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III. Selecting Potential Journals for Your Topic, Article Type, and Audience

May 16, 2019 by Dr Sally

Once you have carefully considered the topic for your article, the type of article you have in mind, and your intended audience, you can begin to create a list of potential journals that publish work in your field.

To find potential journals for your article, you can rely on a variety of strategies. First, you can use key words in a database. Second, you can consult with your librarian for assistance in locating journals in your field. Third, you can look at where articles on similar topics have been published, as well as where some of your colleagues have published. Finally, you can use the reference list from articles you will cite in your own article to identify journals that publish on this topic.

Once you have created an initial list of potential journals, you can begin looking in more detail at how well each of these journals aligns with your publication needs.

Does the Journal Publish Articles on Your Topic?

As you review each journal, weigh whether what the journal publishes aligns with your topic. To decide whether your article is a good fit, you need to look at the journal’s aims and scope, its mission, and at articles published in that journal. The journal’s aims and scope should provide you with a good idea of what the editor seeks to publish. It often includes a series of topics that they publish or a short paragraph indicating what they generally publish. You should also review the journal’s mission statement, since it often identifies what topics are likely to be published.

Does the Journal Publish Your Article Type?

Knowing what kind of article you intend to write will help you determine what journal will meet your needs. If you want to write a brief report but the journal doesn’t publish brief reports, then this isn’t the right journal for that piece. Be aware that a journal sometimes requires the editor to invite authors for certain kinds of articles. This is often the case with commentaries. If so, you may have to find a journal that would publish commentaries without being invited by the editor. Another option would be to pitch your idea to the editor to see whether the journal would be interested in publishing the commentary you want to write. An additional advantage to looking at the types of articles a journal publishes early on is that you will already have an idea of how much space you have to work with and what kind of constraints you may encounter (e.g., a maximum of two tables and two figures). This information can be crucial if you are planning on presenting information in a number of tables, as you would need to adapt to the maximum allowed.

Does the Journal Target Your Audience?

How can you determine if the journal’s audience would be the right fit? First, you can look at the journal’s mission, as it should indicate who it includes and/or targets. Second, you should also take a look at the journal’s editorial board. By looking at the list of people actively involved with this journal, you can determine whether the journal is US-centric or has an international focus. You can also see who in your field is involved with this journal. If you are unsure about the people listed on the website, you could ask your colleagues what they know about this particular journal.

Activity 3: Evaluating Whether Potential Journals Align With Your Publication Needs

The table below is provided to assist you in listing potential journals and to help you take preliminary steps toward evaluating how each journal aligns with the topic, article type, and audience you identified in Activity 2 of the previous blog post. As before, you may print this page and complete the table by hand or create your own online table.

Journal Name. List each potential journal.

Article Topics. List all topics each journal publishes.

Article Types. List all types of articles each journal accepts.

Target Audience. Enter the audience(s) each journal targets with its publications.

Keep on List. Indicate in the last column which of your listed journals fits your criteria by indicating “Yes” or “No” in the last column.

Activity 3: Publication Needs

Journal Name

Article Topics

Article Types

Target Audience

Keep on List?
(Yes, No)


























Once you have completed the Activity 3 table, you will have taken an important step in identifying journals that potentially align with your topic, article type, and audience. The next blog post focuses more specifically on how considerations such as frequency of publication, and review turnaround may affect your journal selection and your career goals.

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