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Identifying Journals for Your Manuscript

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Starting from scratch...

  1. Look at your own reference list.  Journals that published the work you are citing are often a good place to start (besides many editors love to see articles from their journal in the articles they publish).
  2. Do a database search for your topic.  Browse through the results list, noting which journals appear frequently.  Also make note of journals that have published recently on very similar topics to yours so that you can avoid submitting to them.
  3. Use a journal matching service to help you match your title and abstract to potential journals (see the box below for links to several services).

Once you have one or more journals in mind...

  1. Go to the journal's website and find the section that describes the type of articles they publish.  This section is most often called Aims and Scope.  However, if you can't find that, look in the section of the website that includes instructions for authors.
  2. Look at how the journal describes the scope of topics they include to make sure your topic fits.
  3. Pay attention to the types of articles they publish (e.g. randomized control trials, case studies, etc.) to make sure the methods you used in your work are there.

Now that you think you've found a good candidate...send a letter of inquiry to the editor to ask if they'd be interested in your manuscript.

For more detailed information about finding and selecting the right journal for your work, take a look at SON Professor, Diane Mahoney's PowerPoint slides from her Spring 2015 Faculty Development Days talk. 


Journal Matching Services

Copy and paste your title and abstract into these search engines to get a list of journals that publish on your topic.

  • EndNote Match
    A free service from EndNote, but you will need to create an account before you can access it.

  • Elsevier Journal Finder
    Also free, but limited to Elsevier journals only.

  • JANE (Journal Author/Name Estimator)
    Uses Medline to help match up your abstract/title with potential journals.

Writing Abstracts

An abstract is a short summary of your research. Depending on the journal's requirements, it is usually 150-250 words long and can be structured or unstructured (more on structured abstracts later). 

There are several important functions of an abstract that you should remember when writing it:

  • It prepares readers by providing the basics about your paper - purpose, methods, results, conclusions, etc.
  • It is what readers use to decide whether to go further and read your entire paper. 
  • It is how readers discover your paper, since most library databases mainly search the titles and abstracts of papers, not the full-text.

Structured Abstracts

Structured abstracts are exactly what they sound like. Instead of being a plain paragraph summarizing your paper, they follow a structure. Here are some 

  • Help your readers quickly understand the contents of your paper
  • used for original research papers
  • generally follow the IMRAD (introduction, methods, results, and discussion) format.