I hope you have had a good summer. This September I have a new challenge- teaching manuscript and abstract writing in the online Biomedical Writing program from the University of the Sciences. As I plan my classes, I realize the first question I often ask clients is “What journal(s) do you want to publish in?”

Why is this so important? Each journal has its own audience that ranges from generalists, specialists, scientists to the general public. It is important to know who will read your manuscript because you want to write so your audience will understand your manuscript and it will have a better chance of acceptance by the journal. 

Once you identify your target journal(s), make sure these journals are reputable. There are so many journals with similar names, it is often difficult to figure out which ones are legitimate and which ones are predatory. This is such a problem that the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), European  Medical Writers Association (EMWA) and the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) recently issued a joint statement on predatory publishing, available at this link.

One way to check the legitimacy of a journal is to see if the journal is indexed on Pubmed. Other signs of predatory journals listed in the position statement are:

  • “Publishers or journals sending emails that aggressively solicit researchers
  • A website that appears unprofessional, with poor graphics, misused language, dead links and aggressive advertising
  • No street address or in-country telephone number noted on the journal or publisher’s website, or a fake address/phone number provided
  • A lack of journal indexing in a legitimate online directory such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
  • Promises of unrealistically quick peer review, or no information provided about a journal’s peer-review process
  • Article processing charges that are not transparent (and may be either very high or very low) or are payable on submission (that is, not dependent on the outcome of peer review)
  • Claims made of broad coverage across multiple specialties in medicine or across multiple subspecialties in a particular discipline
  • A large stable of journals that have been started very recently and/or that contain no or few published articles, are inaccessible or are of obviously poor quality
  • An editorial board consisting of members from outside the specialty or outside the country in which the journal is published, or board members who are unknown to someone experienced in publishing in the field
  • A submission system that is overly simple with few questions asked and no conflict-of-interest or authorship qualification information requested.”

Authors and medical writers must research their target journals to determine their legitimacy in order to protect the scientific literature.

Tip: Learn how to recognize legitimate journals and publish only in these journals.

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