As an author, you are encouraged to publish your novel research in top-tier journals. While the acceptance threshold is much lower than low- or mid-tier journals, the opportunity to publish your work in a top-tier journal is a milestone for any academic, as it shows your research is novel, exciting, and robust. Publishing in top-tier journals significantly increases the readership breadth and citation rate of your paper, as these journals are more sought after, more widely read, and usually more frequently cited. Publishing in top tier journals early in your academic career shows to potential employers you are capable of producing independent, high quality research. However, top-tier journals typically have higher rejection rates, which as an author can cost you time and energy, as well as potentially discourage you from future paper submissions. Knowing if your work is appropriate for a top-tier journal depends on whether it can easily satisfy the criteria for strong research, namely its novelty, soundness of research methods, contribution to advancing a particular model, theory, or the overall field, application and usefulness to real world issues and challenges, connection to current state of the art, the narrative of the research problem, and comprehensiveness (See the section ‘What are the main factors to consider when choosing a journal?’ for detailed descriptions of these criteria). If you work can meet these criteria with little compromise, then it may be suited for a top-tier journal. Therefore, compared to low- and mid-tier journals, targeting top-tier journals involves a greater trade-off between placing your work in appropriate context and the likelihood of its acceptance.
Practical example for Life Sciences
Within the life sciences, publishing in top tier journals is highly encouraged. These papers typically focus on novel, topical, and applied research that is well communicated, timely, and scientifically robust. Publishing in top tier journals within ecology is most often a collaborative effort from many authors (sometimes as many as 20+ authors on one paper), as producing high quality research is often a cross-disciplinary endeavour spanning a suite of expertise and many networks. Therefore, publishing in top tier journals usually shows you are highly collaborative and capable of producing strong research, which is particularly important in early career stages.
Practical example for Social Sciences
Publishing in top-tier journals is strongly encouraged but requires that the research be novel, sound, and of interest to a more general audience. In many cases, successful top-tier articles are the result of unexpected but surprising findings and a substantial amount of follow-up work to investigate the cause. Although it is difficult to ensure novel findings, pursuing research in a topical area can help ensure the general appeal of the research.