Journal identified at the outset
In the past, academics tended to adopt a linear approach to publishing: posing a research question, conducting the research, and then making a ‘research-driven’ selection of an appropriate journal in which to publish the findings (often starting with the top tier journals in their field). These days, the diversification of publishing options beyond subscription-only printed articles, enthusiasm for open access, and the sheer volume of published work, has created a more ‘journal-driven’ publishing environment. Journal choice may even shape the development of the research plan, as academics look to publish in journals they themselves read, as part of a desire to contribute to the scholarly conversation that they follow most closely.
The benefits of ‘mid-tier’ or newer journals
Although it’s still the case that high-tier journals are the most favoured, beyond these researchers are attracted to newer, mid-tier journals that best suit their publication needs; weighing up factors such as embargoes, open access policies and author costs. For example, choosing to publish in newer journals often has the advantage of options such as early release. In addition, larger publishing houses keen to attract authors to such journals can leverage their wider family of journals, host events that encourage publication, and provide tools such as webinars to advise on the publishing process.
The researcher–publisher partnership
As the competition for readers’ attention grows, so does the need to stand out from the crowd. Whereas before, publishers were singularly responsible for promoting articles, the emphasis is increasingly on a more collaborative effort between authors and publishers. Indeed, publishers such as SAGE, Springer Nature, Wiley and Elsevier offer advice to authors on how to promote their work. In these guides, authors are encouraged to harness the power of social media by tweeting about their research activities. Some Elsevier journals even provide a Share Link, designed for email and social media posts, allowing free access to articles for 50 days post publication. Preprint publishing is seen as another platform for authors to increase the exposure of their work prior to peer reviewed publication.
With the current multitude of publishing options, successful journals will be those that offer the most attractive journal features for researchers. In turn, as the volume of published work expands, authors will need to work harder and smarter to make sure their research reaches their intended audience.