Academic Journals: How to Choose Where to Publish

Journal publishing impacts your field, your career (RPT), and how you cultivate an audience. This guide provides information on how to find the right journal (i.e. audience) for your work and ways to make your article easily accessible.

Your Audience: Other Academic Scientists and Researchers

Audience includes other academic and scientific researchers in your field. According to research conducted by Xi Niu and Brad Hemminger (Univ. of North Carolina), academic scientists search online and read a mixture of print and electronic resources.

Searching Habits of Academic Scientists

  • Searched via Google or their academic library's home page

Reading Habits of Academic Scientists

  • Daily: journals (print or online), web pages, email
  • Monthly: books
  • Annually: conference proceedings
  • Rarely: pre-prints

These documented searching and reading habits suggest that academic scientists want searching and access to be seamless. This means that you, as an author, would want to choose a journal to publish in that is online AND easy to access (i.e. free to read) AND has the right audience.

Four Journal Selection Factors: High-Quality, Easy-to-Access, Right Audience, Online (HERO)

Quality of a journal depends on the editor, editorial board, peer-reviewers, and the publisher which oversees the entire publication process. To find high-quality journals, use

Predatory Open Access Journals

When considering placing your article with any publisher that requires up-front payment of an author fee, please be aware that there are some unethical publishers who operate under a Gold OA banner but do not, in fact, really provide significant editorial oversight and peer review. Before deciding whether or not to publish with any journal, we suggest checking Cabell's Predatory Report. Alternatively, you can also check the names of editorial board members, editor(s), get information about the publisher, and/or read some of the journal's articles to get a sense of quality. Please reach out to us if you need help with this process.‚Äč

Friendly to Authors

If you go with a non-open access journal, look for a friendly publishing agreement that allows you to keep your copyright and grants permission to the publisher. A good example is this wording from a sample agreement from Taylor & Francis: 

LICENCE AGREEMENT This is a licence agreement under which you, the author, retain copyright in your article, and grant (hereinafter ‘the Society’) a licence to allow us and our publisher Informa UK Limited registered in England under no. 1072954 trading as Taylor & Francis Group, Registered Office: Mortimer House, 37–41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH (hereinafter ‘Taylor & Francis’) to publish your article, including abstract, tables, figures, data, and supplemental material hosted by our publisher, as the Version of Record (VoR) in the Journal 


Access is the trickiest part. You have some control over it.

Subscription Journals

Access depends on library budgets and the price of journals. Libraries subscribe to journals so that researchers can read for free. Authors submit their manuscript, transfer their copyright and the publisher/editor facilitates peer-review and compiles content into journal issues and volumes. 

Open Access Journals

Some argue that subscription journals place the publisher in the center of the process with authors on one end and readers on the other end. Others say the model needs to change to match new technology and reading habits by placing authors and readers in the center. 

Find the right audience by getting a list of journals based on your discipline or research area. Use the advanced search feature of Ulrich's and DOAJ to find journals by subject.

JournalGuide and SciRev provide author reviews of journals, some data on editor/peer review duration, and, if available, acceptance rates. 

JournalChecker (for compliance with PlanS funders)

Many academic journals are online. Use Ulrich's Periodical Directory and/or Directory of Open Access Journals to find a list of subscription and open access online journals.


Get Help Selecting a Journal

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Allyson Mower, MA, MLIS
University of Utah, Marriott Library
295 South 1500 East, Room 5150E
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
(801) 585-5458

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