My “hit list” of journals (literally!)

By Joern Fischer

Our work in Romania is in its final stage. A few more papers are still in preparation or review, and a synthesis book remains to be written. But most papers are published – they are available here. This list of outputs looks quite nice, but hides the many rejections we’ve had to endure in the process. I thought it might be interesting to see where we did manage to get published.

One of the most telling factors for whether a paper ultimately is published or not – quality aside – is “journal fit”. Whether a paper fits to a particular journal, however, is not just a matter of whether it fits with what the instructions for authors say. Rather, I’d say most journals have their own cultures of what kinds of things they like or dislike.

Most of the work that I am involved with has a few defining properties: (1) it is rarely purely deductive, i.e. driven by a small number of carefully crafted hypotheses; rather (2) it is typically exploring systems, ecological, social, or social-ecological (i.e. it is inductive); (3) it is often interdisciplinary; and (4) it is often focused at the landscape scale. These kinds of properties fundamentally don’t lend themselves to being “liked” by some kinds of journals.

So, who publishes such work? Here is my personal “hit list”, i.e. the list of journals where we have actually published two or more papers coming from the Romania project:

In terms of “analysis”, to me, this suggests that key journals for this kind of space appear to be Ecology & Society (at the interface of ecological and social sciences), Landscape Ecology (especially for the ecological sciences, but also the interface), and Land Use Policy (especially for the social sciences, but also the interface).

Biodiversity & Conservation, PLoS One, and Basic and Applied Ecology tended to be good for landscape-scale empirical papers – the kinds of papers that journals such as Biological Conservation and Conservation Biology typically felt were not ambitious, “novel” or otherwise grand enough. Conservation Letters served us well for conceptual pieces.

Perhaps this list of journal names doesn’t come as a surprise – but with “reject without review” being so common these days, I found it interesting to see which journals regularly accept landscape-scale work that leans towards generating a systems understanding rather than testing specific hypotheses.

Other papers from the project (in journals represented just once) include the following:

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One thought on “My “hit list” of journals (literally!)

  1. This is a great list and an interesting analysis. So, might we expect a follow-up analysis in a year or two looking at citation metrics for this list of papers? It might not be earth shattering, but I’d be curious what your impressions will be – particularly if you were to prognosticate now (not necessarily here) how these publications might be received and then reflect upon their reception at some point in the future.

    On more than one occasion I’ve been surprised how others have used/interpreted our results. It makes science even more interesting for me.

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