Scientific Communication for Natural Resource Professionals

Chapter 9: Now that You Have Great Results, Where Should You Submit Your Manuscript?

Martha E. Mather, Donna L. Parrish, and John M. Dettmers


The current publication landscape is complex, and effectively publishing research in the most appropriate journal is increasingly challenging (Mather et al. 2008). In this chapter, our goal is to describe an approach that authors might take to select an appropriate journal for their work. All natural resources professionals (e.g., fisheries biologists, wildlife biologists, foresters, and general environmental professionals), especially those new to publishing in the peer-reviewed literature, are our intended audience. Our backgrounds are in fisheries, fish ecology, and aquatic ecology, thus, some of our examples are specific to those areas. However, we also discuss applied-to-basic, research-to-management, and general-to-specific perspectives that have broader relevance. Consequently, we believe that many of our insights about fish ecology and fisheries biology can be generalized to ecotoxicology, comparative physiology, molecular genetics, conservation biology, invasion ecology, and other fields.

In the past 25 years, the number and the scope of journals have changed. Both new and established journals are increasingly specialized relative to type of application, ecological system, taxa, and discipline. Differential accessibility via electronic databases is changing the journals that are read and cited. Despite the call for increased integration across disciplines in 1982, recent findings indicate that clear demarcations remain in the topics that journals publish (Neff and Jackson 2009). The long-standing divisions in the fisheries and aquatic literature emphasize the need to understand the specific publishing practices of journals so that new authors can make the best decisions about where to submit their manuscripts. By systematically comparing the focus of an individual manuscript to the aims, goals, and audience of the suite of journals available, we believe that authors can make informed decisions about which journals are most suitable for their work.