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;

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?

Latest impact factor data


The latest edition of Journal Citation Reports containing impact factors for 2015 has just been released. On campus you can access it from . If you need to use it off campus go to iFind and search for Incites Journal Citation Reports. This should take you to a point where you can use your Swansea University login.

Note that the database only covers science and social science although a few journals from other areas may have an impact factor.

If you want to look at the current ranking of journals within a subject area

  • go to Categories by Rank.


  • Click on the number which you can see in the Journals column in the image below. This will give you a listing of journals ranked by impact factor.


  • There is a check box at the left of the screen which you can use if you want to find open access journals with a good impact factor.

If you want more information on the different statistics available from JCR their guide is a good starting point.


Finding Impact Factors: Journal Citation Reports latest issue

Finding Impact Factors: Journal Citation Reports latest edition

Journal citation reports can be used to find out the impact factor for a journal. This is a useful way of finding quality journals where your article is more likely to be cited (although it only covers science and social sciences). Our brief guide will get you started and you can find some training videos on the Thomson web site.

What’s new?

The latest edition has just been released, covering journal analysis for2014. 272 new journals have been added. There are some new metrics and an open access filter allowing people to look specifically at  open access journals.

Once you have a list of the journals for your subject you can select the open access option to see which are the best performing open access journals for your area.

JCR open access

Want to know more?

Here are a few links to information to give you a flavour of the issues surrounding JCR and Impact Factors:

Need help

If you need help using Journal Citation Reports contact your subject librarian or

Publishing that first journal article

A recent training session at the library looked at getting published in a journal for the first-time.  There is a lot to consider and if you can get good advice from supervisors, colleagues and friends in your field that can be really helpful.  How do you choose the right journal to submit to? Should you go for high impact factors or open access?  How long does the whole process take? What about rejections? How does the peer review process work? What about “supplementary materials” and reserach data sets? What is meant by “Open Access”  journals and should you be considering these? And, then, once published, don’t forget to think about how you are going to publicise your research.

Powerpoints and handouts from the day are available alongside some additiona materials and suggestions of useful sources of information on Blackboard.

2012 Journal Citation Reports – Now Available!

ISI have released the most recent data which you can check to find Journal Impact factors.

The Library has a subscription to this and you can access the data on the Web of Knowledge platform. Log in using IP Authentication (on campus only) OR Institutional Authentication (your normal username & password). Choose the tab Select a database and then choose Journal Citation Reports.  This is a useful tool to help when deciding where to publish.

If you haven’t used this resource before, there is an online tutorial available or contact the library for assistance.

Tips for using Scopus: compare journals in your field

We ran a fully-booked session on “Getting Published” for Postgraduates this week in the library. One of the topics we looked at was finding the journals in your subject that have the biggest impact factor. The “Impact Factor” of a journal is a metric developed and owned by Thomson Reuters. Swansea University staff and students can use their Journal Citation Reports database for Social Sciences or Science to find the “Impact Factor” and other rankings for journals.

Scopus has its own alternative metric for assessing journal impact and ranking called the SJR (Scimago Journal Rank). This can be queried on the Scimago website (freely available) or from within the Scopus database. Some journals are ranked using this metric that do not appear on the Journal Citation Reports, in particular more recent journals as JCR requires three years of citation data before a journal can be ranked.

From within Scopus, click “Analytics” on the blue menu bar.

Search for a journal e.g. “Welsh History Review”. You can then drag and drop the journal title into the right-hand area to view line charts or tables for that journal. Search for more journals (e.g. “English Historical Review”) and add them to compare citation patterns. Use the slider tool below the chart to restrict to more recent years. Citation patterns are not usually comparable across subject areas – there is a drop-down list of subject areas below the search box if you wish to restrict the journals you are viewing.

To view all journals within a subject area by ranking, the Scimago website has a handy Journal Rankings facility.

Making an impact: using Journal Citation Reports and other tools to measure the impact of your research

Making an impact: using Journal Citation Reports and other tools to measure the impact of your research.

 Thursday 10th June, 11 am-12, PC Room 3 in the Library

This session will look at the ways you can monitor the impact your publications are having, especially useful when considering the REF. We will also look at Researcher ID as a way of raising your own profile, Journal citation reports, Web of Science facilities such as cited reference searching , citation mapping, times cited, citation alerts and amending your own author name entry if necessary.

To book a place please e-mail

If you are interested in this topic but unable to make this session your subject librarian would be happy to arrange something for you