The Importance of Author Instructions – Part 2

The previous post provided two examples of the extra work noncompliance with author instructions causes in the editorial office. This post focuses on the ramifications of ignoring a journal’s formatting instructions.

Most journals use an online submission portal such as ScholarOne or Editorial Manager to handle the submission and peer-review process. Once a reviewer agrees to provide comments on a paper, he or she obtains access to a PDF of the submission that the online submission portal assembles from the Word documents and figures the author uploads.

Every set of author instructions I have ever read contains instructions such as this:

Manuscripts must be in Microsoft Word, double-spaced, in no less than size 12 point, with 1-inch margins, and without line numbering. Do not right justify text.

Nevertheless, authors single-space their submissions. They right justify the text. They use 10-point type.

The resulting PDF that the online submission portal assembles is virtually impossible to read with tiny, single-spaced type. The ramification of ignoring the formatting instructions is that the reviewer—who is volunteering his or her time and expertise—is highly inconvenienced by a difficult-to-read paper.

In another variation, some authors submit PDFs instead of Word documents. The editorial staff must follow up to obtain a machine-readable version. More wasted time. More delays.

Solid reasons underlie author instructions: to eliminate unnecessary work, to provide easy-to-read papers for reviewers, and to eliminate unnecessary delays.

So please read and comply with author instructions.