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Research: Which journal should I publish in?

Library support for postgraduate students and researchers

How do we find high quality journals to publish in?

This page highlights the various resources available for authors wishing to find high quality journals to publish in - these resources include databases used by university ranking sites to find the citation rates of researchers in a specific university.

Contents page

  • Find an appropriate journal to publishing in
    • Step 1a: Create a shortlist of potential journals - using your reference list & peers recommendations
    • Step 1b: Create a shortlist of potential journals - using JOURNAL RANKING databases
      • Understanding journal performance indicators
    • Step 1c: Create a shortlist of potential journals - using JOURNAL FINDER tools
  • Evaluate the journal
    • Step 2: Explore the features of the journal
    • Step 3: Findability - where the journal is indexed?
    • Step 4: Review the publishing agreement of the journal
    • Evaluating journals website - quality of the journal
  • Understand journal performance indicators
  • Readings - Learned Publishing (journal RSS of contents pages)

Find an appropriate journal to publishing in: Step 1a: Create a shortlist of potential journals using your reference list & recommendations

  • Which journals have you personally found must useful when researching your topic?
  • Which journals have your colleagues,  supervisors or mentors recommended? Recommendations from experts in the area are always very useful.


Find an appropriate journal to publishing in: Step 1b: Create a shortlist of potential journals - using JOURNAL RANKING databases

Journal Rankings are available mainly from the two following vendors:

  • Clarivate Analytics > tracks the Web of Science's database's citations to produce:
    • InCites
    • Journal Citation Reports
  • Elsevier > tracks the Scopus database's citations to produce:
    • Scimago 
    • Journal Metrics (CiteScore)
    • SciVal
    • Scopus Compare Journals









Other Databases which may assist in finding high ranking journals in your subject/topic area

  • ERA Journal List (Restricted to ECU staff and Research Students) shows journals included in the ERA 2015 journal list
    • login into the ECU staff/student portal
    • click into Research Activity System (RAS)
    • click on ERA Journal Lookup (the "torch light icon")
    • click FoR Code (2 digit and 4 digit) to find journals in a particular subject area
  • ABDC Journal Quality List 2016 list of business journals put together by the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC).
  • does not provide journal rankings but it provides information on over 300,000 international journals and magazines: is it peer-reviewed, open access, magazine, trade or professional magazine, newsletter. It provides a raft of information about the journal publisher, price, where the publication is indexed, print or online, etc.

Step 1c: Create a shortlist of potential journals - using JOURNAL FINDER tools

If you would like to type in your topic and receive recommendations on which journals are more likely to publish articles such as yours, check out some of the following journal finder tools website.

The search boxes in these journal finder tools use your potential article's title, abstract/keywords &/or reference list to find relevant journal titles.


  • EndNote’s Manuscript Matcher  uses the database created by EndNote Web users 
    • register through Web of Science OR EndNote (register/login required to use this service)
    • in EndNote Web, click on the tab "Match"
    • enter your article title, abstract, references (optional)
    • will provide you with a list of recommended journal titles + their impact factor of journal + related articles
  • JANE (Journal/Author Name Estimator) uses Medline as its source database
  • Elsevier Journal Finder (publisher) helps you find a relevant Elsevier journal
  • EDANZ Journal selector - searches over 28,000 journals and includes
  • Springer Journal Selector (publisher) -helps you find a relevant Springer journal
  • Wiley Journal Finder - (publisher) helps author to find journals best matched article's subject


Step 2: Explore the features of a possible journal

  • Aims and scope  - does your article fit within the topical coverage and mission of the journal?
  • Intended audience of the publication
    • Ulrichsweb is a useful database as it can help you assess the target audience of the publication: Is it scholarly, a trade publications, newsletter, website?
      • Peer review - is the journal peer reviewed? Is this blind or double blind?
  • DOI - does the journal assign Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to the articles they publish?
    • A DOI is the unique ID permanently associated with a particular article and provides a stable and unambiguous link to it therefore improve the discoverability of an item
    • DOIs also helps facilitate linkages between an article and an author's own identifiers, such as a Thomson Reuters Researcher ID or ORCID
    • DOIs can also be tracked by altmetrics tools and can be used to demonstrate the social media buzz surrounding a specific DOI e.g. number mentions in twitter, blogs, facebook etc. and the number of bookmarks to the article on Mendeley and CiteULike.
  • Open access publication - is the journal open access? Do you want your research to be freely available worldwide and accessible to the broadest spectrum of readers possible? What open access options does the journal offer? eg Gold Open Access where the author pays up-front an article processing fee for their article to be published or Green Open Access when the author is allowed to publish a version of the article in their website or institutional repository (remember to keep that copy for Research Online!)
  • Open access dataset - does the journal require you to make your research dataset available on Open Access? Journals such as Nature, PLOS etc. now require authors to provide public access to the dataset that their paper is based on. When possible, Scopus is now linking to an article's Scopus record to it's related open access dataset.
    If you wish to make your dataset open or available for re-use, check out Research Online - we can provide your dataset with a DOI (refer to your dataset in your paper's reference list) and arrange for it to appear on Research Data Australia.
  • Number of articles/issues published annually - the frequency of issues and the number of articles published annually may affect rejection rates, influence turnaround times for processing articles and impact on the time taken for articles to get published.
  • Rejection rates - what percentage of article submissions are rejected? A high rejection rate may suggest a journal is of high quality but it may also reduce the likelihood of the article getting published in that journal.
  • Turnaround time/backlog - how much time will it take for a submitted article to get accepted and published?

Step 3: Findability - where the journal is indexed?

Does the journal tell you where anyone can find your published article? Is the journal indexed in an academic database such as Scopus or Web of Science or Google Scholar? A presence in major subject databases provides some indication as to the quality of the journal.

Check the following to see where the journal is indexed:

  • Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory: Ulrichsweb indexes over 300,000 international periodicals. Search by journal title or journals by topic, limit resulty by a range of filters e.g. peer-reviewed, open access etc.  It will also provide publisher information and where the journal has been indexed.
  • Scimago Journal Rankings list journals indexed by Scopus database
  • Master Journal List (Thomson Reuters): a searchable database of all journal titles indexed by the Web of Science (Thomson Reuters)
  • Journal Quality List: compiled by Professor Anne-Wil Harzing from the University of Melbourne, this quality list includes journals from the fields of economics, accounting, finance, management and marketing.
  • Specific Subject databases: ECU Library LibGuides lists relevant discipline specific subject databases which will indicate journal title included within it's coverage.

Step 4: Review the publishing agreement of the journal

Once you have selected a journal, you will then submit your article, which then may ultimately be accepted for publication by the journal. If you are publishing commercially you will then be asked to sign a publishing agreement. It is important that you:

  • Read the publishing agreement carefully before signing.
  • Remember that author's have rights and can ask for changes to the agreement.
  • Be aware of third party copyright. Permissions will need to be sought before you include copyrighted material, including images, figures and tables produced by others.
  • Think about open access (OA) as an alternative to commercial publishing.
  • Remember to keep the accepted (post-print) version of your paper for later inclusion in ECU's institutional repository Research Online. The accepted (post-print) version of your article manuscript is the version after the paper has been peer reviewed (typically the final Word document version).

PATENT ALERT: Remember that once your work is published, it is in the public domain. For commercially relevant work this may mean that it is no longer patentable. You should check if any valuable intellectual property in your work could be compromised by being published. For further assistance:

FUNDER ALERT: If your publication is an outcome of a project funded by the ARC or NHMRC, it may be need to comply with their Open Access Policies. For each policy, a publication must be made openly accessible within 12 months of it's publication date. If a publication cannot be made openly accessible, a reason must be provided to the funding agency.

Evaluating journals

View and Use the Think Check Submit Checklists!


Discriminating Between Legitimate and Predatory Open Access Journals: Report from the International Federation for Emergency Medicine Research Committee provides authors with a huge checklist on an overall approach to choosing a journal and identifying if the publisher is genuine

Identifying and avoiding predatory publishers: A primer for researchers by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries

Identifying predatory or pseudo-journals by the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME). (2017)


Predatory Open Access Journals Dupuis


Retraction Watch

About 500-600 papers are retracted each year!

Retraction Watch highlights many of the retracted articles

- the reasons why papers are retracted are wide and varied!


Understanding journal performance indicators


When selecting a journal in which to publish, it is important to bear in mind that this choice will determine whether your article will be eligible to be counted as part of the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) evaluation. It may also determine whether the article will be eligible for quality measures under ASPIRE, ECU's research performance scheme, which uses Field Weighted Citation Impact data to inform the ASPIRE allocations.


Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) is the research quality evaluation initiative of the Australian Government, administered by the Australian Research Council (ARC). ERA identifies and promotes excellence across the full spectrum of research activity in Australia's higher education insitutions.


Acknowledging Successful Performance in Research Excellence (ASPIRE) is ECU's system for "...measuring and quantifying research performance which rewards researchers for research activity and quality." ASPIRE provides guidance to researchers as to what the university values in relation to research performance. For more information on ASPIRE refer to ECU's Research Performance page.

Including Published Articles in a Thesis

In accord with ECU Policy ac063 Postgraduate Research: Thesis with Publication a HDR candidate can produce a Thesis with Publication, which " a combination of publishable work based on original research and a substantive written, integrating component." These publications can include journal articles. As a result, candidates can publish their ongoing HDR research in journals, which can then form part of their Thesis with Publication.

It is important to note however, that Copyright policies vary from journal to journal and it essential that authors check the copyright policy of each journal to establish if there are any restrictions on including a published article in the open access version of thesis on Research Online - one option available is that open access version of the thesis could exclude relevant Copyright chapters.

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