I'm doing my PhD in chemistry. My advisor Prof X keeps submitting my first manuscript to journals with high impact factors. After a journal with IF = 15 rejected the work, X submitted it to one with IF = 14. Our work has been desk rejected four times so far.

I've told X that I want it in specialized (prestigious) journals which have low IFs. X ignored my opinion. Now the work is finally considered by the fifth journal with a fine IF, but not really the journal in my field I would love.

I have another two manuscripts in drafting. I believe having them in the specialized journals (with low IF) would benefit my CV most. What should I do, is there only some extreme options I can take?

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    Is the problem that you do not want to publish in these high impact factor journals, or is the problem that submitting to those journals is taking up your time? Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


Golden rule of doing PhD studies:

Don't argue with your supervisor*

  • They are much more likely to be right than you are, simply because they've been around much longer than you have.
  • They likely want the best for you. It's possible they want the best for themselves even more, but because students doing well also reflects well on the supervisor, your motives overlap.
  • If your relationship with your supervisor breaks down, you suffer a lot more than they do.
  • They could have other, non-obvious reasons for wanting to submit to high IF journals (such as needing it for their upcoming tenure review or funding application).

So if your supervisor selects journal based on impact factor, you submit your papers to those journals. Worst thing that can happen is your paper gets desk rejected, which is still not a terrible outcome because you can submit it elsewhere. The only practical consequence is that it takes a bit longer to publish, but if you've uploaded a preprint somewhere, actual publication in a journal isn't a big deal. Your results are already available, after all. Meanwhile, there is no benefit to publishing in a low-IF journal compared to a high-IF one.

If you really feel strongly about it you could try negotiating with your supervisor, something like "how about we send two manuscripts to high IF journals and one to low IF journals". But if your supervisor digs in his or her heels and insists you submit to high IF journals, see the bolded sentence above: don't argue with your supervisor.

*Unless they are doing something unethical.

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    Interesting rule. Mine is the converse: you don’t get the degree until you can argue with your supervisor. It all depends on the topic and the tone of course, but choosing a journal is something I would want my students to challenge. Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 13:20
  • I agree. Do it your advisor's way. After you graduate, you can try it your way. After a while you may find you like it, or you may find it was not so good after all.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 13:30
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    @ZeroTheHero right, but in the OP, I've told X that I want it in specialized (prestigious) journals which have low IFs. X ignored my opinion. -- they've already challenged it and the supervisor still says no.
    – Allure
    Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 13:51
  • @Allure yes the supervisor should probably have yielded to the student. Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 14:02
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    I agree with your suggestion but want to adapt it - Golden rule of doing happy* PhD studies: Don't argue with your supervisor* If there is mistreat or unethical behavior, any suggestion before I talk to department head?
    – HanneA
    Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 14:28

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