In your opening paragraph you take up Hartley’s idea of considering the journal when selecting a research topic (Laureate, 2012) to replace your prior system of doing the reverse. I wonder, though, if this is actually a false dichotomy? Rather than being an either-or situation, perhaps the issues of topic and journal selection are separate?
Hiemstra and Brier introduce the “three-by-three rule” (cited in Skolits, Brockett, & Hiemstra, 2011, p. 24) that encourages researchers to generate three articles from any research project. The examples they give range from a research article using the findings of a project, a practitioner focussed magazine type article and an article that relates the project to policy. This list can be expanded upon. One of my ‘hobbies’ is writing textbooks. Each time I write a textbook, I write up some aspect of that process for a local Japan-based teachers textbook writers magazine. For my nursing textbook, I wrote the accompanying tests. Because I used Rasch techniques to assess my tests, I could generate an article on how to use Rasch analysis in test validity.
The point is that if the journal is considered before anything else, much potential may be lost unless the journal and topic selection serendipitously allow for the generation of other off-shoots. Furthermore, perhaps we should be aware that, at least initially, as early-career researchers it is unlikely that our “typical audience will be international academic superstars” (Epstein, Kenway, & Boden, 2005, p. 25) and to envisage writing for a readership of professionals at roughly the same level as ourselves. That does not entail writing any less seriously, thoroughly, or rigorously, but it may help us achieve more direct impact with our more imminent writing.
Epstein, D., Kenway, J., & Boden, R. (2005). Writing for Publication. Sage Publications.
Laureate Education Inc. (2012). Writing for Publication and Professional Impact [Video].
Skolits, G. J., Brockett, R. G., & Hiemstra, R. (2011). Publishing in Peer-Reviewed and Nonrefereed Journals: Processes, Strategies, and Tips. In T. S. Rocco & T. Hatcher (Eds.), The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing (pp. 13–25). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.