- Do I read the journal regularly myself?
- Have I submitted there before? Did I have a good editorial experience or a bad one?
- Have I published in that journal before? I like to spread my contributions around, and not go back to the same places over and over.
- How “good” is the journal? (I normally don’t check Impact Factor, but have a more general impression of the papers that are published there.)
- Is it open access?
- What will it cost me?
- Is it a journal with a mission I support?
- Is it a journal published by a scientific society I'm a member of?
What questions do you ask yourself when you submit? I’m curious, in part because of issues raised by Drugmonkey. In short, PLoS ONE has a higher Impact Factor than a lot of other established journals in neuroscience, so why are those other journals still getting contributions?
It seems that for some people, there is one question that carries more weight than all the others. For some, “high profile” is the only thing that matters. But I want to explore open access a bit. According to some, if the answer to, “This this journal open access?” is “No,” you made a bad choice in where to submit. I get the impression that some people think we should just submit everything to PLoS ONE. (While Michael Eisen is visible in the Drugmonkey post above, these comments are not inspired by, or directed at, him alone.)
As an open access supporter, why don’t I send them everything? PLoS doesn’t hold conferences in my field, but a scientific society I belong to does. And submitting papers to those society journals is a vote of confidence and way to keep the society going.
Different journals have different readerships. I know some people say, “Ah, I don’t look at journals now, I just use PubMed.” Great for medicine, but not all basic biology goes there.
And then there’s the cost. It does matter to people. For instance, one of the first tweet I read this morning was Scicurious this morning:
Submitted manuscript. Boss was going to submit to an #OA journal, but saw it cost $$ upfront. Le sigh.
And I read today at The Mermaid’s Tale:
And, yes, there are open access journals (e.g., PLoS), though generally at high cost.
That many open access journals (including PLoS ONE) will waive publication fees has not penetrated consciousness of potential authors. Backyard Brains went to Kickstarter to pay PLoS ONE fees because they didn’t know about the waiver. Happy ending: they got the money, and their paper was published. But the cost issue is something that open access advocates need to address much more forcefully and clearly.
I think that there is room for open access journals supported by publication fees, and room for society journals and the like that are supported by subscription (not necessarily in the typical form they have now, though). I still think there’s room for glamour mags, and for small regional journals.
In ecology, people talk a lot about ecosystem diversity. Diverse ecosystems are often more resilient and “healthy.” Monocultures are prone to catastrophic failures. I want there to be a healthy ecosystem of journals.
Photo by USFWS Pacific on Flickr; used under a Creative Commons license.