What is your strategy when submitting an article?

I am asking because I wonder if it hurts to try submitting to a top journal even if the paper is clearly not good enough. Worse come worse I get a desk rejection and a couple of comments from the editor. If I am lucky, I get some reviewers' comments.

I guess something else that matters is time. If a journal takes months to get back, an additional submission might results in a huge loss of time, which postpone the publication process.

But I still don't get why I should start from a lower ranked journal, without even trying an overshoot.

Field is Econ if it helps. But I am more interested in a general argument.

2 Answers 2


For me, there are some factors at play:

  • If this paper is something that a student needs to graduate, I prefer playing it safe. Journal rank is less important than a prospect to exhaust one's paid scholarship period.
  • I start with a presumption that we write for a particular audience, and my primary goal is to reach this audience. Thus, I'd prefer to publish in a journal that (I believe) will be read by the relevant people.
  • Thus, for example, a widely scoped top "Journal A" that publishes a lot of diverse papers yearly and too vast for me to read would be less preferable to me than a focused and less prestigious "Journal B" that I personally check regularly.

Summing up, I think if the paper at hand can make headlines in the mainstream press, a "star journal" can help. Otherwise, a publication at any decent venue is supposed to become a part of common knowledge. So if we aim for an impact (and we probably should), the goal is to improve the likelihood of being read and cited, which I think isn't always directly related to journal rank. As a shorthand, I tend to prefer journals that publish papers I personally consider most similar to the work I do.


Ultimately you need to make a judgement call, but the best judgement will be one that tries to find the most appropriate journal, not the best and (certainly) not a predatory one.

But that means that you have done some investigation beyond just determining ranking. What do they publish? Is my paper compatible with what they are likely to publish? How big a contribution am I making? Do I extend the work of X who publishes here? There are lots of things you can look at.

But yes, publishing takes time, though it also, hopefully, gives you feedback provided it goes through review and isn't immediately rejected by the editor.

Do your homework. Try to find a "best match", though that is elusive.

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