Journals will always accept incoming queries about publishing your paper in their journal. These can include questions about whether the journal will think your paper is suitable to turnaround times on submissions. A lot of the information needed to publish your paper is already available on the website of the journal you wish to target, usually under the ‘Instructions for authors’ section.
Some journals require a pre-submission enquiry before submitting your paper, where the journal editorial board will assess the merit of your paper and make a decision on whether your paper fits the scope and readership of their journal. See the ‘Do journals require pre-submission enquiries before considering publication?’ section of this chapter for more information on pre-submission enquiries.
Practical example for Life Sciences
Within the life sciences, journals are usually very receptive to questions from authors about publishing within their journal or other administrative queries. For example, journals state the aims and scope on their journal on their website. Sometimes, however, these may be too vague or ambiguous. Therefore, as an author, you might contact the journal to specify what their scope encompasses. Here, you may include the title and abstract of your proposed paper to give the journal an opportunity to provide brief, pre-submission feedback on whether your paper sits within their scope.
Practical example for mathematics
As in most fields, always start by checking the journal’s website because your question might be answered there. It can also be worth asking for insights from your supervisor or someone who you know has been published in that journal. Once you have done these, it is generally fine to contact the journal to ask specific questions. Be very clear on what you want to ask and why you are asking it. There is no benefit in asking questions just so that your name will be remembered when your paper is reviewed (probably by someone other than the person answering your questions!) In fact, asking many pointless questions can be counterproductive if the journal starts to get the impression that you are not doing enough thinking before contacting them.