I have finished some research work. Now I need to decide where to publish. I have narrowed down my search to a handful of journals, but I am struggling to pick one.

I'd like to know other people's experiences when picking that one journal to publish in. What do you take into account once you have narrowed down your search to a handful of journals?

Edit 1: I am ending my second year PhD in electrical engineering. More specifically, the topic is unsupervised anomaly detection. This would be my second submission (the first one got rejected justifiably so). For now I don't care about citations much, but I think the work I did has reasonable value to it, so I don't just want to go to the lowest tier journal. I am the only author with my advisor.

  • Responding to edit: If you are working with your advisor, then they should have a good idea of where to send it. See what they think you should do and what their reasoning is.
    – JoshuaZ
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 1:08
  • Yes, he gave me some suggestions. But I'd like to have more inputs :).
    – Schach21
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 1:10
  • 4
    He's a subject matter expert, and has actually read the paper in question. People here will by nature not be as much subject matter experts and not have read the paper. You should almost certainly listen to his advice over anything anyone here has to say about something that specific.
    – JoshuaZ
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 1:11
  • Thanks for your help!
    – Schach21
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 1:15
  • Order the shortlist of journals by impact factor. Pick the best journal for which you think your paper has a probability to be accepted that is higher than x %. Choose x correponding to how many rejections and submissions to a different journal you can afford for this manuscript.
    – user9482
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 6:23

1 Answer 1


This is going to depend a lot on your field, and where you are in your career and who the other authors are. If you are going to be on market soon or up for tenure review, then a journal with a quick turnaround may make sense. If you are not on market soon, then aiming at the strongest journal you can makes sense. One rule I've heard is "if papers aren't sometimes rejected then you aren't aiming high enough."

More specific than that really requires field specific stuff. For example, in pure math, the best generalist journals are mostly considered better than most subject specific journals. Also, something can be in some fields a warning sign but not in others. For example, in many subfields, "International" in a title of a journal is major warning sign. But the International Journal of Number Theory is considered one of the better number theory journals. (I've had one paper published there and multiple which got rejected with them specifically saying to go to a different journal.) In math, one thing that matters a lot is if a journal is reviewed by Mathscinet. If the journal is only indexed, or worst, not even indexed, the set of people who will see your work is going to be a lot smaller. Also, there are official ranking systems but a lot of them are awful. For example, apparently some fields pay attention to "Scimago" rankings but the rankings are not great for pure math (with some journals not even really being in the categories they are listed in) to the point where I don't think anyone pays attention to them in math.

  • Thanks for your answer. I edited the question with some extra information about my specific case.
    – Schach21
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 1:04

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