March 22, 2017
A common concern among early career researchers is how to identify appropriate journals for their work. Researchers in school psychology publish in a broad range of journals – from school psychology, to general and special education, educational psychology and other subfields of psychology, public health, prevention science, and other fields depending on the topic of a given manuscript. Productive scholars know it is essential to understand the nuances of potential outlets and their respective audiences when before submitting a manuscript. Even within a relatively small field like school psychology, each journal is unique, so a manuscript should be tailored to the journal to which it is submitted. The flip side is that barring fatal flaws, there is a fitting outlet for most manuscripts.
How do you identify potential publishing outlets?
- Check your reference list. If you cite multiple papers from a given journal or subfield, it’s likely your paper will fit in that journal or subfield as well.
- Consider where similar scholars publish their work. If others in your area publish in particular journals, you can infer that you work might also have a home there.
- Search the Journal Citation Reports.Web of Science’s JCR allows you to search for all journals indexed by category and rankable by journal metrics. There’s no category for school psychology, but most school psychology journals are include in the category, Psychology – Educational. Other categories that may be of interest to school psychology researchers are Education & Educational Research; Education – Special; Health Policy & Services; Psychology – Applied; Psychology – Developmental; Psychology – Multidisciplinary; and Social Issues.
- Ask your colleagues, collaborators, and mentors. This can be especially helpful for early career scholars. Many publications have reputations independent of journal metrics. Colleagues in your department, field, or area of study can help you to understand the stature of specific journals or subfields of journals within school psychology or your institution. Colleagues can also be helpful in understanding the idiosyncrasies of the journal scope, expectations, and review process, which may inform your decision about whether or not to submit your work to an outlet.
How do you select the best fit for your manuscript?
- Review journal websites. Most journals have a website where the purpose, scope, author guidelines, editorial board, and other journal-specific information is provided. When preparing a manuscript submission to a journal, it’s important to ensure your manuscript is consistent with the scope and type of manuscripts accepted (e.g., original study, review, brief report, commentary) and follows the author guidelines or submission requirements (e.g., implications for specific audiences).
- Peruse recent issues and online first publications. You can gain insight into the types of work regarded favorably by an editor and editorial board by considering the topical areas and types of papers recently published. These articles can also provide clues about stylistic idiosyncrasies of the journal.
- Read the editor’s commentaries. Most editors serve discrete terms and it’s common for an incoming editor to publish a commentary on their vision for a journal at the beginning of their term. It’s a great resource when considering fit, particularly if there have not been multiple issues published under the new leadership.
- Check out the editorial boards. It’s likely that a submitted manuscript will be reviewed by one or more members of a journal’s editorial board. You can gauge the applicable expertise of board members, and often even suggest specific reviewers. The constituency of the editorial board provides indication of the expertise—and by extension, the scholarship—valued by the editorial team.
- Review journal metrics. There are a variety of metrics used to evaluate journal stature (e.g., impact per publication, source normalized impact per paper, SCImago journal rank, total cites, eigenfactor score, h-index, immediacy index, article influence score). Select journal metrics are included in the Journal Citation Reports and are often reported on journal websites. Many institutions value publications in high status journals and make inferences about the quality and impact of an article based on select metrics of a journal. Consequently, the journals in which a scholar has published are often taken into consideration in review of researchers during hiring, promotion/tenure process, grant reviews, and selection for honors/awards. If you are in a unit or institution where journal metrics are a focus, it may be important to consider journal metrics when selecting outlets for your work.
It’s not uncommon for early career scholars to wonder what the journals in school psychology are as a starting point. Here’s a list of several peer-reviewed school psychology journals: Journal of School Psychology, School Psychology Review, School Psychology Quarterly, Psychology in the Schools, School Psychology International, Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, Journal of Applied School Psychology, School Psychology Forum, Contemporary School Psychology, International Journal of School and Educational Psychology, and The Trainer’s Forum. keep in mind, however, that most school psychology scholars publish in a wide array of journals, so don’t limit yourself to school psychology journals.
So, there are a variety of strategies you can use to determine potential outlets for your work. We invite others to share recommendations and reflections on these tips. Have a question? Post below and we’ll provide more information.