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Publishing and Research Impact: Journals: from Submission to Publication

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

Journals and Publishers

Journals, Publishers and Databases are frequently used synonymously but are not strictly speaking the same thing;

A journal is an individual title, it may be one of a group of titles like Nature, Nature Communications, Nature Physics etc. 

Publishers have many offshoots and journal brand they are produce; Elsevier publishes over 2000 journals, Wiley publishes more than 1600, Springer and Springer Nature are part of the same publishing group

Large Companies also provide the platforms and databases where we browse all of these titles; ScienceDirect and Scopus are Elsevier Products, Web of Science is by Clarivate. 

While some publishers have policies which apply to all journals in their portfolio, most journals operate with a degree of autonomy when considering aims and scope of the journal, editorial practices, open access pathways etc. 

How do I assess a Journal?

Picking the right journal for your article can seem like a dark art at first. There is a lot of noise around metrics and impact factors, which does not help when you're new to the process. 

Firstly, ask yourself what you mean by best, in the question 'which journal is the best for my work?'

Do you mean 'best' in terms of outreach? Placing your article alongside others in it's field? Most rigorous editorial and review standards?

Often, I am asked 'Best' meaning 'Impact'. We like to have quantifiable numbers, they make us feel more secure but the Journal Impact Factor and similar calculations are wildly misleading in their claims and do not necessarily translate into more citations for your work. The best route for 'impact' i.e. getting your paper read & cited is for your paper to be solid, good science, and accessible to more people i.e. Open Access.

There has been a generation of academics brought up to believe that journals with a high impact factor are the best, and that boosts your reputation as an academic, but it only does so because we overestimate the importance of the metric, and misinterpret what it actually means. 

SO, How do you assess a journal if all Impact Factors are nonsense? 

The Most important aspect of choosing a journal to submit your work to are the Aims and Scopes of the journal,  ask yourself does your work fit into those?

Editorial Practices. Does the journal have a rigorous peer-review system? Do they encourage research-sector efforts to improve Reproducibilty of research, share data protocols alongside the paper, do they share the datasets themselves for the conclusions to be tested? All Signs of good science, or the commitment to good science.

Reputation - is where it gets tricky and where those sneaky metrics try and help. Honestly your best guide in reputation of a journal is to ask your colleagues, co-workers and other people in your field. Look at the journals you cite yourself! You and your colleagues are authorities in your subject areas, and should be firm in your opinions on journal content. 

 

What is a Journal Impact Factor?

The Journal Impact Factor is a measure reflecting the annual average (mean) number of citations to recent articles published in that journal. However, it cannot be used as an indicator of the quality of individual articles or authors. In most Journal volumes, one or two articles accrue a large proportion of citations, and the other articles in the volume pick up one or two each, so a High Impact Factor is no guarantee that your paper will get loads of citations. 

 

Predatory Journals, Are they really a thing?

Yes, Predatory journals are a thing. 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?

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. 

4. Some journals - predatory and legitimate - may email you directly about submissions for an issue or a conference proceeding. Read this email carefully, does it refer to you and your work specifically or has it copied your details from an article header - If they write to you Surname, First Name, that often is a sign of Copy & Paste. Ask what specifically in the article impressed them if they haven't given specific details. Ask me to check it for you

If you are still unsure, ask me to check for you. e.c.downes@swansea.ac.uk.  

The Submission Process

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

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.

Copyright and Open Access

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 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 Financial Support and Publisher Open Access Deals and Discounts pages. Swansea University Library has signed several deals with publishers that cover the cost of Open Access publication and the publisher receives payment for providing access to their journal portfolio.