Selector

1. Check their website; does it look professional? Does it link to other sites, for example members of the editorial board and their home institutions? Is the grammar and spelling up to scratch?

2. Are they indexed? To be indexed by the main databases (like Scopus and Web of Science) a journal has to adhere to strict criteria. Google Scholar is not transparent in the way they indexed and therefore can’t be reliable. 

To check whether the journal is indexed go to Scopus or Web of Science and search the Journal title. 

3. Some Journal titles are very similar so it is a good idea to check the ISSN. The ISSN should appear on the Journal ‘About’ pages, and you can check it on a site like Sherpa Romeo or search the Library Hub Discover for more information about the Journal. If it doesn’t appear on either of them, be wary. 

What is a Journal Impact Factor and can it help me here?

The Journal Impact Factor is a measure reflecting the annual average (mean) number of citations to recent articles published in that journal. The JIF can be useful in comparing the relative influence of journals within a discipline, as measured by citations. However, it cannot be used as an indicator of the quality of individual articles or authors

If you’re still not sure, just get in touch and email me; e.c.downes@swansea.ac.uk

Submission process

The turn around time between submitting your article, having it reviewed and acceptance varies between discipline. It can take weeks or months so check the journal’s submission information for an estimate

Open Access and Copyright

The point at which decisions on Copyright and Open Access have to be made varies between journals but is generally around the Acceptance stage.

 You need to know a few things;

1. If you intend to publish the ‘traditional route’ or in ‘subscription articles’, this means that you do not pay any publishing costs, but your article will be behind a paywall for anyone outside of a university, or in a university which doesn’t have a subscription to that journal. In this case you will be asked to transfer copyright to the publisher.

In this case, to comply with Swansea OA Policy, you will need to upload the Accepted Manuscript into RIS as ‘Green Open Access’

2. If you intend to publish Gold Open Access with the journal, this tends to result in the journal requiring an ‘APC’ – Article Processing Charge usually £2500+. More information about APCs and financing them are found on our Open Access page

If this is the route you choose, the article is assigned a ‘Creative Commons‘ license which allows you to keep the copyright. The article is then freely available to anyone whether they subscribe to the journal or not.

For more information about Copyright and Author’s rights please see our Copyright guide, especially ‘Scholarly Works – Author Agreements with Publishers’

After Acceptance

What do I need to do after the article has been accepted?

1. Create a record in RIS following the guidance. This ensures that your paper complies with REF rules if it is eligible. If you don’t have the full details to fill in the record, that is fine. You or our team can fill in the details later, when information like the DOI, Volume and Issue number become available.

2. Share your work! If you don’t promote your work, who will?

Pre-Prints at Swansea University

Introduction;

Pre-prints are not new. Some pre-print servers such as arXiv have been going since 1991; however, there is increasing interest in the use of pre-prints as part of the move towards open access publishing and open scholarship in general.

What are they?

Pre-prints are versions of your paper before it has been submitted to peer-review. The use of pre-print servers varies significantly between disciplines, being an embedded and well known practice in areas like Physical Sciences, and almost unheard of in others.

Why should I bother?

Posting a pre-print on a specific pre-print server or repository means your work has the potential to reach other researchers in your discipline and citations can accumulate, earlier. It is also useful to gather early feedback on the paper from your peers, before the official peer-review process of the journal you submit to.

Will my paper be scooped?

Contrary to some fears, pre-prints can actually help protect your work from being ‘scooped’. Most servers register the papers on receipt enabling you to establish provenance should another very similar paper be published after yours. Many pre-print servers enable you to add a DOI allowing you to keep track of your paper and its citations.

Swansea Specifics

Swansea University researchers are not restricted from using preprint servers by the institution. Individual researchers considering submitting a paper do need to check the funder and journal to see if any restrictions apply. This can be done using SHERPA/ Romeo and searching the journal you are considering submitting to.

As stated above, there are preprint servers for different disciplines and institutional repositories can host preprints. The benefits of submitting preprints in terms of citations, engagement and impact will not materialise unless the author/college publicise the paper themselves especially in disciplines which are only just starting to use pre-print servers.

ISS Research Support are happy and able to assist researchers with information regarding journal restrictions, and which pre-print server may be most appropriate. We have a list of pre-print servers and open access repositories here.