Getting articles published in Health Mail
In Health Mail, an article or presentation is an in-depth study of a topic backed up by references.
It allows the reader to gain an understanding
of the selected topic.
It also helps the reader to further investigate the topic and opinions of an article.
The main criteria for publication of articles are that they:
Although the assistance of referees is used as much as possible, the editors of Health Mail have the final say on what gets published.
The first hurdle for a newly submitted presentation: the editorial staff should consider it to be sufficiently interesting to be sent for review by one or more referees.
The initial judgement is not a reflection on the validity of the topic described, or on its importance to people in the same field.
The choice of referees is usually made by considering whether -
- the referee is independent of the authors and their institutions
- the referee can evaluate the contents of the presentation fully and fairly
- the potential referee has assessed other papers recently
- the referee is available to assess the paper within the requested time.
Each referee will provide feedback indicating
- if and why the presentation is interesting
- any technical failings that need to be addressed before approving publication
- if the presentation is too short or too long in content
It is quite possible that some of the referees being considered may be engaged in competing work that could influence their opinion. To avoid such conflicts of interest, Health Mail requires potential referees to disclose any conflicts or commercial interest. Referees are also not allowed to copy presentations or to circulate them to unnamed colleagues.
The author of a presentation is welcome to suggest suitable independent referees (with their contact details), but editors are free not to use these referees.
The submitter will not know who the referees are, and requests for certain people to be excluded as referees, are normally not considered.
Once a presentation has been reviewed by appointed referees, Health Mail editors will reach a consensus about suitability for publication. A letter of decision is sent to the author(s), generally by email. The email may or may not include the feed-back from the referees. The latter remain anonymous.
The letter of decision may be an acceptance in principle, a rejection or a deferral.
The acceptance of a presentation is done in principle as changes to content and layout are normally required before a presentation can be published.
A letter of deferral is sent when referees
raise a number of questions, which the author(s) have to reply to. In
such a case, a revised presentation will have to be submitted for a second opinion.
Revised presentation should be accompanied by a point-by-point response to all the questions or comments raised.
A letter of rejection will list the
reasons for the rejection and will also state explicitly whether or not a resubmitted
version would be considered.
If the editors has invited the authors to resubmit, the authors should ensure that all comments have been satisfactorily addressed (not just some of them) and should accompany the resubmitted version with a point-by-point response. Resubmitted presentations are processed again if it seems to the editor handling the paper that the authors have made a serious attempt to address all the criticisms, rather than revising it minimally. (Presentations, which have only been revised minimally will be returned to the authors without them being processed)
If the presentation is rejected with no offer to reconsider a resubmitted version, a resubmitted version will not be processed.
If the authors feel they have a strong case for reconsideration (if the referees have missed the point of the presentation for example) they can appeal the decision in writing. A successful appeal will mean that a presentation can be resubmitted.
In replying to comments, authors are advised to use language that would not cause offence when their paper is processed again, and to bear in mind that if a point was not clear to the referees and/or editors, it is unlikely that it would be clear to the non-specialist reader.
The format and wording of a presentation
is now looked at in detail. Health Mail editors and the author(s) co-operate
on a final version.
All transactions are conducted via e-mail.
The editors have the final say in when a presentation is of adequate standard for publication. The editors also have the right to stop the publication process should they decide to do so.
Note that very few presentations are published without significant revisions to the original submission. This process only serves to strengthen the contents of an application.
Duration of review cycle
Submissions are processed as rapidly as possible.