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How to simplify manuscript submission

Over 500 journals have endorsed the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) guidelines, a new scheme aiming to improve the transparency and reproducibility of published research. The guidelines consist of eight modular standards, covering aspects of publication from preregistration of studies to data transparency. Journals can choose which standards to adopt and the level of implementation.

Although the goals of the scheme are important, for an author trying to get their research published this essentially adds a further level of administration to the submission process, as guidelines must be read and a checklist completed. For some, manuscript submission is already associated with too much bureaucracy – prompting the question, how much of the submission process is really necessary?

In a recent blog, Chris Chambers describes the responses he received on Twitter after asking authors which manuscript submission requirements most annoy them, to determine what could be done to streamline the process. The most popular response was to abolish the trivial house style requirements of some journals, including those for referencing and in-text citations. The abolition of cover letters, the Highlights section, and the requirement for authors to recommend reviewers were also suggested, as well as allowing the use of in-text figures and tables and the submission of formats other than MS word. To find out what else irks authors during the submission process, and to see if you share their views, read the full list of recommendations here.

submission process

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Summary by Alice Wareham, PhD from Aspire Scientific

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