Monday, 25 January 2016

How to Choose Between General and Specialized Journals


How to Choose Between General and Specialized Journals

By: Michaela Panter on Fri, 05/02/2014
Education and Content, Editing
As we explained in previous articles, choosing the right journal for your research can accelerate the publication
of your manuscript. In particular, we highlighted the need to review a
journal’s scope and publication history to determine the best fit.
However, whereas identifying a journal that is focused on your field
seems relatively straightforward, deciding whether to submit your
manuscript to a general, multidisciplinary journal or a specialized,
discipline-specific one may be more nuanced.

When making this decision, your main consideration should be your
intended audience. In other words, to which research community will your
work be most relevant, and which research community’s readership will
be most relevant to your desired impact?

First, consider the implications of your manuscript for other
researchers. Will your findings potentially affect scientists in
multiple research areas, have broad applications in clinical practice,
and/or even be of interest to a non-technical audience? Alternatively,
will your results mainly advance research in a particular field and be
of significant interest to specialists? Incidental findings, regionally significant work
such as research on an endemic disease, and reports on unusual clinical
cases may be especially well suited to specialized journals.

Second, consider the implications of other researchers reading your
manuscript. Publishing in a general or specialized journal may have
different effects on your professional visibility and future research.
General journals such as Nature and Science
tend to have large impact factors (38.6 and 31.0, respectively, as of
2012), indicating high citation rates and thus potentially broader
dissemination and greater visibility. As a result, these journals
typically foster more competition for publication and have lower
acceptance rates (for example, 8% for Nature and Science), associating
successful publication with greater prestige. In contrast, due to their
relevance to a smaller community, articles in field-specific journals
may receive fewer citations (The Journal of Immunology
(JI), for example, has an impact factor of 5.5), but the smaller pool
of submissions may increase the acceptance rate (41% for JI) and the
efficiency of review and publication. Specialized journals may therefore
encourage more targeted sharing of results with a specific research
community, increasing the likelihood of shaping future research in a
particular field and of receiving focused feedback on your own research
from reviewers and readers. Ultimately, the accelerated path to
publication may also allow more rapid accrual of citations.

The decision to submit a manuscript to a multidisciplinary or
specialized journal is thus ultimately dependent on both the
implications of your research and the implications of your readership.
In particular, a wider audience often results in a broader impact and
greater visibility for your work (as indicated by readers’ citations),
whereas a specialized audience may result in a more targeted impact on
your own and related work (as indicated by readers’ feedback and
derivative studies). For further guidance in comparing between different
types of journals, please try the new journal selection tool from our sister company, JournalGuide.

How to Choose Between General and Specialized Journals

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