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MJA instructions for authors - The publication process

Acknowledgement of submission

Manuscripts submitted to the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) are acknowledged by email. If manuscripts are submitted without all required items, they will be returned to authors and not processed until all items are received.

Editorial team assessment

All manuscripts are initially reviewed by the MJA's team of medical editors. Manuscripts deemed unsuitable, for reasons such as insufficient originality, serious scientific or methodological flaws, or a message that is too specialised or of limited interest to a general medical audience, are returned to the author(s), usually within 3 weeks.

Peer review

Manuscripts considered potentially suitable for the MJA by the editorial team are sent, blinded, to two or more experts (from our panel of over 4000) for their opinion on scientific validity, clinical impact and overall worthiness for publication. This is a double-blind process — neither authors nor reviewers are made aware of each other’s identities. Manuscripts are then reassessed at an editorial team meeting, taking the reviewers’ opinions and the requirements of the Journal into account. At this stage, a decision will be made to accept, reject, or offer the opportunity to revise the manuscript. The editor’s decision about whether a manuscript is appropriate for publication in the MJA takes precedence over any recommendations made by the reviewers. Reviewers are currently given 3 weeks to complete a full research manuscript review, but the overall process may take longer if difficulties are encountered in locating suitable reviewers, or if conflicting opinions necessitate soliciting an extra review. Authors can check the status of their submission at any time. Decisions are communicated by email to all authors registered on a submission.

Revision

An invitation to revise a manuscript does not mean that the manuscript has been accepted for publication, but is an opportunity to present the best possible article to the editorial team for a decision about suitability for publication. Authors are generally given 4 weeks to return the revised manuscript to us. Revisions should be prepared using your word processor’s "Track changes" function to enable the editors to easily see where changes have been made, and should be resubmitted together with a letter outlining the responses to the reviewers' comments. Authors are not obliged to address all reviewer suggestions, but must justify their stance in their covering letter.

Provisional acceptance

Articles deemed suitable for acceptance will usually be provisionally accepted prior to final acceptance, pending receipt of the items listed on the MJA revision checklist and any other changes or additional material requested by the editorial team.  Articles will not be formally accepted or proceed any further towards publication until the all required documents have been received.

Acceptance/rejection

The final decision about publication is made by the Editor.

Appeals

The MJA considers appeals against decisions to reject a manuscript only if the authors can indicate that an error or misunderstanding has been made by the reviewers or editors. If this is the case, authors should submit a detailed rebuttal letter in the first instance, not a revised manuscript. All appeals are considered carefully, and some manuscripts may be sent for peer review, or further review. An offer may be made to submit a revised article for reassessment, but this does not guarantee acceptance, and the revised manuscript may have to enter, or re-enter, the peer review process.

Editing

All accepted articles are edited for brevity and clarity and to conform to MJA style by the MJA’s experienced team of scientific and technical editors. For some articles, editing may be extensive. Most authors will receive a galley proof of the edited article for checking of factual accuracy and to respond to queries that may have arisen during the editing process. The galley proof must be given urgent attention. No further major corrections are usually possible once the galley proof has been returned to us. Galley proofs may not be sent for small items, such as letters, if no substantial changes have been made.

To upload corrected galley proofs sent via ScholarOne, please log in to ScholarOne, access the Author Centre and click on “Manuscripts Accepted for First Look” under “My Manuscripts”.