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Does it Matter which Journal you Publish in?

  1. Jun 6, 2007 #1
    If you have a scientific paper published, does it matter which journal it appears in?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2007 #2
    Of course. The more well-known journals have a much larger readership and more prestige associated with them as a result.
     
  4. Jun 6, 2007 #3
    Yes. Always try to publish in the journal with the highest impact factor in your field.

    Funding bodies do look at such things when reviewing grant applications.
     
  5. Jun 6, 2007 #4

    mathwonk

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    people who do not actually read the paper before evaluating it will be more impressed if it is in a famous journal. but the people who do read it will not care where it appears. so choose who you want to impress, the hoi polloi or the elite.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  6. Jun 6, 2007 #5
    Once it is read, sure, it makes no difference where it was published. But why publish in an obscure journal if you can publish in a major one?
     
  7. Jun 7, 2007 #6

    J77

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    Yes -- some departments I've been in require at least an impact factor of 0.4 for it to count towards your job accomplishments (applied math/computer science).
     
  8. Jun 7, 2007 #7

    ZapperZ

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    Yes, it does.

    First of all, the content must be appropriate for that journal. You don't publish an important new discovery in, let's say, Am. J. Phys., for example, even though AJP is a well-respected journal.

    Secondly, the prestigious journals typically are more difficult to get published in. The scrutiny, and the criteria for something to be accepted, are more demanding than lower-tier journals. Science and Nature, for example, require that the importance and the impact of that paper MUST be beyond just a specific, narrow scope of the particular field of study. So the author/s must argue why the work has a larger scope of impact. That's why you tend to see more papers in the field of biomedicine, geology, etc. published in those two, because making such arguments are naturally easier. So if your paper is published in one of those journals, it meant that it had gone through a rigorious and thorough scrutiny and must have a high degree of importance. It also helps that these prestigious journals, including PRL, have a very good public relations machines that provides the popular media with press releases to highlights what they think are important publications in their journals.

    Lastly, when you publish, you hope people will read and pay attention to your work. If not, it will languish in obscurity. With so many journals out there, most of us in this profession can only pay regular attention to a few. Most of the important stuff that we deal with are often found in these few journals, and naturally, these are the more popular, top-tier journals. So if you want your work to be noticed, you want to publish it in the highest possible journal in commensurate with the nature of the work. It doesn't always have to be Science or Nature or PRL, but at the very least, one of the more popular peer-reviewed journals and not some backwater, obscure publication.

    Zz.
     
  9. Jun 7, 2007 #8
    I would consider it if the more obscure journal would review and publish by paper sooner. I'm looking at a few journals. One reviews papers in one month, and another reviews them in six.
     
  10. Jun 7, 2007 #9
    Well I would like to impress everybody, but the people I am most trying to imress, potential employers, are not likely too likely too read it. Some(but not all) of them might not be able to understand it.
     
  11. Jun 7, 2007 #10

    J77

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    One month is astonishingly fast.

    Does the editor of this "obscure" journal read the papers himself over breakfast? :tongue:

    I would say that 3 months is very fast.

    If it's good you have to wait -- I have one sitting in Royal Soc. which I don't expect to appear any month soon, but when it does, I know it will be worth it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  12. Jun 7, 2007 #11
    It looks like there are about 30 editors, and they have an IF over 0.4. I didn't find the journal in my local university library though. The other journal probably has a higher IF. There are also letters, but I couldn't say how "letters" compare to journal articles.
     
  13. Jun 7, 2007 #12

    mathwonk

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    the question is open ended, does it matter for what? it does not matter as far whether the sun will come up tomorrow e.g.

    as zapper points out, different journals have different standards, so the implkications as to quality of being poublished in a better journal are there for all to see. of course not everyone agrees exactly as to which journal is better than another, but the top 5 or 10 are usually agreed on as a group.

    so if you are trying to impress an employer, or someone else who will not read the paper, then the opinion they will have of the paper is related to what journal accepts it. e.g. when i prepared a dossier for a prize on behalf of a friend, and later his paper was accepted by arugably the best journal in the US, I made a point of communicatiung that to the award committee.

    As to its impact, that is not so important, except as again zapper says, unless it is not read at all. There are cases of good papers in obscure journals that were overlooked entirely until the same result was publ;ished mroe visibly by others. This also does not matter at all today to those of us learning it, indeed it is a benefit that the topic was rteated mroe than once and in more than one way.

    But historically it did make the original autghors life perhaps less notable, and slow the time of acceptance of the result.


    so these things matter in various ways, some of which may be important to you. When Mori proved the existence of contractions, I did not care what jopurnal it appeared in and still do not know, as he handed me the preprint personally and that is the only copy I have ever consulted. But Mori was already famous. When Mumford wrote his famous treatment of quotient varieties by algebraic groups, he opublished it as a book, not an article at all hence it did not have the imprimatur of any referee or journal, but Mumford was also famous.



    I know potential employers who care only how many papers you have published, and do not weight the journals at all. I personally do not trhink thes epeopelk arte very clever, but eprhaps they are being practical, as quantity does "matter" for promotion say, very often over quality at least in the short run.

    so what do you want it to matter for? long term impact on the subject? short term impact on your hiring prospects? these determine whether it "matters" or not. To me personally it does not matter much at all, only what is in it.

    If it is good that case can be made even if it is not in a great journal. If it is c*** that will eventually be evident, even if it is in a good journal.

    E.g. when one of my most gifted colleagues was proposed for promotion, a colleague who had not read his work objected that one paper under consideration had only appeared in a conference proceeding, which he assuemd was unrefereed.

    I observed that not only had the proceedings been refereed, but that there was in the dossier a letter from a Fields medalist who said this work was his favorite of all the applicant had done [having been attempted unsuccessfully by the medalist], and we noted that the other works of the applicant had appeared in certain undeniably top 5 journals.

    The result was that the applicant passed muster, and the objector came off as a careless person who had not done his homework, and a poor judge of merit. It also implicated his own area embarrassingly as one where proceedings are commonly not refereed.

    Again it all depends on who you are trying to impress. If you want a Fields medalist to like it, it had just better be good, no matter where it appears.
     
  14. Jun 7, 2007 #13

    mathwonk

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    to make a long story short, try to publish in the best journal that will take it, unless that greatly inconveniences you by a long wait. this essentially what zapper has said, and i second zappers advice as the best on this topic.


    [long story long]
    I once submitted a joint paper to the most prestigious journal in the US and received back an ambivalent, but critical review from someone whose local criticisms were actually wrong, who thought it too long, and who seemed not to have read it in full. the journal simply rejected it.

    We submitted it to the "second best" journal which sent it to the same referee. Since his criticisms were in error we had not accomodated them, and so he simply sent back the same erroneous review, acting miffed that we had not incorporated his erroneous comments.

    This sort of thing is tricky, as you are arguing with someone anonymous whose opinion you are dependent on. Lucky for us the paper was then sent to more conscientious reviewer who saw the merit, agreed it was too long, but suggested which parts to keep and which to omit. we shortened it and it was accepted by this journal, (the same one wiles published his proof of fermat in).

    we never got around to publishing the omitted parts of the paper we had been forced to shorten by the second reviewer. much later, other mathematicians who had seen the full preprint expressed great interest in the omitted parts and asked when they would appear.

    Eventually some very strong workers published a full treatment of our omitted results in a world famous journal (one riemann or roch published in).

    What is the moral of this story? Well, one consequence of our trying to get published in a top journal was their page length standards caused us to omit results which were actually very interesting to many people, but only appeared years later, and not even under our name.

    In a smaller less choosy journal we would have been allowed to publish the full article. but of course the right thing to do would have been to do the work of rewriting the omitted parts and sending them somewhere appropriate too. that would have even been two articles, one very prestigious. but we were busy then with other matters.


    So I guess the moral is, wherever you publish, always do publish your work, even if someone has at some point expressed lack of interest in it, provided you yourself think it interesting. Put it out there and let the scientific public decide, not one reviewer or editor.

    good luck!
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  15. Jun 7, 2007 #14

    mathwonk

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    to put this in perspective, which you may read as "times have changed":

    I graduated in 1977 with three job offers and no publications. I had three NSF grants, including an NSF postdoc at Harvard, two international conference invitations as speaker (Mexico and France), an invited 5 week course as lecturer in Italy, and speaking invitations at Harvard, Yale, and Brown, all on the strength of reaction to my unpublished thesis, before my first publication appeared, a conference proceedings.

    So maybe I am out of touch with todays market realities. but the point is, if you have something interesting to say, that news travels much faster through the mathematical underground than any publication, and it opens doors.


    I do remember though that I was much better received at Harvard than at my own state university. It was very hard for me to appreciate the importance of putting something out there that people who do not understand your work can look at to evaluate you. Ironically these people often have more clout over your future than do people who do understand it. Go figure.

    I essentially turned down a job possibility at Harvard to return to a more "secure" job, where they promptly responded by declining to promote me based on factors like how long I had been in residence rather than quality of work and reputation in the community. So I am in a sense not a good advisor on practical matters. I always preferred the good opinion of experts to the praise of the ignorant.

    But one moral is to also shoot for a job at the best possible place, since there they will appreciate your work more, being more likely to understand it. I.e. at Harvard they just asked me what I was doing, while at home they asked to see my vita. Most of us must lkearn to survive outside the walls of Harvard.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  16. Jun 7, 2007 #15
    Are there clear identifiable factors that determine how long it takes for a paper to be accepted in a journal?
     
  17. Jun 7, 2007 #16

    mathwonk

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    there areb two factors that affect it.

    1) speed of refereeing, which is usually requested to be two months or less, but seldom is completed in that time (i myself check essentially every line, which takes me up to a year, especially if the author gives references which are hard to locate].

    2) backlog, which is the number of already accepted papers that are ahead of you. this information is published by the journal, and may be from 3 months to up to 2 years or so. generally the more famous the journal, the longer the wait, but it depends on the number of pages per year they publish. hence a good journal that publishes a large number of pages may process your paper faster.

    but let me repeat: if you have done something good, accept any invitation to speak on it publicly to as large an audience as possible. this will disseminate your results quickest and produce more offers than anything else.

    NEVER turn down an invitation to speak.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  18. Jun 8, 2007 #17

    J77

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    Good point -- sometimes it's faster the send in the paper as a "(Editor's) Letter"; they are usually given prioirity but in general the material must be of interest to a broad audience and justification must be given for fast publication.

    Likewise, Phys. Rev. do "Rapid Communications" (the 4 pages articles in these are generally rejected PRLs :tongue:)
     
  19. Jun 8, 2007 #18
    Many journals on the title page of the articles print the "date of submission" and "date of acceptance". You can then compare these dates with the actual volume that the paper is published in.

    And fwiw, I take objection to the comment that it's easy to get a geology paper published in Nature/Science :tongue2: I had one rejected only a couple of weeks ago. They didn't even send it for review. Just told me to submit it to a geology journal. If it's not related to climate change it seems they're not interested.
     
  20. Jun 8, 2007 #19

    ZapperZ

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    Er... maybe you were refering to me, but I never said that it was EASY. I said that there tend to be MORE papers like that, i.e. in the natural sciences, rather than the physical sciences, that get published in Science and Nature. One can verify this very easily by picking up the current issue of either. Having had a paper published in Nature, I know fully well how difficult it is to get one published in there no matter what area it is.

    Zz.
     
  21. Jun 9, 2007 #20
    Misunderstanding then :) All good.
     
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