When you’ve spent, weeks, months – even years – working on a publication, you want to make sure you find the perfect journal to review and publish your findings. Targeting an inappropriate journal can result in extreme delays in time to publication or reaching an unsuitable or too small reading audience, among other things.

Don’t let your good work go to waste by submitting it to the wrong journal. Ask yourself these five questions before you submit your next work for consideration.

What kind of work does the journal cover?
When considering a target journal, think about the scope of its contents. Is it broad, covering multiple topics, or is it focused on one specialty or niche in the industry? Broad journals often have the largest readership, but they are also usually the most difficult in which to get accepted. Try to match your target audience to that of the journal.

Are there any limitations to what the journal will consider?
Most journals have guidelines to which all submissions must adhere. Some journals require an invitation to be published in them, while others may not publish projects funded by certain investors (i.e., tobacco industry-funded) or projects that don’t meet their standards (i.e. non-systematic reviews). You should also consider the submission timeline and any associated fees.

How is this journal reflected in the scientific community?
You should target a journal of high repute within your field of study. A journal’s impact factor measures the yearly average number of citations to articles published in that journal. It is often used to reflect a publication’s relative importance, though that approach is often criticized. Chances are, you and your colleagues are already well aware of the most reputable journals in your field.

Who is the audience and how well does the journal reach it?
If possible, you should consider what a publication’s readership/subscriber base looks like. If the journal has a press kit that gives demographic information, this could be helpful for determining which industries and maybe even the seniority or the people reading a given journal. You can also get a sense of how freely sharable content will be by determining if your publication is, or has the option to be, open access.

But the most important question of all…

What are your goals in getting your work published?
This the one of the most important questions to ask yourself – probably even before you work through these other questions. If your main goal is to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible, you’ll want to target a broad-focus journal that has open access; more eyes with the lowest barrier of viewing. If you’re looking to get in front of a niche audience to showcase your expertise in a particular industry, you may want to find a publication with a narrow scope and a great reputation in your field.

So, when the time comes to publish, ask yourself these five questions to save yourself time and hassle and ensure your work is under consideration at the best possible place.