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How do I find a suitable journal and how can I afford the publishing fees?

By Andy Nobes | Oct. 4, 2016  | Research writing Research skills Open access

Some of the most commonly asked questions in the AuthorAID Discussion Group are to do with academic journals - specifically how a researcher can find the best journal to publish their research, and how to pay publishing charges. There seems to be a lot of confusion about how to find reputable journals, how to avoid predatory journals and which journals charge fees to authors. Below we have included some links and resources on how you can find the right journal, and how you should approach publication charges.

How to find a suitable journal

If you are having problems finding the right journal for your research, here are some useful links to read:

"How to target a journal that’s right for your research” by AuthorAID’s Ravi Murugesan

"A Pragmatic Approach to Getting Published: 35 Tips for Early Career Researchers" from Frontiers in Plant Science

There are a number of websites that have been created to help authors find the most suitable journal – they provide information on indexing, impact factors and any fees needed to publish:
Research Square’s JournalGuide
Edanz’s Journal Selector

And if you are specifically looking for an Open Access journal, try the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ):

To help you choose a journal that is both reputable and appropriate for your research, the Think. Check. Submit. campaign (thinkchecksubmit.org) recommends three key steps. First, think about what kind of journal you should be submitting to. Second, check the journal has transparent publishing practices, and seems reputable with your colleagues, other researchers in your field and other sources you trust. Third, are you confident that you have found a journal that is trustworthy among your peers and will give your research the profile it deserves? Then you should - consider submitting to that journal.

Need further advice? Why not ask an AuthorAID mentor? It’s easy to sign up as a mentee and you can use our ‘find researcher’ to find a mentor or collaborator in your research field.

Article Processing Charges - how should I pay?

Firstly, it is important to note that most academic journals do not charge a fee to the author. For traditional subscription journals (non-Open Access) it is generally free to submit and publish your article, although some journals may levy page fees or charges for figures or illustrations.

If you publish with an Open Access journal they might charge an Article Processing Charge (APC) to cover the journal running costs. Some publishers also run ‘hybrid’ journals which charge a fee for you to publish an Open Access article in their journal which is mostly subscription-only.

With the growth of Open Access publishing, APCs are becoming increasingly common, with both big and small scholarly publishers. Make sure you plan ahead and consider your target journal early in the writing process. You should either target journals with no fees, or journals that can provide an APC waiver (see below). Or you could consider budgeting for APCs in your research proposal - some funders that mandate Open Access publication provide funds for APCs within their research grants.

There are many reputable Open Access journals that do NOT charge an APC for you to publish your research – it is totally free to publish your research in these journals. For example, you can search for Open Access journals at doaj.org/search and filter the results according to whether the journals charge a fee or not.

APC waivers

If you are quoted an APC and cannot afford the fee, most publishers have a waiver policy for developing country authors. This is usually based on the HINARI list of countries, but publishers will often consider discretionary waivers in other circumstances.

Take a look at the policies of the major publishers to see if you are eligible for a waiver:

• Elsevier
• Nature
• Oxford University Press
• Sage
• Springer
• Taylor & Francis 
• Wiley

If you are unsure of whether you are eligible for a waiver, just ask the publisher or the editor of the journal – you might be surprised!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to respond below.

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