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I am planning on submitting a paper to a mechanical or materials science journal. I am looking at these two journals IJMS (IF 4.6) and JMST (IF 6.2).

First one is published by Elsevier and is an old journal, while second one by The Journal of the Chinese Society for Metals and is a recent one.

Considering, my paper fits the scope of both the journals, should a decision of submitting a paper be made solely on the basis of the impact factor? Is the second journal better than the first one?

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I think impact factor should be almost at the bottom of considerations of how to choose a journal. If you want to read more I suggest this nature article.

The first test should be to make sure you are submitting to a journal of good standing. For example you may want to ask is it a predatory journal.

Once that's out of the way then I think the most important thing is your choice depends on who you want your audience to be. You've suggested journals in different fields - this is now your choice. Different journals have different audiences from different communities. In my work, some journals lend themselves to more theoretical work whereas some prefer more practical implementations and applications.

There are some other considerations which I think you might consider too:

You may also want to bring your work to the attention of one of the editors. This might be someone you want to work with in future for example.

You should also think if there is a good fit to your work. Acceptance is not guaranteed for any work. You should have a look at the scope of each journal and see if your work fits.

Finally, you may want to consider how fast the journal processes articles - how long is it from when you submit your work to a potential publication. Early in your career this might be an important factor too.

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    This is all good and nice, but a bit too ideal: beware that in certain countries career progressions and funding are decided also on the basis of the IF of the journals where someone has published, and with significant weight. Or, sometimes, even worse, completely different criteria based on politics (e.g. I've been told that, in Poland, certain Polish journals carry much more weight than renowned international journals). Sometimes, unfortunately, one really has to look at certain practical parameters especially when they are at the beginning of their career. Nov 11, 2020 at 10:55
  • Funders, employers, etc should be following the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment nowadays: sfdora.org/read Of course not everyone does...
    – Tom R
    Nov 11, 2020 at 13:44
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I think Tom R's answer is idealistic and doesn't match what I learned when I interviewed several established researchers about why they submit to X journal instead of Y.

  • Impact factor. Love it or hate it, it still factors in the minds of most people.
  • Scope. Some journals are simply better than others for certain papers. The two journals you mention are examples. I'm not in your field, but reading their description it seems they have slightly different emphasis. Which one is closer to your field?
  • Where has related work been published? If for example a paper is closely related to mine and it was published in X journal, then I am more likely to submit to X journal.
  • Do I know the people on the editorial board? If so I am more likely to submit there (especially if I consider them my friends).
  • Have I published there before? If so (and I had a good experience) I am more likely to submit there.
  • Country. For example British researchers are more likely to submit to a British Journal of [Field] than non-British researchers.
  • Publisher. Some researchers will simply never submit to journals by certain publishers, no matter what.

Factors near the bottom are less important than those near the top.

In your case, the easiest thing to do is discuss with your advisor, if you have one.

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