“Publish or perish” would seem to be a one-size-fits-all dictum, but it’s not. In fact, what you need from publications may well change over the course of your career.
First, it’s important to understand why you need to publish. If you are a graduate student, it may be more important to get a byline in a second-tier journal or emerging journal than to hold out for publication in a top journal.
If you are working toward tenure, you clearly need to publish in top journals, but you also need to consider time constraints and think carefully about the publication cycle for each journal. If a journal takes nine months or a year to respond (I know of journals that fit this description), it’s unrealistic to think that you can land a publication in that journal in time to be included in your tenure file.
But where to start? In many fields the sheer vastness of the literature can be overwhelming.
In addition, because you can only submit each article to one journal at a time (multiple submissions are verboten)—and because most of us only have a handful of projects ready to submit (if we are lucky)—you have to be very strategic about where you send work.
Editors in every field will tell you that the most common problem they see is that would-be authors don’t take the time to thoroughly acquaint themselves with their target journals and what they publish. A buckshot approach to publication is a recipe for failure.
In order to help you think strategically about submissions, we have created an extended worksheet that walks you through the variables you should consider when deciding where to submit your work. Learn how to identify, evaluate, and submit to journals that will serve your publishing goals.