Writing Clinic: After Submitting the Manuscript, Part 2
Michael Gerchufsky, ELS, is the managing editor of Consultant. E-mail him with thoughts on this post at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In previous Writing Clinic blog posts, part 1, part 2, and part 3 of “Choose Your Topic Carefully,” I recommended a few first steps to contributing an article to Consultant. In part 1, part 2, and part 3 of “Choosing an Approach,” I discussed the array of possible article formats in the journal and other tips for approaching the writing of an article. I also advised about contacting the editor and performing a literature search.
Part 1, part 2, and part 3 of “Nuts and Bolts of the Manuscript" discussed article lengths and article extras, respectively.
In part 1 of “After Submitting the Manuscript,” I opened the discussion of what to expect after submitting a manuscript Consultant.
This post will describe what to expect after your manuscript has been accepted for publication in Consultant.
At this point in the process, let’s assume that the peer-review panelists and the editorial team have decided that your article should be accepted for publication. Now what?
Much of what happens at this stage goes on behind the scenes here in the journal’s editorial offices. Over the next few weeks, the editors will work with the peer-reviewers’ comments and input, integrating the reviewers' questions and suggestions into the draft. Our expert medical editors here also will perform our own editorial work on the article. This methodical process can take quite a bit of time, so please be patient as we work to make your article shine.
We’ll be checking each fact in the article to ensure the accuracy of the information and the way it has been presented. For example, did you write prevalence when you really meant incidence? Are all the medication dosages and laboratory values correct, both the number and the unit of measure? (As you know, 5 mg is exponentially more of a drug than 5 µg!). Did you use the preferred term adherence to medications or instructions rather than compliance? Have you used language about gender, age, sex, race, etc., in an appropriate way?
During an author’s research-gathering process, it can be quite easy to copy and paste information and accidentally integrate it verbatim into a paper. That’s a no-no, of course, since plagiarism is taken very seriously in the medical literature. So we’ll be checking carefully to make sure that portions of others’ work hasn’t inadvertently been incorporated into the draft.
One of the more labor-intensive editorial processes is checking the reference list against the annotations in text. Did the author accurately describe the results and conclusions of the referenced study? Or did the author “cherry-pick” only a portion of the relevant findings? Did the author include pertinent details about a study—for example, was it done here in the United States, or was it done in another country, possibly making the conclusions therein less applicable to US children? Was it a randomized, controlled trial with a large number of participants, or did it enroll a small number of subjects in a limited geographic area?
We’ll also do a word-by-word, line-by-line edit of the paper to make the language as clear, simple, and unequivocal as possible. This includes spelling and grammar, of course, but it also includes cleaning up the jargon, shorthand, and abbreviations that are used every day in clinical care but need to be put into standard English in articles in the literature.
And, we’ll include any of the editors’ and peer-reviewers’ comments and suggestions, as well as questions about what you have written, directly in the manuscript draft—which we’ll then return to you for your revisions.
That’s what I’ll discuss in the next installment — part 3 of “After Submitting the Manuscript.” Until then, thanks for reading!