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Publishing Your Work

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.

    There are tools to help you identify the key titles in a discipline. Cabell’s offers journal information, impact factor and other metrics, and submission guidelines for more than 11,000 publications in 18 broad disciplines. Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory provides essential information about more than 200,400 serials, including whether a title is refereed, where the item is indexed, and frequency of publication.

  •  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.

    Drawbacks of OA journals include questions of rigor in terms of peer review, a lack of credibility among some researchers, and a lack of status when it comes to the RTP process. OA journals are regarded by many as being predatory in nature, though a significant number of them are legitimate publications. 

    The Directory of Open Access Journals
    is a great place to find OA journals in your discipline. PLOS is a successful working example of an OA journal platform.

  •  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), arXiv, and bioRxiv are examples of disciplinary repositories.

Journal Impact Factor

Journal impact factor is used to signify the importance of a particular journal to its field of research. The higher the journal impact factor, the more significant and respected the journal within that community. The goal of many researchers is to publish their work in journals with high impact factors. While the journal impact factor is a generally accepted measure, some point out the limitations of it when it comes to measuring individual author and article impact. You can learn more on our Measuring Research Impact guide.

Author Rights 

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.

Predatory journals attempt (with varying levels of success) to pass as legitimate scholarly publications, but 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. To verify the journal you want to publish in is legitimate, check the following resources: 

  • Cabells provides information on 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.

If you’re considering publishing in a journal and you don’t find information about it in any of these places, there is a very good chance you’re dealing with a predatory journal. We recommend 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.]