In some of my previous editorials, I have discussed many different topics regarding scientific manuscripts and publishing. If you visit previous issues you will find messages focused on the proper use of citations1 manuscript genres,2 the peer-review process,3 and scientific writing in general.4 In this issue, I would like to discuss the journal’s author guidelines. When it comes to submitting a manuscript to the Journal of Swine Health and Production, or any other journal for that matter, the author guidelines are your friend!
The Journal of Swine Health and Production follows the American Medical Association (AMA) Manual of Style.5 The AMA Manual of Style is formatted as a guide for authors and editors and contains over 900 pages of very detailed information in fine print. I haven’t read the manual from cover to cover, but I refer to it frequently, especially when unique situations arise – the AMA Manual of Style has become one of my close friends. The manual contains detailed information on formatting requirements for tables, grammar, abbreviations, how to use proprietary names, reporting of P values, line spacing, word spacing, layout – you get the idea. Of course it would be unreasonable for a journal to expect every submitting author to know all this information in detail – the manual is quite thick. So JSHAP summarizes this information into a digestible quantity and provides the information in the form of author guidelines.
Obviously this means there will likely be some authors who will not be aware of every format detail and edits will be required. For example, when uncommon or unique formatting requirements occur within a manuscript, we help authors meet the format requirements, because not every fine detail is within the author guidelines. Once a manuscript is accepted for publication in JSHAP, Dr Judi Bell, our associate editor, provides guidance to authors for the necessary corrections so the manuscript will meet the requirements of the AMA Manual of Style. Dr Bell provides this information to authors in the form of an expository summary. The length of an expository summary can vary quite a bit and it depends on many things, such as the manuscript genre, author writing style, the number of tables and figures, and formatting errors, to name a few.
We see some common inaccuracies when it comes to authors not following JSHAP author guidelines. Even experienced authors can make mistakes with their submission(s) to JSHAP. This is likely because not every journal uses the same guidelines and format style, and some authors have their own preferences as well. However, if a manuscript is submitted with incorrect formatting, this will delay the review process. When errors are noted at the time of submission, the manuscript will be returned to the corresponding author for re-formatting before it is accepted for review. This can be frustrating for both the author and the journal staff, as it delays the entire process.
The Journal of Swine Health and Production reviews numerous manuscripts per year, and the most common mistakes we see are errors in the reference list and reference numbers within the text. This is an easy mistake to avoid by simply looking at recent issues of JSHAP for reference formatting and examples. Another problem area arises because authors do not follow the subheading requirements for the sections of the different genres. Sometimes entire sections are missing, such as the implications section.
The format requirements for JSHAP rarely change; however, the author guidelines are updated frequently. We will update the guidelines if it becomes apparent that a section is unclear or perhaps a section of the AMA Manual of Style needs to be included in the guidelines in more detail. I recommend that corresponding authors confirm that they are working with the most current version of the guidelines.
The full guidelines are available online via the AASV Web site at https://www.aasv.org/shap/guidelines.pdf. In addition to the online version, a slightly abbreviated version of the author guidelines is published annually in the January-February issue of the journal. Of course, if you have questions regarding formatting, please do not hesitate to contact the journal office. We are happy to answer questions.
1. Cite-seeing [editorial]. J Swine Health Prod. 2012;20:269.
2. Manuscript genres [editorial]. J Swine Health Prod. 2013;21:183.
3. The peer-review process [editorial]. J Swine Health Prod. 2013;21:299.
4. Scientific writing [editorial]. J Swine Health Prod. 2014;22:63.
5. Iverson C; and the AMA Manual of Style Committee. AMA Manual of Style. A Guide for Authors and Editors. 10th ed. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. 2007.
Terri O’Sullivan, DVM, PhD