Here is a crowd-sourced wish list from authors to medical journal editors

By Dr. Madhukar Pai, originally posted to Nature Microbiology

Sketch by Duncan Smith

Dear Editor-

  1. Please don’t make the online submission process so complicated that we give up on your journal; instead allow submissions across multiple journals using a single ID or login; allow initial submission in any widely accepted format as a single PDF; accept one referencing style across multiple journals, at least during initial review; be thoughtful of authors in low-resource settings with limited internet connectivity; defer asking for signed forms until closer to acceptance; accept digital signatures and not insist on wet signatures; reduce the number of forms to complete)
  2. If our manuscript is clearly out of scope (or is not likely to even get reviewed), please reject early; it is not cool to sit on a manuscript for 3 months and then reject because the paper is out of scope for your journal
  3. Kindly don’t dismiss manuscripts from low and middle-income countries (LMIC) or smaller, less known institutions – good science happens even outside of Harvard and Oxford
  4. Please don’t invite the same high-profile (‘big names’) authors from top-tier institutions to write all the commentaries and editorials – give opportunities to junior researchers, experts from LMICs, and women to contribute
  5. Please set an affordable article processing charge for authors from low and middle-income countries
  6. Please don’t ignore papers that have negative findings or try to reproduce prior work
  7. Please don’t send us 8 peer reviewers’ comments – that is overkill; all we get is conflicting reviews and recommendations; we cannot possibly make them all happy
  8. If some peer reviewers are hostile, nasty, or get personal, kindly intervene, put them in their place, and protect your authors
  9. Please do not allow Reviewer #2 to call all the shots and hold our paper hostage – you are the editor and should make decisions
  10. Please chase late reviews and give us a first decision within a reasonable time-frame (e.g. 4 – 8 weeks); if you are struggling to find any reviewers, please let us know and give us the chance to provide suggestions or withdraw the paper and submit elsewhere
  11. Please don’t make us revise the paper 5 times – that is torture; if you must, kindly do not send it back to the reviewers every single time, or send to new reviewers who have no idea about the revisions already made (each cycle adds weeks of delay)
  12. Please don’t reject a paper after making us revise 3+ times – that is just cruelty
  13. Once a paper is accepted, please don’t completely rewrite the paper that we can no longer recognize it as our own – we appreciate copy-editing but do trust your authors to get the science and writing correct
  14. Once a paper is accepted, please ensure online publication in a reasonable time-frame (e.g. 4 – 8 weeks)
  15. Lastly, when we get anxious and email you to check about on our submission, do send us a response (we know you care, and this is one way to show it!)Thank you for reading our wish list!Note: I am grateful to all the researchers/authors who kindly provided suggestions via Twitter and email.


January 23, 2019