The Painful Publishing Process: A Request to Simplify Bureaucratic Requirements

Publishing research is paramount to the advancement of medicine, and the peer-review process is critical for checks on research integrity. Although this process is over 300 years old and ubiquitous to scientific journals,1 it remains decentralized and disjointed in a way that inhibits timely reporting of data. Many scientific journals require authors to format papers prior to submission, but this formatting is not standardized across journals. Formatting is arduous work—details that must be attended to prior to submission include line spacing, tables, and figures, among others. Attention to even minute details, such as whether superscripted numbers or parentheses are used for references, is required. Citation styles vary widely, from the American Psychological Association (APA), to Modern Language Association (MLA), to American Medical Association (AMA) style. Within six major anesthesiology-related journals, for example, four different reference styles and formatting requirements are requested (Table 1). After spending a day or more formatting a publication for submission, authors may be told days later the journal is not interested in publishing their article, and the time-intensive process of reformatting for another journal submission begins. This process is not cost effective, with an estimated US $272–$1400 per day lost in opportunity costs, costing the scientific community millions per year.3 Further, in an era of increased scrutiny on publishing practices,4 an inefficient submission process focuses energy away from assessing submission quality and integrity.   Table 1. Selected author guidelines from six anesthesiology-related journals collected from submission websites.a Journal (Publisher) Sections Reference Style Citation Format Submission Method […]

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