Peer-review and editorial process of the Ethiopian Medical Journal: ten years assessment of the status of submitted manuscripts

Fikre Enquselassie
Ethiopian Medical Journal 2013, 51 (2): 95-103

BACKGROUND: The Ethiopian Medical Journal (EMJ) is a peer-reviewed journal, now 50 years old. Many medical journals, including EMJ, follow a peer review system that has evolved from the 18th century process for reviewing submitted manuscripts. However, not much is known about peer review and editorial processes by many authors who submit manuscripts to the EMJ.

OBJECTIVE: To describe procedures related to EMJ peer-review and editorial decision making and asses the status of manuscripts submitted to the journal in the ten year period between 2001 and 2010.

METHODS: All the minutes of the editorial board meetings of the ten years period 2001-2010 and relevant documents were reviewed. The minutes have details including date of submission, dates to and from reviewers, date of decision, number of assigned peer reviewers and comments given by reviewers for each submitted manuscript. The length of time took in the processes and the decision made (accepted or rejected) for each submitted manuscript was calculated from the dates.

RESULTS: All submitted manuscripts passed through three stages: internal per-review by an editorial board member, external peer review by selected reviewers and final editing stage by an assigned editorial member. A total of 615 manuscripts were submitted to EMJ in the ten years period 2001-2010. Five hundred and one (82.7%) manuscripts were accepted for publication by peer reviewers, while 74 (12.2%) were rejected and 31 (5.1%) were withdrawn. Acceptance was lowest among original articles (81.3%) followed by teaching or review articles (84.3%) and case reports (89.3%). Thirty-two (8.4%) manuscripts were accepted within 6 months following submission and 50% were accepted within in one year of submission. About 6% of manuscripts were delayed for more than two years with a maximum delay of 43 months.

CONCLUSION: Even though, there is a decline trend on the delay of processing manuscripts, EMJ has long to go in order to improve the quality of the journal and shorten the slow peer review process. Expansion of the use of electronic technology to communicate with authors and reviewers and motivating reviewers by conducting workshops and continuing medical educations are recommended to strengthen the process of peer review in the EMJ.

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