I have some results, related to imposing group structures on subspaces of finite fields with a metric, and I would like to publish my work. My advisor asked me to choose a journal, but I have no idea how to decide.

I have some further results on a paper published in Linear Algebra and its Applications. I have resolved a few open question they pose in their paper.

Is it advisable that I publish my results in the same journal? What other options do I have? How do I know if it is a good journal?

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    possible duplicate of How do you judge the quality of a journal?
    – 410 gone
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 18:05
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    Why not putting it on arxiv.org and then asking question (more people would be able to give advice). Maybe asking on scirate.com under your post won't hurt. But in case of doubt, why not journal which you cite the most, or one from which comes the result you push further? Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 20:15

2 Answers 2


One good place to start is the journals in which your most important references were published. (The authors of those references would be good candidates if the journal asks you to propose referees.)

Or: ask other people that work in the same field what journal they would suggest. (While you are at it, send them the manuscript and ask them for comments, nicely.) Have you presented your results at a conference? Do you recall anyone there working on a similar topic? Ideally someone who sat in on your presentation?

Your advisor should have at least a passing acquaintance with your field, so he should be able to suggest something. That he does not do so suggests to me that he is watching how you cope with this situation :-) How about other students of your advisor, does anyone work in this field?

It is not easy to judge whether a given journal is good. @EnergyNumbers' comment is helpful.

  • No one in my lab works in my field, including my advisor. He is very reputed in other fields and he is extremely sharp. Perhaps he is testing me! Thank you for your comment.
    – Spai
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 19:43
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    "Perhaps he is testing me!" I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I don't like the sound of it: you don't want to be playing mind games with your advisor, I promise you. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 19:55
  • @PeteL.Clark: It was in reference to Stephan's comment:"That he does not do so suggests to me that he is watching how you cope with this situation :-)". In all likelihood, I think my advisor believes I have a better idea (which I dont), since I worked on the problem alone. I will talk with him anyway;And, also there is no mind games with him, he is very cool.
    – Spai
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 20:11

Helping you choose a journal is exactly the sort of aid your advisor should be giving you. Often in the relationship between an advisor and a graduate student there is a lack of clarity and/or a miscommunication about what the student should be doing on his own and what his advisor could be helping him out with. I remember that one of my students gave as part of an oral exam a talk on an important paper. He asked me about it a little bit, but not as much as I was expecting. When he gave the talk it was excellent, except that at one point he presented a sort of black box and said "unfortunately I didn't understand this". It was (to me) no big deal, but I had to wonder, "If you understood everything except this one thing, why didn't you ask me about that thing before the exam?" He must have had different ideas about the amount of independence that was being asked of him.

The point of the above story is this: given what little you've said, I am not yet persuaded that your advisor is unwilling to help you choose a journal for your paper: why wouldn't he be willing to help? In general, here is a good strategy for getting help from any faculty member: rather than saying "I'm stumped; please advise," try something and then get feedback on the merits of what you tried. In your case you have the idea of submitting to Linear Algebra and its Applications because you answer some open questions raised in a previous paper in that journal. To me that sounds like an excellent idea: I have several times submitted to journals with the same idea (unfortunately, acknowledging that you have successfully answered questions from a prior paper does not guarantee that they'll want to publish your paper; I've had it happen both ways) and most of the journals that I've submitted to have been for less logical reasons than this (the other common strategy, related to yours, is to look through your bibliography and see whether any journal comes up more than once; if it does, if your paper is similar in subject matter and scope to any of those journals, then it's at least reasonable to submit there).

Here's an idea: why don't you come up with one or two more ideas for where to submit your paper which feel different from Linear Algebra and its Applications: e.g. try a journal which does not specialize in a mathematical subfield; try a journal which is of significantly higher quality -- e.g. Discrete Mathematics; if it doesn't sound ridiculous, maybe try something like the American Mathematical Monthly. Then bring these specific journal suggestions back to your advisor and ask for feedback. If you don't get any feedback from this, that's strange, and it is probably worth asking (as sunnily as you can possibly muster) why you're not getting help on this.

  • Thank you for your insightful comments, especially the idea of trying a journal of 'significantly higher quality'. If that means better peer review, I would love to send it there.
    – Spai
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 20:13
  • To be clear, when I suggested trying a journal of significantly higher quality, I meant trying the idea of submitting to such a journal out in front of your advisor. This will help you to find out what he thinks about your work. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 20:15
  • Yeah, of course. I first submit my draft to him anyway.
    – Spai
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 20:19

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