You have many options when it comes to publishing your research. Your final decision will take into account a number of factors, such as your intended audience, journal impact factor, your rights as an author, your needs as a tenure track faculty member, and more.
What Are My Publishing Options?
Traditional publishers – For many researchers, the most desirable path to publication is through journals from established publishers. These journals are the key titles within a discipline, and their long history, credibility, and large readership ensures visibility for your article. They tend to have the highest journal impact factor measures among the journals in a given field. For many authors, working with an established publisher also offers the greatest reward when it comes to the Retention, Tenure, and Promotion process.
Some of the drawbacks associated with traditional publishing are a lengthy wait time between acceptance of your article and actual publication date, having to sign over your rights as an author to the publisher, and limits on your ability to share and otherwise make your research available to others.
Open Access Journals – Open Access (OA) publishing is a scholarly publishing model devoted to the online, free, and unrestricted availability of research, and it includes scholarly articles, open science, open data, and open educational tools. OA materials become available very quickly after acceptance, are free of charge to the reader, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
There is a growing number of OA journals available to researchers looking to publish in this way. Many of these journals perform peer review and editing before making their content freely available to the world. A key difference between OA journals and traditional journals has to do with cost. Under the traditional model, journal costs are borne by subscribers (typically a university library); in the OA model, the cost is paid by the author in the form of an article processing charge (APC). Funds for the APC could be provided by the author’s institution or academic department, an academic society, or through the grant which enabled the research.
Advantages of QA journals include immediate availability of published content (many journals publish content once it passes the peer review process, instead of waiting to release monthly or quarterly issues), the ability to retain your author rights, and a larger readership since the material is freely available. Research shows OA article are cited more frequently than articles published behind traditional publisher paywalls, since they are more easily discovered.
- Disciplinary Archives and Repositories – These archives or repositories provide unrestricted, open access to materials for the benefit of researchers within a specific discipline. Their purpose is to get research findings out into the community as quickly as possible. Authors may archive their findings, including article preprints and data, without anyone's permission. The content is not peer reviewed, which some see as a drawback, but the real purpose of these archives is discoverability and sharing. SSRN (Social Sciences Research Network),
bioRxiv are examples of disciplinary repositories.
Determining Where to Publish
When publishing your work, you want to be sure the journal you choose is respected and has visibility within your discipline. There are a number tools to help you make this decision:
- Cabells offers journal information, impact factor and other metrics, and submission guidelines for more than 11,000 publications in a wide range of academic disciplines.
- Journal Citation Reports gives information (including journal impact factor) for almost 10,000 journals in science, engineering, and social science disciplines. Be aware representation is not as strong in the Humanities and Arts
- Ulrichsweb is an easy source of information on more than 300,000 serial publications.
- ISSN Portal is a directory of serial publications and their ISSN numbers, which is an eight-digit code used to unambiguously identify a publication.
- The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is an extensive list of credible, peer-reviewed open access publications.
Here are some tools which can guide you to journals appropriate to your research topic:
When publishing your work, you have
options when it comes to your copyright.
Creative Commons Licenses
Creative Commons licenses allow creators and authors to retain the copyright to their works while granting others the ability to use, share, and build upon that work. These licenses are a way people make their work freely and easily available to others for the good of the community.
Beware of Predatory Journals and Publishers
Predatory publishing is an unethical scholarly practice that exploits the "author pays" publishing model for the sole purpose of generating revenue (see NOTE below). The dissemination and preservation of scholarship is not a concern of these publishers. These journals attempt (with varying levels of success) to pass as legitimate scholarly publications and do not observe the accepted practices associated with genuine journals, particularly in regards to peer review and other editorial services.
As a researcher, the last thing you want to do is become affiliated with a predatory publisher. Cabells Blacklist is a handy, single-source registry of predatory publishers. If you have questions about the legitimacy of a journal and find it in the Blacklist, it is strongly recommended you submit your work elsewhere.
[NOTE: Please be aware the “author pays” publishing model is used by many legitimate publications. These publications, however, do engage in rigorous peer review and provide editorial services to authors. The “author pays” model taken by itself is not an indication of predatory publishing.]