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I am a PhD candidate in a small country. I have two Master degrees, one from an American university. I am also an experienced professional and an expert in the subject of my PhD studies (in my country, clearly). I need to publish a paper in an international journal as a condition to obtain my PhD. How do I choose a journal? I cannot afford years of waiting for the paper to be published, submit it and be rejected many times. I am looking through the journals, and there is simply no way to know which one is suitable for me. Any help? I understand about looking for journals which had previously published similar articles, but how to know that it is a journal which is likely to accept my article?

Thank you!

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    Advice such as this is why Ph.D. supervisors are invaluable. – GEdgar Dec 19 '15 at 20:56
  • You need to find a journal that is a good fit for your paper. Try to find similar papers and see where they were published. – Thomas Dec 19 '15 at 21:00
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First, you need a list of the journals that are relevant to your field. Here are some ways to create that list. I recommend that you do all of these, not just one or two.

  • Ask your supervisor.
  • Ask your librarian.
  • As you read articles, take note of the journals that the articles are published in, especially if the article is interesting or relevant to you.

Now that you have a list of relevant journals, it's time to select the one that's right for your article. Here are some things that will help. Again, I recommend that you do all of these.

  • Ask your supervisor.
  • Search the literature for articles that are similar in some way to yours. See where those articles are published.
  • Visit the home page of journals that you're interested in. Read their "aims and scope". Be warned that you have to read a lot of different "aims and scope" writeups before you catch on to the lingo. Is your article covered in their list of topics? Do they only publish major breakthroughs in the field, or do they publish more modest articles?
  • Look at some articles that are published in journals that you're interested in. Are they roughly similar in focus? Are they similar in quality? (Don't underrate your own work. Beware the imposter syndrome!)
  • Since you've written an article, you must have done a fair amount of research. So ask yourself: "Where would I go (i.e., what journals) to find an article like this?"

A few miscellaneous tips:

  • If you're not sure if an article is appropriate for a particular journal, you don't have to submit it and wait 6-12 months for an answer. Write up a 1-2 page summary of your article (called an "extended abstract"), and send it to the editor asking if it's appropriate. They'll probably answer within a week or two.
  • Check Beall's list to make sure you're not dealing with a predatory publisher.
  • Check the copyright/license terms. (E.g., will they let you self-archive?)
  • Check if there are any publication charges that you will have to pay. I would only pay a fee if my article will be open access (free for others to download), and only if the amount is reasonable. The fee may be lower if you're in a developing country.
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    "If you're not sure if an article is appropriate for a particular journal..." Interesting idea. Have you had success with that yourself? It used to be the case that, if I felt I knew the handling editor a bit, I might ask them to speculate on the appropriateness of the submission and/or if they would recommend I sent it elsewhere. In every case the answer I got was, "You can submit it here if you like, and we'll take it from there." – Pete L. Clark Dec 19 '15 at 21:55
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    @PeteL.Clark I did it once. In my ignorance, I sent it to an editor for one of the LNCS series, where they only publish conference proceedings; they don't solicit articles. But the editor responded kindly and made specific suggestions of journals where I might submit my article. I have also heard from one or two others who have done this sort of thing, with success. But then, people are more likely to talk about successes than failures, so YMMV. – mhwombat Dec 19 '15 at 22:04
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One place to find an appropriate journal is your very own list of references. Where are the most relevant articles that you cite published in? Those journals might be good places to start.

You should also think about whether your long-term plans include staying in academia. If not, pick whatever journal satisfies your program's requirements. If you do, however, you should start at the top and work your way down if/when the paper gets rejected (hopefully with useful comments from reviewers). That greatly increases how long it takes to get the article out, but once published, it'll be a lot more valuable to you. The first thing search committees look at is where you have published. If it's only in journals that people have never heard of, you may be in trouble.

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Most of the big publishers like Elsevier or Springer Nature have a tool called "Journal finder" o "journal suggester" where you can place your abstract and they give you a list of suitable journals to start with.

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