Timeliness: Do you hope to publish your work fast?
- Some academic journals may take a year or two to publish your work because of multiple rounds of peer review or possible backlogs in their submissions process. Online blogs, online-only journals or online components to print journals are typically a faster route.
- Practice tip: It may be difficult to assess how quickly will print journals publish your work once accepted. You can get an idea of the timeliness of the journal by looking considering the following:
- When was the latest issue? Be sure to find out when was the most recently released journal articles on the online platform or repository of the journal. If you submitted your piece in early 2022 and the journal’s last issue was published in 2021, chances are that publication will take some time. A few journals have a really helpful feature where your article goes online as soon as it is accepted for publication.
- How frequently does the journal publish? Be sure to distinguish whether the journal is annual, quarterly, or if it publishes on some other frequency. The more frequent the journal, the higher the chances of acceptance and the higher the chances of a timely publication. Look for articles that have a “rolling submission.”
Word limit: How long is your written product?
- Most academic journals set forth maximum and minimum word counts, sometimes as high as 10,000 words. Online blogs may make it possible to publish shorter pieces, typically in the 1000–2000-word range.
Scope: Does the topic of your paper fit the scope of the journal?
- While it is good to publish in a journal that covers precisely the topic of the paper, consider other journals whose scope is broad enough to cover the topic of your piece. For example, an article on forced migration would be a prime candidate for the International Journal of Refugee Law, but it could also fall within the scope of environmental journals if the topic is on forced migration due to climate change.
- Scope and preemption checks: This is an area where knowing how to do a preemption check can well be helpful. Do past articles in the journal touch on the same topic/issue as your paper? The ideal journal candidate will be a journal that has covered similar territory to your paper, but not yet over-covered it so that they might now be turning away any more submissions on exactly those lines.
- Scope and selection criteria: There is often overlap between a journal’s scope and the selection criteria for new articles. Almost all journals will consider the originality and significance of the submission in the research fields that constitute their scope. Almost all journals will also consider how the manuscript fits within the journal scope and whether it will be of interest to its readership base.
Prestige and Impact: How reputable is the journal?
- There are several ways to assess the prestige and reputation of a publication. Below are few ways to gauge this:
- Publisher affiliation: who publishes the journal? Journals published by a professional body are normally the most prestigious. Commercial journals from obscure or new publishers are normally last.
- Metrics: Many reputable journals try to quantify their impact through various metrics. Consider here metrics like download data, H-Index, h5 media scores, altmetrics (social media metrics), journal impact factors, and Washington & Lee Law Journal rankings.
- Rank: Is the journal highly ranked?
- The London School of Economics and Political Science has published lists of high-ranking journals sorted by subject area. Though there is no separate list for “human rights,” the report provides lists of journals in fields that may be related to human rights such as Economics, Gender Studies, Geography & Environment, Government, Health Policy, International Development, International Relations, Law, Social Policy etc.
Reach: How large of an audience does the journal reach?
- Does the journal reach an additional practitioner audience over and above academics in a given sector?
- Some long-established and prestigious journals with wide circulation are also read by professionals outside academia. A wide audience can help establish your work and you as a researcher in the field.
- How international is the journal – e.g. as reflected in its scope, the Editorial Board and authors it publishes?
Open Access: Is the journal open access or does it offer the option to publish open access?
- Open access journals usually have wider readership than closed-access journals.
- Publishing open access may entail author processing charges. These costs may be significant and may not always be covered by departmental or research grant sources.
- Most law school journals are open access and search engine optimized.
- For more, see Berkeley Library's guide on open access publishing.