Beginner’s Guide to Submitting Your Research to Scopus and Web of Science Journals
Scopus and Web of Science are the two largest databases that collect data from top scientific journals. Today, publications in journals indexed by these two systems and the number of references to these works in other authors’ papers are key indicators of a scientist’s activity and reputation. But researchers who are submitting their work to such journals for the first time have to deal with a number of challenges, such as finding the right outlet, properly formatting their article, and so on. ITMO.NEWS asked Valentin Milichko, the winner of Scopus Award Russia 2018 and researcher at ITMO University’s Faculty of Physics and Engineering, and George Zograf, a PhD student at the same Faculty, to compile a guide to submitting your article to Scopus- and WoS-indexed journals.
What’s special about the journals indexed by Scopus and WoS?
The Scopus and Web of Science systems monitor thousands of journals around the world and only pick the ones that adhere to the principles of independent reviewing and anti-plagiarism, which helps maintain a rather high level of quality. The existence of consolidated databases also makes it possible to search for articles based on subjects and see how any given study fares with other scientists, how often it’s read and cited. The majority of the journals indexed by Scopus and WoS are published entirely in English, allowing scientists from around the world to speak one common language.
How do I find the right journal for my research?
The easiest way to do this is to visit either database, search by keywords, and find out who publishes articles in the same field. Make sure to check that the articles are recent; if a journal published its last article about parrot breeding ten years ago, its editorial office is probably no longer interested in the topic. Another method is to check who publishes the articles of your rival or partner researchers, as well as the top minds in your field. Even the best researchers don’t send all of their articles to Nature or Science, and you’re likely to find less reputable journals among their first publications. Besides, even a top-tier journal could agree to publish your article if it’s truly unique. Both methods are also a good way to find potential reviewers for the article, as many journals ask authors to name researchers they’d like to review their article
Is there a difference between all the journals in Scopus and WoS?
Even though getting published in indexed journals is generally important, not all of these outlets have the same reputation. They also have a different impact factor, meaning that some journals’ articles are cited less often than others’. Some are also willing to publish articles in return for a fee, meaning they’ll be less strict about quality control. If you want to be sure of a journal’s level of integrity, go for the oldest and most reputable, storied publications. Still, this isn’t a universal principle. Some of the older and once-respected journals no longer have the same authority, while major and renowned publishing houses like Springer Nature launch new journals every now and then.
Can I submit an article to two different journals at the same time?
Scientists advise vehemently against this, as such an approach goes against scientific ethics. This could easily come to light if two journals were to, say, ask the same expert for a review. Some journals institute severe punishments in such cases, going as far as banning the publication of a researcher’s works on their pages for up to five years.
Do I need a famous co-author to get published?
Certainly, having an experienced scientist on your team is always good for research as well as publication. They’ll always know how to format your article right and where to submit it, and their name will be a kind of seal of quality. Nevertheless, even young scientists with no renowned co-authors can get their article published. Besides, inviting an established expert for the sake of appearance after completing one’s research is, too, a violation of scientific ethics and could lead to unfathomable consequences for the team’s reputation and work. So if you’re looking to have well-known professors among your co-authors, make sure to get in touch with them before you start working, not when you’re about to publish.
How do I format my article to be publication-ready?
Every day, the editorial offices of scientific journals receive dozens of articles; most are dismissed at the preview stage. If you want to pass the selection, it’s important to make sure your article is formatted properly. Pay special attention to the introduction, abstract, and conclusion, as well as the visuals. Before writing your article, download a few articles from the chosen journal and examine how they’re formatted, how long they are, which style and structure they use. Keep in mind that the higher a journal’s impact factor, the stricter their requirements in terms of language. The top journals tailor their materials towards a wider audience, meaning that your text must be both scientifically insightful and accessible.
How long does it take for an article to be published?
It might take a long while to get a response. Sometimes, an article is approved within two weeks and then sits in wait for months or even years. If you’ve not heard anything from the journal in a while, it’s best to get in touch with the editors. Perhaps it’s waiting for a reviewer, or perhaps it’s just lost. Editors may ask you to make edits to the text, sometimes quite significant ones. Editors’ notes are usually worth paying attention to, as authors aren’t always able to properly assess their own writing. Still, some changes may be subjective in nature. In any case, editing is a normal part of the publishing process.
My article was rejected – is this the end?
An article rejected by one journal will often find its home on the pages of another. Major journals often hold seminars where they’ll share which famous articles they had once rejected. In some cases, articles discarded by high-profile journals have even netted their authors a Nobel Prize. It’s important to analyze what prompted the rejection and, if need be, rework your article and try again.
What about money?
Authors tend not to be paid for their articles; quite the contrary, sometimes they have to cover some of the publication-related expenses. One question you'll hear often is if you’d like the article to be openly accessible or only available to staff of the universities with a subscription to the journal. Choosing the first option increases the chance of citations; in that case, authors are asked to compensate for the journal expenses. The sum tends to be somewhere within the range of 1,000 to 1,500 euros. Another thing you might have to pay for is the publication of color images in printed copies. Depending on the journal and the number of illustrations, you might have to pay anywhere between $500 and $5,000. Finally, top-tier journals often submit articles for review to famous scientists; in that case, authors, too, must cover the reviewer’s services.