Identifying target journals for studies with overlapping subject areas: A case study
Case: A manuscript on a new diagnostic technique to diagnose cervical cancer was submitted to a gynaecology journal. The paper was rejected after initial screening and the decision was communicated to the authors with two comments from the editor:
1. The editor mentioned that the study was too specialized and did not match the scope of the journal.
2. Additionally, the introduction section provided “insufficient background” and the literature cited was unrelated to the main focus of the study.
The authors approached the publication support services of Editage seeking help in identifying a target journal for submission and addressing the problem pointed out in the manuscript.
Action: On assessing the manuscript, our publication expert found that the study was novel and the findings had merit, but it had certain problems. The study had not been presented in the most effective way. We helped the authors identify these problems with the manuscript:
1. The focus of the study wasn’t very clear.
2. The author had not cited some relevant literature.
3. The discussion section gave irrelevant details without analysing the findings in the light of other published literature.
4. The paper was not organized well and needed to be restructured.
The expert helped the authors in identifying the main focus of their study and suggested revisions to restructure and improve the manuscript.
Our publication expert also helped select a suitable target journal for the manuscript. Since the study deals with cervical cancer, which has an overlap of two subject areas, gynecology and oncology and it is about a specific diagnostic technique used to detect cancer of the cervix, we decided it would fit very well with the scope of journals focussing on cancer of the female reproductive system. We then identified a suitable oncology journal, thereby ensuring that we targeted the subset of people who would benefit the most from this paper and would also be more interested in reading the paper. It is important to gauge a manuscript and see whether it would be of interest to a broad readership or to a small subset of people who are interested in a very specific subject area.
Summary: If a study deals with a topic that has an overlap of two different subject areas, it is very important to identify the focus of the study and present the manuscript around this focus.
While writing such papers, authors should consider the following:
1. Who will benefit the most from the study?
2. Does the readership of this journal cover the target audience that you have in mind?
3. Is the research question presented in a way that will appeal to the target audience?
4. Is the manuscript structured to bring out the key findings of your study in the light of existing literature?