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Publishing Plan Toolkit

Step 1. Think

Think about which publishing sources are best for your research. Think about your intended audience, the purpose of publishing your research, and how you will select a high-quality source that best fits your work.

Selecting a research source

There are several benefits to choosing a research source early in the process. Your choice could influence aspects of your experiment design and even impact how you write your manuscript, so it’s important to choose the right source as quickly as possible.

Benefits include:

  • It saves you time, knowing what the journal/publisher expectations are for your experiments and manuscript
  • It helps to ensure your manuscript is appropriate and given consideration by the journal/publisher
  • It gives you more time to secure funding for the publishing costs.

Developing your publishing plan

Before making a publishing decision, it is crucial to be clear about your publishing goals. For assistance, contact the Scholarly Publishing Consultant.

A - Identify your audience

This will inform how and where you will publish your research, e.g., journal, book, conference proceeding, trade publication, etc.

A1. Who is your prospective audience (end-users)?


  • Who would be interested in reading your article, i.e., which individuals or groups from the community or industry would be interested in, or benefit from, your research?
  • Where would your audience look for this information, or where do they publish, e.g., in journals, books, or conference proceedings? Tip: the reference list of your literature review can provide a lot of leads to get you started.
  • Does your research need to be in an open access publishing source to reach this audience?
A2. In which countries does your prospective audience live (the end-users who will be reading and using your work)? What language do they speak?

Seasoned researchers might consider publishing a targeted translation of their work to help expand the reach and impact of their research to international audiences. SciVal can help you find geolocations by subject, as can Altmetric Explorer. Contact the Scholarly Publishing Consultant for support with this.

WSU does not provide translation services. Contact your publisher, or investigate third-party translation services such as Ethnolink's Translation Services Australia for NAATI-certified translators to discuss translating your research into other languages. With the publisher, negotiate the author rights to your translated work. The onus of translation cost would be on the author or their school.

B - Define your purpose
B1. Why are you publishing?

What is your research goal/focus/purpose?


  • Is it suitable for a wider audience and a higher-impact publishing source?
  • Have you done something new? Consider choosing a research active area where there are likely to be new ideas and methods you can use and plentiful grant funding
  • Is there anything challenging in your work?
  • Will your results influence other researchers?
  • Have you provided solutions to some difficult problems?
  • Do you have a story to tell, and how can you tell it?

Talk to mentors, supervisors, colleagues and research networks for advice on key publications in your field and contact your School Librarian for assistance.

B2. How will your research change the world?

What will your research have - academic or real-world impact, e.g., on culture, the economy, health and well-being, the environment, society, or human capacity?

Why are you writing this research, e.g., what is the 'real world' change the research intends to make, and what will be the evidence of this change?

  • Seek advice from your supervisor, discipline leader, or authors of highly cited papers in your field. Scopus and Web of Science databases have search options to help identify potentially useful new contacts (authors/researchers) in your field
  • Review the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report for examples of real-world impact
  • Define your proposed publishing outcomes, e.g.,
    • impact: societal, industry, policy, government
    • secure funding and grants
    • promotion, new role or recognition
    • high citation rate
    • United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) impact
  • What are the research translation opportunities?
  • If you will have co-authors, are they located in Australia or overseas? (in particular, whether they will be co-authors from low to lower-middle-income countries (see SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals (Indicator 17.1.1) - Proportion of output co-authored with low or lower-middle income countries)
  • As a WSU author, whether SDG 5 - Gender Equality (Indicator 5.1.1) - Proportion for research with female authors [at WSU] applies to you.
  • Consider collaborating with government departments, industry partners, or suitable organisations.
B3. Does your research support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)? (institutional login required)

If your answer is 'yes', the Scholarly Publishing Consultant can provide guidance on:

B4. Will your research require an ethics review?

If you will be working with:

  • Humans
  • Animals
  • Microorganisms (Risk Group 2 and above, AS/NZS 2243.3)
  • Genetically modified organisms
  • Biological toxins
  • Security Sensitive Biological Agents (SSBA)
  • Ionising radiation sources
  • Radioactive materials and equipment
  • Lasers above class 2
  • Controlled goods and technology

Consult Research Ethics and Integrity for advice.

C - Decide where to publish
C1. Do you have a solid title?
  • Do you have a strong, attention-grabbing title? It should be concise, accurate and informative and tell the reader exactly what the article is about.
  • Include one or two keywords, ideally within the first 65 characters of the title, to be visible to search engine results. Consider including SDG Keyphrases if relevant to your research
C2. Do you have a good abstract?
  • Your abstract needs to summarise and capture the best part of your paper (it’s the selling pitch of your article).
  • It should focus on what your research is about, what methods you have used, and what you have found out.
  • Is it easy to understand, without any prior knowledge of the topic? Does it encourage researchers to read on?  Include keywords throughout, but make sure the writing still flows naturally. Include SDG Keyphrases in the title, abstract, and keywords.
  • Check the publisher guidelines for the word count, preferably before you start writing so you don’t need to rewrite it to match the journal/publisher style.

More seasoned researchers should also consider submitting:

  • A short (three-minute or less) video abstract alongside the text abstract, telling others why they should read your research. It’s another way to engage with published research and increase the visibility of your work.
  • A graphical abstract as a concise, visual summary of the main conclusions of your article. It should appear in social media shares of your article and is another great way to increase engagement.
C3. Which mandates or quality standards affect your choice of publishing outlet?

You are responsible for ensuring that your choice of publishing outlet will fulfil mandatory requirements and academic standards. It is best to understand these requirements and how they will affect your publishing decisions before you submit your article.

For example, do you need to:

Contact your School Librarian for assistance.

The Publishing Process: Author responsibilities library guide (WSU) | Open Access: Policies and mandates library guide (WSU) | Metrics library guide (WSU) | ERA 2023 Submission Guidelines | A Guide to Creative Commons (WSU) | Library FAQ on how to measure Journal Impact Factor [and other journal metrics] (WSU)
C4. Which Academic Unit Work Plan Policy Research Intellectual Contributions (research outputs and impacts) apply to you?

For example, publishing in a journal with SCImago or JCR rank of Q1 or Q2. If you're not sure, contact your supervisor to discuss.

Academic Unit Work Plan Policy (WSU) Library FAQ on how to measure Journal Impact Factor [and other journal metrics] (WSU)

C5. Do you have funds to cover the cost of publishing, e.g., access to grant funding, school or institutional fees?

When choosing between open access and traditional journal publishing route, it's important to consider factors such as journal visibility, quality and impact, any costs to publish, whether you have the funds to publish your work, the speed of publication, and your timeframe for publishing.

Use this open access publishing flowchart as a guide to selecting the most appropriate journal publishing route for your work. If you don’t have funding, and depending on the availability of funds, consider applying for WSU Open Access Publishing Fee Support.

Contact your School Librarian for assistance.

C6. Will you be using third-party content in your work?

Have you obtained permission from the copyright holder to use that third-party copyright content?

If it's not licensed under Creative Commons, contact the University Copyright Officer to seek written permission on your behalf from the copyright owner.

Download and use this free Record of Permissions template for documenting your third-party copyright permissions.

C7. Is there a suitable preprint server you can use?

Preprints are usually shared on dedicated preprint servers, and the best option might be a discipline-specific preprint server.

It's recommended that you look for a preprint server that lets you retain the rights to your work. Also, check with the publisher if you can publish content if it's stored on a preprint server.

Library FAQ on where you can store your preprints | Preprints: Best Practice Tips (Elsevier)

C8. What are your publishing timelines?

Do you have a timeframe for submitting your work? How many papers, or how quickly, do you need to publish this year? Are you open to transfers?

Check the publishing outlet's website, 'Information for Authors' and check the journal Speed metrics*. For more information on journal Speed metrics, see How to get your research published… and then noticed (Elsevier). Use this information to help you find suitable sources that meet your publishing timeframe.

C9. Will you be publishing research data?

If you are intending to create research data, you must complete a Research Data Management Plan (RDMP) prior to starting your research to inform your ethics application and provide the basis for maximising data value.

Use the WesternNow form to request support for research data management planning.

Don't forget to:

  • include the DOI link to your stored research data in the article you submit for publishing
  • cite your research data and code in your article and reference it in your work.

Consider also publishing a brief, peer-reviewed research elements article and citing it.

For more information visit the Library Data Management page. Contact the Research Data Consultant for advice.

C10. Where will you store your research outputs, e.g., data, protocols, computational research, etc.?

For assistance with the long-term storage of research data files, contact the IT Service Desk.

For citable, reproducible protocols, consider using the free version of

Consider using the free version of Code Ocean for citable, reproducible, computational research. With the free instance, users have 10 hours per month for testing and making their capsule.

C11. Which conferences are you planning to attend, and how will this be funded?

Early Career Researchers (ECR) can benefit from attending and presenting at conferences.

Note: The peer-reviewed papers produced count towards ERA reporting (abstracts and posters do not count towards ERA reporting).

D - Find scholarly publishing outlets

Before you start writing, think about:

  • Publishing outlet: Which publishing outlet will best fit your research area? A journal? A book? A conference paper? Something else?
  • Authors/colleagues you follow: Where do they publish? How do they promote their research outputs?
  • Collaborative opportunities: Find authors from Western Sydney University and other institutions to collaborate with using SciVal (institutional login required). Also, you can use SciVal to identify highly-cited papers and authors within your research discipline.

Develop your publishing plan:

  • Identify your audience: Who do you want to reach with your research? Where do they publish? Does your work need to be open access to reach this audience? This will help you determine how and where to publish: open access or traditional publishing? In a journal, a book, or at a conference?
  • Define your purpose: How will your research change the world? What is your research goal/focus? Which targets and metrics do you need to meet? Does your research align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals for societal impact?
  • Open access publishing: Do you have the funds to publish your research? Check the publisher's 'information for authors' licensing requirements and submission details, or consult the Sherpa Romeo list of publications.
Note: The ERA 2023 Submission Journal List is not designed to be used outside of the ERA process, and it is not a quality indicator for publishing outlets.
Start your search

Quality indicators

Consider evaluating the quality and ranking of journals or other publishing sources before deciding on a publishing outlet.

  • Use CiteScore metrics to shortlist high-ranking sources. The CiteScore is a simple way of measuring the citation impact of serial titles (such as journals) and the Percentile and Ranking indicate the relative standing of a serial title in its subject field. In addition, these metrics are used for performance assessments and for various university ranking methodologies, including the SCImago Institutions Rankings.
  • The SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) impact indicator is a measure of the prestige of scholarly journals that accounts for both the number of citations received by a journal and the prestige of the journals where the citations are derived.
  • The Journal Citation Reports metrics can also help shortlist high-ranking publishing sources. These metrics are used by university rankings methodologies such as the ARWU World and Subject Rankings (Shanghai Rankings) and U.S. News: Best Global Universities methodologies. They use the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) indicator.

Pre-selecting your publishing outlets

Choosing a scholarly publishing outlet is best done early in the writing process. A good starting list of titles will enable you to compare a range of measures, prioritise your specific needs to give a final shortlist and shape your strategic publishing decisions.

When pre-selecting publishing sources, search by keywords, subject areas and Field of Research (FoR) codes to discover new publishing sources.

Consider also:

  • Publishing in sources that you cite.
  • Publishing where your colleagues and supervisor have published.
  • Using the quality indicators listed above to find high-ranking sources in your field.
Tools to find quality publishing sources

Now that you know your FoR subject area for your research, use this along with your Academic Unit Work Plan Policy research publishing targets and publishing plan to find publishing sources in a similar area to the work you intend to submit.

Use the following Tools to create a shortlist of scholarly sources such as journals, conference proceedings, book chapters (publishers), trade publications, etc. When choosing a publishing source, choose those best suited for your research. Note that tools developed by publishers to match your research will generally only suggest publications from their collections.

Tool Reason to use
Your literature review To find suitable scholarly sources in your literature review, as they have a high alignment with your research.
Elsevier Scopus Sources

To find the impact factor of various Elsevier publishing sources (CiteScore highest quartile/SJR).

Content types: Journals, book series, conference proceedings and trade publications

Elsevier JournalFinder

To find suitable Elsevier journals. If you have a title for your paper and an abstract, use these details to match your paper with journals. Insert your title and abstract and select the appropriate field of research (based on All Science Journal Classification codes) to find journals that could be best suited for publishing.

Clarivate InCites

To review the impact factor (JIF) quartiles of various Clarivate publishing sources. Go to the Analyze menu, start a new analysis by selecting ‘Publication Sources’. Select the indicators you want to display, then filter by Open Access and/or Research area and JIF Quartile(s).

Content type: Journals, books, book series, and conference proceedings

Clarivate Journal Citation Reports

To review the impact factor (JIF) quartiles of Clarivate journals.

Content type: Journals in the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), and the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI).

Springer Journal Suggester

To find suitable Springer and BMC journals. If you have a title for your paper, abstract and subject area, enter the details of your paper to get suggested journal matches.

Journal Suggester FAQs and the Springer Nature Read & Publish Agreement

Content type: Journals

Additional tools
Elsevier Compare Sources Compare up to ten Elsevier journal titles. It gives a range of metrics, including whether they are well cited and if they publish many review articles. To start your comparison, search for sources and select which ones you want to compare.

Content type: Journals
ProQuest Ulrichsweb: Global Serials Directory To verify an ISSN, see whether the source is indexed in a major database, has been peer-reviewed, and how frequently it publishes.

Content type: Scholarly journals, peer-reviewed titles, popular magazines, newspapers, newsletters and more
WSU Author Cited Sources To find sources where WSU authors (students and staff) have been cited as authors, contact your School Librarian for more information.

Open Access publishing

WSU Open Access Publishing Fee Support If you don't have publishing funds, browse the Read & Publish Agreements or Western Sydney Central Funding Publisher/Journal Lists for open access journal publishing options supported by the University.
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

If you can't find a suitable open access journal through Open Access Publishing Fee Support, browse the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). For assessing quality:

  • Sherpa Romeo offers information on publisher copyright policies and self-archiving permissions for each journal. Check also the 'information for authors' on the publishing outlet's website.
  • Sherpa Juliet offers information on the research funder's Open Access policies.
Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) If you are looking for high-quality, open access books and publishers, browse the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB).

Discipline-specific tools

JANE (Journal/Author Name Estimator) To find journals, authors or articles in PubMed, search using your title and/or abstract to search. You can also search using keywords.

Disciplines: Life sciences, biomedical
ABDC Journal Quality List To find journals compiled by the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC), search by journal title, ISSN, Field of Research (FoR) code or ABDC journal rating.

Discipline: Business
IEEE Publication Recommender Search for suitable IEEE journals and conference proceedings using keywords, key phrases, or the article's title.

Disciplines: Engineering, technology
Shortlist publishing sources

At this stage, you should have reviewed the available titles and select a handful of titles that:

  • Are best for your research
  • Will reach your audience
  • Will maximise your work’s scholarly impact.

This will become your shortlist of publishing sources.

Publishing open access

Article Processing Charges (APC)

You can also use the following flowchart to find an open access article that best suits your needs.

Finding a suitable journal publishing route

For each journal in your shortlist, check that the publisher’s website’s 'information for authors’ criteria aligns with your publishing plan; in particular:

  • Academic Unit Work Plan Policy research publishing targets
  • Funder mandates
  • Publishing timeframe
  • Author rights retention (Note: you will retain your rights if you select Read & Publish Agreement journals)
  • You can select a Creative Commons licence (this is included in Read & Publish Agreements).

If you select a Read & Publish Agreement journal, you must include your institutional email address when submitting your work. Your institutional email address will readily identify you as being affiliated with Western Sydney University.

Contact your School Librarian for assistance.

Next steps

Once you have a shortlist of publishing sources, do a quality check on these sources to select the best place to publish your research.

If you can’t find a suitable publishing source, investigate where your supervisor and successful colleagues have published.

For further assistance, contact your School Librarian.

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Library guide created by Western Sydney University Library staff is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY)