Submitting a manuscript to unsuitable journals is a common mistake, and can cause journal editors to reject the manuscript before peer review. Choosing a relevant journal makes it more likely that your manuscript will be accepted. Some factors to consider are:
- The topics the journal publishes. If your research is applied, target a journal that publishes applied science; if it is clinical, target a clinical journal; if it is basic research, target a journal that publishes basic research. You may find it easier to browse a list of journals by subject area.
- The journal's audience. Will researchers in related fields be interested in your study? If so, a journal that covers a broad range of topics may be best. If only researchers in your field are likely to want to read your study, then a field-specific journal would be best.
- The types of articles the journal publishes. If you are looking to publish a review, case study or a theorem, ensure that your target journal accepts theses type of manuscripts.
- The reputation of the journal. A journal's Impact Factor is one measure of its reputation, but not always the most important. You should consider the prestige of the authors that publish in the journal and whether your research is of a similar level.
- What are your personal requirements: Does the journal usually publish articles quickly; is the "time to publication" important for you?
When looking for suitable journals in which to publish your own results, start with what you have read. You should already be familiar with published studies that are similar to yours. Which journal were those studies published in? The same journals may be appropriate for your manuscript, so make a list of them. If you need more journals to consider, you can do literature searches for other published articles in your field that are similar in scope and impact on the field, and see where they were published.
When you have a list of potential target journals, visit and read the websites for these journals. Every journal should have a page that provides submission guidelines, including information on many of the factors listed above.
Journals on your list that are not a match for your manuscript based on the factors listed above should be eliminated from consideration. Among the remaining journals, it is likely that one or more will stand out as a very good candidate. Consider if any additional experiments will give you a better chance of achieving publication in your top choice. If you are in a hurry to publish, consider which of the remaining journals offers rapid publication; if none do, consider which has the highest publication frequency. If your main goal is to reach as many readers as possible, strongly consider candidate journals that provide an open access option. Open access allows anyone to read your article, free of charge, online, which can make your article more likely to be read and cited.
When you have chosen the journal you think is the best fit for your study and your goals, it is usually a good idea to also identify your second- and third-choice journals. That way, if your paper is rejected from your first-choice journal, you can quickly submit to your second-choice journal.
If you have different choices of journals published by BMC, you should submit to your first choice journal for consideration. If the Editor decides that your manuscript is unsuitable, you can ask the Editor about transferring your manuscript to another journal published by BMC. This transfer process means you do not have to upload your manuscript files and details more than once, when there is a second choice journal that you like at the same publisher. The manuscript, and often the reviews, can be transferred on your behalf. This can save time for authors, reviewers and Editors. However, you must never submit the same manuscript to more than one journal at the same time (see publication ethics and BMC's policy on duplicate submission).