Preparing Manuscripts for Peer Review: An Exercise in Tedium
The manuscript is finished. I have even gone through the trouble of styling the whole thing in APA format in its most recent edition, writing a helpful abstract/precis, and listing 5-7 keywords. I have something that I am proud of--a product that makes a fine representative of the months I have spent working on it.
But I'm not finished yet. As it stands, I have but one more digital file on my computer. In order to make my research public, I have to submit it to a journal for review. And there are thousands of journals.
The first step is to find a suitable journal for my work. Once I find a suitable journal, I will be asked to prepare your manuscript according to their author guidelines. This is where the tedium continues (styling it was tedious enough).
Here is what happened just recently with an article I co-authored with several colleagues. As principal investigator and corresponding author, I was responsible for getting the manuscript into its final form and preparing it for review. I found what seemed to be the perfect journal for it, and looked at the author guidelines. I found the following requests:
- Times New Roman, 12-pt font, double spacing throughout (excellent, as this only required that I double-space the manuscript)
- APA-style references, citations, and headings and seriation (7th edition). I double-checked to see if what they understood to be APA 7th edition was indeed APA 7th edition, as it is not always the case. They did, so I got to skip this, too.
- An abstract of no more than 150 words. Oops, my abstract was 220, so I revised it down to 147 words.
- Submit a blinded manuscript (without author names) AND a complete manuscript with author names, labeled appropriately. This means duplicating the file and deleting the cover page on one of them, labeling it "Blind". In addition to the many files for data, references, analysis, and literature review, I now have multiple versions of the manuscript itself.
- Use of they/them pronouns accepted. This is becoming more and more the case. Years ago when this convention was just beginning, some journals asked for he/him/she/her or they/them, and the author would have to go through the manuscript and make 1,000 little changes, always missing a few or forgetting to change the rest of sentence.
- English spelling used throughout (realise instead of realize, etc.). Hmm... journals in the UK and sometimes South Africa, Australia, and other English-speaking countries have their conventions of speech. As an American author who speaks and writes in English, I don't know offhand which words are spelled differently in British English. So I do an internet search. Behaviour, paediatric, etc. I do my best.
- Single high commas for quotations, and double high commas for quotations within quotations. Yes, it is true. I said it is tedious.
- And so on.