Finding the right journal for an article manuscript can be challenging. If you make a risky choice, you may lose time by finding yourself in a circle of desk rejects, which may be discouraging, especially if you are a junior scholar. Could AI-based technology help to find the best home and minimise frustration? While probably not completely, it is still worth taking a look at how the services work.
Sometimes it is tricky to find a home for your study. You read the aims and scope of the journal and carefully prepare your manuscript with a cover letter, but a desk reject follows, the editors saying that the manuscript just didn’t “tick the right boxes” or “match our aims and scope”. You re-read the aims and scope and cannot understand the ideas hidden between rows. You may even get into a circle of desk rejects, and it will take a long time before the article finds its home – unless you give up.
This kind of a situation is not uncommon, especially if you are working with an interdisciplinary topic or pilot study with no forerunners or colleagues to ask for advice.
Therefore, if you don’t want to publish in the same journals, how to find journal that is a good fit for your study?
The number of tools that suggest or select journals for you, based on the material that you can provide, has been increasing. However, most journal finders are offered by major international journal publishers, and the free-standing options are few. Many finders also rely on data that contain predatory journals, which makes it necessary for an aspiring author to remain critical of the results. The Think.Check.Submit site offers a checklist that helps to choose journals that live up to your strategies and are probably not predatory. In addition to the automated tools, you can always do a direct search manually in journal databases, browsing lists within relevant fields and topics: The Scopus database, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Ulrich’s Web, and so on.
The observation may leave many disappointed, but most of the work in choosing the journal is still conducted by the authors themselves and cannot fully be outsourced to algorithms. Some services explicitly ask users to “verify against aim and scope” (Sage) or “review the journal’s Aims and Scope before deciding where to submit” (Wiley). Taylor & Francis reminds the user that their journal suggester “is only designed to be the first stage in a process”, giving the user “a shortlist of options to consider further”.
“The Suggester is only designed to be the first stage in a process; giving you a shortlist of options to consider further.”Taylor & Francis
For publishers, while increasing the findability and accessibility of their own journals to attract more submissions, journal recommender tools are a way of learning about their audiences and connecting scholars to paid services, such as expert recommendations and professional language editing.
If you are searching for journals with a specifically Nordic scope, do not forget NordMedia Network’s own listing of Nordic and Baltic media journals. You can also take advantage of the Norwegian Register for Scientific Journals, Series and Publishers, Kanalregistret, or the Finnish Publication Forum’s database JUFO Portal. These databases not only rank journals according to the national classification systems, but they also provide relevant background information about journals.
Major international publishers’ services
The page asks you to enter the title and abstract of your paper (max. 5,000 characters). Based on the information entered, the algorithm compares the information with articles in Scopus, creating a list of up to 40 recommended journals. You can sort the results by relevance (“best match”), journal name, CiteScore, impact factor, acceptance rate, time to first decision, or time to publication.
The search is conducted by inserting the title and at least 5 keywords, along with selecting a subject area from a drop-down menu. Searches are also connected to SAGE Article Transfer Hub, which aims to find publication possibilities for overlooked articles; here, the possibilities for finding a journal for traditional media studies research are rather few (see the journals).
Along with inserting the title and abstract, the tool also allows the user to choose a subject area (e.g., “Cultural and Media Studies”) from a drop-down menu. The recently redesigned tool searches among 2,500 journals and allows filtering by minimum impact factor and acceptance rate, maximum time to first decision, and indexing services.
The tool, currently at the beta stage, offers a search based on the abstract only, retrieving hits from Taylor & Francis’s journals, many of which are relevant to the traditional field of media and communication studies. The corpus covers over 4 million articles on Taylor & Francis Online. Taylor & Francis say that they also monitor which results are clicked on.
As when using WoS in general, using the manuscript match function requires a log-in with the WoS ID. The search is based on citation connections in WoS Core Collection. Filters are advanced, including subdisciplines, language and country/region, as well as the possibility to filter according to DOAJ listing.
The service, currently in its beta version, retrieves results from Wiley’s over 1,600 journals, most of which tend to have a natural sciences and quantitative orientation. Interestingly, Wiley offers a human recommendation service: Users can ask for 3–5 curated recommendations and a detailed report within 4 working days, which costs USD 220.
A open-source software provided by Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB), a foundation under the public law of the state of Lower Saxony, Germany, supervised by the state’s Ministry for Science and Culture. The language detection uses the lingua-py software and the LCC subject detection uses a custom trained neural network.
The open-source tool is dedicated to searching Open Access journals and is thus not connected to a certain publisher. The service does the searches based on the title, abstract, and references of the manuscript. The service compares title and abstract with articles listed in the DOAJ and references with the citation database OpenCitations. It creates a match score (percentage) and allows filtering, for example, by language.
AlphaTech (2022): How to find a journal for any article (feat. Bison)
Edantz Journal Selector
A service provided by the Japanese company offering Englih-language editing and publication support, partnered with the publishers Elsevier, Springer Nature, BioMed Central, AIP, and BMJ.
The tool searches, according to the service provider, in over 28,653 journals and 12,010,643 abstracts (2023). Results can be sorted by journals’ impact factor range and publication frequency. The company asserts that they offer support for submitting a manuscript to any international journal. They also have a personalised journal selection service that provides a customer willing to pay USD 415 with “a list of 3 journals that are most likely to accept your manuscript, and give you details of the pros and cons of submitting to each”.
Anders Wändahl (2020): Using Edanz Journal selector to find a good journal candidate
A service run by American Journal Experts (AJE), a division of the US-based company Research Square, that provides manuscript editing and research promotion.
The function “Match paper” allows the user to insert the title and abstract of the study, and you can filter according to journal’s Open Access options, impact factor (“greater than”), and SNIP index (source-normalised impact per paper). While using the system, advertisements keep popping up, providing sales codes for academic manuscript editing and the like.
Carrie Price (2022): Explore journals with JournalGuide
Putting the Finders to a Test
What Did the Finders Suggest?
Karlsson, M., Van Couvering, E., & Lindell, J. (2022). Publishing, sharing, and spreading online news: A case study of gatekeeping logics in the platform era. Nordicom Review, 43(2), 190–213. https://doi.org/10.2478/nor-2022-0012
What three journals did the different finders recommend as best matches for the paper? We inserted the abstract and the title (if allowed in the service), without refining the search in any other way.
Photos: Maarten van den Heuvel, Amol Tyagi, Unsplash