Scholarly Communications


Your choice of outlet can have a significant impact on the visibility and impact of your research.  

Which is best for you – journal or conference?

Journals and conferences perform different functions.  Journal papers always have an ISSN which makes them more discoverable the conference papers, and as such they generally attract more citations.  However, attending a conference can have networking and reputational benefits.  Whichever you choose, it is best not to publish the same research in both journal and conference paper as this will dilute the citation impact of your work.

Identifying journals

Use our checklists to help you choose the best journal or conference for you.

Journal checklist

When choosing a journal we recommend following these three simple steps - in this order.  Schools and research groups may have created discipline-based journal lists based on these criteria.  Ask your Associate Dean for Research for details.


1) Readership. Is the journal a place where your target audience will find, read and use/cite it?

Your first consideration when choosing where to publish should be whether the outlet under consideration is one where your target audience is likely to find, read and use or cite your work.  Depending on your discipline and the type of readership you seek (fellow scholars, scholars in other disciplines, policy makers, industrial contacts or the general public), you may wish to target a niche journal, a trade journal or a cross-disciplinary journal such as Nature or Science.  The scope of the journal will also be critical here - does your work fit the brief of the journal under consideration?  Of course, some audiences may be better reached through non-journal means, such as events, blogs, main-stream media, or social media.

2) Rigour. Does the journal have high editorial standards, an international editorial board and offer rigorous peer review?

Most journal papers benefit from rigorous peer reivew by experts in the field.  However, editorial standards can vary from journal to journal.  Those with the highest standards will usually have an international editorial board and offer double-blind peer review, where your paper is anonymized and independently assessed by two reviewers.  If you are considering a journal you have not published in before, you may wish to ask colleagues who have published there what the standard of peer review was like, and the turnaround times (not a quality indicator but of interest!).

Be aware that with the advent of Open Access, there are an increasing number of 'predatory publishers' looking to cash in on authors' willingness to pay open access fees for publication. Follow the Think, Check, Submit guidelines to ensure the journal you're thinking about is trustworthy.

3) Reach.  Is it a visible outlet, with international reach and a liberal open access option?

The global visibility and accessibility of a journal will affect the impact of the papers it publishes. There are a number of studies that show that open access papers have greater global impact (as evidenced by citations) than closed papers.  Checking whether the journal is 100% open access, offers a gold open access option or a green open access policy is important. If it has a green open access policy, the shorter the embargo period the better.  Many journals offer green open access with no embargo periods.  The other thing to check here is the licence under which your paper will be made avilable by the journal - does the licence allow liberal re-use, e.g., sharing on social networking sites?  Or can end-users just view the paper and do nothing else with it? 

Another factor affecting a journal's visibility is where it is indexed. The Scopus database indexes over 23,000 scholarly journals, 100,000 conferences and an increasing volume of monographs and is the largest bibliographic database in the world.  If the journal you are considering is not indexed by Scopus, it may negatively affect its visibility, although there are disciplinary differences. Scopus is the basis for a number of citation analyses and citation tools.  They supplied citation data for REF 2014, and the THE and QS League Tables.   Use this list to check if your journal is covered by Scopus

How can journal citation indicators can support journal choice?

Field-normalised journal citation indicators such as SNIP and SJR values may offer a window onto #3, the visibility and reach of a journal.  In some disciplines they may also offer a window onto #2, the rigour of a journal.  But they never offer a window onto #1, who is reading the journal, and that is top of the list.  Use (home of the SNIP value) and (home of the SJR value) to identify highly cited journals in your field. SNIP and SJR values of above 1 are above average.  More information on this can be found in the section on assessing the impact of your research.

Conference checklist

Is it a major international conference in your field?

There are hundreds of conferences to choose from.  To maximise your visibility and the impact of your paper, ensure you opt for the major international conferences in your discipline.

Is it peer-reviewed?

Conferences with the most rigorous standards will provide peer review for your conference paper.

Are the papers published in a proceedings volume or journal with an ISSN?

Some conferences have an associated journal or conference proceedings which publish either all, or the best, papers from their conference.  Find out whether your paper will be subsequently published in a journal or conference proceedings with an ISSN. This will maximise the discoverability and visibility of your work.

Is the conference indexed by Scopus?

Scopus indexes over 20,000 scholarly journals, conferences and monographs and is the largest bibliographic database in the world.  If the conference proceedings from your conference are indexed by Scopus, it will significantly enhance its visibility, although there are disciplinary differences. Scopus is the basis for a number of citation analyses and citation tools.  They supplied citation data for REF 2014, and the THE and QS League Tables.   Use this list to check if your journal or conference is covered by Scopus

Would your paper sit better in a journal?

It is always worth asking the question whether your research would achieve the best visibility in a journal rather than as a conference paper.  Experienced colleagues or your AD(R) should be able to advise.