The high resource impact of reformatting requirements for scientific papers

Autoři: Yan Jiang aff001;  Robert Lerrigo aff001;  Anika Ullah aff002;  Muthu Alagappan aff003;  Steven M. Asch aff004;  Steven N. Goodman aff004;  Sidhartha R. Sinha aff001
Působiště autorů: Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, United States of America aff001;  University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States of America aff002;  Department of Internal Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States of America aff003;  Division of Primary Care and Population Health, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, United States of America aff004;  Center for Innovation to Implementation, VA Palo Alto, Menlo Park, CA, United States of America aff005;  Division of Epidemiology, Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States of America aff006
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article



Most research manuscripts are not accepted for publication on first submission. A major part of the resubmission process is reformatting to another journal’s specific requirements, a process separate from revising the scientific content. There has been little research to understand the magnitude of the burden imposed by the current resubmission process.


We analyzed original research article submission requirements from twelve randomly selected journals in each of eight scientific and clinical focus areas from the InCites Journal Citation Reports database. From the 96 journals selected, we randomly identified three recently published manuscripts and sent surveys to those first and/or corresponding authors (288 total) to solicit information on time spent reformatting resubmissions and opinions on the process.


There was significant variation in manuscript submission requirements for journals within the same scientific focus and only 4% of journals offered a fully format-free initial submission. Of 203 authors responding (71.5% response rate), only 11.8% expressed satisfaction with the resubmission process and 91% desired reforming the current system. Time spent on reformatting delays most publications by at least two weeks and by over three months in about 20% of manuscripts. The effort to comply with submission requirements has significant global economic burden, estimated at over $1.1 billion dollars annually when accounting for a research team’s time.


We demonstrate that there is significant resource utilization associated with resubmitting manuscripts, heretofore not properly quantified. The vast majority of authors are not satisfied with the current process. Addressing these issues by reconciling reformatting requirements among journals or adopting a universal format-free initial submission policy would help resolve a major subject for the scientific research community and provide more efficient dissemination of findings.

Klíčová slova:

Citation analysis – Gastroenterology and hepatology – Immunology – Microbiology – Salaries – Scientific publishing – Surveys – United States


1. Powell K. Does it take too long to publish research? Nature 2016; 530: 148–151. doi: 10.1038/530148a 26863966

2. Vosshall LB. The glacial pace of scientific publishing: why it hurts everyone and what we can do to fix it. FASEB journal 2012; 26: 3589–3593. doi: 10.1096/fj.12-0901ufm 22935905

3. Himmelstein D. The history of publishing delays. 2016 Feb 10 [cited Jan 2018]. Available from:

4. Royle S. Some Things Last A Long Time. 2014 Apr 15 [cited Jan 2018]. Available from:

5. Wallach JD, Egilman AC, Gopal AD, Swami N, Krumholz HM, Ross JS. Biomedical journal speed and efficiency: a cross-sectional pilot survey of author experiences. Res Integr Peer Rev 2018; 3: 1. doi: 10.1186/s41073-017-0045-8 29451557

6. Chalmers I, Bracken MB, Djulbegovic B, Garattini S, Grant J, Gulmezoglu AM, et al. How to increase value and reduce waste when research priorities are set. The Lancet 2014; 383: 156–165.

7. Chan AW, Song F, Vickers A, Jefferson T, Dickersin K, Gotzsche PC, et al. Increasing value and reducing waste: addressing inaccessible research. The Lancet 2014; 383: 257–266.

8. Glasziou P, Altman DG, Bossuyt P, Boutron I, Clarke M, Julious S, et al. Reducing waste from incomplete or unusable reports of biomedical research. The Lancet 2014; 383: 267–276.

9. Ioannidis JP, Greenland S, Hlatky MA, Khoury MJ, Macleod MR, Moher D, et al. Increasing value and reducing waste in research design, conduct, and analysis. The Lancet 2014; 383: 166–175.

10. Al-Shahi Salman R, Beller E, Kagan J, Hemminki E, Phillips RS, Savulescu J, et al. Increasing value and reducing waste in biomedical research regulation and management. The Lancet 2014; 383: 176–185.

11. Glasziou P, Chalmers I. Research waste is still a scandal-an essay by Paul Glasziou and Iain Chalmers. BMJ 2018; 363: k4645.

12. Herbert DL, Barnett AG, Clarke P, Graves N. On the time spent preparing grant proposals: an observational study of Australian researchers. BMJ open 2013; 3: 5.

13. Hartgerink C. Publication cycle: A study of the Public Library of Science (PLOS). 2013 [cited Jan 2018]. Available from:

14. Vale RD. Accelerating scientific publication in biology. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015; 112: 13439–13446. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1511912112 26508643

15. Guo Q. Publishing: journals, agree on manuscript format. Nature 2016; 540: 525.

16. Richard A. Academic publishing: time wasted in formatting and resubmission. 2017 Sep 11 [cited Jan 2018]. Available from:

17. Moore J. Publishing: journals, do your own formatting. Nature 2017; 542: 31.

18. International Stering Committee. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. J Can Chiropr Assoc 1979; 23: 1.

19. International Committee of Journal Editors. Preparing for submission. 2019 [cited Aug 2019]. Available from:

20. Khan A, Montenegro-Montero A, Mathelier A. Put science first and formatting later. EMBO Rep 2018; 19: 5. doi: 10.15252/embr.201745322

21. Springer publishing. Editorial criteria and processes. 2019 [cited Aug 2019]. Available from:

22. Budd J. Publishing: reformatting wastes public funds. Nature 2017; 543: 40.

23. Kerr A. Confessions of a managing editor (or 6 reasons I'm returning your manuscript). 2014 Jul 23 [cited Jan 2018]. Available from:

24. Dean AG, Sullivan KM, Soe MM. OpenEpi: Open Source Epidemiologic Statistics for Public Health, Version. Apr 2013 [cited Aug 2019]. Available from:

25. Kahn S, Ginther DK. The impact of postdoctoral training on early careers in biomedicine. Nature biotechnology 2017; 35: 90–94. doi: 10.1038/nbt.3766 28072769

26. Ruth L. Kirschstein national research service award (NRSA) stipends, tuition/fees and other budgetary levels effective for fiscal year 2018. 2018 May 9 [cited June 2018]. Available from:

27. National science foundation. Outputs of S&E research: publications 2018 cited [Aug 2019]. Available from:

28. Ware M, Mabe M. The STM report: an overview of scientific and scholarly journal publishing. Netherlands: International association of scientific, technical and medical publishers; 2015.

29. Mudrak B. Scholarly publishing in 2016: A look back at global and national trends in research publication. 2016 [cited Aug 2019]. Available from:

30. Stanford School of Medicine Research Office. Research electronic data capture. Available at:

31. Callaway E, Powell K. Biologists urged to hug a preprint. Nature 2016; 530: 265. doi: 10.1038/530265a 26887471

Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 10
Nejčtenější tento týden