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I am a post-doctoral researcher in social sciences and work on several topics that may not only be interested to the discipline itself but also to a wider academic audience, I suppose (hopefully).

Besides trying to publish in the disciplinary journals, I am also wondering whether it makes sense to publish in academic journals that have a broader scope (such as PLOS One or EPJ Data Science). Is it worth trying to reach 'other audiences' or is it better to speak to your 'direct' peers by publishing only in social sciences journals? And does it make sense career-wise to publish as widely as possible or is it rather seen as to fuzzy and lacking focus on contributing to the own academic field (i.a. people in hiring committees may not know these interdiscplinary journals and can't assess whether this a good academic achievement or not)?

Any recommendations or personal experience on this are very welcome.

Thanks in advance!

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Choosing a journal is all about trade-offs in audience vs. effort. Who do you want to talk to, and what type of effort do you want to put in so that you can do so?

Personally, I publish in a mix of field-specific journals and broad interdisciplinary journals. In my experience, the review times are pretty similar (a couple months) for interdisciplinary journals and most field-specific journals. Some field-specific journals, however, can be far slower, depending on field and journal.

In my own case, I find it advantageous to publish in the broad interdisciplinary journals in two main cases:

  1. When the research doesn't fit cleanly into a particular disciplinary "stovepipe", I prefer to put it where categories don't matter so much, rather than try to fit it onto a field-specific journal's Procrustean bed.

  2. When I'm reporting on something that doesn't make a "pretty" story, like work on scientific infrastructure or a report about a study that was only partially successful, I prefer not to try to puff up "novelty" or "impact", but just go to somewhere like PLoS ONE that explicitly rules those out and just focuses on validity.

One still must, of course, judge the respectability of the publications. Places like PLoS ONE are fine, but publishing in predatory journals is poison. Likewise, you probably have work that is best presented to people in your field in a field-specific journal: if you don't, why is it your field?

Note, of course, that there is likely to be a great deal of field-specific variation, even down to specific sub-disciplines within a field. I'm coming from a world of computer science, engineering, and biology, and cannot say what social scientists in your specific sub-discipline may believe.

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From my personal experience, there are pros and cons. We published several articles in such journals (megajournals including PlosOne, SageOpen, Heliyon) and frequently dealt with long (very long!) peer review times. Such journals often have difficulties to find an academic editor for submissions and this may delay your publication. I understand that it is my subjective experience and you should not take it for granted. Just another point to consider in terms of your question. I recommend field-specific journals.

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  • I don't think that long waiting times are a unique trait of interdisciplinary megajournals.
    – anpami
    Sep 22, 2022 at 7:18
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From my personal experience publishing in a journal outside my main field as well as working as a copy editor for a journal in an affiliated, but still external field, I will say that some of the more common problems I've encountered include an unfamiliarity with conventions in one field from another, ranging from the types of citation formats used, to terminology that is well known in one field, but which needs greater explanation in another. In other words, it can be a lot of work for a writer to publish in a field outside of their main one due to being unfamiliar with the conventions of the other; conversely, it can be a lot of work for the editorial staff on the other end. This is not to say that you should not publish outside your field, just that it might be more time and labor on your end. Best of luck in all your endeavors!

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