I am a junior researcher in mathematics. My paper is accepted in the Journal of Statistical Physics, which I am the only author. When I submitted the paper, I considered the journal as an upper good journal as some great mathematicians have a paper on it. But, now, I find out the journal is not Q1. To be honest, I feel so bad as I submitted my paper in such a journal. I thought the journal is better than the nonlinearity journal, where the journal is Q1 and my paper could have been published.

I don't want to make such a mistake again (i.e. I want to submit the paper in a good journal). What I should do? My policy was to look at where the great machinations publish a paper and compare it with my papers, and then I submit the paper.

P.s: I have neither a good supervisor not mentor to ask my question.

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    I have never heard of Q1 outside of this website, and neither have any of my colleagues, many of whom have distinguished careers in math. If you want to be like them, you should forget about Q1 and focus on the (correct) heuristics you’ve already been applying, and on finding good mentors who can advise you on such matters.
    – Dan Romik
    Jan 25 at 16:16
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    As a learned person in the area, you should always make your own judgement whether a work is good. Do not rely on ranking or some metric. Even Q1 or top journals publish rubbish.
    – VitaminE
    Jan 25 at 20:24
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    This really is not a shopping question. Adam isn't asking us to tell him what journal to publish in, but rather to tell him how he should judge for himself. It also is not really a duplicate of any of the linked questions, as the issue here is not about avoiding bad journals, but separating between the "good" and the "very good" ones.
    – Arno
    Jan 26 at 9:45

3 Answers 3


All great mathematicians have (basically by definition) written some great papers. It doesn't follow that all of their papers are great. Some of them might not bother to write up and publish their mediocre work (and some of them do), but almost all of them will still publish their merely good papers. Those merely good papers end up in merely good journals. Indeed, most great mathematicians are publishing more merely good papers than great papers.

If your paper is about the same quality as several merely good papers by great mathematicians in a given journal, then you made the right decision to publish in that journal. If your paper is better than that, perhaps as good as the merely very good papers of some great mathematicians, then maybe you should have aimed higher.

Frankly, at the level your paper is at, it doesn't matter much. If you could have made it to the top journal in mathematical physics (or some other appropriate subfield), or a decent general journal, that would make a difference, but I'm guessing you're not judging your paper as being good enough for that. People in your subfield can read your work (or at least the introduction) and judge for themselves; people not in your subfield (like myself) will see both your choices as reputable but not great journals. At a research university in the US, publications in journals like this will be thought of as contributing to your body of work, but generally not good enough to be the paper that gets you hired.

I am assuming you can generally tell the difference between great and merely good work (even if occasionally your judgement of a specific paper differs from that of everyone else). If you can't, and you also don't have a mentor, you have bigger problems than figuring out where to submit your papers.

  • Thank you very much for your answer. You are saying that the Journal of Statistical Physics and nonlinearity journal are same level, right?
    – Adam
    Jan 26 at 10:08
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    From my distance (which is pretty far away in mathematics), yes. Jan 26 at 16:16

I am assuming that with "Q1" you refer to the Scimago rankings. These are rubbish for mathematics, and its best to ignore them unless forced into them by clueless administrators.

Your original strategy of seeing where people you highly respect publish is a good one. In addition, discussing with colleagues what journals they deem to have high standards gets you a clearer picture. Most people will perceive significant quality differences between journals they actually do publish in.

  • Thank you very much for your comment. Which one do you consider as a better journal, nonlinearity or Journal of Statistical Physics?
    – Adam
    Jan 25 at 16:15
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    @Adam Not my part of mathematics.
    – Arno
    Jan 25 at 16:16
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    For those wondering, the reason that the Scimago rankings are rubbish for mathematics is that they're based on "impact factors", which come from how many citations a paper gets within a limited time frame (a year or two, I think). In this case, the time frame is entirely too small for most if not all mathematics fields. The time from submission to publication for math papers is routinely measured in months and can easily go over a year, and the typical time it takes researchers to synthesize the ideas to produce new results is also often measured in years. Jan 26 at 10:46
  • @zibadawatimmy there are many other reasons why impact factors are a lousy way to measure actual impact. Which is why arguably the [whatever] rankings are equally rubbish outside of mathematics.
    – Dan Romik
    Jan 26 at 23:28
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    @DanRomik Well, yes, but the claim in the post was being rubbish specifically for mathematics, which has more particular issues than the general ones faced by impact factor approaches. In mathy terms, the very assumptions of the theorem aren't met, and that's why we don't apply it; that the theorem's conclusions are also largely useless is perhaps interesting (and so useful!) but not formally the reason to not invoke it. I guess how you feel about that depends on your perspective on proximate cause versus ultimate cause here, but that's my take anyway. Jan 27 at 0:46

Rankings are a very good way of approximately ranking a huge amount of data fast, by using an average over many rankings.


  • If you have 1000 journals and you want to distinguish between top 50 journals and bottom 750-1000 journals, you can do this quite easily using an average of rankings.

  • The same with ranking universities. No matter which rankings you use, you will always see that MIT is one of the top ones, while "kangaroo University", is at the bottom.

Rankings are NOT good, if you want to distinguish between a medium level journal and slightly lower journal. Or you want to know if university in place 450 is better than university in place 600, etc. It doesn't work in high resolution. This wouldn't work.

Conclusion: Q1/Q2 in SciMago is an unreliable measure that you shouldn't trust.

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