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Services for Authors at the Penn Libraries: Developing a Publishing Plan

Where do you want to publish

Publishing is personal.

Many individual and disciplinary considerations go into determining what the appropriate publishing venue looks like for any one person.

  • Taking time to think through your options,
  • to examine your motivations, goals, and needs, and
  • to consider how these align with, and/or diverge from, those of your field(s)
  • is vital for navigating the publishing world in an informed and deliberate manner.


Where you publish determines who reads and doesn't read your work.

  • Costly journal subscriptions inhibit widespread access and limit your audience to those affiliated with an institution or library that can subscribe or afford a subscription.
  • Your target audience may include  journalists, policy makers, practitioners, and community organizers
  • If you're targeting an interdisciplinary audience, then identifying a journal likely to reach this mixed group may prove challenging and require some strategizing.


  • Who do you want and need to reach with your work?
  • Are you engaging in a scholarly, political, or societal conversation? 
  • Which readers might you exclude with the publishing venue you choose?

Which publishing option is most esteemed in your field?

Determining quality, prestige, and impact

Publishing your work in authoritative and prestigious journals is usually especially important for graduate students and early to mid-career faculty to ensure:

  • visibility/discoverability
  • higher citation counts and impact
  • Publishing in prestigious journals advances your professional goals and brings your work into conversation with established scholars
  • Respected journals usually have rigorous peer review processes that elevate the quality of the materials they publish.
  • Staying with well-known journals is one way to ensure that you avoid low-quality journals with expensive fees and substandard publishing practices.


  • How are quality, prestige, and impact measured in your field?
  • What role do impact metrics/citation counts play in your field, and career goals?
  • Where do your respected peers, mentors, and advisors tend to publish?
  • Format or Nature of your Work


Disciplines have different practices around making work publicly accessible

  • Some fields have a practice of making preprints or versions of record publicly accessible.
  • Many funders now require eventual or immediate public access. Options include:
    • Hybrid or fully open access journals: subscription journals that publish individual open access articles, but typically require an author processing charge (APC).
    • Making your work publicly accessible does not always require an APC. Penn Libraries participates in programs called "subscribe to open" or have set up agreements that allow Penn authors to publish their work open access without a fee. This is only for a specific journals. Be sure to take a look at our Open Access page.
  • In some fields, page charges have been part of the publishing practice for many years. Publishing photographs or other illustrations can also require a fee. 
  • Always check to see if there are fees associated with publishing your work and, if so, talk to your department and librarians about possible options.


  • Are you required to make your work publicly accessible through an open access journal or a designated repository?
  • Do you have funds for potential publishing costs (e.g. APCs)?


Other Considerations

Before & After you submit

  • Rank your journal/publisher preferences based on your publishing plan
  • Ensure that your manuscript is formatted correctly and follows the journal's guidelines
  • If you have co-authors, decide who will be in charge of copyright concerns
  • Keep a folder with your preprint, postprint, publishing contract, and final version

Read and negotiate your publishing contract

  • Use an author addendum and/or negotiate for more rights to your work.
    • Before signing a contract review the SPARC Author Addendum to retain more rights.
    • If the publisher does not accept a SPARC addendum, try to negotiate for things that you want.
  • Publishers often have multiple contract options.
  • Note: You are often not required to use the click through agreement. Write to your editor if you would like to submit an addendum or negotiate your agreement Make sure to keep track of your manuscript provenance
  • Confirm your publisher's policy on the conditions under which you can share your work

The first step is to establish your goals

What do you hope to accomplish with your publication?

  • What is most most important to you and your work?
  • What is most important for your short- and long-term career and personal goals

Matching a journal's topic or theme

Finding a match

  • Which journals or publication best fits your discipline, field, or subfield?
  • Would your publication benefit from being highlighted in a special issue or an edited monograph?


  • Which option is the best fit for your work and to meet your career goals?
  • How should you focus your article to best suit the journal of your choice?
  • How much time do you have--which journal is most likely to accept your manuscript? Which publishing option will help you reach the largest audience or your specific target audience?

Format makes a difference

The format or nature of your work significantly impacts where you can publish.

If you seek to publish multimedia work or "non-traditional" work (e.g. video essays, data, work employing different technologies, digital tools and methods, or projects that develop over a long or multi-phased period, etc.), you'll need to ensure that you submit to publishers that are able to support and render these materials.


  • What do you want to publish?
  • Do you have a book project, article, review, or?
  • Is your work based on previous work (e.g. dissertation, preprint)?
  • Is this a niche topic or does it speak to a general audience?
  • Is it interdisciplinary? Is it for a lay audience?
  • Does your work incorporate non-traditional elements (e.g. multimedia, data)?


Your timeline for publication may dictate where you publish.

  • If you want your publication out quickly, look at the journals that publish most frequently.
    • Some publishers post average turnaround times, but beware of turnaround times that sound too good to be true---they probably are!
  • Publishers will periodically advertise special book series on topics of current interest with a quicker acceptance-to-shelf production schedule
  • Journals periodically organize special issues with a distinct topical or thematic focus, which carry a set publication date.


  • When do you need to publish your work?
  • Can your career and/or personal goals accommodate a lengthy (at times 1-2 years long) acceptance-to-shelf period?

Your Copyrights

Until you sign a contract, you have all of your copyrights

  • You automatically have all the rights associated with copyright as soon as you put ideas into a fixed medium. 
  • Publishers often require you to sign over all or many of  copyrights in the contract that you sign after your work has been accepted.
    • You may need to request their permission
      • to repurpose or re-share your work
      • to request permInclude your published article in your dissertation or monograph
      • to use a chart/graphic in a subsequent publication or conference presentation
      • Post your work on academic social networking sites, institutional repositories, or personal websites.
  • For-profit publishers and subscription based publishers are more likely to charge a publishing fee than open-access publisher. Fully open access journals usually ask their authors to assign a Creative Commons license to their work.
  • Check your publishing agreement! and the publisher's policies to understand the rights you will retain once you have published (For more detailed information, consult this guide's Rights to Share and Publisher Contracts tab).
  • *If you are planning on applying for a patent, note that you will have one year to do so after your work has been made available.*


  • What do you want to do with your work after publishing?
  • Do you want to post it online or to an institutional repository?
  • Do you want the possibility of sharing your work with colleagues or more widely?
  • Do you want to reuse all or parts of your work in a conference presentation, online teaching, your dissertation or a subsequent publication?
  • Are you planning on applying for a patent?


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