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Big question. I just want to comment on your case. Some 'top' journals publish discussion pieces/responses to recent articles. I'd consider going for that. You'd need to find one or two striking things you can say about one of the articles and send it to the corresponding journal. You can always try to bring in a comment about the article in the other journal, as long as it's relevant and supports your point. That could make it even stronger. If the submission gets rejected, reverse the primary article you respond to and send to the other journal.


I'm not sure there's much avoiding trial and error. Ask your friends about their experiences. I've got good tips on which journals are fast and slow from friends. Submitting to journals that publish articles you cite or substantively engage is also my main strategy. Even if you think you have time, I'd probably still avoid sending to Nous or other top journals. It may sound okay now, but after a few rejections and a year or more of time, you're likely to feel like it was a waste. I'd start somewhere in the middle, with a journal that publishes stuff you engage and has a good reputation for being fast. I spent a lot of time as a grad student submitting to top-5 journals and got nothing out of it. Remember, even in the best case, the journal process from submission to publication is likely to be 6-9 months. 1-3 years (yes, years) is not unheard of. That's just dealing with a single journal (that publishes your paper). If you're "working your way down" from top journals, you could be looking at 2-5 years worth of time trying to publish. Given that time, my process is always to aim at whatever journal is the best fit for my article and (I feel) is likely to take it.


More generally: I try to submit papers to venues that have published similar work before.

My main consideration is typical time to review. Even though I have the time, now, to wait a year or more for a verdict, I don't want to (who does?). So I target journals whose usual turnaround is at or under three months. More recently, since I'm not hurting for pubs any more, I've sent papers to journals with reputations for taking a little longer (although they mostly haven't). (Incidentally, now that I have quite a bit of refereeing under my belt, I think the three month mark is perfectly reasonable.)

The other big decision is whether to send it to a specialist or a generalist journal. Early on I mainly targeted specialist journals because I figured that's where my chances were best and I was trying to prove my specialist chops. If I was rejected by the top tier of specialist journals, I'd move to a T20 generalist journal that regularly publishes in my subfield. Once I had a few successes in the specialist venues, I branched out and started sending to generalist journals first, to demonstrate that I could publish widely.

A third factor that constrains where I send stuff is which journals are generally friendly to work in my subfield, and which aren't. There are some generalist journals for which there's not much point sending work in my subfield. Maybe I'll try one day when I'm well established, but for now, I'd rather get a fair shake than a desk rejection or, worse, a nasty report. The other related issue is which journals are friendly to what; even among specialist journals, some topics are out of favour in some venues.

Finally, my experiences with particular journals (as well as the experiences of my friends) influence my submission patterns. I've had some *very* negative experiences with some, and I'm not keen to repeat them. They may well have been flukes, but I see no reason to try again while I have other good options. Similarly, I've had some extremely positive experiences with some journals--including, I should add, for rejected papers!--and I'm keen to have more of those. Rejections are discouraging enough without their also being incompetent or nasty.

Nicolas Delon

Since turnaround and quality of comments and editorship are going to be important factors, let me urge everyone to contribute to the APA journal surveys (https://journalsurveys.apaonline.org/). It would be so much more informative if everyone did their part. Takes about 2 minutes to record a submission. If you're reading the surveys but have never contributed, you're part of the problem.


Like Mike, while in graduate school (and a bit beyond), I tried to go for top tier places and didn't succeed. More recently, I've had success in them but there's quite a learning curve to figuring out how to publish in those venues and to understand more about each journal than just "prestige."

And even now, the things I've gotten into top-tier journals have all required R&Rs and have extremely long lead times.

Article 1:

original submission January 2018,
feedback April 2018,
resubmission June 2018,
acceptance August 2018,
publication Feb 2019 (so over a year after the original paper was submitted -- not counting the time to research and write the original).

original submission:
September 2019,
feedback Jan 2020,
Resubmission April 2020,
expected publication October 2021
(so 2 years or so from original submission -- again not counting the time to research and write the paper originally)

In contrast, some of the mid-tier journals have accepted without revision and published same year.

Consequently, I think it's better to start mid-tier or rather to write the article as best you can and understand where it fits into the scheme of things -- rather than try to force an article into being fit for top-flight journal.


Given the specifics of the case, as described above, I would recommend sending the paper to one of the two journals that the discussed papers were published in. But I would also recommend that one get feedback from a peer (or advisor) or audience at a conference (e-conference) before sending it in. The system is quite clogged, and slow, as many note. I would not set out to clog it further. One should have a sense that they have a paper that is publishable before sending it to a journal.
If you are not at one of the top-10 programmes, I would also recommend that you focus - your first time - on just publishing in a good journal. You need not send it to a top journal. You can learn what there is to learn about publishing from publishing in a good journal. Just pick a journal that you read - to send it to a journal you have never looked at before .. well, you do the math.

Prof L

I would show the paper to a (young) faculty member at your institution (or someone who works in your area who has published a good amount in that area) and ask them where to submit the article. A good faculty member will discuss 3-5 journals you could submit to, and should be somewhat aware of review times and other relevant things, whether your paper is suitable for a general or specialist journal, things like that.

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