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ISMPP poll: what should you do if a manuscript is submitted without author approval or a data check?


  • Most respondents to an International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) poll opted to contact the journal to halt submission of a manuscript that was accidentally submitted without proper author approval or data checks.

An enthusiastic client has jumped the gun and submitted a manuscript before all the authors have had a chance to approve the final draft and before a full data check has been performed. A recent ISMPP ‘What would you do?’ poll looked at the possible approaches to take when faced with this potentially difficult scenario. As always, Dr Eric Y Wong (Janssen) reviewed the results in the MAP newsletter and provided his insights into the best practice approach.

The poll asked: An industry client working on regional publications submits a manuscript to a journal before all authors have approved the final content and before a full data check has been performed. The authors had reviewed all previous drafts of the manuscript.

What would you do?

The poll was answered by 136 respondents and the results revealed a clear preferred approach, with around three-quarters of respondents suggesting putting the submission on hold while the author approvals and data check are obtained. The poll results in full were:

  • Recommend that the client contacts the journal to explain that the manuscript was submitted before all steps were completed and ask if the submission can be put on hold until the submission site is updated with the author approved version: 72.8% of responses.
  • Explain the situation to the authors and ask for their approval of the now submitted manuscript; any further comments and the accuracy check can be completed during the peer review process and changes incorporated in response to reviewers: 21.3%.
  • Schedule a meeting with all the authors to explain the situation and ask for their guidance on next steps: 5.9%.
  • Do nothing and wait for the journal to provide peer reviewer comments; it is too late to do anything: 0%.

Dr Wong reminded readers that submitting a publication without author approvals or quality check of the data was not appropriate as both were standard requirements according to Good Publication Practice 3 (GPP3) and International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) criteria.

“Documenting final approvals of all authors and ensuring integrity/accuracy of submitted data are standard requirements for manuscripts per ICMJE and GPP3.”

Dr Wong supported the most popular poll option in which the journal is contacted to halt the submission as this would avoid the journal editors or peer reviewers proceeding with potentially inaccurate and unapproved content. He suggested that while contacting the authors regarding next steps would be a reasonable option, the outcome of discussions would likely be to contact the journal and take the actions described in the preferred first option. Thus, discussions should take place promptly so that the manuscript is not sent for editorial or peer review in the meantime. Dr Wong did not recommend the approach of obtaining author approvals after the fact and correcting errors during the peer review process as this could lead to additional complications, is not good publication practice, and would set a bad precedent. Dr Wong concluded that the ‘do nothing as it is too late’ option would also not be the correct approach as it simply was not true, as most respondents to the survey recognised.


Do you agree with the poll results?

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