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I am a PhD student with only two papers published in peer-reviewed journals all within the same journal. One of them was published due to a deal between a conference I was in and the publisher. The other one is a critique of a paper that was published there, hence it makes sense to be on the same journal.

I have two other papers under review in journals. I am waiting for a first review on them for a much longer than average time. In one of them my PhD advisor is also an author. Even though it wasn't peer-reviewed yet, we are already preparing (and submitting to conferences) works derived from it. After waiting a long time for a review I mailed the editors of the journal and they say they didn't find reviewers yet.

Here is my dilemma: my advisor is pushing that I withdraw the article from the current journal and submit to the same journal I have my other papers in, but I am scared this will damage my career prospects.

If one reads my CV, in a job application for example, and realize all of my papers are in the same journal they might just stop considering me. This might damage even more since: (i) the chief editor of the journal works in our dpt (and was my professor in grad school) and (ii) even though this specific journal has good metrics (Q2 in general and Q1 in the paper's topic and higher impact factor than the journal which didn't find reviewers for my paper) I know many academics dislike the publisher, some with good reason.

Will this damage my career? Is it worse to publish again in the same journal than not publish at all? If so, how should I explain this concern to my advisor?

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Your first few papers don't determine your career. The answer to the title question is, of course, "it depends". If your research focus is narrow, especially narrow, then there are fewer journals that are appropriate venues and the others won't have appropriate reviewers in their "stable". But continuing to publish in a very low impact journal would have negative consequences, that aren't the case here.

I'll guess that "a paper in the same journal" is a better outcome than "no paper" at this particular point in your journey, so your advisor is likely giving good advice. I doubt that an editor, even one who knows you will bias decisions in your favor if they want to keep up the reputation of the journal.

But, the indicators seem to be positive, not negative; getting published in a good journal.

You can also ask the editor of the journal you submitted to about the likelihood of a decision in a reasonable time frame, saying that if that isn't possible you will "be forced by circumstances" to withdraw the paper.

I'll also note that, assuming everything you say is accurate, that people believe in you and your work. That support alone should lessen your fears about getting a good position in the future.

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  • Thanks for your input, @Buffy Although I know the journal is valid and that the editor won't bias me, I don't know if that matters. What matters is what whoever may (or may not) hire me in the future thinks, and that is scary :/ . – RandomNameGenerator Feb 26 at 16:11
  • "If your research focus is narrow, especially narrow," then your research career has bigger problems than where you publish. – Anonymous Physicist Feb 27 at 8:19
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Will publishing all my papers in a single journal endanger my career?

  • If it is not one of the very top journals in the field
  • If you have more than ten publications
  • And all the publications are in the same journal

Then yes, it will endanger your research career. Your research career is based on your reputation as a researcher. If you only publish in one journal, then your reputation will not spread to as many editors and peer reviewers.

If you only have two to four papers, then where they are published tells us very little about where your career is headed. It's just not a useful sample size.

This assumes you work in physical sciences fields that I am familiar with. In these fields people getting permanent positions have over twenty publications, so there is a decent sample size.

Is it worse to publish again in the same journal than not publish at all?

No.

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Most people would base their decision on:

  1. The relative rating or impact factor of the journal compared with others relevant to the same field; and
  2. The relevance of your material to what the journal typically publishes and their audience.

The citations you are likely to get will be influenced by both the profile of the journal and the relevance of the material to its readership.

Its therefore perfectly feasible (and sensible) to publish material in a 'lower ranked' journal if the research you are looking to publish has greater relevance for that audience.

BUT - if the research in question is genuinely only a 1-shot-at-goal only situation when it comes to publication - then you would usually be inclined to go for the highest rated journal that you can as these outlets can be very selective.

Be aware however that, for better or worse, most academics will now 'salami slice' the output from their research, or different aspects of it, for different outlets. This is not always a bad thing (and may not actually constitute 'salami slicing'). For example, a paper emphasising theoretical or methodological aspects to the research may go to a different outlet to one that is more applied or gives greater emphasis to context, findings or implications in practice.

This final point does however flag that if you are only ever publishing in one journal it does convey a relatively narrow focus in terms of how you convey the relevance of your research and your willingness to engage a broader audience.

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