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Choosing the Right JournalThe content of this page is based on the article "Choosing the Right International Journal in TESOL and Applied Linguistics" by Dr Willy A Renandya, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University.

Is it time to choose the journal?
As Dr Willy A Renadya suggests, it is, if you have completed your research and are asking yourself questions like 'How do I get started?', 'Which journal should I send my paper to?', 'Do I send it to any journal as long as it is international?', 'Do I send it to TESOL Quarterly?', 'How do I find the right journal for my paper?', etc. 

What is out there?
In his article, Dr Renandya provides a very useful link to an extended list of jounals: 
Periodicals_of_Interest_in_Applied_Linguistics_and_TESOL (prepared by M. Lessard-Clouston). Another useful link can be find at tesol.org 

Dr Renandya distinguishes two types of journals: teaching (pedagogical) and academic.
'A teaching journal publishes articles that are intended for classroom teachers, textbook writers, curriculum developers and other language professionals. Articles published in this kind of journals tend to be shorter (around 3,000 words or shorter) and written in a teacher-friendly style with fewer references.' (p.2) Here are the examples of journals of this type: ELT Journal, English Teaching Forum, ELTWO, Modern English Teacher, English Australia Journal, TESOL Journal.
'An academic journal on the other hand is more research-oriented and directed more towards academics than teachers. Articles published in this type of journal tend to be long (5000 words or longer) and written in an academic style. The articles contain technical language and include a lot of references and the topics tend to be of interest to researchers and academics.' (p. 3) The list includes the following journals: Applied Linguistics, Language Learning, TESOL Quarterly, Language Teaching Research

Also, Dr Renandya recommends finding out whether the journal you have chosen is generalist or niche. 'The former are more broad-based and include a wide range of topics within the broad areas of Applied Linguistics. Journals such as TESOL Journal, Language Teaching Research, the ELT Journal fall under the generalist category. Niche journals on the other hand are more specialist in nature and publish articles on certain niche topics within Applied Linguistics. Examples of niche journals include Journal of Second Language Writing, Reading in a Foreign Language, and Journal of Pragmatics.' (p. 3)

Rejection Rate

The rejection rate is the proportion of rejected articles to the total number of articles submitted to a journal.

Although the rejection rate is not usually publicly available, in his article Dr Renandya provides some recommendations how to estimate it approximately. The main idea is that if a journal description contains words and phrases like 'the premier peer-reviewed journal', 'publishes original rigorous empirical research', 'innovative methodological contributions', 'to promote research of the highest quality' etc., it means that the jounal is very demanding and the rejection rate is high. On the other hand, phrases like 'activities and techniques for teaching language skills', 'classroom-based research' etc. indicate that the jorunal is more practice-oriented and ' do not necessarily have to be based on original empirical research studies.' (p. 4) 

As Dr Renandya points out, in Egbert, J. (2007). Quality analysis of journals in TESOL and applied linguistics. TESOL Quarterly, 41(1), 157-171. provides a following chart (a reduced version is preseneted here; for the full version see the article):

                JournalAcceptance rate
Applied Linguistics15-20%
English For Specific Purposes25-30%
International Journal of
Intercultural Relations
Journal of English for
Academic Purposes
Journal of Second Language Writing15%
Language Testing30%
TESOL Quarterly8.5%

Tips for novice writers

Dr Renandya recommends the following (p. 10):

  1. Make sure that you find a journal that matches your type of paper you have written (research or pedagogical).
  2. Find a journal with an estimated high acceptance rate.
  3. Study all the information about the journal and terms of publishing.
  4. Start with teaching-oriented journals because they tend to have a high acceptance rate. Choose newer journals as their acceptence rate is also higher.
  5. Choosing a non-refereed journal may save your time.
  6. If you are not ready with a paper, write a book review.
  7. After a number of your papers have been published, aim at the top-tier journals.
  8. Do not send your papers to journals that charge you for publishing your papers.  

About the Writer 

Dr Willy A Renandya is a language teacher educator with extensive teaching experience in Asia, currently teaching at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has published extensively, including an edited book “Methodology in Language Teaching: An Anthology of Current Practice” (CUP, 2002, 2008). His latest publications include “Teacher, the tape is too fast – Extensive listening in ELT” (ELT Journal, 2011) and a co-edited book “Principles and Practices for Teaching English as an International Language (2012, Routledge). He is a frequent speaker at international conferences and conducts workshops on Writing for International Publications for universities in Indonesia. He can be contacted at: willy.renandya@nie.edu.sg and he is also a moderator of the Facebook community Teaching Voices: Language Teacher Professional Development Group.

Our team would like to thank Dr Willy A Renandya for his kind permission to use his article for this page.

We suggest you should take a look at the following lists of journals for those interested in Applied Linguistics: LINGUIST List Supporting Publishers and Applied Linguistics (ELT & SLA) Journals 


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