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Editor-in-Chief's Column

Getting something published in the Journal of Pathology – step one

Peter HallOver the next issues of the Society Newsletter I hope to explain some of the activities of the Journal, some of the issues of the Editorial team and some of the processes in use from receipt of a manuscript through to its (hopefully) successful publication in the Journal. In the first of this series I shall consider the basic process of submitting a manuscript and hopefully give some tips on how to avoid common pitfalls. These may of course be relevant for the submission of papers to other Journals!
Having been involved with the Editorial team of the Journal of Pathology for nearly 8 years and having edited one other major Journal (Hematological Oncology) for three years (2005 to 2007), it is quite extraordinary how many authors simply fail at the first hurdle by not reading the Aims and Scope of the Journal, nor the Instructions to Authors. Indeed very basic and simple steps which are simply common sense are often not done! The Aims and Scope and the Instructions to Authors are to be found on the inside of the Journal and on the Journal website. It remains astonishing to me that papers are submitted that fall outside our aims and scope and do not fulfil even the most basic of requirements for the Instructions to Authors.
Some examples: we receive several case reports every month yet do not publish case reports. We specify a reference style (Vancouver) yet Harvard or other styles are regularly submitted. We specify a 3000 word limit yet only last week we received a manuscript of 9000 words from beginning of the Introduction to the end of the Discussion. We receive manuscripts as PDF files when we specify a Word file. We receive manuscripts without page numbers and manuscripts in single space when we ask for double spacing.
Quote1So before you begin submitting a manuscript to a journal: Quote2
The online submission process poses a series of questions which have to be addressed via 'check boxes'. For example is there a statement about the ethical background to the study. You cannot proceed without this being answered in the affirmative, yet about 30% of manuscripts when examined do not have such a statement. Even the covering letter can prove problematic. Receiving a letter addressed to the Editor of the American Journal of Pathology does not send me warm and fuzzy feelings as it indicates (among other things) that the authors have not taken much trouble in the submission process.
So before you begin submitting a manuscript to a journal: READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!
  • Does the material you have produced fit with the Aims and Scope of the Journal?
  • Have you read the Instructions to Authors?
  • Does your manuscript comply FULLY with the Instructions to Authors?
Of particular relevance here are the details of manuscript composition including font, font size, margins, spacing, metadata, structure, title, abstract, keywords, the various 'bits'(Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, reference style (and number) Figure legends, Word count etc . . . ).
OK, if you have got this far then you can submit the manuscript, which for the J Path is via an online submission system. I shall tell you about what happens then in the next issue of the Newsletter.
Peter Hall
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