What journals should I (do I) read?

In order to keep up with the literature, I use a two main strategies. I use Readcube for reading PDFs on my PC. Readcube includes a recommendation engine which is surprisingly good.  I’m not sure how it works, but I imagine it uses text similarity or co-citation to find papers like the ones in your library, and it’s found a number of interesting papers for me that I otherwise would have missed.

I also use the much more old-fashioned strategy of reading journal tables of contents. I have Feedly set up with the RSS feeds for a number of journals and scan it in my spare time to find interesting papers. These two strategies are where most of the papers in the monthly paper roundup come from.

Recently, I got interested in whether I was scanning the right tables of contents, so I decided to see what journals publish the most papers of interest to me. To do so I counted the number of papers from each journal that have appeared in the paper roundup section of this blog (about 200 papers total) and that appear in my Readcube library (about 600 papers total). I then normalized to the average number of papers each journal published over the last three years (found here). This gives a metric that is roughly how often that journal will publish a paper of interest to me (although I am comparing different time frames, so it’s not completely accurate).

Not surprisingly, Nature Methods tops the list, and Journal of Microscopy is number 3. Nature Protocols is number 2, although it often publishes groups of protocols on a theme, and I’ve cited all of them in the past, potentially boosting its ranking. More surprising to me is that the list contains a bunch of neuroscience and chemistry journals.

I’ve updated the journals I follow in Feedly to reflect those that I most often reference. I hope that this list is of interest to you as well.

JournalRank (Blog)Rank (Readcube)
Nature Methods12
Nature Protocols219
Journal of Microscopy31
ACS Chemical Biology46
Current Protocols in Cytometry53
Cold Spring Harbor Protocols623
Nature Photonics711
Chemistry & Biology814
Chemical Society Reviews97
Current Opinion in Chemical Biology104
Cytometry Part A115
Biophysical Journal1215
Biomedical Optics Express1322
Nature Nanotechnology1425
Current Opinion in Neurobiology1517
Lab on a Chip168
Microscopy Research and Technique1820
Journal of Cell Biology1921
Nature Communications2048