Given my personal experience, it boils down to the task of finding an open-minded editor/journal.

"Conceptual Papers: can bridge existing theories in interesting ways, link work across disciplines, provide multi-level insights, and broaden the scope of our thinking "

I was searching online for science journals accepting articles on subjects that are not in mainstream academic research areas. While 'new ideas' are acceptable in research articles on finance, education, psychology. I could not find anything similar for engineering journals.

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    I'll reopen since it's no longer a shopping question which was the original close reason, though I can't promise that it will be well-received.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 3, 2023 at 17:01
  • If you're quoting from a source, you should ideally make the original source/author clear with a link or citation.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 3, 2023 at 20:19
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    The body of the question now seems like an answer, whereas it should have been posted as a question, together with a possible (self-written) answer. Apr 3, 2023 at 23:42
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    I am afraid we cannot really help you here: While there are categories of journals in some fields, whether such a categorisation exists and particularly the categories themselves are field-dependent. What use is it for you if another field has just the right category of journals for you, but that category simply doesn’t exist in your field? Only somebody familiar with your particular paper and the journal landscape in your field can help you. If there is nobody like that, all you can do is take an intensive look at all the journals of your field – as tedious as that may be.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Apr 9, 2023 at 9:00
  • @Wrzlprmft -I guess what I was really looking for was tips on how to swim against a strong current. But, it looks like this forum is a representation of this strong current and it is difficult to even discuss something that the common opinion views as unstandard or even abnormal. Apr 9, 2023 at 15:10

1 Answer 1


I think the question here should really be "What are the minimal requirements for a conceptual paper to be a worthy addition to the academic literature". Academic literature is very different to everyday literature where when you want to introduce an idea to people you write an article for a newspaper or a blog post. In academia all ideas being introduced, including conceptual ideas, need solid evidence not just it would be worth working towards. Looking for an "open-minded editor/journal" probably more likely to lead you to you finding somewhere worthless, crackpoty or predatory which you end up submitting your article, ruining your reputation and/or losing you money.

When thinking about conceptual ideas, keep in mind that ideas/questions are cheap, implementation is key. You may also have heard that the key thing for research is a good idea/question, and I also agree with that, but its a good idea/question that's worthwhile. And a good idea/question is essentially one that is easy to implement, since most ideas/questions are hard to find anything academically useful from.

So what should we have in a conceptual paper, probably the simplest thing is evidence and an understanding of how it's building on previous academic work. If you think the field should adopt a new idea or more people should start investigating this topic then you need solid arguments as to why this idea isn't stupid and starting points from which researchers could build upon. Generally I would guess back of the envelope calculations or early and incomplete data could possibly be sufficient here however they still need to be solid and robust to challenges. When talking about the new idea/question it needs to be able to link back to previous work to support it or needs to do a literature review to show that tool X from field A could probably be hacked together to be useful in field B, and the back of the envelope calculations could support this. The conceptual article should also point out how this could be a natural progression of the field and list the possible problems with the idea to try to help others see where the struggles would be or speed up with the debunking of this idea. It could also propose some solid good questions that the author thinks would be valuable to answer but doesn't have the time/skill/resources to do so. But for this to be a worthwhile piece of academic work the context is very important, a new idea with only back of the envelope calculations isn't a research article, its a project proposal at best.

Once you ask what is needed to make the research solid then being unable to find a relevant journal should either go away or become an issue of the research not being solid enough to be of interest. No need to search for "open-minded" places.

  • "N A McMahon" - I enjoy reading your answer. It is elegant, smart and thoughtful. But it does not extend from the entrenched position that science can only exist in budgeted academic areas of research. In my case, I am looking for a niche (journal) a bit beyond that. Apr 3, 2023 at 17:56
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    If you don't have a budget for X then you can't pay people to seriously think about X. If you can't pay people to seriously think about X then X cannot be academic. If you want to talk about something that hasn't even got fields it can sprout from being researched yet then this isn't academic and should go in a blog or a forum or a news article. If you still want to make this academic then you will need to go back to whatever fields you think would give rise to fields that give rise to your target X and work from there. At which point maybe you should be looking for the term "white papers" Apr 3, 2023 at 18:04
  • "N A McMahon" - Doing incremental research, standing on a giant shoulders, ... I get it. This is what millions of annually published papers are about. But then, they complain that the number of 'disruptive' research papers has diminished over the years. Apr 3, 2023 at 19:18
  • @TheMatrixEquation-balance Besides for perhaps some cases in mathematics where outlining a problem that is both interesting and difficult is seen to have quite a lot of value even without a solution, I'm struggling to think of many papers that are disruptive without having data to support them.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 3, 2023 at 20:11
  • @BryanKrause - It took several decades to find the value behind Einstein's theory of general relativity. Apr 3, 2023 at 20:31

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