Methods to identify journals

Choosing a journal to submit to can be a daunting, confusing task, with an overwhelming number of options to consider. Our full guide breaks this process down into the most important features that may guide your decisions on where to submit.

In this module, we will help you take the first steps towards submitting to the right journal by giving you the skills, techniques and insights to create a list of potential journals to investigate in greater detail.

How to make a list of journals to investigate

From your reading

Firstly, you may already have some journals in mind which have come from your own reading experience.

Suggestions from colleagues

Word of mouth and advice from people who have read your article already can provide valuable suggestions, so we recommend having a colleague read over your draft papers. In addition to giving you feedback, such as on structure and writing, they may be able to suggest a suitable journal to submit to.

Your reference list

The references you have used to inform your own work are an excellent place to look for potential journals to submit your paper to. It is highly likely that the journals which published the articles you cited, particularly those which were fundamental to the theory or methodology of your project, will have aims and scope that are relevant to your own paper.

However, this may not always be the case. As well as reviewing the aims and scope of those journals, we recommend considering a wider range of characteristics in your journal comparison spreadsheet.

Indexing databases

You can also use indexing databases such as Google Scholar, Web of Science, Scopus, and field-specific databases, such as IFIS’ database FSTA – Food Science and Technology Abstracts.

Indexing databases all use some kind of inclusion criteria, with Google Scholar having the most lenient requirements (based on technical standards only). From databases like Web of Science and Scopus, you can expect editorial standards, citation profiling and selective decisions. In addition to these criteria, field-related databases will have subject-specific criteria and characteristics.

These platforms all vary in the journals they include and the search and filtering options they offer, collections which help you identify articles and journals of interest. You can quickly make a list of journals from these databases to begin investigating further. You can also acquire some useful information to add in to your comparison spreadsheet, which we shall cover in subsequent modules.

Using advanced search and filtering functions on these platforms can help you fine-tune your lists, to try and get as small and targeted a list as possible. For example, you may wish to begin with the full list of 135 Web of Science-indexed food science journals, i.e. those with Impact Factors, but if you are researching dairy products, a potato journal is unlikely to be of interest to you, so refining your list is important. See the Web of Science Master Journal List

By using keywords and limiting the publication years to the most recent two or three, this will help you identify relevant journals which are currently publishing articles in your field.

Many platforms enable you to use Open Access as a filter, which is helpful if you have specific needs in this area. You can also search the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), ROAD and Science Open.

More information on this topic is available in our Open Access and Discoverability module.

Publisher websites

Most large multi-journal publishers provide some searching and filtering functionality in their websites, usually by keyword. Elsevier and Springer offer more sophisticated search functions, with their respective ‘Journal Finder’ and ‘Journal Suggester’ tools. These allow you to search with your article title and abstract to return journal suggestions based on similarity scores, along with information about peer review and production turnaround times.

IFIS Journal Recommendation Service 

Based on FSTA’s rigorous coverage list, this journal finder tool is dedicated to journals in the sciences of food and health. With options to search by keyword or by entering your article abstract and title, it helps you find relevant journals within your area of expertise, and narrow down based on a range of criteria.

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