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MJA instructions for authors - Editorial policies

Disclaimer

Disclaimer: None of the Australasian Medical Publishing Company Proprietary Limited, ABN 20 000 005 854, the Australian Medical Association Limited, or any of its servants and agents will have any liability in any way arising from information or advice that is contained in the MJA. The statements or opinions that are expressed in the MJA reflect the views of the authors and do not represent the opinions or policies of the MJA or the Australian Medical Association unless so stated. Although all accepted advertising material is expected to conform to ethical and legal standards, such acceptance does not imply endorsement by the MJA. The MJA is intended for medical professionals and is provided without warranty, express or implied.

The MJA is committed to publishing high quality, evidence-based content and has rigorous processes for manuscript selection, including double-blinded peer review.

Copyright

All authors are asked to transfer copyright to the Australasian Medical Publishing Company (AMPCo) Ltd before their article is published by the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA). Manuscripts that are accepted may not be published elsewhere, in whole or in part, without written permission from AMPCo.

For further information about the MJA’s policy on copyright and permission to reproduce material from the MJA in other publications, see our Copyright and linking policy.

Authorship

The MJA’s definition of authorship is based on that of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html) and encompasses the following 4 criteria:

1.   Substantial contributions to the concept and design of the article, or analysis and interpretation of data
AND
2.   Drafting of the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content
AND
3.   Final approval of the version to be published
AND
4.   Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the article in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the article are appropriately investigated and resolved

Conditions 1, 2, 3 and 4 must all be met to qualify as an author, and each author must be prepared to take public responsibility for the article.

Acknowledgements

  • Please acknowledge any funding sources for the work, and outline their role in the planning, writing or publication of the work, or, for a research paper, any role in study design, data collection, analysis or interpretation, reporting or publication.
  • Please acknowledge anyone who contributed to the article or study (eg, by collecting data or assisting with analysis), but who does not meet the above Authorship criteria 1, 2, 3 and 4. Any person named in your Acknowledgements must indicate that he or she has approved being acknowledged in your article. The corresponding author should collate and forward such permissions. Emails are acceptable. It is the responsibility of the principal author to obtain permission to acknowledge individuals; if permission is not obtained, the names cannot be published.

Competing interests

To maintain public trust in what we publish, the MJA asks all authors to declare all relevant competing interests. Competing interests (or conflicts of interest) exist when “professional judgment concerning a primary interest (such as patients' welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain). Perceptions of conflict of interest are as important as actual conflicts of interest” (ICMJE)

Declaring a conflict of interest is not an expression of wrongdoing. Indeed, competing interests are often unavoidable, and we are not seeking to eliminate them. Rather we believe that we need to know about them as part of the MJA’s decision making process, with our readers’ interests in mind. However there will be instances when we decide not to publish a paper if there is a high risk that competing interests may be too great for readers to consider a paper to be truly objective.

The competing interests statement should advise readers of any personal financial or non-financial interests held by each author that might be perceived to influence, or potentially influence, the article. These include:

  1. relevant competing interests for your submitted article,
  2. relevant financial activities outside the submitted article in the 36 months before submission,
  3. intellectual property, including patents and copyrights, and
  4. other relevant relationships not covered above. 

If there are no conflicts, please write "Competing interests: No relevant disclosures".

Examples of disclosure statements are:

  • John Brown receives consultancy fees from Pharma Company AB and honoraria for giving lectures organised by Pharma Company CD; he has undertaken clinical trials funded by Pharma Company EF.
  • Jane Lee is on the advisory board of Pharma Company GH and is a member of the Rights for Advocacy Group IJ.
  • Tony Citizen holds shares in Device Company KL.

Ethics approval

  • All experimental investigations on humans should have received ethics approval and the name of the ethics committee or institutional review board that gave approval for the study must be stated in the Methods section of the report as well as the approval number.
  • All experimental investigations on humans must include a statement in the Methods section that the subjects gave their informed consent.
  • Studies involving Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people must also state that they have been approved by the relevant local Indigenous representatives.

Patient consent

  • Patient anonymity must be preserved, and identifying information should not be published unless it is essential for scientific purposes.
  • All manuscript submissions, in which living or deceased patients are described and there is any possibility of identification in the text or images, even if this is just by the patient/s themselves, must include a signed statement from the patient/s (or their next-of-kin or legal guardian) giving approval for the publication of the personal or identifying material. This approval must be dated within 18 months of the time of submission (download a consent for publication of personal material form). Please note we do not accept institution patient permission forms.

Clinical trial registration

Data Sharing

  • The MJA follows the ICMJE policy on data sharing (see here)
  • All manuscripts reporting the results of clinical trials must include a data sharing statement. See example statements here
  • Study protocol manuscripts should include plans for dissemination of findings: including storage of data, presentation at meetings, and publications in scientific and public media. Ethical and safety considerations should also be considered. 

Material from other publications

You will need to provide a letter of permission from the copyright holder for the use of material from other publications. If a fee is payable, this is the responsibility of the author.

Duplicate and prior publication of submitted material

The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) does not publish material which has been published elsewhere, including full manuscripts published in conference proceedings or online.

The MJA follows the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines (http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/publishing-and-editorial-issues/overlapping-publications.html). Authors should not simultaneously submit the same manuscript, in any language, to any other journal, and should not release information from the manuscript into the public domain prior to the publication (or rejection) of any submission (except in the event of a public health emergency). Submissions for publication of a paper that overlaps substantially with an article which has already been published, without clear or visible reference to the previous publication, will not be accepted. Similar provisions apply if there has been prior release in the public domain of information related to the manuscript. Information about acceptable secondary publication and about submitting manuscripts based on the same data can be found on the ICMJE website.

Presentation of a study at a meeting or publication of an abstract does not preclude subsequent publication of the full manuscript in the MJA, provided that copies of the data or the full manuscript are not distributed to attendees or journalists, and no formal news conferences are held or detailed media releases issued. Authors who wish to attend a meeting where such releases could occur should contact the Medical Editors before the meeting to discuss whether any proposed activities would jeopardise their chances of publication. If sufficient advance notice is given (a minimum of 5 months), the MJA may be able to coordinate publication of a manuscript with its presentation at a conference. This option must be discussed with the Editor, as fast-tracking of peer review may be required.

When submitting a manuscript that reports work that has already been reported to a significant degree in a published article, or that is included in or closely related to another manuscript that has been submitted or accepted for publication elsewhere, the authors should clearly state the details in the covering letter of their submission and provide copies of the related material.

If authors violate the MJA duplicate publication guidelines and the article is published prior to the Editor becoming aware of the duplication, the Editor has the right to retract the article with or without an explanation or approval from the authors.

Embargo

All manuscripts are subject to embargo until 12.01 am on the day of publication in print or, for online first articles, the time the article is posted online. This means that manuscripts should not be made available to others, nor should any news reports about articles appear until the embargo is lifted. The embargo does not preclude authors from discussing their manuscript before the publication date with journalists who are preparing news items or stories that will appear after the embargo has been lifted, as long as the journalist is made aware of the embargo and agrees to uphold it.

Media releases

Media releases about selected articles from each issue of the MJA are issued to journalists and news media via the office of the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA). The authors of any article selected for media release will receive a copy of the release for approval in the fortnight before publication and should be prepared to discuss their work with journalists under the conditions of the embargo (see above).

Authors, or an author’s institution’s media department, may issue their own media release provided that the MJA’s embargo (see above) is honoured and the MJA is acknowledged as the source of the article.

Summaries or commentaries for other publications

Authors may be invited to write a summary or commentary about their article for another publication, including online publications and blogs. This is only permissible if the publication honours the MJA’s embargo (see above) and the author ensures that the MJA is acknowledged as the source of the original material within the text of the new article, preferably with an active link direct to the original article on the MJA website if the new article is online.

Reprints

Reprints may be ordered for all articles. Reprints with presentation covers are available. Prices are supplied on request.