16 January 2013
If there is a journal that you like, that has a mission you support, sometimes you should submit papers there even if you think it might be publishable in a “better” journal.
It might be an established journal. Maybe this is a journal that has just had a change of editors, is trying to make positive change to the journal.
It might be a journal published by a society that you belong to and support. For some scientific societies, the journal is one of their main sources of income. If you think that society is doing a good job, and you like the conferences they hold, and the scholarships they provide to students, maybe you should support it by submitting good stuff to their journal.
It might be a new journal. Starting a new journal has to be a scary experience for the editor, publisher, everyone involved. You hope that you are going to be able to fill blank pages, attract an audience, and make the journal a success. But someone has to blink first. Without researchers willing to take chances on new journals, we wouldn’t have journals that are shaking up the scientific publishing landscape like PLOS ONE or PeerJ.
I’ve seen advice that researchers, particularly early career scientists, should never publish in a new journal. While I understand this on some level, it’s a disappointingly conservative, small-minded strategy. This puts the onus on senior researchers, tenured researchers, to be bold and submit to journals for reasons besides, “What has the highest Impact Factor?”
Journals can improve themselves by internal reforms (improving review, updating production processes, etc.), but much still depends on the papers that are submitted to them. For a journal to improve, some people have to take a chance and aim low.
What have you done lately that needed tenure?
Saying “Yes!” (sometimes)
Photo by zampano!!! on Flickr; used under a Creative Commons license.