University of Ottawa Medical Journal Workshop Feb 11, 2014

University of Ottawa Medical
Journal Workshop
Feb 11, 2014
Diane Kelsall MD MEd
Deputy Editor, CMAJ and Editor, CMAJ Open
Medical knowledge that matters
Medical research for all
5 things to know about CMAJ
Circulation over 80,000 in print
Over 2.2 million unique users at annually
Impact factor of 6.5
1882 articles submitted in 2013
Overall 17% accept rate (5% in some sections)
Multi-step process
Implications for authors
Implications for editors
How do we choose articles
for publication?
Manuscript submission
system + 1 manuscript
coordinator + 2 editors
+ 2 peer reviewers
How can we do this quickly?
Reject most (“red flags”)
Peer review some
Revision letters for a few
Bring the best through to publication
Editors are human…
We don’t want papers that will
require a lot of work
Initial evaluation by submission
 Use of acceptable file formats?
 All required components included?
Instructions for authors
Typical manuscript file
First look
• Cover letter
Correct journal?
Previous author correspondence?
Any issues raised?
Language skills?
Author title and position included?
First look
• Article type
• Title
• Author list
Questions: Are we interested in this topic? Is this the right
article type for this topic? Are the authors right for the
First look…
• Custom” questions for red flags
Requirements re: word count/tables/figures
Competing interests
Ethics approval
Trial registration
Patient consent
Read the abstract
(for research)
Study type we publish?
Good research question? [RIO]
Formatted for CMAJ?
Language skills?
Read the article
• For research:
• Methods first for “T” in RIOT
• Use of appropriate reporting guideline
• Confirmation of RIO
Read the article
• For other article types:
• RI(O)T
• Use of appropriate template
• For all articles:
• Adherence to template*
• Writing style and language skills
• Look for plagiarism, misconduct
Quick searches
Clinical trials registration
Run text through for plagiarism
Time to first decision?
5 minutes
And some get a third…
All papers get a second read
Make decision
 Immediate intercept (about 600/1000 in research)
 Send for review (about 400)
Send for review
 Reviewers do NOT make the decision
 Instructions for reviewers
 Select reviewers:
 Subject matter experts
 Methodologists
 Target audience
Make decision
 Decision after review
 Reject (2 editors agree; ~200 in research)
 Revision/overhaul (2 editors agree)
 Bring to manuscript meeting for discussion (~ 200)
 Revision/overhaul/reject
 70 will move forward
How to maximize your chances
 Pick the right journal
 Consider more than impact factor
 Decide on your audience
 What is the journal looking for?
 Read author instructions
 Write to fit the journal requirements
 Don’t think that your paper should be the exception
to the rule
How to maximize your chances…
Decide what your message is.
Choose your title carefully
Use clear, understandable language
Eliminate acronyms
Edit your paper carefully
Get someone to review it for you
Don’t fuss too much with the cover letter
Common problems
in research papers
Difficult to figure out research question
Multiple research questions
Authors seem unsure of the study type
Methods are vague or confusing
Multiple designs
Common problems in
research papers II
Low response rate
Too much data and results not clear
Poor structure (e.g., results in discussion or
 Conclusions poorly linked to results or question
 Unrepresentative
Common problems in
nonresearch papers
The topic and article type don’t match
Author groups don’t have appropriate expertise
A similar paper recently published in journal
Authors have their own agenda
Focus is on very rare conditions
Article doesn’t conform to template
Rambling writing and disorganization
Submitting your article
 Submit the article according to the protocol of the
 Include all relevant components in proper format
 If you have had contact with the Editorial team, it’s ok
to drop a line saying that the article is coming
 It’s not ok to call/e-mail repeatedly about your paper.
If revisions are requested
Respond in a timely fashion.
Address each revision carefully.
Follow instructions for resubmission.
If you have concerns about the requested revisions,
contact the appropriate person.
If your paper is accepted
 Respond promptly to communications from the
 If leaving town for a long time, make sure you are
reachable or designate someone. Let the journal
 Be prepared to review proofs quickly (within a few
 Be prepared for media involvement.
If your paper is rejected
 Read the letter from the journal carefully. There may
be an opportunity to resubmit.
 Be pleasant in your correspondence. If you have the
opportunity to appeal, do so with grace.
 Admit that your paper can be improved
 Offer to revise in accordance with editor and reviewer
 Clearly address the reasons for rejection
 International Committee of Medical Journal Editors
 World Association of Medical Editors (
 Council of Science Editors
 Committee on Publication Ethics
 The Equator Network (
 Journal websites (including Cochrane, GRADE, AGREE)
Formal training options
 Electives (available at most medical journals)
 Fellowships (CMAJ, BMJ, NEJM, JAMA, CFP)
 Council of Science Editors courses
Informal training
 Partner with faculty member on peer review
 Submit a paper to a journal
 Sign up to be a peer reviewer

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