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Res Integr Peer Rev. 2018 Jan 5;3:1. doi: 10.1186/s41073-017-0045-8. eCollection 2018.

Biomedical journal speed and efficiency: a cross-sectional pilot survey of author experiences.

Author information

1Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Yale-New Haven Hospital, 1 Church Street, Suite 200, New Haven, CT 06520 USA.
2Collaboration for Research Integrity and Transparency, Yale Law School, 157 Church Street, 17th Floor, Suite 1, New Haven, CT 06520 USA.
3Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT USA.
4Yale University, New Haven, CT USA.
5Section of Cardiovascular Medicine and National Clinician Scholars Program, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT USA.
6Department of Health Policy and Management, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT USA.
7Section of General Medicine and the National Clinician Scholars Program, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT USA.



Although the peer review process is believed to ensure scientific rigor, enhance research quality, and improve manuscript clarity, many investigators are concerned that the process is too slow, too expensive, too unreliable, and too static. In this feasibility study, we sought to survey corresponding authors of recently published clinical research studies on the speed and efficiency of the publication process.


Web-based survey of corresponding authors of a 20% random sample of clinical research studies in MEDLINE-indexed journals with Ovid MEDLINE entry dates between December 1 and 15, 2016. Survey addressed perceived manuscript importance before first submission, approximate first submission and final acceptance dates, and total number of journal submissions, external peer reviews, external peer reviewers, and revisions requested, as well as whether authors would have considered publicly sharing their manuscript on an online platform instead of submitting to a peer-reviewed journal.


Of 1780 surveys distributed, 27 corresponding authors opted out or requested that we stop emailing them and 149 emails failed (e.g., emails that bounced n = 64, returned with an away from office message n = 70, or were changed/incorrect n = 15), leaving 1604 respondents, of which 337 completed the survey (21.0%). Respondents and non-respondents were similar with respect to study type and publication journals' impact factor, although non-respondent authors had more publications (p = 0.03). Among respondents, the median impact factor of the publications' journal was 2.7 (interquartile range (IQR), 2.0-3.6) and corresponding authors' median h-index and number of publications was 9 (IQR, 3-20) and 27 (IQR, 10-77), respectively. The median time from first submission to journal acceptance and publication was 5 months (IQR, 3-8) and 7 months (IQR, 5-12), respectively. Most respondents (62.0%, n = 209) rated the importance of their research as a 4 or 5 (5-point scale) prior to submission. Median number of journal submissions was 1 (IQR, 1-2), external peer reviews was 1 (IQR, 1-2), external peer reviewers was 3 (IQR, 2-4), and revisions requested was 1 (IQR, 1-1). Sharing manuscripts to a public online platform, instead of submitting to a peer-reviewed journal, would have been considered by 55.2% (n = 186) of respondents.


Corresponding authors have high perceptions of their research and reported requiring few manuscript submissions prior to journal acceptance, most commonly by lower impact factor journals.


Peer-review; Pre-prints; Publication process

Conflict of interest statement

Ethics approval from the Yale University School of Medicine Human Research Protection Program was requested prior to study conduct, and consent was considered to be implied when participants completed the online survey. The need for approval was waived.Not applicable.In the past 36 months, JDW, ACE, and JSR received research support through Yale from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to support the Collaboration on Research Integrity and Transparency at Yale; HMK and JSR received research support through Yale from Johnson and Johnson to develop methods of clinical trial data sharing, from Medtronic, Inc. and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop methods for postmarket surveillance of medical devices, and from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop and maintain performance measures that are used for public reporting; HMK received compensation as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for United Healthcare; and JSR received research support through Yale from the FDA to establish a Center for Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI) at Yale University and the Mayo Clinic, from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to better understand medical technology evaluation, and from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (R01HS022882).Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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