Where Can I Publish My Research Article?

The process of submitting and publishing research articles can be perplexing, and junior scholars often have few resources to assist with navigating the process. The suggestions below, from AAA's Director of Publishing, Oona Schmid, are meant to assist scholars of all stages in submitting and publishing their research in peer-reviewed journals.

First, a note of caution: Beware "predatory" publishers, whose journals have no scholarly reputation. Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at Auraria Library, University Colorado Denver, maintains a list of questionable, scholarly open-access publishers on his website, Scholarly Open Access. The criteria for determining predatory publishers can be found here. In 2010 Beall's list was comprised of 6 companies; in the spring of 2014 the list now has 300 companies and thousands of specific journals.

Step One: Identify potential journals in your scholarly area. 

The following is a partial list of anthropology journal titles, organized alphabetically.

  • To locate titles of interest on the list, I recommend you use Control+F and type in major subfields and related disciplines.
  • I used the following keywords to identify subdisciplines: all branches, applied, archaeology, biological/physical, cultural/social, folklore, linguistic, medical, methods, paleontology, theory and visual. If the journal spans additional disciplines, these fields are noted, such as: biology, cultural studies, education, economics, humanities, material culture, musicology, political economy, etc. If a title is heavily interdisciplinary across many of these, I indicate "social sciences." If the scope of a journal includes literature and the fine arts, I indicate "humanities." If a geographic area is part of the scope of the journal and not in the title, I include major regions. Some examples include: Africa, Asia, Circumpolar, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania. Any of these might make good search terms. I did not spell out the word "journal" nor "quarterly." 

Step Two: Rank these potential journals for your specific article.

I suggest four considerations for creating your personal short-list. 

  1. Scope. Evaluate your manuscript against a prospective journal's scope and article types. Click on the hyperlink or use a search engine to locate the Aims and Scope, an "About this journal" page, and/or "Author Submission Guidelines." Any of these documents will provide details about the type of desired content, submission details, as will reading a current issue. To locate these documents online, you may need to type in journal name and the word "journal."

    • Tip: Beware that many journals have extremely similar titles, but are not the same.
  1. Timing. Think about how much time you have before you need an acceptance letter. Scholars may only submit a given paper to one journal at a time. Peer reviewers can be hard for editors to chase down. Loosely speaking, time to publication correlates with how well an editorial office is run and, if a journal is publishing late or an editor does not respond to an inquiry about average time ranges, these are harbingers that your manuscript may languish.

    • Tip: Journals with more frequency (more issues each year) may be faster and those with "online first" options will get your publication out there a little more quickly.

    • Tip: Eliminate titles that do not adhere to their publishing schedule. You can assess a journal's timeliness by checking that the online publication date of issues corresponds with the cover publication date. Additionally, I encourage you to email the editor and ask for the time range of their review process. I highly recommend you avoid submitting to any journal that is publishing behind schedule. 
  1. Visibility once published. If your article is a scholarly one, and you want it to have the best chance to be read by other scholars, you will want to look at the pages on the journal's site that describe where the titles is Abstracted and Indexed. Typically the more services that index a given journal, the more likely it is that the articles within will be located and read by various scholarly audiences. Abstracting and indexing information is often prominent under "About the Journal webpages.

    • Tip: Keep in mind some specific things you can do as an author that increase the visibility of your research wherever you publish. These include careful attention to your title, subtitle, and your abstract. 
  1. Reputation. If your goals of publishing are related to academic advancement, you must evaluate the reputation of the journal. Journal titles are sometimes very similar to one another, and deceptive (or "predatory" journals) may select titles that are extremely similar to legitimate titles.  Among publishers who make return value and services to their authors and readers, there is still a wide range of scholarly reputations. To help assess reputation, I compiled four systems of evaluation on the list of titles. Which systems matter for your career depends on the nature of your employer and its geographic location. Ranking journals is controversial; no single system is able to navigate the nuances of scholarly discourse in a completely fair or objective way. 
  • AAA survey: In the summer of 2008, AAA asked approximately 150 anthropology departments to indicate an A, B, or C tier in terms of how their promotions and tenure committees generally perceive a journal. If a title has no ranking ("n/a"), due the survey's length, the journal title was not included in the summer 2008 survey. Many large anthropology (where there is a substantial cohort or graduate degree offered in cultural anthropology) departments value this evaluation. 
  • ERIH: These lists are broken down by subject and I noted the anthropology (from July 2011) and archaeology (from 2007) assessments. These lists are influential in many European departments. 
  • IF: This list includes the 2013 Impact Factors. If a title has no impact factor ("n/a"), the journal has not been accepted by ISI, the company who owns and calculates the Impact Factor. These rankings can be very important to anthropologists employed in four-field anthropology programs, combined departments (such as combined anthropology and sociology programs), psychology, education, medicine, and public health departments. As a general rule of thumb, the more colleagues in your department who identify as social scientists or whose research is biomedical in orientation, the more likely it is that the impact factor is a critical determination of your publications. Many deans also value the prestige associated with publishing in journals with Impact Factors, because it helps them compare scholars from multiple disciplines. 
  • SJR: The SCImago journal ranking counts citations tracked by Scopus. The values listed are from a search in August 2014. This is a newer system, but called out for specific focus in the upcoming U.K. assessments.

If you are interested in a more comprehensive resource, you might also consider purchasing How to Get Published in Anthropology.

For authors interested in international journals, the World Council of Anthropological Associations maintains an excellent list of its members' publications and other journals as well.

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