Deborah Holtzman, Ph.D.

The Submission and Review Process at
Peer Review Journals as Exemplified by
the American Journal of Public Health
Deborah Holtzman, PhD
Department Editor, Framing Health Matters
American Journal of Public Health
Associate Director for Science, Division of Viral Hepatitis
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
March 24, 2012
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD & TB Prevention
Division of Viral Hepatitis
What You Need to Know
• The Journal’s mission, reach, and audience
• The Journal’s format
• The Journal’s submission requirements
• The Journal’s review and notification
The American Journal of
Public Health
American Journal of Public Health
Official Journal of and Published by the
American Public Health
Mary E. Northridge, PhD, MPH, Editor-in-Chief
Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, Publisher
American Journal of Public Health
Foremost mission of AJPH is to promote
public health research, policy, practice,
and education
We aim to embrace all of public health, from
global policies to the local needs of public
health practitioners.
We welcome contributions of original
unpublished research, social science and
policy analyses, scholarly essays, critical
commentaries, departments, and letters to
the editor.
American Journal of Public Health
In Year 2009, AJPH published 12 regular
issues and 3 supplements: HIV/AIDS,
Mental Health, and Diversity; Influenza
Preparedness and Response; and
Environmental and Occupational Justice.
Formal Submissions:
2006 – 2032 manuscripts
2007 – 2063 manuscripts
2008 – 2236 manuscripts
2009 – 2779 manuscripts
Currently <5% of all unsolicited papers
received are published.
American Journal of Public Health
Year 2010 Theme Issues:
Celebrating 100 Years of Publishing
Integrating Public Health Across Sectors
Gender and Sexuality
Healthier America: One Community at a Time
Asian American, Native Hawaiian, & Pacific Islander Health
Public Health in a World of
Scarcity and Abundance
Modeling to Advance Tobacco Control Policy
Promote, Prevent, Protect
School-based Health Care
Peak Petroleum
Social Justice
Mental Health Promotion and Protection
April 2010 Supplement: The Science of Eliminating
Health Disparities
Journal Format, AJPH
General public health readership
Global distribution
Categories of Papers
Letters to the Editor and Responses
Editor’s Choice
On the Other Hand
Statistically Speaking
Field Action Reports
Going Public
Faces of Public Health
Categories of Papers (continued)
• Analytic Essays (designed specifically for
3 AJPH departments)
• Health Policy and Ethics Forum
• Government, Politics, and Law
• Framing Health Matters
• Public Health Then and Now
• Voices from the Past
• Images of Health
Categories of Papers (continued)
• Briefs (preliminary or novel findings up to
800 words)
• Research and Practice Articles (results of
original quantitative or qualitative public
health research up to 3500 words)
Submission Requirements,
Manuscript Style, File Formats
and Cover Letter
• Style: The AMS Manual of Style, 10th
• File format: Word documents, all
Manuscript Style, File Formats
and Cover Letter
• Cover letter
– Authors must state compliance with Principles of the
Ethical Practice of Public Health to which AJPH adheres
– Disclosure of all possible conflicts of interest
– Disclosure of all previous publications based upon the
same material and value added of the submission beyond
related previous publications
– Brief indication of the importance of the manuscript to the
field of public health
– If manuscript based on a Randomized Controlled Trial
(RCT) or Group Randomized Trial (GRT), the trials must
have been previously registered
Manuscript Components
• Title page (authors names deleted to ensure
double blind peer review)
• Abstracts
o Structured
o Unstructured
• Headings
• References
• Tables, figures, and images
• Supplemental files
• Reproduced material
Submission Process, AJPH
Editorial Manager
Set up an account
Follow the prompts to enter requested information
Adhere to requirements for submission categories
• Abstract type and word count
• Article type and word count
• Reference format and number of references
• Number of tables, figures, and images
Editorial and Peer Review
Process, AJPH
Evaluation Criteria by AJPH
Editorial Team
Original and timely material
Clear writing
Appropriate study methods
Valid data
Reasonable conclusions supported by the
• Important information
• Topic is of general public health interest
Of note…
• At this stage, if a manuscript is deemed of
insufficient priority, it is rejected. Decisions
about a manuscript are based only on its
importance, methodological rigor, originality,
clarity, and relevance to the AJPH mission.
Studies with negative results, or those
challenging previously published work or
widely held beliefs, receive equal
Words of Wisdom
• It is imperative that authors prepare their
papers according to the specifications
outlined in the Instructions to Authors. By
not doing so, a submission could be
delayed. It also may be helpful to authors
to peruse recent issues which can be
informative regarding current Journal
priorities and paper formats for the various
categories and departments.
Submission Screening Process
• Each submission reviewed by Editor-inChief or designee
• Review considerations
– Appropriateness for Journal
– Quality
– Reader interest
– Extent to which topic (or related topics)
covered in recent issues
Submission Screening Process
• 80% of submissions rejected at this stage
• Turnaround relatively short; authors notified
within 5-10 days
• If submission selected for further review, it
is assigned to an Associate or Department
• At this stage about 50% of papers sent out
for peer review are ultimately published
Submission Screening Process
• Time from submission to first decision
averages 3 months
• First decision typically requires a revision
extending the time period an additional 3
months on average
• Time from acceptance to publication varies
depending on whether the paper is
scheduled for a particular (e.g., theme)
Examples of Publications using
• Holtzman D, Bland SD, Lansky A, Mack K. HIVrelated behaviors and perceptions among adults in
25 states, 1997 BRFSS. American Journal of
Public Health 2001;91:1882-1888.
• Denny CH, Holtzman D, Goins RT, Croft J.
Disparities in chronic disease risk factors and
health status between American Indian and Alaska
Native and white elders: Findings from a telephone
survey, 2001 and 2002. American Journal of
Public Health 2005;95:825-827.
Thank you
For more information please contact Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30333
Telephone, 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636)/TTY: 1-888-232-6348
E-mail: [email protected]
The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD & TB Prevention
Division of Viral Hepatitis

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