# What journal should I submit my paper to?

1. Dec 26, 2016

### MrBlank

I am writing a paper. I am looking for a journal that:

-Accepts theoretical physics papers
-Is reputable
-Peer reviews submitted papers
-Will not charge me very much in terms of a publishing fee (or any other fees)
-I keep the copyright on my paper

An online only journal is fine.

Does anyone know a journal that fits the above criteria?

2. Dec 26, 2016

### Orodruin

Staff Emeritus
If you have to ask this, chances are high that your paper will not be accepted. The reason for this is simple. If you do not know what journals publish papers in your chosen field, how do you keep up with the latest research that your paper should build upon? If you do not do that, how do you know that what you are writing a paper on is relevant, interesting to the community, and has not already been done or can easily be refuted?

To keep connected to the front-line research is a basic skill needed in physics that is usually learned in a doctoral program.

You also seem to be under the impression that journals publish "physics". While true, they are generally much more specialised and accept papers only in some subfields. If you send a paper on optics to Phys.Rev.D it will be rejected on nothing other than the fact that it does not fit the journal topic.

3. Dec 26, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

Most mainstream journals fit these criteria. One way to pick a journal is to look at your reference list and consider any journal that you reference 10 or more times. If you don't have a couple of those, then your work would probably be rejected by any good publisher anyway since it would be so uninformed.

Copyright almost always passes to the publisher.

Check any publisher against Beall's list of predatory publishers.

4. Dec 26, 2016

### Orodruin

Staff Emeritus
With some notable exceptions. I know JHEP and JCAP release it under Creative Commons.

5. Dec 26, 2016

### Dr. Courtney

I read this advice a lot regarding similar questions, and it is not really helpful or satisfactory in all situations. There are many nuances when selecting a journal to submit to that are beyond the simple issues of scope and quality. I've published over 100 scholarly papers in 40 or so different journals, and since I frequently publish in new fields, I have tackled the question of "Which journal for this paper?" numerous times.

It's a tough question that my co-authors and I have often considered regarding our first paper in ballistics, our first paper in brain injury, our first paper in blast injury, our first paper in fisheries science, etc. It is definitely not as simple as "what journals are cited most in the paper?" or "what journals do you read regularly to keep up in the field?" The days of going to the department library and sitting down to read the latest Phys Rev A are long gone. Most articles we read are now found through scholarly search engines.

Those same search engines can easily find numerous candidate journals in the subject area for submitting a paper to, but they seldom answer the important questions when submitting a paper:

Will there be bias in the review of my paper, because I have not published in this field before?
Will there be bias in the review of my paper, because I do not have a PhD in this field?
Will there be undue delays in the review of my paper?
Will I receive decent reviewer reports outlining reasons for the decision and making tangible suggestions for improvement?
How well regarded is this journal?
Will the scientists who should be aware of my work find it in this journal?
Is my paper likely to be cited if I publish in this journal?

It is condescending to suggest a paper is unlikely to be published because an author asks for suggestions where to submit it. Every scientist who enters new fields will likely be in need of this advice each time they enter a new field. It's a nuanced question and good suggestions would usually need to be based on reading the paper (at least the abstract) and also considering the authors' goals in publishing it. If a paper will be one of the first few on an author's CV and it is important to future career goals, journal selection should receive special attention. It is probably less important for the 101st paper on an author's CV.

There aren't many, maybe not any. Most journals that are peer-reviewed and where you retain copyright charge open access fees, typically $800-$1500. Some of the less expensive ones (like PeerJ) are not really reputable, and a lot make the list of predatory Open Access publishers (See: https://scholarlyoa.com/2016/01/05/bealls-list-of-predatory-publishers-2016/ [Broken] ).

It is often a good plan to make contact with someone with experience authoring papers in your field and get their suggestions.

Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
6. Dec 26, 2016

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
Sorry, but I think you missed the point.

If you are a professional working is a particular field, you will have other colleagues and contacts to seek advice on such a question. You do not go to an Internet forum to ask such a thing from a bunch of STRANGERS! Furthermore, even if you are attempting to publish in another area in which you have no experience in, you can't be ignorant of the range of journals that publish the subject matter. Heck, just looking at the reference list should give a good idea, unless your paper has zero references, which should ring a lot of warning bells.

What the OP presented smells like someone who is working alone (if there are coauthors, why not ask them?), never published before, and have no contacts with similar professionals to review the work and to consult with. Oh yeah, my skepticism feelers are definitely active.

Zz.

Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
7. Dec 26, 2016

### Choppy

I think such advice is intended to be more of a reality check. There's a big difference between an experienced scientist who is branching out into a new field and someone who likely has had little mentorship and probably hasn't read too many journal articles to begin with. The original poster:
- posted nothing about the existing problem that he or she worked on,
- described the scope of the work as "theoretical physics"
- said nothing about the techniques used in the work
- brought up the issue of copyright
- insisted that the article "peer review" submitted papers, which is more-or-less the definition of an academic journal

All of this suggests that this person doesn't have much experience in the peer-review process.

Those are starting points. I start teaching my own graduate students how to make these kinds of decisions with these points. Sure it's not that simple, but the original post was simple to begin with. As you point out if more detail was given in the question, people would be able to offer more intricate advice. But it wasn't.

I don't think it's condescending, at least no more so than what's implied by someone asking the question in the first place. The unfortunate reality is that there are a lot of "armchair scientists" and "crackpots" out there - not to imply anything about the specific original poster. While some of them are intelligent and some have done a lot of work, there are many who simply have not done any or at least not sufficient background reading on the subject they intend to publish on.

8. Dec 26, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

Those are both very good rules of thumb. Of course, nothing is as simple as a rule of thumb, but they do work well in practice.

Just because your paper was rejected does not imply any bias on the part of the reviewers. Personally, claims of reviewer bias always seem like attempted blame-shifting to me.

If you have never published in a field before then chances are high that you will not write what the readership of a particular journal is looking for in that journal. This isn't bias on the part of the reviewer, that is exactly what the reviewer is supposed to do. They are supposed to represent the readers of the journal (the peer in peer review) and reject material that does not meet the needs of the readers for content, quality, and style.

That is one reason why the "cited most" rule of thumb is so valuable. If you haven't read more than a dozen papers from a journal then you probably don't have enough experience to determine what that journal's readers are looking for. A reviewer who tells you that is correctly doing their job.

9. Dec 26, 2016

### Dr. Courtney

Dunno. I don't really regard the Physics PhDs on PhysicsForums as a bunch of STRANGERS. When we first entered the field of ballistics, it was a rough ride figuring out where to publish. We were challenging the accepted wisdom in a couple areas, and publishing in the first journals we tried was like trying to bust into an old boys network with new ideas. We didn't really have "other colleagues and contacts" to seek advice from, because we were challenging their ideas as wrong. A decade later, and we are now the most widely published (and widely cited) American authors in ballistics over the last 20 years. It was very clear from our first three rejected papers that the issue was not the quality of our work, but rather that we were not part of the established pecking order in ballistics at the time.

Other fields (blast injury, for example) have been much more receptive to newcomers. But even there, we just jumped in. We had no colleagues or contacts to ask, "What journal do you recommend?" My wife (and co-author) was on the Physics faculty at West Point, and a lot of Army officers were asking us to contribute to the field. We guessed right on our journal choice, and due to the open-mindedness of editors and reviewers, published my most highly cited paper.

I try to keep an open mind. I get a number of emailed papers from amateurs and crackpots each year asking for feedback and advice. Some are total trash, some are good ideas but in trappings that are going to turn people off, and some are very good ideas that are well articulated and nearly ready to publish.

So when the nature of a question suggests lack of publishing experience in a given field, I try and give an answer that is helpful rather than condescending. The percentage of good work that amateurs produce may be smaller than professionals, but there are some diamonds out there deserving of encouragement and refinement.

Let us take care not to give answers that are interpreted as

"Asking that question is proof you don't belong. You don't know the secret handshake."

Could be. No doubt it happens. But in the case I had in mind, the reviewer stated his bias explicitly, "I see [the authors] have never published in this field before" as the main reason for the negative review. We sent the reviewer comments along with our original paper to the most highly cited author in the field for a second opinion. He thought the review and its reasoning were ridiculous. He regarded our paper as correct and well considered and offered to work with us to help get it published. The editors and reviewer of the first journal were pushing a particular political agenda, and our paper was inconvenient both to the agenda of the journal and to a business interest of the reviewer.

10. Dec 26, 2016

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
How would the OP know that? And why would a bunch of strangers who do not know intimately the area that this manuscript is in, and the level of the content, offer any concrete suggestion on where to publish?

Picking out the suitable journal involves knowing MORE than just the subject area. I would never offer my suggestion without reading the manuscript first, even when asked by colleagues that I know. One must not only know the relevant subject area, but also the degree of importance, impact, and the amount of "new" material being reported in the manuscript.

Anyone offering the OP suggestions on where to publish is reading and assuming way to much based simply on what the OP has posted. How could anyone even begin to provide anything when even the subject area is as vague as "theoretical physics"?

Zz.

11. Dec 26, 2016

### Dr. Courtney

Perhaps you missed that the OP was a lurker for 8 months prior to his first post.

12. Dec 26, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

Umm, it seems like you missed the point of your own story. The bias against your paper was due to financial and political considerations, not due to the fact that you had not published in the field.

The statement that you hadn't published was a factual observation. You hadn't published, and therefore apparently did not recognize the political bias of the readership.

13. Dec 26, 2016

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
We are All Strangers to one another! When was the last time you seek professional advice from someone you do not know the name of and whose credentials you know nothing about?

I made several other points in that post, but this is all that you care to pick?

Zz.

14. Dec 26, 2016

### Orodruin

Staff Emeritus
I think you are completely off mark here and that your advice might lead the OP down an all too familiar path of blaming "the establishment" when his paper is rejected. I therefore consider your advice here counterproductive and perhaps even damaging to the OP.

Let me ask you this: Did you have training on how to write a paper before entering those new fields? How did you decide where to publish? Certainly you did not ask the next guy on the subway?