Where do I publish my first scientific paper?

Coming up to two years in my research journey in my Engineering Doctorate, the time is already overdue for me to publish my first paper. Scientific papers that want to be held in the highest esteem should be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

With support from my supervisor and colleagues, I am now starting to look into the process. With a few ideas on the go, each I believe worthy of eventually becoming a paper, a key question is which journal to target.

An obvious starting point is to look at the literature related to my work, and see where they have been published. Scanning through my Mendeley library, four journals seem to stand out:

Reading through the scope of these journals reveals a lot of overlap, which doesn’t do much for helping to narrow down my options. I can’t necessarily just submit a paper to all of them, hoping for one of them to accept my paper – this simply isn’t allowed. So I need to be selective about which journal I submit my paper to.

Impact factor

Not all journals are created equally, and naturally I want to choose a journal with a strong reputation. A key measure of journal reputation is the Impact Factor, which is basically the average number of citations each paper in the journal receives. SciJournal provides a quick way of looking up the Impact Factor for various journals in recent years, so I took a look for the four above:

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013-2014
Energy and Buildings 1.59 1.593 2.041 2.386 2.679 2.465
Building and Environment 1.192 1.797 2.129 2.4 2.43 2.7
Automation in construction 1.664 1.372 1.311 1.5 1.82 1.822
Energy 1.712 2.952 3.565 3.487 3.651 4.159

‘Energy’ clearly stands out as the journal with the strongest impact, but it is also the most general of the four journals. The most impactful journals may be more competitive, and with the review process taking many months, I want to minimise the chances of my paper being rejected. While I want to aim high, it’s better to have a paper in a middling journal than not published at all.


Another interesting site to browse is SCImago Journal and Country Rank, which provides more in-depth information and rankings. Looking at the Buildings and Construction category, Energy and Buildings comes 7th based on their SJR metric. (Note that it’s a Spanish site, so commas are decimal points, and full stops are thousand separators!) The 6 superior journals aren’t relevant, so this journal is looking promising. ‘Energy’ doesn’t appear in this category, as expected. ‘Building and Environment’ comes 13th, while ‘Automation in Construction’ trails in at 18th.

The advantage of scanning tables like this is that it can expose journals that may have been missed in the literature review. Building Research & Information comes in at 17th on this SJR table, having relevance to me in terms of building performance. The Journal of Building Performance Simulation is at 24th, but it is a newer journal and is rising quite quickly year on year.

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