Thing 6: Publishing Strategies

Researchers can maximise the impact of their research by taking a strategic approach to where and how they publish their research findings. Thing 6 looks at some tools and options for ensuring that publications reach as wide and influential an audience as possible. This audience may be other researchers who can build upon the research, practitioners who can apply and interpret the research, and members of the public whose lives are improved by the research.  

Traditionally, academic journals were only available by subscription paid by an institution’s library. In recent years, open access and hybrid models that usually require Article Processing Charges (APCs) have become available. Open access publishing makes research outputs freely available online to read, download, and use without the licensing restrictions usually in place on published works. Part of strategic publishing is considering the benefits of publishing in open access venues. This is covered in more detail in Thing 7: Open Research.  

Getting Started

Librarians can help researchers to navigate publishing choices and find the most appropriate journal for their articles. There are bibliographic tools to help identify and evaluate potential sources whether they have a subscription, open access, or hybrid publishing model. 

Some publishers provide journal selection tools that can help identify potential journals to publish in. Take a look at the tools below (we will cover them in more depth in the “Challenge Me” section of this Thing.) 

Consider: What are some of the limitations of these tools? Try entering humanities topics in these tools. 

We covered some journal ranking tools in Thing 1 and Thing 3. Another commonly used journal-level metric is the SNIP, or Source Normalised Impact per Paper, which gives an idea of the relative ranking of journals. To better understand the SNIP read its definition on Elsevier’s “Measuring a journal’s impact” page.  

Exercise: Go to CWTS Journal Indicators and click on “Indicators” to find the SNIP for journals by subject area. Try searching for a subject area you are familiar with or interested in and compare journals. 

Learn More

Journal comparison tools give a good high-level view of the relative merits of each potential publication venue. If your institution has access to Scopus, you can use Elsevier’s “Compare sources” tool to generate a chart showing the rankings of each journal. 

Another thing to keep in mind when strategically considering where to publish is whether the journal is indexed in databases such as Scopus and PubMed. Read the short article, “Journal indexing 101: understanding the basics“, which contains advice for journal editors about indexing. In short, the better indexed the journal, the more discoverable the article will be. 

Other considerations include how long it takes journals to publish papers, and acceptance rates.  

Researchers can use Conpher to gain an understanding of the publishing experience for each journal, from the perspective of authors. 

International collaboration increases the reach and impact of a country’s research and has significant career implications for researchers. To learn more, read the introduction to the report “Measuring the value of international research collaboration” by the Australian Academy of Humanities. 

Some university libraries have guides on strategic publishing, for instance University of New South Wale’s “Publishing strategy guide” and The University of Manchester Library’s “Developing a publication strategy”. 

Consider: Does your library have a subject guide related to strategic publishing? Explore the advice your library provides to researchers.  

Challenge Me

Keywords and titles can impact the discoverability of your work. Take a look at “#2 Be strategic about choosing keywords and titles” from the University of Waikato’s online resource “10 ways to boost the impact of your research”. 

Consider: What tools are available for researchers to assist them in developing strategic keywords?  

As covered in “Getting Started”, there are many tools available for determining an appropriate journal to publish in. Some allow you to enter a title and abstract, and return a selection of potential journals which may be a good fit. How can you incorporate them into a publishing strategy? What are their advantages and limitations?  

Exercise: Try out some of the tools listed below and test a few articles you have read recently. Can you find alternative journal choices using one or more of these tools?