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Editorial Snapshot: Avoiding potential delays in peer review and publication (Part 3)

– A.P., Editor

One of the easiest ways to prevent delays in peer review or publication of your article is to include the required sections and statements in your manuscript at the time of submission. These requirements can usually be found in your target publication’s Instructions to Authors on preparing a manuscript. While including the required sections and statements may seem obvious, many submissions lack the relevant or properly worded ethics statements that are essential for reports on studies involving either animals or human subjects. The editorial office generally screens the content of incoming manuscripts to check for not only relevance to the scope of the journal, but also completeness, and will return your manuscript without review if it is lacking the required ethics statements. So, being aware of the required statements and including them while writing your manuscript will prevent a delay in sending out your paper for review, and will ultimately avoid delays in publication of your paper if accepted.

So, what exactly are the statements you should include in your manuscript? Studies involving the use of animals typically require a statement regarding approval of the study from the Animal Care and Use Committee or equivalent ethics committee of your institution. This statement should include the name of the committee as well as any associated approval numbers. Many journals also encourage authors to comply with the Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments (ARRIVE) guidelines, which were established by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research.

Here is an example of ethics statements for a study involving the use of animals: “This study was approved by and carried out in accordance with the guidelines of the University of Pittsburgh Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (approval No. 123X456).”

Studies involving human subjects will require a statement regarding approval of the study by your institutional review board or equivalent ethics committee and that the study was conducted in accordance with the principles set forth in the Declaration of Helsinki. An additional statement about obtaining informed consent from the study participants will also be necessary.

Here is an example of ethics statements for a study involving human subjects: “The study protocol was approved by the Ethics Committee of Harvard University, which confirmed that the study design was in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, as revised in 2004. Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects prior to their participation in the study.”

Be aware of your institutional guidelines regarding the use of animals or humans as subjects in your studies. Be sure to obtain the necessary approval from your institution’s review board or ethics committee, and don’t forget to include the appropriate statements in your manuscript. Check the guidelines of your target publication when drafting your manuscript to ensure that you include the required, properly worded statements. While this alone won’t guarantee a speedy peer review, it will certainly avoid unnecessary delays.

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