This document provides an outline of the editorial process involved in publishing a scientific paper (Article or Letter) in Medical analyze and describes how manuscripts are handled by editors between submission and publication.

Editorial processes are described for the following stages: At submission | After submission | After acceptance

At submission

Criteria for publication

The criteria for publication of scientific papers (Articles and Letters) in Medical analyze are that they:

  • report original scientific research (the main results and conclusions must not have been published or submitted elsewhere)
  • are of outstanding scientific importance
  • reach a conclusion of interest to an interdisciplinary readership.

Further editorial criteria may be applicable for different kinds of papers, as follows:

  • large dataset papers: should aim to either report a fully comprehensive data set, defined by complete and extensive validation or provide significant technical advance or scientific insight.
  • technical papers: papers that make solely technical advances will be considered in cases where the technique reported will have significant impacts on communities of fellow researchers.
  • therapeutic papers: in the absence of novel mechanistic insight, therapeutic papers will be considered if the therapeutic effect reported will provide a significant impact on an important disease.

Final checklist for submission

Before submitting the manuscript, double-check its quality again. Critically evaluate whether it can be done better?

be sure that:

  1. Does the manuscript follow the Author's Guide to Authors?
  2. Are all files in the correct format with the correct resolution or size?
  3. Are spelling and grammar correct?
  4. Do you have contact information for all authors?
  5. Choose the right title for the cover letter?

An example for Cover Letter:

Dear Editor-in-Chief,

I am sending you our manuscript entitled “Large Scale Analysis of Cell Cycle Regulators in bladder cancer” by Researcher et al. We would like to have the manuscript considered for publication in Pathobiology.

Please let me know of your decision at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely yours,

A Researcher, PhD

Cover Letter

The authors should submit a letter containing contact information and contact with the responsible author. The authors briefly explain why the content that is submitted is considered appropriate. We urge the authors to provide the names and contact information for the reviewers. Lastly, indicate whether they have discussed with the editorial board about the content presented in the manuscript.

Cover Letter is a great opportunity to briefly discuss the importance of the work and why it is appropriate for the magazine. Please refrain from duplicating the information in the abstract and introduction. The Cover Letter is not sent to arbitrators and is used to provide confidential information such as conflicts of interest and disclosure of any work related to the press or elsewhere.

How to submit an Article or Letter

Authors should use the formatting guide section to ensure that the level, length, and format (particularly the layout of figures and tables and any Supplementary Information) conforms with Medical's requirements, at submission and each revision stage. This will reduce delays. Manuscripts should be submitted via our online manuscript submission system. Although optional, the cover letter is an excellent opportunity to briefly discuss the importance of the submitted work and why it is appropriate for the journal. Please avoid repeating information that is already present in the abstract and introduction. The cover letter is not shared with the referees and should be used to provide confidential information such as conflicts of interest and to declare any related work that is in the press or submitted elsewhere.

All Medical editors report to the Editor of Medical, who sets Medical's publication policies. Authors submitting to Medical do so on the understanding that they agree to these policies.

After submission

What happens to a submitted Article or Letter?

The first stage for a newly submitted Article or Letter is that the editorial staff consider whether to send it for peer-review. On submission, the manuscript is assigned to an editor covering the subject area, who seeks informal advice from scientific advisors and editorial colleagues, and who makes this initial decision. The criteria for a paper to be sent for peer-review are that the results seem novel, arresting (illuminating, unexpected or surprising) and that the work described has both immediate and far-reaching implications. The initial judgment is not a reflection on the technical validity of the work described, or on its importance to people in the same field.

Special attention is paid by the editors to the readability of submitted material. Editors encourage authors in highly technical disciplines to provide a slightly longer summary paragraph that describes clearly the basic background to the work and how the new results have affected the field, in a way that enables nonspecialist readers to understand what is being described. Editors also strongly encourage authors in appropriate disciplines to include a simple schematic summarizing the main conclusion of the paper, which can be published with the paper as Supplementary Information. Such figures can be particularly helpful to nonspecialist readers of cell, molecular and structural biology papers.

Once the decision has been made to peer-review the paper, the choice of referees is made by the editor who has been assigned the manuscript, who will be handling other papers in the same field, in consultation with editors handling submissions in related fields when necessary. Most papers are sent to two or three referees, but some are sent to more or, occasionally, just to one. Referees are chosen for the following reasons:

  • independence from the authors and their institutions
  • ability to evaluate the technical aspects of the paper fully and fairly
  • currently or recently assessing related submissions
  • availability to assess the manuscript within the requested time.

Referees' reports

The ideal referee's report indicates

  • who will be interested in the new results and why
  • any technical failings that need to be addressed before the authors' case are established.

Although Medical's editors themselves judge whether a paper is likely to interest readers outside its own immediate field, referees often give helpful advice, for example, if the work described is not as significant as the editors thought or has undersold its significance. Although Medical's editors regard it as essential that any technical failings noted by referees are addressed, they are not so strictly bound by referees’ editorial opinions as to whether the work belongs in Medical.

Competitors

Some potential referees may be engaged in competing for work that could influence their opinion. To avoid such conflicts of interest, Medical requires potential referees to disclose any professional and commercial competing interests before undertaking to review a paper and requires referees not to copy papers or to circulate them to un-named colleagues. All referees agree to Medical's conditions before Medical sends them a manuscript to assess.

Although Medical editors go to every effort to ensure manuscripts are assessed fairly, Medical is not responsible for the conduct of its referees.

Medical welcomes authors' suggestions for suitable independent referees (with their contact details), but editors are free to decide themselves who to use as referees. Medical editors will normally honor requests that a paper not be sent to one or two (but no more) competing groups for review.

Speed

Medical makes decisions about submitted papers as rapidly as possible. All manuscripts are handled electronically throughout the consideration process. The authors are usually informed within a week if the paper is not being considered. Most referees honor their prior agreement with Medical to deliver a report within seven days or other agreed time limit and send their reports online. Decisions by editors are routinely made very rapidly after receipt of reports, and Medical offers an advance online publication (AOP) service to an increasing number of manuscripts.

What the decision letter means

All Articles and Letters published in Medical go through at least one round of review, usually two or three, sometimes more. At each stage, the editor will discuss the manuscript with editorial colleagues in the light of referees’ reports, and send a letter to the author offering one of the following options:

The paper is accepted for publication without any further changes required by the authors.

The paper is accepted for publication in principle once the authors have made some revisions in response to the referees’ comments. Under these circumstances, revised papers are not usually sent back to the referees because further technical work has not been required, but are accepted for publication once the editors have checked that the referees’ suggestions have been implemented and the paper is in the required format (the formatting guide section is helpful to this end).

A final decision on publication is deferred, pending the authors’ response to the referees’ comments. Under these circumstances, further experiments or technical work are usually required to address some or all of the referees’ concerns, and revised papers are sent back to some or all of the referees for a second opinion. Revised papers should be accompanied by a point-by-point response to all the comments made by all the referees.

The paper is rejected because the referees have raised considerable technical objections and/or the authors’ claim has not been adequately established. Under these circumstances, the editor’s letter will state explicitly whether or not a resubmitted version would be considered. If the editor has invited the authors to resubmit, authors must ensure that all the referees’ technical comments have been satisfactorily addressed (not just some of them), unless specifically advised otherwise by the editor in the letter, and must accompany the resubmitted version with a point-by-point response to the referees’ comments. Editors will not send resubmitted papers to the reviewers if it seems that the authors have not made a serious attempt to address all the referees’ criticisms.

The paper is rejected with no offer to reconsider a resubmitted version. Under these circumstances, authors are strongly advised not to resubmit a revised version as it will be declined without further review. If the authors feel that they have a strong scientific case for reconsideration (if the referees have missed the point of the paper, for example) they can appeal the decision in writing. But in view of Medical's extreme space constraints and a large number of papers under active consideration at any one time, editors cannot assign a high priority to consideration of such appeals. The main grounds for a successful appeal for reconsideration are if the author can identify a specific technical or other points of interest which had been missed by the referees and editors previously. Appeals written in general or vague terms, or that contain arguments not relevant to the content of the particular manuscript, are not likely to be successful. Manuscripts cannot be submitted elsewhere while an appeal is being considered.

Editors’ letters also contain detailed guidance about the paper’s format and style where appropriate (see below), which should be read in conjunction with the manuscript formatting guide when revising and resubmitting.

In replying to the referees’ comments, authors are advised to use language that would not cause offence when their paper is shown again to the referees, and to bear in mind that if a point was not clear to the referees and/or editors, it is unlikely that it would be clear to the nonspecialist readers of Medical.

Appeals

If Medical declines to publish a paper and do not suggest resubmission, authors are strongly advised to submit their paper for publication elsewhere. If an author wishes to appeal against Medical's decision, the appeal must be made in writing, not by telephone, and should be confined to the scientific case for publication. Medical editors are unable to assign a high priority to consideration of appeals.

Authors often ask for a new referee to be consulted, particularly in cases where two referees have been used and one is negative the other positive. Medical is reluctant to consult new referees unless there is a particular, relevant area of scientific expertise that was lacking in the referees already used. Authors should note that as Medical is an interdisciplinary journal, referees for a paper are chosen for different reasons, for example, a technical expert and a person who has a general overview of a field might both referee the same paper. A referee might be selected for expertise in only one area, for example, to judge if the statistical analysis is appropriate, or if a particular technique that is essential to underpin the conclusion has been undertaken properly. This referee’s opinion must be satisfied for the manuscript to be published, but as this referee may not know about the field concerned, an endorsement in isolation from the other referee(s) would not constitute grounds for publication. Editors’ decisions are weighted according to the expertise of the referees, and not by a “voting” procedure.

Hence, Medical prefers to stick with the original referees of a particular paper rather than to call in new referees to arbitrate, unless there is some specific way in which the referee can be shown to be technically lacking or biased in judgment.

If Medical's editors agree to reconsider a paper, the other original referee(s) will have the chance to see and comment on the report of the referee who is the subject of the complaint. New referees can often raise new sets of points, which complicates and lengthens the consideration process instead of simplifying it.

If an author remains unsatisfied, he or she can write to the Editor, citing the manuscript reference number. In all these cases, it is likely that some time will elapse before Medical can respond, and the paper must not be submitted for publication elsewhere during this time.

After acceptance

See this document for a full description of what happens after acceptance and before publication.

Formats and lengths of papers

Space in Medical is extremely limited, and so format requirements must be strictly observed, as advised by the editor handling the submission, and detailed in the manuscript formatting guide.

Subediting of accepted papers

After a paper is accepted, it is subedited (copyedited) to ensure maximum clarity and reach, a process that enhances the value of papers in various ways. Medical's subeditors are happy to advise authors about the format of their Articles and Letters after acceptance for publication. Their role is to

  • edit the language for maximum clarity and precision for those in other disciplines. Special care is given to papers whose authors’ native language is not English, and special attention is given to summary paragraphs.
  • ensure that the paper is at the length specified by the manuscript editor (including the number of figures).
  • ensure that the terminology and notation conform to Medical's house style.
  • ensure that the figures and tables are clear and will fit in the space available.

Proofs and reprints

Our subeditors send authors the edited text for approval before it is typeset. This enables most queries to be resolved before the proof stage. The authors subsequently receive a proof (PDF) of the layout, including the figures. We suggest that authors send proofs to co-authors for them to check, but request that changes among the co-authors are coordinated so that only one author communicates with Medical and only one set of corrections is sent. The corresponding (or other single designated) author is responsible on behalf of all co-authors for the accuracy of all content, including spelling of names and current affiliations of all co-authors, so please ensure these are checked carefully.

Proofs are cycled between Medical’s production staff, our typesetter and the author by means of an online production-tracking system. Authors are provided with an encrypted link to this system after their paper has been accepted.

Instructions for ordering reprints are provided after the paper is scheduled for publication.

Publication and the media

Original research papers are assigned to an issue two weeks before publication, at which time authors will receive an e-mail notifying them of their scheduled publication date. Many papers are published online ahead of the print publication date: these authors will also be informed by e-mail when the online publication date is confirmed. All authors are informed of publication dates, whether ahead of or simultaneous with, the printed issue, on the day that Medical schedules them.

A week before the publication of an issue, Medical’s press office distributes a press release summarizing the content and highlighting papers of particular interest. Journalists are given the names of corresponding authors, together with phone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses. On the Friday before publication, journalists are also given online access to the full text of all papers due to appear in that issue, whether or not the paper is summarized in the press release. They are permitted to show papers to independent specialists of their own choosing a few days in advance of publication, again under embargo conditions, solely for the purpose of eliciting comments on the work described.

Authors should try and be available to answer any inquiries in the days leading up to publication. Before publication, Medical's press office also informs the public information departments of all authors’ institutions to allow them to prepare their own publicity. Authors and their institutions are advised to coordinate any of their own publicity with Medical's press office, in the first instance by e-mail after their paper is accepted for publication.

All editors of Medical Analyze journals are in agreement with the policymakers of the journal that govern and manage the content publishing policy and that they agree with the journal's policies.