Since we seem to be talking about scientific writing this month, the question of where to submit your article arises.  Now the easiest thing to do is to look through the list of references you used and see which journal(s) you cited the most often, and then submit to that journal.  You can also ask your colleagues or adviser who have read the paper for suggestions.

But if you’ve narrowed the list down to two or three journals, how do you decide which is best?  There are two things to consider:  relevance and accessibility.

By narrowing down your list to journals that you have cited is the first step in addressing relevance.  But you also have to decide whether you submit to a general journal in your area (like Journal of the American Chemical Society or Acta Mathematica or Biological Bulletin or Geological Society of American Bulletin) or one that addresses a specific field (like Organometallics or Technometrics or Clinical Genetics or Tectonophysics).  There is also the option of submitting to a general science journal like Nature, Science, or the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.

In order to be relevant, the significance of your results needs to match the significance of the journal.  In other words, would scientists outside your discipline (i.e. geologist if you are a biologist or a mathematician if you’re an engineer) be interested in your results?  If so, submit to a general science journal.  Or would other scholars in your discipline be interested in your results (i.e. the grad students in the lab two floors down)?  If so, then submit submit to a general discipline journal.  If only people in your lab (and maybe the lab next door) would be interested in your results, then submit to a subject specific discipline journal.

But not all general or even subject-specific journals are equal.  In order to be accessible people need to be able to find your article and be able to read it once they find it.  You want to maximize the exposure of your article or make sure that it is discoverable.  Since most people use index databases to find articles, you want to make sure that the journal you submit to is indexed in all the databases relevant to your field.  Ulrich’s Web is a good place to find that information.  Just look for the journal in question and then scroll down to the Abstracting & Indexing section.

Open access journal let are available to anybody to read.  You might want to consider submitting to one of these to up the accessibility of your journal, but remember that these journals come with high (and sometimes) prohibitive page charges.  Libraries and individuals are more likely to subscribe to high impact-factor journals so you might want to check the impact factor of the journal you’re interested in.  Remember to compare it to other similar journals and not rely on an absolute value.  Other considerations such as average review time, high subscription costs, or boycotts might play into your decision.

So the key is figure out the journal that would have the biggest interested audience in your work.