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Qualitative Research Resources: Publishing Qualitative Research

Find sources of qualitative training & support at UNC. How to search for and evaluate qualitative research, integrate qualitative research into systematic reviews, report/publish qualitative research. Includes some Mixed Methods resources.

Created by Health Science Librarians

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Publishing Qualitative Research

Why is this information important?

As a qualitative health science researcher, it can be challenging to know where to submit your work for publication.

  • Although acceptance of qualitative research is growing in the health science fields, some  familiar high-impact scientific journals may be less likely to publish it.
  • Other high-impact journals that focus exclusively on qualitative research may be less familiar to health science researchers.

On this page you'll find:

  • basic advice for finding journals to submit to
  • tools to help you identify high quality journals in your field
  • a selection of journals that specialize in qualitative health research
  • a list of medical and health journals that have a good track record of publishing qualitative research. 

Journal Selection Considerations

Where you publish can be as important as what you publish. 

Consider the following when selecting a journal to which to submit your article:

  • Relevance: The journal should publish research that is relevant to your work, the type of article that you want to publish, and reach the audience that you want to read your work.  For interdisciplinary research, finding a relevant journal may mean looking beyond the journals in your field.
  • Discoverability: The journal should be indexed by major citation and abstract databases, such as PubMed, Web of Science and Scopus.
  • Quality: Where does the journal ranked according to impact factor and other measures of journal quality?  Who is on the editorial board of the journal?
  • Public Access: Does your article need to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy
  • Open Access: Do you wish to publish in an open access journal, which will make the full text of your work freely available online at the time of publication? 

Check out the boxes below for resources on finding a journal and evaluating journal quality.

Evaluating Journal Quality

You want to submit your work to journals that are of high quality. That usually means that:

  • The journal is relatively highly ranked on Impact Factor, Eigenfactor, or SCImago ranking
  • The people on the editorial board of the journal are reputable within their fields.
  • If the journal is Open Access, it is a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.

Here are some tools to help you evaluate the quality of particular journals.

  1. Measure Your Research Impact: This UNC guide explains the different ways that impact is measured for both academic authors and articles, and offers tips on how to find impact information on individual journals.
  2. Google Scholar's Top Publications List: Google Scholar provides lists of the top journals in various disciplines, ranked by the h-index measurement of impact.
  3. Scopus
    A large citation and abstracting database providing comprehensive coverage of the peer-reviewed journal and conference literature, with links to full-text where available through the library; includes scientific, technical, medical, social science and arts and humanities disciplines and indexes over 20,500 titles from more than 5,000 international publishers including over 340 book series. Like Web of Science, Scopus allows researchers to perform citation searches to see how many times a work has been cited, by whom, and to rank searches by times cited, for the period 1996 -present, as well as its curated index of over 375 scientific web pages and over 24 million patents
  4. Directory of Open Access Journals
  5. Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association: This link will take you to a list of this organization's members. Many Open Access journals are new; checking to see that they are OASPA members is a good way to make sure they are legitimate and high quality.
  6. Journal Author/Name Estimator (JANE): JANE offers a combination of journal discovery and impact factor information. You can paste your abstract into the interface or search by keyword in order to get a list of journals that have published similar research, similar articles they have published, and the journal's impact factors.
  7. Ulrichs Web Online
    Ulrich's Periodicals Directory is a bibliographic database providing detailed, comprehensive, and authoritative information on serials published throughout the world. It covers all subjects and includes publications that are published regularly or irregularly and are circulated free of charge or by paid subscription. is updated weekly and contains search and browse indexes--such as language and frequency--that are not found in the print version. In addition links users to related serials for alternate titles and alternate media formats and contains tens of thousands of URLs and e-mail addresses for links to journals and publishers. gives users access to serials information beyond the title level, with links to tables of contents, article abstracts, journal full-text, and document delivery.
    Note: Users will need to register for a free individual account to take advantage of the full functionality of this resource.
  8. PubMedReminer: This tool is similar to JANE, but only for journals and publications that are indexed in PubMed. It also allows you to find the research interests of a particular author, or look for the top authors within a particular health science discipline. 

Selected Health Journals Publishing Qualitative Research

This is just a sampling of journals across a number of health-related disciplines that routinely publish qualitative research. Many additional health-related journals will publish qualitative research and may offer specific information for authors about how they handle qualitative studies (e.g., longer word/page limits). For assistance with a specific journal, consult the journal's information for authors or the editor. See additional suggestions on this page. 

A unique new resource: The Qualitative Report (from Nova Southeastern University). 

  • About TQR
  • The academic journal: The Qualitative Report
  • The TQR Guide to Qualitative Research Journals (July, 2020)
    • Curated by Ronald J. Chenail
    • The number and variety of journals focusing primarily on qualitative approaches to research have steadily grown over the last forty years. From discipline- or profession-specific to trans-, cross-, and multidisciplinary missions, these journals represent a richly diverse approach to qualitative inquiry.

Publishing Autoethnography

*Some General and Health-related Publishers of Autoethnography from Dr. Hughes' book:


Anthropology & Education Quarterly
Qualitative Social Research
International Journal of Mental Health Nursing
International Journal of Qualitative Methods
Journal of Advanced Nursing
Journal of Contemporary Ethnography
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Journal of Research in Nursing
Qualitative Health Research
Qualitative Inquiry
Qualitative Report
Qualitative Research
Substance Use and Misuse

Academic Publishers
AltaMira Press (Rowman & Littlefield)
Information Age Publishers
Left Coast Press (Routledge)
Palgrave Macmillan
Peter Lang Publishers
SAGE Publishing
Sense Publishers

*Excerpted from Hughes, S. A. (2017). Autoethnography : process, product, and possibility for critical social research. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc, pp. 187-190

Additional Ideas for Selecting a Journal

Consider the following when searching for and selecting a journal:

  • Is the journal peer-reviewed?
  • Is the journal relevant to your research?  Check your references to see what journals they were published in.
  • Does the journal publish the type of article that you wish to submit?
  • Does the journal reach the audience that you want to read your research?
  • Where is the journal indexed?  This information can often be found on the journal's website, or check Ulrichsweb (see below).
  • Do you wish to publish in an open access journal? 
  • Does the journal have an article processing charge (APC)?  Many open access journals have an APC. 

Listed below are several resources for finding journals in which to publish your research.

Additional thoughts from successful authors and from journal editors

Don't be afraid to connect with journal editors or their staff or to provide them with additional resources that may be necessary for successful publishing of qualitative studies.  For example:

Regarding length limits that may not easily accommodate qualitative research:

  • Editors may be open to extended page/word limits for high quality qualitative research. This information is sometimes found in instructions for authors.  
  • You might consider submitting an appendix with your manuscript containing fuller treatment of the methods. In the manuscript, itself, refer to the availability of the additional methods information in the submitted appendix.  

Regarding the fit of your research for the particular journal:

  • In your cover letter or other communications with editors or their staff, consider:
    • including a short statement about why your manuscript is a good fit for their journal and how it makes an important contribution

Regarding appropriate review of your manuscript by reviewers knowledgeable about qualitative research: 

  • In your cover letter or other communications with editors or their staff, consider
    • suggesting appropriate reviewers with the background and expertise to review qualitative research on your topic
    • indicating reasons why a specific reviewer may have a conflict or may not be appropriate for reviewing your research