Why has submitting a manuscript to a journal become so difficult? A call to simplify an overly complicated process

Why has submitting a manuscript to a journal become so difficult? A call to simplify an overly complicated process – interesting piece at the LSE Impact blog.

It is widely acknowledged that submitting a paper to a journal is a fraught activity for authors. But why should this still be the case? James Hartley and Guillaume Cabanac argue that the process has always been complicated but can, with a few improvements, be less so. By adopting standardised templates and no longer insisting on articles being reformatted, the submission process can quickly be simplified.

The first scientific journal, the Journal des Scavans, was published in Paris in January 1665, hotly pursued by Philosophical Transactions in London in March of the same year. We have come a long way since then – from handwriting to typewriting to electronic submissions.

But some things seem to remain the same. Each submission system creates its own difficulties for authors. And each has its critics. Take, for example, the case of submitting papers to publications of the American Psychological Association. Their “instructions for authors” were first published in six and a half pages in the Psychological Bulletin in 1929. This article was revised in 1944 and 1952 and then book-length revisions were published in 1967, 1974, 1983, 1994, 2001 and 2010. The largest of these editions (2001) contained 29 preliminary pages and 439 pages of instructions. The current 2010 edition initially had to be withdrawn and reprinted because it contained so many errors and confusions. [continues]

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