Choosing a journal

Building a picture of the people you are trying to reach will help you decide where to submit your article.

Imagine your target reader. Are they new to nursing or experienced? Ward based or working in the community? Someone with advanced skills or basic? 

But these are really questions you should be asking yourself early in the process of producing the article. Having a clear idea of your typical reader will determine the structure of the first draft and will shape its aims, tone, language and content.

Identifying your readership will also shorten the list of journals to which you might submit your article.

But what else should you consider?

Know your journals

Journals

A mistake made by some first-time authors is to submit an article without finding out about the journal first. Establishing a journal’s aim, purpose, style and audience is easily achieved: just read it online or in print. 

Look through its author guidelines as well and, if it has one, its mission statement. Here’s an example: ‘Emergency Nurse encourages innovation and promotes professional excellence in all pre-hospital and emergency care settings.’ You can find more detailed examples in the section on exploring our journals.

Does your article fit with this?

Study the sections

A cursory read of a journal or its website may not reveal how it is divided up so be sure to look closely. Note the types of article, their length and who the authors are. Do you see sections devoted to comment and opinion? Does the journal publish case studies, original research, literature reviews? Are they peer reviewed? 

‘Establishing a journal’s aim, purpose, style and audience is easily achieved: just read it’  

If you have any doubts about the suitability of your article for a particular journal, contact the editor. RCNi journal editors are always willing to discuss ideas and they are here to support authors, whether they are new to writing and more established. 

Time

Producing a journal, especially one with peer-reviewed articles, takes time and editors often work months ahead even with a policy of continuous online publishing. Is this a factor in your decision about which journal to target? If you have a particular time of publication in mind, for example to coincide with a conference or launch date, can the journal match your deadline if the piece is accepted?

To summarise, know your reader and know your journal. Doing so will quicken the process and help you avoid the disappointment of rejection.

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