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?

Predatory publishers

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We have blogged before about predatory publishers but a training session today suggested some tips people might find useful:

  • Some journals lie about an impact factor. If you are in doubt about a journal go to http://wok.mimas.ac.uk then click the purple login button. You will find Journal Citation Reports right at the top of the screen and can check any claims.
  • Be suspicious of any journal which claims to publish very quickly with peer review – this usually takes time.
  • Where you can, check out journal editors. In a good journal they should be someone with a track record in the field.
  • Suncat is a union catalogue showing the journal holdings of many UK academic libraries. If a journal is not held by any library, or perhaps only one, it may be suspect. However, you do need to bear in mind that there may be genuine new journals which don’t appear yet.
  • DOAJ, the Directory of Open Access Journals, carries out some quality checks on the journals it lists.

It is also worth being aware that some conferences are run purely to make money without giving any value. Think Check Attend gives some things to think about if you are considering a new conference.