Ready! Aim! Fire! targeting the right medical science journal

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Inadvertently submitting a paper to a journal that is unlikely to publish it is a waste of resources and ultimately delays dissemination of one’s research. A high proportion of manuscripts are rejected by their author’s first-choice journal. The aim of the present work was to review guidance provided within the literature for journal selection that might minimize the chance of manuscript rejection. We also consider papers that encompass more than one main medical science and describe the selection process that we used with a paper that was published in Cardiovascular Endocrinology.


A database search (Embase, PubMed and Medworm) was performed for all articles published in the scientific literature providing guidance on journal selection. Articles were identified that either had journal selection as their principal topic or included journal selection as part of a broader discussion of publishing. The relative performance of four free-to-use, web-based applications that claim to provide guidance on journal selection was compared.


The searches identified 286 hits, of which 249 were in English. Of these papers, 16 discussed journal selection and a further 10 articles were identified from citations within the original 16 articles. Only one article described a comprehensive model for submission decision-making. Identification of appropriate candidate journals by various web-based applications was erratic, with the Jane database providing the most robust suggestions.


Our work suggests that little attention has been focused in the scientific literature on the mechanisms that authors use to select a journal for their work. Nevertheless, scientists for the most part seem to have a good sense of where their papers are most likely to be accepted. Beyond ensuring that a manuscript fulfils all the target journal’s requirements, the literature suggests that it is important to have an objective view of the scientific contribution or ‘value’ of your work.

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