Publishing the results of scientific research is a crucial step in the research lifecycle. Find resources targeted to UCSF researchers to help you get your work published.
To start the process of deciding where to submit your manuscript for publication, make a list of potential journals, based on:
- Literature searches on your topic in PubMed, Web of Science (UCSF subscription) or other appropriate databases for your field (see all UCSF databases). Make a note of journals that have published results in the same field and similar in scope and impact to your study.
- Journals grouped by field of study and citation rankings in Journal Citation Reports (UCSF subscription) and Scopus Sources (free).
- Selection tools such as Jane, Open Access Journal Finder, and EndNote's Manuscript Matcher (UCSF subscription or personal account), which help you find journal matches based on entering an article title and abstract. Select EndNote online login to access.
- Recommendations from your mentors and peers.
- Consider also broad-scope, multidisciplinary journals that meet your criteria. Broad-scope journals such as PLOS ONE, PeerJ, SAGE Open, and Scientific Reports are open access and publish all articles that pass peer review for being scientifically sound.
Next, evaluate the journals you've identified (see next tab).
Once you have your list of potential journals to publish in, review the journals’ Author Guidelines sections and evaluate them based on your priorities for publication. Eliminate journals from your list that do not satisfy your requirements.
- Subject, scope, and target audience – Look for the journal's "aims and scope" or "about" statement to get a sense of how it aligns with your research. Look at the editorial board members as well as articles and authors in one or two journal issues.
- Article types – If you're looking to publish a review article, case study, software article or the like, ensure that the journal accepts that manuscript type, and note any specific manuscript instructions by type. See an overview of journal article types and characteristics.
- Indexing and discoverability – Where a journal is indexed will determine how easily readers will find its articles. Use Ulrich's Periodicals Directory (UCSF subscription) for a comprehensive list of "Abstracting and Indexing Databases" for the journal.
- Acceptance rate and time to publication – If provided, this figure helps reveal how selective a journal is. Take into consideration also the journal's turnaround time for peer review, acceptance, and publication. Be wary of journals that offer an unusually quick turnaround (e.g. one-two weeks), for they might be deceptive about whether peer review is conducted.
- Article and journal impact – Scholarly work impact is typically measured by how much overall attention it gets via citations, social media sharing, and news write-ups. Impact metrics may be at the journal, article, or author level. Popular ranking systems include:
- Impact Factor (IF) from Clarivate Analytics is a journal-level ranking. Available via Journal Citation Reports (UCSF subscription). The IF is a measure of the average number of citations to papers in the journal over a two year period for more than 12,000 journals included in Web of Science.
- CiteScore and other journal metrics from Elsevier (free). The CiteScore measures the average number of article citations over the previous three years for over 22,000 journals indexed by Scopus.
- Altmetrics, or alternative metrics, capture attention garnered by individual scholarly works on social media networks, mainstream media, blogs, public policy documents and more. The Altmetric service is popular for presenting these results. Use their bookmarklet to look up any article by DOI, and use Dimensions (UCSF subscription) to retrieve, analyze, and export Altmetric scores.
- Open access – Use the Directory of Open Access Journals and the Open Access Journal Finder to search all reputable OA journals. To narrow your search based on journal rankings, use the open access filters in Journal Citation Reports (UCSF subscription) and Scopus Sources. Some journals charge a per-article fee for OA publication. UCSF authors get discounts on OA charges from selected journals, and UCSF authors may be eligible to receive funds to defray OA charges. Beware of deceptive publishers. See Evaluating Journals & Conferences.
- Author rights – Verify what rights you will retain as the author if your article gets accepted for publication. Use the SHERPA RoMEO database to look up the journal's or publisher's copyright policy. Open access publications should be licensed under a Creative Commons attribution (CC BY) license which allows the authors to retain ownership, and allows reuse of the final PDF with attribution. Traditional publications require authors to sign an agreement transferring some or all copyrights to the publisher for accepted manuscripts. Beware of any journal that requires you to transfer copyright upon submission.
- Manuscript preparation guidelines – Ensure that the journal provides ample instructions for preparing your manuscript type, including any formatting, protocol, ethical approval, and data sharing requirements.
- Peer review type and process – Review the journal's editorial process for how it conducts peer review. Single-blind and double-blind are the traditional models, however more journals now practice open/transparent peer review, and post-publication peer review is on the rise. See an overview of peer review models, and look up peer review policies by publisher or journal in the Transpose database.
- Preprint sharing allows you to make your manuscript accessible before it is peer-reviewed and published. Preprints are increasing in popularity in the health and biomedical sciences. Verify the policy of the journal(s) you plan to submit to before posting. See Where Can I Find and Publish Preprints? and Which Journals and Funders allow Preprints?
- Data management and sharing is required by some journals and research funders. See guidance and recommended repositories at Reproducible Data Management LibGuide.
See also Evaluating Journals & Conferences for additional resources for assessing unfamiliar journals.
After you've narrowed down your list of journals based on the research above, you're ready for the next steps:
- Rank your top three journals in order of priority for submission.
- Submit your manuscript to your top choice. Only submit the manuscript to one journal at a time; otherwise, it may be rejected by a journal if they find that it's under review by another journal. Consider submitting your manuscript to a preprint server such as bioRxiv if the publisher doesn't do this automatically for you (read more about preprints).
- Respond to the peer reviewers' questions and comments, revise your manuscript as needed, and resubmit it to the journal until it is accepted or rejected.
- If your paper is rejected, submit it to your second choice, and so on. Note that some publishers will offer to shop your journal to another journal in their portfolio, eliminating the need for you to resubmit it.
- Once your paper is accepted, celebrate your accomplishment!!
Visit our Getting Published page for more information or to connect with a scholarly communication expert.