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Monday, June 21, 2010

On publishing and journals

So, I'm currently writing my first paper for publication. Woo hoo, and what not.

Therefore, I've started to pay attention to things like impact factors. Impact factors, for those of you who don't know, are numbers that reflect how often an average paper from a journal has been cited over the last 5 year period. Think of it as a journals reputation, if you will.

Many people claim that the bigger the impact factor, the better the journal. This occurred most recently in the Chronicle of Higher Education where a number of people moaned about the amount of research that goes uncited. Of course, this doesn't control for the number of people in a field and the "sexiness" of a topic, so obviously its not the whole story.

Now, the other major factor (for me at least) is the time taken to review. Psychology apparently has a long, long time to review journal articles. I've seen many papers that show a two year lag between submission and print publication. Most journals operate a pre-printing service these days, which means that one might only wait a year before others see your work.

So, when choosing a journal, I find myself making a trade-off. Should I go for a lower impact journal that reviews quickly, or a higher impact journal that will take longer, but make my research more visible?

Another point to remember is that you can't submit to multiple journals at once, so the reviewing time is an opportunity cost for the researcher. This is of particular relevance for students like myself, who need to get papers published quickly in order to be able to show them on a CV and thus get a job (and the opportunity to do more research.

I'm still not decided on which route to go, and time is running out. The deadline is somewhat external and somewhat self-imposed. My funders want a report in ten days, and i'd like to be able to claim that a paper is under review by that time. If anyone is reading and has advice, it would be greatly appreciated.

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