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How much should I care about the journal quality?

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Lazarius

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I'm a PGY-2 applying to Hem/Onc this year.

I have a chart review project that is almost done and ready to be submitted. It was shown to internal reviewers at my institution and they said it will find its way to a low-tier journal, but if I wanted to submit it to a mid to high-tier journal then I have to make "some" changes. Unfortunately, the changes that they suggested will require me to go through all the charts again to collect extra data points and then repeat the whole data analysis again. That will take months given my current work schedule. It's funny that no one talked about these changes when the project was discussed initially over a year ago! but anyway.

Now the question is: at this level (PGY-2 applying for fellowship) how much should I care about the tier of the journal my work is going to? I can get this project published (in a "low-quality" journal) before the season starts and it will look somewhat nice on my application. Or I can start making the changes and submit later to a better journal, but in this case there's no way in hell that it would be even ready for submission before July or August since I have some difficult rotations coming. In this case, I will have to mention it in my application as ongoing research or whatever which programs might or might not take seriously.

Now this won't be the only research experience in my app, but I've worked on it for months and months to boost my fellowship application and I hate to see it go in vain.

What do you guys think?
 

carrigallen

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It doesn't matter that much to *you*, at your stage. Unless you are trying to make a name for yourself as a translational scientist, I would say submit to the most realistic peer-reviewed print journal you can find. (eg impact factor between 1.1 to 5.0).

Now, your program director, your co-authors, your mentor, etc may want you to batter your head against the wall. From their standpoint, they could care less if you burn many months getting rejected. Trying to get small, retrospective, single-institution chart review studies published in major journals can be very difficult, like polishing a turd. It is wiser to find a journal that has published similiar studies, with an audience devoted specifically to that subject, and submit to it.

Some people will say, "Why not submit to NEJM, it can't hurt." Well, yes it can. People underestimate the amount of time and energy it takes for the first author to make a quality submission to any peer-reviewed journal. You have to adapt your figures, references, tables to the journal, submit financial disclosures, and just doing the whole online submission process takes some time if done right.
 
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Lazarius

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Some people will say, "Why not submit to NEJM, it can't hurt." Well, yes it can. People underestimate the amount of time and energy it takes for the first author to make a quality submission to any peer-reviewed journal. You have to adapt your figures, references, tables to the journal, submit financial disclosures, and just doing the whole online submission process takes some time if done right.

Exactly! for them it's just " umm, do you wanna submit it to NEJM?" ... and I'm like what the heck dude?!! That's a couple of months wasted on adjusting the manuscript, the figures, submitting online and then waiting for it to be rejected because we both clearly know that NEJM wouldn't be interested in this. They don't care, they try JCO next. They're not dying to get this published.
 
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