Submission of the manuscript

Editors' decision

Referees' comments



Submission of the manuscript

Once the paper is ready for submission have the other authors review it again. Get their ideas, listen to their feedback; and get them to copyedit the manuscript again. All authors should have made significant contributions to at least two out of the three phases of preparation (design and execution, analysis and writing).

You must make the job of the Editor as easy as possible, so ensure that you have exactly met the submission requirements of the journal. Some basic requirements of all journals are:

1.  A typed double-spaced manuscript.
2. Each section should start on a new page, usually in the following order:
- title page
- abstract and key words
- text
- acknowledgements
- references
- tables (each on a separate page)
- figure legends.
3. Submission of three copies of the manuscript and figures.
4. A covering letter.

TIP: Meet the journal requirements

You must meet all the requirements of the journal before you submit your paper.Before you start writing anything make sure that you have the details of the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals handy for reference. Over 400 journals will accept any manuscript that conforms to these requirements.

Before you submit your paper make sure that the rules, regulations, formatting, length, references, figures etc. all conform to the specific requirements of the journal to which you are submitting. Journals often publish their requirements in the January issue. A number of the major biomedical journals have their Instructions for Authors online:

Nature Guide to Authors in English
Guide to publishing in Science
Guide to publishing in Science in Japanese
Cell Information for Contributors
JAMA Instructions for Authors
Writing for The Lancet
NEJM Info for Authors
Annals of Internal Medicine Info for Authors

Or you can go to a list of online instructions for authors for more than 1000 journals.

Remember, if an Editor is going to have to spend a lot of time indicating to you how your paper does not meet the Journals requirements, they are going to be less sympathetic towards you as they decide whether to send your submission out for review. Make the Editors job as easy as possible.

Indeed, many journals will not even consider your manuscript unless it is well prepared. Gastroenterology simply states in its instructions to authors that: "Manuscripts improperly prepared will be returned to the author without review".

It is in your best interests to make the Editors job as easy as possible.

The covering letter is very important, and should be given careful thought. Clearly explain what your paper is about, and why you think your paper is appropriate for publication in the journal. It is possible to suggest possible referees, or to request that certain people not be used as referees. Often the top people in a field are very busy, so it may expediate the review of your manuscript if the editor is told of 4-5 well regarded people in the field who are perhaps younger, not yet well recognised, and therefore less occupied. The cover letter should clearly indicate the corresponding author and provide full contact details.

Most journals require the signatures of all authors confirming authorship, giving approval of the final version, and indicating that there is no conflict of interest. For example The Lancet recommends the following format:
"I declare that I participated in the design, execution, and analysis of the paper by.... and colleagues entitled .... and that I have seen and approved the final version. I also declare that I have no conflict of interest in connection with this paper, other than any noted in the covering letter to the editor".

Once the journal receives your paper, you should receive an acknowledgement and a reference number - do not lose that number as you will need it for all further correspondence.

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