Where should I submit my paper?

I wish we could get credit for publishing in these kind of journals. photo credit: yelahneb via photopin cc

I wish we could get credit for publishing in these kind of journals. photo credit: yelahneb via photopin cc

When you are in an interdisciplinary department, deciding where to submit your paper is fun, and confusing. I already told you about the time my student and I rewrote a paper we had rejected from Demography for the Journal of Family Psychology (it was accepted). But, how do you decide which journal to submit to? What factors do you consider?  My student Sara Sandberg-Thoma have been working on a paper and discussing where to submit it, which is where the idea for this blog came from. Sara and I came up with the following tips on how to decide where to submit your paper

  1. Where are the papers you are citing published? The paper Sara and I are working on could be submitted to several journals – it crosses a few disciplines. As we were reading the paper out loud, I noticed Sara was citing a paper in a journal we hadn’t discussed that I really like – Social Science & Medicine. I suggested we submit the paper there.
  2. What is the turn-around that you want? Sara is going on the job market soon, so we wanted to submit the paper to a journal with a pretty quick turn-around time. I also considered turn-around time when I was on the tenure track – I didn’t want my paper languishing for months. I would rather get a quick reject and move on to the next journal. Social Science & Medicine, the journal we decided on, has a pretty quick turn-around time, so we thought the paper could potentially be in press before she went on the market.
  3. Where else have you published? Other journals in our field have pretty quick turn-around times – Journal of Marriage and Family (JMF), Family Relations (FR), Journal of Family Psychology (JFP) – but Sara already has two first-authored papers in JMF, so we decided to go for Social Science & Medicine because she hadn’t published there before.  I don’t think it is a good idea to have most of your papers in the same journal, though JMF is awesome, so she has a good problem.
  4. How good is the paper? I think Sara’s paper is really good, so I think she should be able to get it in a high-impact factor journal. You will sometimes hear academics talk about top-tier, second-tier, and third-tier journals. So, before Sara submitted to FR, a journal I love but that is probably second tier, I thought we should try a higher-tier journal first. Again, since she had two papers in JMF, I thought we should go for a different journal with a high impact factor – again a deciding factor for Social Science & Medicine.
  5. Who do you want to read your paper? Another factor to consider is who you want to read your paper. Would you like psychologists to read it? Maybe you should go for JFP or a psych journal. Do you want sociologists to read it? Maybe you should go for Social Forces or Journal of Health and Social Behavior. This is also important in considering who will review your paper. In my post about the demography paper that ended up in JFP, I discussed how to write your paper for different audiences. Consider your audience before you submit. Skim a few other papers in the journal. This will give you a sense of the flavor of the journal, and you can adjust your paper accordingly.
  6. What do other people think? Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan and I have a writing group with our grad students, and we always get feedback from this group. Do you think this paper is good enough for JMF? What kind of reception do you think it will get at JFP? Advice from others can really help, and can also help you see flaws in the paper that you can fix before you submit. Just don’t wait around too long for the advice! I have a colleague who is constantly seeking advice from several people, and his/her papers never get submitted, thus his/her CV is lacking – not a good situation to be in when on the tenure track. So, get some advice, then submit it!
  7. When should I shoot high? If you already have some really great publications, like Sara does, she can afford to get rejected from a high-impact journal first, then resubmit to a lower impact journal. The extra time it will take to be rejected from the higher-impact journal shouldn’t hurt her if she resubmits to a quicker turn-around lower-impact journal. However, if she had fewer publications and she was going on the job market soon, I might suggest she try for a lower impact journal that would be unlikely to reject her paper, especially if it had a quick turn-around. But, she has some wiggle room give her current publication record, so I think she can afford the risk of rejection and shoot for a higher-tier journal. So, if you have already been productive for the point at which you are in your career, then shoot high. Or, if you have tenure, why not try to submit that paper to Child Development or American Sociological Review. You can take the risk.

Finally, I am always telling people about journals I like. Here are some journals I like, and one I don’t like, with their impact factors, what I like, and don’t like, and my perception of their turn-around time.



What I like


What I don’t like


Turn-around time


Impact Factor (2013)

Journal of Marriage and Family Great journal, lots of people read it Mostly publishes family demography, but that could be improving (our group has a paper in press, and another with an R&R, with quantitative community data) Good 1.899
Journal of Family Psychology Great journal, interesting research Nothing Great 1.577
Family Relations Interesting research, accepts a variety of papers Quality can be a little mixed Good 0.862
Social Science & Medicine Interesting research, interdisciplinary, publishes wide variety Nothing Good 2.558
Journal of Sex Research Interesting research, interdisciplinary Nothing Good 2.730
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships Interesting, very interdisciplinary Reviews can be a little weird sometimes because reviewers from a wide variety of disciplines Good 1.080
Journal of Family Issues Fair reviews Takes forever to get reviews back, takes forever for papers to actually be in press. If you get a paper accepted here, push for them to put your paper “online first”. I don’t submit here anymore. Bad 0.860



2 thoughts on “Where should I submit my paper?

  1. Hi everyone, I thought of one more tip today when working with my student Rachel on her paper. When trying to decide where to submit, it is a good idea to review the scope of the journal on the journal’s website. For instance, we are thinking of submitting Rachel’s paper to the Journal of Research on Adolescence. I googled the journal, went to the journal’s main website, and reviewed the “aims and scope” of the journal (check it out here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291532-7795/homepage/ProductInformation.html). Her paper fits the aims, so we should be good to submit there! If your paper does not solidly fit within the listed aims or scope of the journal, you could email the editor and ask if the journal would be an appropriate place to submit the paper. They will most likely respond. Happy submitting readers!

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