Publishing a Journal Article

This guide introduces tools and resources for publishing your research in an academic journal, including

  • Selecting a journal for your article
  • Understanding journal impact and ranking
  • Publishing in open access journals

Workshops and Guides

To learn about other aspects of publishing and promoting your academic research, explore the following guides or attend a workshop.

Library Resources

Selected Books and Articles

For additional articles on how to publish an article in a journal in your discipline, search in the same discipline-specific databases you use to look for research and information in your area. Research Guides list databases for a particular discipline on the "Articles" or "Journals" tab.

Additional Tools and Services

  • Elsevier Publishing Campus (Free Account Required) - This series of lectures and tutorials provides an outline of the procedures and workflows for scholarly publishing in science.

Preparing for the Article Publication Process

The following checklists provide you ideas to consider when submitting an article, dealing with revisions, and authors' rights for an accepted article.

While this guide will provide insight into useful tools for publishing, remember that the best source for advice on where to publish will be your colleagues, advisor or faculty members in your department.


Selecting a Journal

Your colleagues, instructors and advisors are excellent resources to help you identify journals that are appropriate for your article. You may also want to consider submitting to one or more of the journals that you read in the course of your research.

You may also read of a "Call for Papers", a method used by publishers to collect articles, conference presentations, and book chapters for potential publication. (More information on the Building Your Academic Profile guide.) While many calls for papers, conference presentations, etc. are from legitimate publishers, an increasing number are from predatory publishers. Scroll down for more information about predatory publishers.

In some disciplines, peer-reviewed conference proceedings are as important as journal articles. For information about finding and publishing in conferences, go to Building Your Academic Profile or contact your Subject Librarian.


If you have a journal in mind

Before you submit, visit a journal's website to read "Aims and Scope" sections as well as "Instructions to authors" or "Manuscript submissions" (terms may vary). In addition, read a few articles to ensure that your article

  • is in the same subject area as the journal. Note that "subject areas" can be wide or very narrow.
  • follows a particular approach, theory or methodology as required by the journal.
  • is aimed at the same audience as articles in the journal. For for example, academic researchers in psychology, not practicing psychologists.


Find journals by subject area

  • Web of Science Despite its name, WoS is a multidisciplinary resource. Search by keywords for your topic, then click on "Source Titles" (in the Refine Results menu on the left) to see a list of journals.
  • JANE: Journal Author Name Estimator Enter your abstract or other key words and retrieve up to 50 suggested journals from the health sciences journals listed in the PubMed database.
  • Journal Citation Reports (JCR) Search by broad subject area to find a list of journals. Includes only science and social sciences journals. Instructional Video
  • Ulrichsweb This comprehensive directory includes journals in all subject areas, including titles in Humanities and Social Sciences that are not that are not included in Journal Citation Reports. Choose "Advanced Search", open the "Subject – Exact" drop down menu, and enter a letter to select from a list of subjects.
  • Research Guides list databases for a particular discipline on the "Articles" or "Journals" tab. Search by keywords for your topic and note journal titles.
  • Summon, the search box on the library home page, offers filters to "Scholarly and Peer-Review", by discipline, and by year. Search by keywords for your topic, then apply filters to find, for example, articles in peer reviewed journals published since 2010. Scan the result list for journal names.


Find journals by rank

Most journals forbid multiple submissions, so journal rankings can help you decide which journal to send to first

For more information about journal rankings, consult Citation Analysis and Impact Factors. If you are having difficulty finding a particular journal or an appropriate journal category in JCR, please contact the Subject Librarian for your discipline.


Ensure you're submitting to a legitimate journal

Predatory journals exploit the Open Access (OA) model of academic publishing: they exist simply to collect publication fees from authors. Publication in a predatory journal confers no benefit to an author because predatory journals accept any article which is submitted. Don't waste your time, money or reputation by publishing in a predatory journal! Use the resources below to ensure that you're submitting your article to a legitimate Open Access journal.

Do not hesitate to contact your Subject Librarian if you're at all unsure about a particular Open Access title.

There is a lot of information available about OA journals, including both credible and predatory publishers. A good place to start if you are looking for information on legitimate OA journals is The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

The newly-launched Think.Check.Submit site offers an excellent checklist designed to help you avoid predatory publishers. Here are a few additional questions to consider:

  • Did the journal contact you first?
    • Predatory journals send mass emails to potential authors.
  • Is this the journal it claims to be?
    • Even if the title seems familiar, beware of copycat journals - predatory journals with titles that are very similar to high quality journals
  • Does the journal request you send money to publish your article?
  • What is the timeline for editing and peer review? Are you asked to supply contact information for potential reviewers?
    • If there is either no peer review process or the process is fast (hours or days), this is a sign of a predatory journal. Another warning sign is being asked to copy edit or develop the layout of your article.
  • Review the journal's website for clues as to the quality of the journal.
    • Are contact emails personal addresses? Is the grammar and spelling correct? Is there a long and consistent list of archived journal issues/volumes, or has the journal been published irregularly?


Some of the journals you find may be open access (OA). OA is both a theory and a movement – encouraging the removal of barriers to scholarly research, so that it is freely accessible worldwide. OA research is “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions[1].” Learn more about OA from Scholarly Communications @ UBC.
Many peer-reviewed OA journals hold high citation rates and impact factors. However, some non-tenured researchers may worry about how publications in OA journals are valued by promotion and tenure committees. Ultimately you as a researcher are the best judge as to which journals are appropriate for your discipline and for the point in your career.

Publishing your article in an Open Access journal is one of the ways of complying with funding agency requirements

Many funding agencies now require that publicly-funded research be freely available - in Open Access journals or institutional repositories, etc. - after publication in a journal available only to subscribers. Here are some examples:

Open Access Publisher Discounts for UBC Researchers

Some OA journals request a fee for article submission and review, often referred to as an article processing charge (APC). UBC Library’s commitment to OA extends to institutional memberships with a variety of OA publishers and organizations. These memberships provide benefits to researchers at UBC, often through discounts on APCs.

See our list of available OA publisher discounts and institutional memberships, and contact the UBC Scholarly Communications and Copyright office for further information.

Predatory Journals

The growth of OA has also come with the growth of "predatory journals" that aim to exploit the OA model. These journals combine low standards with questionable editorial and publishing practices..

To learn more about predatory journals, go to the Selecting a Journal section of this guide.

  1. Suber, P. (2013). Open Access Overview