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Suppose one works in field X, and has say two or three manuscripts ready for journal submission. Journal A is a good fit for all the manuscripts, but journals B and C would be appropriate as well.

All else being equal, is there any benefit in having papers in different journals? Does it hurt to have all of your papers, or say a substantial amount of them, in the same journal A? For example, would it be a good idea to submit one to journal A, and the other one to journal B?

I could think of someone saying "I read journals B and C, but not A", so in this sense spreading your research in different journals would make sense. But maybe this is not so typical to begin with.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 25 down vote accepted

There is obviously no right or wrong here, one should try to publish in the best suited journal. That said, in fields where there are several options, sticking to a single journal may look a little strange. If you publish in different (but suitable) journals, it may be looked upon as that your research is accepted by a wider set of peers. Some may perhaps also think you have a special connection to the journal etc.

So the need to publish in different journals should primarily be the focus of the journal. Some people I know enjoy the fact that they are published in widely different journals and some people may see that as your research being more widely accepted (right or wrong).

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5  
The bit about looking like you have a special connection to the journal is an important point. If you publish repeatedly in one journal, people may wonder whether you've identified an editor with a soft spot for your research topic. That's not necessarily a problem, if your papers are really good, but you don't want your publication record to come across as having repeatedly taken advantage of an unusually favorable editor. –  Anonymous Mathematician Aug 5 at 14:58
    
Supplementing @AnonymousMathematician very pertinent comment, I have heard editors say that exactly for that reason (they don't want to give the impression of having favorites), they are made uncomfortable by string of submissions. So it seems that from all point of views, scattered submissions are better. –  Olivier Aug 7 at 13:22

I will answer only in the prospect of making one's CV look good; note that I am a mathematician and that this certainly affects my answer, notably because in mathematics (at least from what I see in France) the impact factor is rarely considered.

The way a journal is seen can vary a lot from one person to another (for example, some journals cover several subfields but are important and selective in some subfields, less so in others). So, if you publish all your papers in the same journal, in addition to the effect described by Peter Jansson you will reduce the probability that any given person looking at you CV would think "wao, he or she published in that excellent journal Y" where Y will be A for some people, B for some else, and C for others.

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In additions to the existing answers:

  • CV beautifying, part 1: Publications in journals with different focus topics make you look more like an interdisciplinary person (which is usually preferred), while publishing in identically themed journals or even only one journal makes you look rather single-minded.
  • CV beautifying, part 2: Excessive publishing in one journal may make you look like somebody who never tries new things and sticks to whatever is working.
  • Publishing in different journals will give you a broader experience, though mostly with how publishing can be handled. There is one important exception to the latter, though: You may learn about advantages and disadvantages of the individual journals, e.g., if you only publish with journal A, you might never learn that journal B is better at organising and speeding up the review process, has a better style file, has better copy editors, etc.
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It's unlikely that two or three equally good journals exist to serve a single audience. That is: while your work may be a "good fit" to all three, it is likely to reach a somewhat different audience in each case. In my field, for example, one journal has a more "theoretical" outlook than another. Plenty of papers could easily fit in either, but theoreticians may be more likely to read them if they are in one journal rather than the other. This may be a consideration, depending on the content of your paper and what you hope to achieve with it. Equally, you may bring your work to the attention of a wider audience by publishing in multiple journals: even if people do not read your paper, they may come to recognise your name.

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