Publishing Your Work

You have options when it comes to publishing your research. Your final decision about where to publish your work will take into account a number of factors, including your desired audience, the impact factor and prestige of relevant journals, acceptance rates, copyright and/or author rights concerns, and more. 

What are my publishing options?

Subscription publications — For many researchers, the most desirable path to publication is through respected 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 typically have the highest journal impact factor among the journals in a field. For authors, working with an established publisher also offers the greatest reward when it comes to the Retention, Tenure, and Promotion process.

There is typically no charge for publishing an article in such a journal, though the article will only be available upon publication to individuals affiliated with libraries which subscribe to that journal. It is also very likely you will have to sign over copyright to have your article published and this will limit your ability to share and otherwise make your research available to others after publication.

Open publishing — Open access publishing (sometimes called OA) is a scholarly publishing model which makes articles freely available upon publication. A subscription is not required to read them.

An article can be published in a journal which is entirely open or in a journal which offers traditional subscription publishing and open publication options to the author. Most traditional journal publishers now offer an open publishing option.

A key difference between open access and traditional journal publishing 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 at the time of acceptance in the form of an article processing charge (APC). Funds for the APC can be provided by the author’s institution or academic department, an academic society, or through the grant which enabled the research.

Open articles generally become available to readers more quickly than traditionally published articles, though they still go through the peer review process. In many cases, copyright is retained by the author instead of being given over to the publisher. And the fact the articles are not hidden behind subscription paywalls means they are available to more readers. Research has shown open articles are cited more frequently than articles published behind traditional publisher paywalls, because they are more easily discovered.

The CMU Libraries has signed transformative agreements with a number of journal publishers, and these agreements allow CMU researchers to publish their articles in select journals without having to pay article processing charges. See our transformative agreements page for a list of partner publishers.

Disciplinary Archives and Repositories — These sites provide unrestricted, open access to materials for the benefit of researchers within specific disciplines. Their purpose is to get research findings, including article preprints and data, out into the research community as quickly as possible. This content is not peer-reviewed, which might be viewed 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.

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 several tools to help you make this decision:

  • Cabell's Journalytics Academic offers journal information, impact factor and other metrics, and submission guidelines for publications in various 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 that 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 are eight-digit codes used to 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 that can guide you to journals appropriate to your research topic:

Author rights

When publishing your work, you have options when it comes to your copyright.

Creative commons

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 practice that exploits the "author pays" publishing model for the sole purpose of generating revenue. In exchange for payment, an author is promised the rapid publication of their work, and in some cases, work will appear in these journals within days of submission. This is possible because these journals do not engage in peer review; they do not attempt to verify the rigor of the research or the credibility of the findings of the articles they publish. Nor do they provide the editorial services reputable journals offer.

Cabell's Journalytics Academic is a handy, single-source registry of predatory publishers. If you have questions about the legitimacy of a journal and see it listed in Cabell's Predatory Reports, it is strongly recommended you submit your work elsewhere.

Please be aware the “author pays” publishing model is also used by legitimate journals. These charges are known as APCs (article processing charges) and they support the publisher’s peer review activities and editorial services. The “author pays” model taken by itself is not an indication of predatory publishing.

If you have questions about a particular journal or would like help identifying journals where you can publish your scholarship, contact your subject librarian.