Throughout their careers, faculty make multiple decisions about which journal to submit their manuscripts to. More often than not, the journal review process can take several months to over a year. In a 2015 survey of Washington State University Extension faculty affiliated with the Youth and Family program unit, 60% of respondents reported that on average it has taken 12 or more months from the time an article is submitted until the time it is published. Considering the length of time and effort it takes to publish a manuscript, it is crucial for authors to select the appropriate journal (Knight and Steinbach 2008). At minimum, writers should pick a target journal before they begin writing (Silvia 2015). Choosing a journal before you begin writing allows you to better understand your audience and tailor writing to that group (IOP Publishing n.d.). Researchers recommend using a systematic process to evaluate potential journals by using a standard set of questions to help guide the analysis of prospective journals (Glatthorn and Joyner 2005; Belcher 2009).
Extension and departmental faculty are working in communities conducting applied research and program delivery based on needs identified through evaluation and assessment. Programs are evaluated and assessed to determine multiple aspects such as program satisfaction, learning gains, short- and long-term impacts on the community, and changes in community need. The results can provide rich learning and teaching to different audiences who may be considering adaptation or implementation. There is increased pressure from administration on faculty to publish high-quality findings for academic and practitioner audiences (Enfield and Lee 2004; Llewellyn 2013).
The benefits of publishing include increased visibility of successful programming being conducted in the community, and lessons learned during implementation that would benefit others who are considering adaptation and implementation. Publishing results of research contributes to the discipline and bodies of literature where faculty can find information and understand emerging trends and innovative practices.
The Journal Matrix
The Journal Matrix is a tool that faculty can use in collecting consistent information about a journal to aid authors in comparing features of multiple journals and ultimately selecting a journal that best fits the author’s need. The original tool was developed by an Extension specialist with a strong record of publishing in peer-reviewed journals and used by an Extension collaborative writing group (Teuteberg et al. 2016). Extension faculty with a range of experience piloted the Journal Matrix and revised the tool to include the most critical elements for Extension faculty interested in publishing in peer-reviewed journals.
The Journal Matrix is designed with sections that include basic contact and journal information; specific information and guidelines for authors preparing a manuscript for submission; journal specifications such as publication frequency, acceptance rate, and impact factor; and a section to include representative articles which are beneficial to faculty in determining if the prospective manuscript fits the journal being considered.
Instructions for how to use the adapted Journal Matrix and a blank template are in Appendices A and B.
The Journal Matrix is an example of a professional development tool for faculty who are publishing to meet tenure and promotion requirements or looking for a systematic way to compare and select journals. The model is scalable and translatable to other possible academic and non-academic areas where there are publication and scholarship requirements.
Belcher, W.L. 2009. Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA.
Enfield, R.P., and F.C.H. Lee. 2004. Co-Authoring Papers in Research Teams: Avoiding the Pitfalls. Journal of Extension 42(1).