We at MSRJ are working hard to streamline the manuscript review process to reduce the time between submission date and when a decision is made on final publication. One of the numerous barriers to fast and efficient manuscript review is something that is under author control – the quality of the submitted manuscript. In this post, I will describe an indispensable tool all authors should use in preparing a manuscript for publication.
The resource I am referring to is the “Reporting Guideline”. A reporting guideline is a document that outlines the minimum required content for your manuscript. It is like a checklist of what information should be included in your manuscript. The purpose of a guideline is to ensure authors provide required information such that a reader knows exactly what you did in your study, and if so desired, they could repeat your study using only your manuscript as a guide. The goal is to ensure all published research papers have proper reporting of details to ensure they can be critically appraised, utilized in systematic reviews, or repeated.
Use of a reporting guideline when writing your manuscript will also help shorten the time it takes from manuscript submission to journal decision. One of the major delays in the review process occurs when submitted manuscripts have missing information. This requires the journal to request a resubmission of the manuscript with the missing information, often requiring a second review. To avoid such a needless delay, we strongly recommend using a reporting guideline when submitting a manuscript to MSRJ.
So what should MSRJ authors do?
(1) Go to The Equator Network website (http://www.equator-network.org/). The Equator Network hosts hundreds of reporting guidelines on many different study design types. There are reporting guidelines for randomized trials, observational studies, systematic reviews, qualitative research, and case reports, among many others.
(2) On the Equator Network website, find the guideline appropriate to your study type.
(3) Once you have found the appropriate guideline, use the associated checklists to ensure you report all required information.
(4) Finally, cite the guideline you used in your manuscript.
By utilizing the appropriate guideline and adhering to its recommendations, you will ensure a smooth initial review and help improve the quality of research reporting in general.
Mark Trottier, Ph.D.
MSRJ Faculty Advisor