Who will be most interested in my message

Most of us have pretty healthy egos. We think our writing will merit the attention of far more readers than it will in fact attract. This nearly universal failing can lead to poor choice of a potential journal, and this poor choice can lead to delays, requests for major revision, or outright rejection.

Two closely related, bluntly asked questions can help a writer find the most appropriate audience.

So what? This question could be cast less abruptly in any of several ways. What effect will my message have on concepts or practices? Why should readers pay attention to it? Will it lead to widespread changes in the way we view the world?

Who cares? One could also ask this question more mildly. Who will be the most interested in this information? Will it be the specialists in a small field? Most practitioners? The scientific world in general?

Be realistic. Don't get caught up in contemplating a vast potential audience that "needs" to know your information. (In this information-filled world, no one should be expected to make brain-room for data simply because the facts are currently unknown to him or her.) The more accurately you can answer these questions, the more precise your journal publication options become. And the more precisely you can target a journal, the better the chances for publication.

Table 1.3. Questions to ask when considering a journal for potential publication of a scientific research paper

1. What type of journal is it?

2. Is the topic of my proposed paper within the journal's scope?

3. Is the topic represented in the journal frequently or only rarely?

4. What is the size and type of the journal's audience?

5. What is the journal's rejection rate?

6. What formats are acceptable to the journal?

7. How long does this journal take to publish papers? (How much is editing phase? How much is production phase?)

8. What is the quality of photographic (half-tones) and graphics reproductions?

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