Choosing a journal II: getting your paper noticed

18th Jan 2012

This is the second in a series of posts on factors to consider when choosing which journal to submit your paper to. Here, I will look at how your choice of journal can affect the extent to which your work is noticed.

Part one of the series, on getting your paper published quickly, is here.

How well known is the journal?

It goes without saying that papers in very well known journals like NatureScience, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA and Cell will be seen by more people than those in other journals. The more specialist journals may, however, be the ones that are seen by the people in your field, who you mainly want to reach.

How well they do they publicise their papers?

Most journals send out their tables of contents to interested readers by email. This is really a minimum, and any journal that does not doesn’t deserve your paper. But there are other ways that journals can publicise papers as well.

  • Press releases – do they have an active press office that writes attractive press releases and sends them to relevant media together with the embargoed article before publication? Do they also send press releases to bloggers (who are often more interested in science news than are the mainstream media)?
  • Do they have a blog highlighting recent papers?
  • Do they have a Twitter account with plenty of followers?
  • Do they have a Facebook page ‘liked’ by plenty of people?
  • Do they give awards for top papers of the year or similar?

Do they publish articles highlighting research papers?

Nature, for example, publishes News and Views articles, which are short pieces highlighting the most interesting research papers in the current issue. Many other journals publish similar ‘minireviews’ about recent papers.

Some journals have an editorial in each issue summarising the papers in that issue (such as in the current issue of Gut).

Some have news sections in print or online (e.g. Science) where more accessible pieces about recent papers from that journal or elsewhere can reach a general readership.

Open access versus subscription

There is some evidence that open access articles are cited more than those in subscription journals; there is also some evidence against a citation advantage. It is certainly worth considering whether you want your paper to be read just by potential readers in an institute that subscribes to the journal, or also by independent researchers, those in less well funded institutes, journalists and members of the public.

If you don’t go for a full open access journal (called ‘gold’ open access), will the journal allow you post a version on your own website or in a repository (‘green’ open access; definitions here)? Does the paper become free to read online 6 months or 12 months after publication, or never? Journals vary a lot in their restrictions on how an author can distribute their paper (see the SHERPA ROMEO directory for details).

Is the journal indexed by indexing services?

When a journal is set up it takes a while for it to be indexed by services such as PubMed, ISI Web of Science and AGRICOLA. New journals will therefore not yet be indexed, so articles won’t be findable in searches of these databases. This makes it slightly more risky to publish in very new journals.

Your experience

Have you had a published paper promoted in any of these ways, or others? Did you choose open access to get your paper seen by more people? What difference do you think these choices made?

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Comments on “Choosing a journal II: getting your paper noticed

wichor bramer says:

the evidence against citation advantage ignores the fact that university libraries are facing major budget cuts, while journal prices are growing steadily. this cannot continue forever.

open access publishing will create a backup for university libraries too, so that when enough publications are open access available, they can abandon the publishers and depend on the researchers.

we’re not that rich that we can buy everything!

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