I think that the first choice between the journals is whether you want to publish in an applied science journal or in a basic science journal. The former are, for instance, biotechnology, agriculture, forestry, remediation technology etc. oriented journals. The latter are (micro)biology, ecology, biochemistry, soil science, water science etc. oriented journals.
There may be a slight difference in the writing between these journal groups but, in practice, there seems not to be any universal rule for the difference. Many times, the articles are, in fact, much similar and only some nuances make the difference.
It is very much possible that from a basic science journal, you get a request to submit to an applied journal. And then, from an applied journal, you will get a request to submit to a basic science journal. The difference may be in reader’s eyes. Many times, basic science journals have really applied articles published, but probably applied journals do not want if there is no practical application. However, it is anyway good to think of the journal's scope, read it in any case.
Many times, I get articles that are ‘only’ applied science. With this I mean, that there is no mechanistic, process related, biological or ecological aspect, but only a practical environmental aspect. Just to develop a new technology, for instance. These articles are not the ones I am the best to assess. I can do my best and help to write the general parts, but I do not have personal experience in solely technological articles and journals.
In general, I keep solely technological articles often easier to write than ecological articles. Because, usually there are some observations to report and one does not need to discuss much about them. In contrast to technology, ecology is never easy – if you want somehow to increase its understanding. Ecological issues are always complicated, there is usually always more than one aspect when interpreting the results.
Whether an ecological or an applied journal, increasing the understanding of the issue studied is most probably highly appreciated by the editors. It is a must in many ecological, higher-quality journals; try to write about any mechanisms behind your observations, write if you have any explanations for the observations. If you cannot do this, choose an applied journal.
Next time, I will write about choosing between low-and high-quality journals.