How to choose a journal

Top tips
  • Make sure your paper fits within the scope of the journal
  • Assess the credentials of the journal or publisher
  • Browse the content they publish for quality and relevance to your field
  • Check the quality of their website
  • Check what tools and services they offer to authors
  • Submit your research to one journal only, but check if they offer transfers to other journals
  • Follow the instructions for authors carefully

There are two main factors to consider when choosing a journal: that your paper fits within the journal’s scope, and the reputation of the journal itself. The reputation is not necessarily based on metrics such as the impact factor, but on aspects such as the professionalism of the editorial team, the journal’s audience and reach, or turnaround times, to name a few.

Whichever publisher or journal you choose, make sure they have high standards of peer review and publication ethics. Think. Check. Submit. is a campaign that has been launched recently for this purpose, and we recommend visiting their website for a useful checklist that will help you assess the credentials of a journal or publisher.

The World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) has also provided some guidance to help editors, researchers, funders, academic institutions and other stakeholders distinguish predatory journals from legitimate journals: Identifying Predatory or Pseudo-Journals.

There are of course other factors to consider. You may want to ask the publisher about the tools and services they offer to authors, check the quality of their website, and what content they publish.

If you have never submitted a manuscript before, be aware that submitting to more than one journal simultaneously is a breach of publishing ethics. If your paper is rejected you can resubmit to another journal, or opt to transfer your paper within the same publisher. A good editorial team should be able to advise on these matters at the time of submitting.

Once you are happy with the journal you have selected, you will need to follow the instructions for authors very carefully as they vary from journal to journal. If you do, you will maximise the chances of your paper being peer reviewed and accepted.

BMJ Journals

With a trusted brand and more than 60 peer-reviewed journals in our portfolio, you are sure to find a home for your research project.