By Andrew J. Funk, DC, DACNB

Making the appropriate medical journal selection for your scientific or research manuscript is key to its successful publication. Whether you are a scientist, academic, clinician, medical writer, or decision-maker for a biotech or pharma company, selecting the right journal for your manuscript will make all the difference when it comes to:

  • Reaching your target audience
  • Establishing or bolstering your scientific credibility
  • Minimizing the cost of publication
  • Increasing your speed to publication
  • Having solid evidence-based research to provide your clients and/or investors

The Med Writers has a highly qualified team of PhDs, physicians, researchers, and medical writers with over 20 years of experience. We have successfully published numerous manuscripts for our clients, always taking specific parameters into account when selecting the best journal for submission, including:

  • Journal scope
  • Medical journals with similar work to yours
  • Journal policy
  • Impact factor
  • Journal visibility and accessibility
  • Time to publication and cost of submission

By taking these factors into account, we help you meet your goals of reaching the right audience, with the right research, at the right time, for the right cost.

Continue reading to learn about the medical journal selection process we use to get your manuscript published.

The Scope of the Selected Journal

Each journal focuses on a specific subject matter, to the exclusion of other scientific or medical topics. A journal in question will generally have a tab or section on its website titled “Aims & Scope.” Within this section, they lay out the areas of accepted research in a bullet point fashion. Here is an example of a journal’s scope from the Journal of Clinical Medicine, one of the Med Writers’ top 43 medical and scientific journals for publishing simple studies.

The Scope of the Selected Journal

Medical journal selection involves selecting a journal with a scope that includes the topic of your manuscript. When an author submits a manuscript to a certain journal, the editor will verify that the content of the paper falls under the scope of the journal.

If the manuscript does not fit well under the journal’s scope, the editor will request the author edit the manuscript to make it more suitable for their scope. The editor may also reject the paper due to a poor fit with the journal’s scope. Either way, a less than optimal fit with the journal’s scope will lead to a delay in publication, along with more time and effort on your part.

That is why The Med Writers carefully reviews the scope of a potential journal to eliminate this extra step. In addition, we perform an advanced search in PubMed by searching the journal for your manuscript topic. Then we verify how often this topic has been published each year. This is a vital extra step to ensure the journal in question is optimal for your paper.

Below is an example of this type of advanced search within the journal Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, one of The Med Writers’ top 25 most prestigious medical journals. In this example, we have searched the selected journal for the topic of chemotherapy, one of the topics within their scope.

Toward the left of the picture below, you will find a histogram showing the annual frequency for chemotherapy manuscripts that Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology publishes. During a live search on the website, hovering over each histogram bar will provide the year and number of articles published under the topic in question by the journal.

Toward the left of the picture below

Journals That Have Published Similar Works to Yours

Instead of beginning with a journal’s scope, there are other methods we use in our medical journal selection process for your paper.

The Med Writers will also scan the reference list of your manuscript for all the journals cited in the paper. If you have referenced more than one article from a specific publication, this journal can potentially be one for submission of your own manuscript. Multiple references of the same journal in your paper strongly imply that your topic and the journal’s scope overlap.

Another option involves searching PubMed again. This time, we will search the database using Medical Subject Heading (MeSH). These are terms that the National Library of Medicine generates and organizes. MeSH terms are useful for many tasks, namely searching databases for specific keywords.

By entering your manuscript’s keywords as MeSH terms, we can run an advanced search that displays the findings by journal. Journals that have published other works that match your keywords more than once are prospective publications for submission.

In the example below, we use the hypothetical manuscript keywords “ventral tegmental area” and “Parkinson’s disease” as MeSH terms. We then display the findings by journal within the last 10 years. You can immediately see that Scientific Reports and Neuroscience Letters have published works featuring these keywords, two and three times respectively, in the last decade. In this scenario, we would consider both of these journals as possible publications for the submission of this hypothetical manuscript.

Journals That Have Published Similar Works to Yours
In the example below

Considering Journal Policies for Medical Journal Selection

The Med Writers also reviews the policy of each journal in question during our medical journal selection process. We find and recommend the journals with the most reasonable and transparent policies. A journal’s policy typically covers the following topics:

  • Ethics of the author and the journal
  • Prepublication
  • Author rights and copyright
  • Availability of data and materials
  • Types of papers that are accepted by the journal

Ethics of the Author and Journal

A high-quality journal requires authors to abide by certain ethics regarding:

  • Scientific conduct
  • Research honesty
  • Usage of animals and humans in research
  • Financial and competing interests

Excellent journals will specifically outline their policies regarding the ethics an author should follow. Below is an example from The Journal of Neuroscience regarding some of its policies on author ethics.

Ethics of the Author and Journal

In addition, a superb journal will also clearly explain the ethics that it adheres to. Many publications are members of ethics committees, which is a sign of a superior journal. Below is an example of the ethics that the Journal of Experimental Biology follows.

a superb journal will also clearly explain the ethics that it adheres to


An excellent journal does not publish a manuscript that you have published elsewhere.

Typically, as the author, you can post a pre-print, abstract, poster, or manuscript online for commentary without this being considered a previous publication.

In addition, you can submit an article that another journal rejected. It is, however, unethical to submit the same manuscript to two or more journals at the same time.

Author Rights and Copyright

Copyright involves the collective privileges of an author to use, share, post, or alter their work regardless of the medium. Around the year 2000, many journals began allowing authors to widely use their own work after publishing. In some cases, a journal lets an author keep total rights over their manuscript.

During our medical journal selection process, we find journals that allow the greatest amount of author rights for you over your manuscript. This authorship freedom, along with clear and forthright copyright policies, demonstrates that the journal in question is of high quality.

Availability of Data and Materials

A high-quality journal will openly declare its policy regarding how authors must make their data and materials available to their colleagues and the journal itself.

An excellent journal notifies the author that they must honor petitions for original data used by the authors. The journal will also ask authors to make their materials available to other researchers upon request.

The experts at The Med Writers ensure our medical journal selection process includes journals that clearly outline their policy on materials and data.

Types of Papers Accepted by the Journal

The Med Writers will also review the journal policies regarding the types of articles it accepts. We will find an excellent journal that accepts your manuscript type.

A high-quality publication clearly lays out the type of articles it accepts. Below is an example from The New England Journal of Medicine.

Types of Papers Accepted by the Journal
A high-quality publication clearly lays out the type of articles it accepts

Impact Factor

Libraries began using the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) Impact Factor scores in the early 1960s to select journals for their databases. Since then, the JCR Impact Factor has changed over time and is linked with journals that have a high impact.

Apart from the JCR Impact Factor, Eigenfactor and CiteScore are metrics that also keep track of a journal’s impact factor.

In general, each impact factor index calculates its number based on the frequency that researchers cite the journal within other journals during a certain period of time. The more times authors cite a certain journal in their manuscripts, the higher the impact factor for that publication.

At The Med Writers, our medical journal selection process includes choosing high-impact journals with legitimate scores. However, we always balance high impact factor with quality and topical relevance to your manuscript.

Journal Visibility and Accessibility

The Med Writers chooses the journal that maximizes your visibility as an author. We know which journals attract more readers to your research. We make sure to select journals indexed in PubMed, Scopus, or EMBASE.

An excellent journal lists the databases that contain their work, and we include this in our medical journal selection process.

Regarding accessibility, we always seek to select journals that allow for open access to full text of the manuscript. Open access may lead to a higher readership of your writing.

Open access is often highly important to our clients for marketing purposes, and The Med Writers aims for open access wherever possible.

Time to Publication and Cost of Submission

Both time to publication and the expense of submission is important to our clients. Each client will have different needs regarding time and cost. We take both into account during our medical journal selection process.

Time to Publication

Speed of publication is often a very important factor for our clients. Typically the time to publication ranges from 6 to 18 months for most journals.

We at The Med Writers select journals with track records for the most expedient time to publication. However, rapid turnaround time can generate a lower quality of published work, so we attempt to balance this in our medical journal selection process.

Our years of experience selecting and publishing manuscripts for our clients have given us insight into the top journals for quick publication. Follow this link to discover our list of the top 50 medical journals with the best record for fast publication.

Journals with higher impact factors may not offer the quickest times to publication. Therefore, it is important to notify us at the beginning of the process of how vital both speed to publication and impact factor are to you.

We will always take your specific needs into account when selecting the right journal for your work.

Cost of Submission

Journals that publish your paper in an open-access format will often charge a fee for publication. Depending on the journal, this publication fee may range from $500 to $4500. Overall, submission charges vary quite greatly.

The Med Writers will notify you of any cost for publication before submitting your manuscript to a journal. In addition, our journal selection report includes only journals that transparently list their cost of submission within their guidelines.

The Med Writers: Your Premier Journal Selection Support Service

By taking all the above factors into account during our medical journal selection process, we connect you to the right journal for your manuscript.

Our journal selection report will provide you with the information you need to reach the right audience, with the right research, at the right time, for the right cost.

We want to do your medical journal selection for you today! Contact us for a quote.