Letter to the Editor

Journal-specific Regulations for Writing and Submitting Papers: Burden for Both Authors and Journals

Shigeki Matsubara1,2,3
1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Jichi Medical University, Tochigi, Japan
2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Koga Red Cross Hospital, Koga, Japan
3Medical Examination Center, Ibaraki Western Medical Center, Chikusei, Japan

Corresponding author: Shigeki Matsubara, matsushi@jichi.ac.jp

DOI: 10.31662/jmaj.2023-0175

Received: November 1, 2023
Accepted: November 27, 2023
Advance Publication: February 5, 2024

Key words: author guidelines, journals, submission, writing papers

Dear Editors:

Teixeira da Silva and Daly (1) state that journal editors and authors should be mindful of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommendations (2). I agree with it. I wish to add one important point regarding writing format and submission, which was not mentioned (1). Many journals have writing formats and/or submission guidelines specific to them. Nonadherence prolongs submission processes, annoying both authors and journals.

Over 4 decades, I wrote 296 first-authored PubMed-indexed papers. My main targets were 7 Obstetrics and Gynecology (OBGYN) journals from the international journals in the USA, UK, Germany, France, Scandinavia, and Japan. Besides ICMJE, these journals have specific guidelines. The examples are as following: i) authors’ signatures are, or are not, required, and if required, in a covering letter or in their own format; ii) word-count should be given on the title page or in a covering letter; iii) font should be Times New Roman or Arial, and iv) line numbers should, or should not, be added. Nonadherence leads to manuscript return: several days are required from initial to resubmission. Paper return simply because of the nonuse of Arial font is discouraging. Extra efforts are required for both authors and journals.

I used to be an Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of some journals. I also added some specific guidelines in my EIC era, considering journals’ specificities. Every journal has its own tradition, policy, and style. I would never criticize the required specific guidelines.

It would be author-friendly for the journal side to make the required changes when it comes to simple format modifications. However, my EIC experience made me recognize journals’ limited man-power, and some journals are concerned about making inappropriate changes. Some journals may consider that adherence and making changes are the authors’ responsibilities.

The following may be worth considering. I did not think of it in my EIC era. The problem is: both journal-specific and general ICMJE guidelines are described in Instructions to Authors in a mixed and standard manner. Journals should state “guidelines specific to this journal” at the beginning of the Instructions; for example, “Arial font, signed cover letter with wordcount, and no line numbers,” and “otherwise adhere to the latest ICMJE recommendations (similar to other journals).” This simple note would facilitate paper writing, submission, and editorial processes.

Situations for OBGYN journals may hold true for many Japanese journals. Hopefully, the leadership of JMA Journal will take this issue under consideration.

Article Information

Conflicts of Interest



I thank Teppei Matsubara (Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, USA) and Daisuke Matsubara (Jichi Medical University, Japan) for their help.

Author Contributions

S. Matsubara: Identification of the significance and manuscript writing.

Approval by Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Not applicable

Data Availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article, as no new data were created or analyzed in this study.

Patient Anonymity

Not applicable

Informed Consent

Not applicable


  1. 1.

    Teixeira da Silva JA, Daly T. Editors and authors of medical journals should be mindful of the new ICMJE disclosure form and updated policies. JMA J. 2023;6(4):520-2.

  2. 2.

    The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). Recommendations for the conduct, reporting, editing, and publication of scholarly work in medical journals [Internet]. [cited 2023 Nov 1]. Available from: https://www.icmje.org/icmje-recommendations.pdf