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Publishing in the life sciences

Liaison librarian

  • Genevieve [dot] Gore [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email) 514-398-3472

Publish, Not Perish: The Art & Craft of Publishing in Scholarly Journals - Tutorial from University of Colorado Libraries. (Login as "other" for access.)

Publishing Your Research 101 from the American Chemical Society, a series of videos for authors and reviewers.

Submitting an Article for Publication: Choosing a Journal

When authors take on the task of writing up their research for publication, it is good practice to prepare the report in a format that resembles most closely the final submission. In order to prepare, researchers should select the publication (in the life sciences, usually a peer-reviewed journal) to which they intend to submit.

Several factors can be taken into consideration when choosing a publication:

  • If you are not familiar with the literature in the discipline, find out which journals are published in your subject area by consulting a directory (see the list under "Journal Selection" below).
  • Which journals may publish your article? Look at the references you intend to cite in your article. Which journal(s) appear more often? Which journals appear more often in your references' references?
  • Try searching for your research topic in a database like Web of Science or Scopus, and after executing a search, use the "Source Title" filter to see which journals have published the most articles in that area.
  • Check the Instructions to Authors pages of the journals that interest you. You may also wish to email the journal editor before preparing the manuscript to find out if the subject fits in the scope of the publication, or in a particular theme issue.
  • Is the journal open-access, or does it allow for the author to post in an institutional repository?
  • Determine the popularity and prestige of the journal, using measures such as the impact factor, Eigenfactor, and SNIP (See resources listed below under "Measures of Journal Impact and Prestige").
  • The publication's lag time, that is, the time it takes once a manuscript is accepted for it to be published. This can range from immediately (in the case of some online open access publishers) to more than a year.
  • The lag time for review is also of importance. If it is not stated in the author guidelines, ask the editor how long it usually takes for a submission to be reviewed. Note that it is considered inappropriate to submit a manuscript to more than one journal at a time.
  • Remember to consider the intended audience of the journal you choose. If the journal only publishes medical articles of general interest on research on humans, they may not consider your manuscript on translational regulation of release factor 2, no matter how good it is.
  • Consider publishing your study's protocol. BioMedCentral offers this on their website. Systematic reviews can be registered at Prospero and for those undertaking Cochrane Reviews, protocol publication is mandatory.

Resources for Journal Selection, Manuscript Preparation, and Submission

Journal Selection

Measures of Journal Impact and Prestige

Instructions to Authors

Reporting Guidelines for Health Research

For a complete list of guidelines for reporting health research, see EQUATOR (Enhancing the Quality and Transparency of Health Research).

Research Reporting Guidelines and Initiatives by Organization: A list maintained by the National Library of Medicine (U.S.)

Statements & Resources from Journal Editors

Open Access

  • BioMed Central - All the original research articles in journals published by BioMed Central are immediately and permanently available online without charge. McGill University is a supporting member of BMC, entitling authors to a 15% reduction of the article publication fee.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals - A comprehensive directory listing free, full-text, quality-controlled scientific and scholarly journals, covering all subjects and languages.
  • PubMed Central - U.S. National Library of Medicine's permanent digital archive of life sciences journal literature.
  • PubMed Central Canada
  • Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing
  • Public Library of Science - A non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. PLoS Publishes its own journals.
  • Open Medicine - Open access journal.

Academic Integrity and Ethical Issues

Intellectual Property

  • Copyright & Creative Commons - Sources of information on Canadian copyright law as it applies to teaching and publishing, and the alternative, Creative Commons. (McGill University)
  • SPARC Author Addendum - To retain rights to provide public access for your publications.

Research, Writing, & Presentation Tools

Available Through McGill:

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