There's no place like home: Identifying the right journal for your research

Choosing the right journal for your work will provide a target audience when you're writing and reduce the risk of wasting time bouncing your work from one journal to the next. The information on the journal's website and current publications can be used to guide your decision and writing. Here are some tips:

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Here are some tips to identifying the right journal for your research:

1. Determine the journal's scope.

What is the scope of the journal?
  • Does the journal focus on a certain field of science? Or a certain disease/pathology?
  • Are cellular or animal models used? Or just certain animal models? Or only human research?
  • Are certain techniques or computational approaches used?
  • How multidisciplinary is the research?
Does your research fit the scope of the journal?
  • Are the current publications very mechanistic? Or computational? Clinical or translational? Or more basic science?
  • Does the journal also publish case studies or protocols? Or just primary research?
  • Does your level of research compare with the level of research in the journal's publications? Degree of innovation and novelty?
If you aren't sure if your work fits the journal's scope, send an email to the editor for a pre-submission inquiry.

2. When composing your paper, you should identify with the journal's audience.

How specific or broad should your introduction be?
  • Is the scope of the journal very broad or very specific?
  • Would the readers already be oriented to and well-acquainted with the topic?
How much data should be included?
  • Are the journal's publications very mechanistic and require more data for support?
  • Does the journal have a limit for length or figures?
  • Should some of the data be included in a supplemental section?
  • Should your data be published as a full original article or a shorter brief communication?

3. What NOT to do!

Do not submit to multiple journals in the hope that one will accept your paper.
  • This violates journal policy, and you risk being accused of misconduct.
  • If you aren't sure, submit a pre-submission inquiry to the editor.
  • Be familiar with the editorial policies to make sure you are in compliance.
Do not NOT edit your work before you submit!
  • Make sure it's grammatically correct and fix typos.
  • Some journals offer manuscript editing services- Use them!
Do not forget a cover letter!
  • Although a cover letter may be 'optional', this is another place to showcase the significance of your findings. Give a strong first impression to editors!

Marie-Elizabeth Barabas

Managing Editor, Springer Nature

I'm an interdisciplinary neuroscientist with a research background in peripheral sensory/pain research, retinal development, and stem cell research. As the Managing Editor of npj Microgravity, my role is to assist the editorial process, implement editorial policies, and promote the journal, its articles, and the community. I also attend conferences and meetings to develop a relationship with our readers, authors, and editors. If you see me at a conference, feel free to introduce yourself.