Choosing an appropriate journal

The appropriate journal may not always be the most 'high profile.' There is no harm in aiming high, and many of those conducting trials will need to satisfy the demands of research assessors who often judge output in terms of journal impact factors. But to avoid delaying the dissemination of the results of your work too much through repeated submission and rejection, give careful thought to whether the higher profile journals -which are often general rather than disease-specific - are really appropriate. Does the trial have relevance on an international scale? Across clinical disciplines? Does it address points of principle which are relevant across many disease areas? If the answer to all of these is really yes - and not just from your own, inevitably biased viewpoint - then high impact general medical journals are worth considering. If not, then in choosing your journal bear in mind that your target readership will have paper-based and electronic access to many journals, but that it is impossible to read them all in detail - Chapter 11 highlights this problem. Suppose, for example, that a trial compared two different radiotherapy schedules, widely used in a particular country but not elsewhere. However striking the results, they might most appropriately be targeted at clinical oncologists in that country. The best way to do that and to provide the highest chance that they will be read in full, may be to publish in a journal which all clinical oncologists in that country should receive, principally the journals of professional bodies and associations such as the Royal College of Radiologists in the UK (Clinical Oncology), European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in Europe generally (Radiotherapy and Oncology) or the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in the USA (International Journal of Radiation, Oncology, Biology and Physics). If it is of particular importance, for whatever reason, to publish results quickly, one could argue that it is best to submit immediately to the journal which would most clearly recognize the importance of the trial in that disease area. Alternatively, some journals now provide a fast-track procedure for such studies, and these too might be considered.

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