I am going to publish a paper and I narrowed my alternatives down to two:

  1. the first journal has impact factor 9.2, but it has a broader audience, in terms of research topics.

  2. the second one has impact factor 3.8 but it is more focused and more familiar to my research community. The paper may be seen more easily by people that work in my field.

The paper would be in the scope of both the journals, which alternative would you pick?

  • Depends on the type of papers you are writing. That is, you need to consider the audience of your paper; writing for a general audience is very different to a specialize audience. In my area, general journals (so called magazines) have minimal equations for example. Also, they are more focused on getting concepts across as opposed to being bogged down by formalism; they tend to be introductory in nature. Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 5:01
  • 1
    Thank you for replying. Both the journals are focused on the formalism, none of them is a ‘‘magazine’’. The broader journal covers many aspects of mechanical and material engineering (equations of state, mechanical response models, chemical behavior and/or magnetic properties of materials, multiphase/multimaterial transport phenomena, and respective practical applications). The second journal is more focused on chemistry and transport processes (which is also the topic of my paper). My paper would fit in the focused journal and be in the scope of the broader one,but together with other topics.
    – NearIR
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 6:05
  • Both journals have a strongly mathematical layout.
    – NearIR
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 6:14
  • 2
    then my suggestion is simply to select one arbitrarily. If the paper is good, it will be read if it appears in a reputable venue. Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 6:55
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    The first journal, high impact -> more reads + broader audience -> citations
    – dusa
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 17:21

1 Answer 1


This question was asked a long time ago, but remains on the unanswered queue. The comments suggest two different approaches.

First, this question has been asked at least twice before here:

A journal with higher IF but general scope, or a journal with less IF but specialized scope?

How to decide between sending paper to a specialized journal or to a journal with broader audience?

Many people hate the idea of impact factor as a metric by which journals (and hence researchers) are judged. But, the sad fact is that this metric still is used in some places, e.g., I have seen it mentioned by external letters on tenure and promotion cases. Hence, all things being equal, if you can get the paper published in the higher impact journal, that might be better for your career. If you are worried about the paper not being "seen" enough by specialists if you publish it in the higher impact journal, you can fix that by uploading a preprint (in math, we use arXiv for this), giving talks about the research, emailing your paper to relevant people, etc.

I echo what was said at the second linked thread above, that what matters MUCH more than impact factor is whether or not the journal has an editor who would be sympathetic to this specific submission. I also echo the advice to look at what other papers they have published recently to see if they do tend to publish papers like the one you've written. Lastly, think about how long the review process takes. Sometimes a more general journal is harder to publish in and you might lose time waiting for a negative referee report, if you misjudged the fit of your paper to that journal. If you are in a hurry to get published, the specialized journal might be a better option (but, check about waiting times there too; it's a bit random which journals tend to make authors wait a long time and which get reports quickly).

  • 1
    If the question is a dupe, it's probably better to flag it as dupe to get it out of the queue than to answer it.
    – user176372
    Commented Apr 11 at 14:44
  • I think that was tried and the question was for some reason not closed as a duplicate Commented Apr 11 at 14:48
  • @user176372 Turns out one cannot vote to close a question until one has 3000 rep. And, viewing the history (close votes etc) also requires a higher reputation than I had when I wrote this answer. Commented Apr 20 at 15:18
  • Makes sense, David. At risk of explaining something you already know that's related: You should have enough rep to flag a question as a duplicate, or for any other "close reason". At our rep level that doesn't count as a vote, but it does add the question/answer/comment to a queue that the users with a vote crunch through. I seem to be able to see close votes (once they've happened) in the history, but maybe this is a holdover because I've deleted this account at least once when it had more rep.
    – user176372
    Commented Apr 21 at 16:11
  • @user176372 Very interesting that you can see close votes! I can't see them right now at 2175 reputation, but probably will at 3000 when I can cast such votes. It's been a long time since I was a user with such low reputation. On MathOverflow probably more than 10 years ago. Commented Apr 21 at 16:14

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