Selecting a journal

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How to choose your journal

  • Look at the aim of journal and guidelines for details of the audience and type of articles included
  • Consider your expected audience – where are you most likely to reach them?
  • Read the guidance for authors, check rules around publishing multiple articles on the same topic /study
  • If you are publishing research findings are there any ethical considerations to take into account?
  • Check journal license agreements for their policy on authors reusing work (read more)
  • Review impact factors for journals - more information on these below
  • Read more information and advice about how to select a journal

How will your colleagues and peers find your work?

  • Is your selected journal indexed in a major reference database? For example Medline or Sociological Abstracts
  • Or is it in a specialist database? For example, ERIC or AMED
  • Is a subscription required, if so does NHSScotland Knowledge Network have one?
  • Access to the full text - is your article going to be behind a pay wall? Can you offer a local copy or publish open access so that people in your organisation can still access?
  • Use the proper author affiliation for your work - do not use team name or department name (unless there is room for it) - do use the proper organisation name eg NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde or the full name of your HSCP. This enables organisations to locate their intellectual property with greater ease, and gives the proper attribution to your work.
Peer reviewed academic journals

When choosing which journal to approach a number of factors should be considered such as topic area, your experience as an author, publication cost and impact factor.


Publication costs are an important factor in deciding where to publish and should be considered during the planning stage of a project. Essentially three cost models exist:

  1. open access only - there is a cost to publish and full text is available to all,
  2. open access option - there is only a cost if you choose to publish open access, and
  3. subscription only – a subscription is required for readers to access

Open access publication may be necessary as part of a funding agreement of the research grant or chosen to increase access internationally. However open access should not necessarily be a default option as NHSScotland has subscriptions to a large number of journals.

Impact factors

A journal's impact factor is a measure of its relative effectiveness - i.e. how often are article published in that journal cited by other published article.  You can usually find this information on the journal homepage or check services like Journal Citations Reports or Insights if you have a subscription - a helpful video on finding a journal's impact factor using Journal Citations Reports is available on YouTube.

Local considerations

Take advice from experts and academics about where to publish and what are the different metrics including local bibliometrics. Check if the journal is available on The Knowledge Network which would ensure your colleagues can easily access your article.

Resources to support authors

Some examples are listed below but it is worth exploring the website of your preferred publisher.


A full range of resources for authors:

  • Editorial processes and publishing model
  • Article types and preparation
  • Submitting your article
  • Forms, policies, and ethics
  • Guidance for new authors

They also offer an eLearning service as part of the Research to Publication project. Modules include:

  • How to write a paper
  • What editors and peerreviewers look for
  • Publication ethics
  • Designing clinical research
  • responsible conduct of research
  • Introduction to clinical trials
BiomedLots of helpful guidance on writing to publish. Be sure to look at the full menu on the left-hand side of page.
ElsevierPublished a downloadable pdf on "How to publish in scholarly journals"



A wealth of knowledge for aspiring authors including:

  • Impact of research
  • Editorial services
  • Guide to getting published
  • Editor interviews
  • Writing for Emerald
  • Emerald Literati network
  • How to guides
  • Emerald and open access

The Emerald rep for Scotland is willing to run webinars on getting published – with a focus on topics like practitioners getting research published, and how to avoid predatory publishers.

Springer Nature


The Author and Reviewer tutorials are a series of free e-learning modules designed for anybody seeking an overview or a refresher on topics related to getting their work published. Topics include:

  • Writing a journal manuscript 
  • Submitting to a journal and peer review 
  • Writing in English 
  • How to peer review 
  • Open Access 

Knowledge Check: An interactive quiz gives users a chance to test what they have learned.

Free Takeaway: Users can download a helpful free PDF summary of important content at the end of the course, which can be easily printed.

How to use the tutorials: These tutorials can serve as great resources for a scientific publishing workshop or an author symposium. The free takeaways at the end of each tutorial also work perfectly as giveaways.


Provides a complete overview of the publishing process including

  • Find the right journal
  • Preparing your article
  • Submission and peer review
  • Licensing and open access
  • Publication
  • Promotion
Professional magazines and newsletters

For practice examples, case studies, preliminary results of research etc professional magazines or newsletters, often linked to professional organisations offer a useful option and an alternative to publishing in a peer reviewed journal. They are a useful outlet for new, inexperienced authors to ‘cut their teeth’ in the world of publishing. These types of publications often have a wider readership than research journals. Examples of these publications include:

Dietetics Today

Guidelines in Practice

Healthcare Executive magazine

Health Services Journal

HFMA Leadership Magazine

Obs, Gynae & Midwifery News


Nursing Times

Although not peer reviewed, the guidance and hints in the ‘Writing your article’ section are still relevant.