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Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1996 Jul;84(3):359-66.

A comparison of authors publishing in two groups of U.S. medical journals.


This study compared the editorial peer review experiences of authors who published in two groups of indexed U.S. medical journals. The study tested the hypothesis that after one journal rejects a manuscript an author selects a less well-known journal for submission. Group One journals were defined as those indexed in 1992 MEDLINE that satisfied several additional qualitative measures; Group Two journals were indexed in the 1992 MEDLINE only. Surveys were sent to the first authors of 616 randomly selected articles, and 479 surveys were returned, for a response rate of 78.1%. A total of 20.8% of Group One and 15.7% of Group Two articles previously had been rejected. Group One authors were more likely to select a journal for its prestige and article quality, while Group Two authors were more likely to have been invited to submit the manuscript. More than 60% of both groups felt the peer review had offered constructive suggestions, but that it had changed article conclusions less than 3% of the time. Both groups thought the review process only marginally improved content, organization, or statistical analysis, or clarified conclusions. Between 3% and 15% of all authors received considerable conflicting advice from different reviewers. Authors from both groups differed as to their reasons for journal selection, their connections with the publishing journal, and patterns of resubmission after rejection.

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