I am a new assistant professor. Is it better to publish more articles but some of them in less-selective journals, or better to publish fewer articles in more selective journals?
Eagerly awaiting your reply,
My Dear Anxious,
Aphra suggests that the answer to this Most Excellent Question has much to do with your Goals. If you are on the Tenure Track, the most important thing that you can do is see what your Publishing Requirements are for Tenure. Most colleges have specific Requirements for which Journal one should publish in order to acquire Tenure. The Handbook or Promotions and Tenure Committee or Provost should make this information available to the candidate. Ask yourself: Are you asked for three Articles in “Reputable” Journals? What does that mean for your Institution? What do they consider “Reputable”? Typically this means a peer-reviewed, academic Journal, but the lines around such specification may be flexible when it comes to Print Journals, Online Publications, Open Access Publications, & etc. (A clarifying Conversation with a department Chair or Mentor is recommended in this case!)
Aphra likes to suggest that her Protégés fly high—that is they do their Best work and send it to the Best places and see what happens (she was given such a suggestion by her Advisor many years ago). Should you receive a Revise and Resubmit or and Acceptance, you are already there. But Aphra also recognizes that the Tenure clock (or Life Clock or Opportunity Clock) might interfere with this. Do consider Time! Do consider the prestige Publication and do consider your own Career Goals and Strategies. Some of the bigger name Journals are slow to review. Some are written for a more general Languages and Literatures audience—does your work translate across specialties well? Or is there a Special Issue that will take your more specific Work and consider it more specifically? Will anyone outside the Long Eighteenth Century Specialty know the difference between two Journals of a different caliber with similar names? They may, and they may not! Newer Journals and online Journals do tend to have shorter publication processes, and therefore maybe your best choice if Time is of the Essence, though they might not as of yet build their Prestige.
If you plan on re-entering the Job Market, your best bet is to review where candidates publish in the level of School to which you wish to apply. A quick look at the CVs on the Faculty Webpage at a Research One Institution, for instance, will demonstrate the kind of Journals for which you should aim. So will the Publications of the Faculty at a Teaching Intensive University. Look at Tenured Faculty Publications and find Equivalents in your Field. Google Scholar can help you here!
There is no Right answer, only a Right Answer for You. Aphra suggests that you evaluate your Goals, your Place, and speak with a few Peers and Mentors to make the right Decision.
She recommends these Articles to inspire your Choice:
- Tips on Publishing in Academic Journals
- How Much Better Are the Most-Prestigious Journals? The Statistics of Academic Publication