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The submission process can be long and daunting. Journals have increasing standards around research transparency and quality.
To help the process' authors should consider issues around:
authorship and collaboration
disclosure of interests
access to the article (eg open access? This can be a requirement of funding.)
Thinking about these early in the process (when starting the study) can avoid frustrating delays or disputes.
Many journals welcome pre-submission enquiries. This can facilitate the process by establishing:
is the article suitable for that journal
the specific requirements of the journal around style, data management, etc
understand the logistics and likely costs
open a line of communication with editors
Many major publishers have author support websites (Eg. BMJ, Sage, Oxford, Elsevier). Check these for information about submission requirements. Many now have online submission systems. These will generally have supporting information about requirements, allowing you to give your manuscript the best possible chance.
The Authors’ Submission Toolkit is a compilation of “best practices” in manuscript preparation and submission by the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals. Published in Current Medical Research and Opinion, 2010.