Print Page | Contact Us | Report Abuse | Sign In | Register
Publishing Terms Glossary
Share |
ISMTE Publishing Terms Glossary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Terms Definition


Abstract Short summary of an article; often included in article database searches to enable prospective readers to determine if the article is of interest. Can be structured or unstructured depending on a journal's needs. Most types of articles require abstracts.

Accept Final decision made by journal. Acceptance means the paper is subsequently sent to production to initiate the publication phase.

Acceptance Letter Decision letter dispatched by editorial office to author confirming willingness to publish article. The letter may be accompanied by administrative forms (e.g., copyright agreement/transfer form, color charges, offprint order form, etc.). The letter also states what the author is required to do next (e.g., return proofs in timely fashion).

Ascender The part of a lowercase letter (such as b or h) that rises above the main body of the letter.

Acknowledgments Section of a manuscript sometimes included by authors to recognize/thank the contributions of others who did not qualify for authorship credit. If a journal does not have a separate Funding Source section, the Acknowledgment section is often used to disclose funding and grant awards. Acknowledgments should not be used for personal thank-you's (such as parents, friends, etc.).

Appendix Supplementary material (such as large data tables, examples of questionnaires) usually too extensive to place within a regular manuscript to the point that it would interrupt the flow of the manuscript. Appendices are sometimes placed at the end of an article or may be published exclusively online.

Associate Editor Within a peer-review workflow that does not see the Editor-in-Chief directly invite reviewers, that task typically falls to the Associate Editor. Associate Editors are also expected to provide a recommendation regarding publication to the Editor-in-Chief. Associate Editors are usually comprised of editorial board members, although some journals do differentiate.

Author Guidelines Instructions for authors providing details on formatting requirements for a manuscript. More extensive guidelines may also include information on statistical reporting, methodology, publication ethics, and ensuring high quality, reproducible images.

Authorship Credit to an individual for writing paper. Following misrepresentation of true contributions to papers, various bodies (ICMJE, APA, National Institutes of Health) provided criteria to define entitlement to author credit.


Ban of author Following an ethical transgression an author may be barred from submitting material to that journal for a specified period of time.

Blinded A version of the peer-review process that sees the identity of the authors hidden from reviewers. Sometimes this means the editorial office must remove the authors' names from the manuscript. Other identifying information may also have to be removed, including the institution where the study was undertaken, grant award information, and (for medical journals) clinical trial numbers.

BMP Graphic file composed of pixels. Bitmap files include JPEG, GIF, TIFF and PNG — journals may accept some, or all, of these file types.


COPE Committee on Publication Ethics — an organization, based in the United Kingdom, that provides widely supported guidance to the publishing industry on ethical issues.

Clean Copy A version of a revised manuscript with all tracked changes, or highlighted changes, removed.

Conflict of Interest A potential interest, activity, or relationship with another entity that might influence, or corrupt, the decision making capacity of an author, reviewer, or editor. For biomedical journals in particular, authors often have a working relationship with companies whose product is discussed in a manuscript. Also known as a competing interest. In fields where the presence of a conflict of interest might be of significance, most journals now require authors to supply a conflict of interest statement.

Conflict of Interest Statement Many journals require all authors disclose any potential conflict of interest. There is no standard definition of a Conflict of Interest. Variations might exist between journals based on the length of time a conflict is relevant or the amount above which a conflict must be reported.

Contributor Forms Some journals now ask authors to define how each author contributed to the writing and composition of a paper.

Copy Editing A task completed both by the editorial office and a designated copy editor provided by the publisher to ensure grammatical, and perhaps, scientific accuracy. Copy editors are also increasingly required to prep manuscripts for composition by adding tags and codes to elements of the manuscript (e.g., headings, paragraphs, references, etc.).

Copyright Agreement/Copyright Transfer Agreement Legal document that assigns various rights to use, and re-use, content to a publisher, a journal and authors. Nearly all publications now insist such a form must be signed before publication can occur.

Corresponding Author The author designated in the published article as the individual to contact in the event of an inquiry about a manuscript. The corresponding author normally is responsible for correcting page proofs and working with the production editor. Previously, the corresponding author may have fielded requests for article reprints, although this practice has almost disappeared.

Comments to Author Comments made by a Reviewer or Associate Editor as part of peer review evaluation that are intended as action items/critiques to be seen by the author; also known as Author Queries.

Confidential Comments to Editor Comments made by a reviewer or Associate Editor as part of peer review evaluation that are not to be seen by authors. These may include: more unvarnished comments on the relative worth of a paper; its appropriateness for publication in the journal considering the submission, or expressed concerns such as ethical violations.

Cover Letter Letter supplied by author requesting a journal consider their submission for publication. With online peer review systems, the letter has become cursory compared to pre-online days. The letter does, however, still hold an important purpose: explains why the author feels their article fits the journal receiving the submission; may make special requests (such as expedited review); and may be used to make mandatory assurances — such as patient consent, attestations to the veracity of the content, etc.

Clinical Trial Registration Medical journals typically now request that a clinical trial has previously been registered at an appropriate authority (e.g., This requirement aims to reduce the potential for research fraud and add a degree of transparency, especially to research undertaken by pharmaceutical companies.

CMYK CMYK refers to the four inks used in color publishing. Journals prefer authors to save color images in CMYK and not RGB formatting as it reproduces better in print. C stands for Cyan, M for Magenta and Y for Yellow. K refers to the Key Plate, which contains black ink in color printing. This is commonly referred to as 4-color printing.


Decision Letter A notification to authors regarding the acceptability of a manuscript for publication. Decisions might typically be: Accept; Minor Revision; Major Revision; Reject; Reject and Resubmit.

Doc .Doc (or the newer variant .docx) refers to MS Word files. Typesetters require the supply of an editable .doc file (a .rtf file might also be acceptable). Consequently, authors are asked to submit their manuscript as a .doc file.

Double-blinded A peer review process in which both the identity of the author and the reviewer remain anonymous. This method is preferred by many journals to avoid reviewer prejudice against certain authors or authors from select countries. The identity of reviewers is protected usually to allow those that evaluate a manuscript the freedom to comment freely without fear of reprisals.

DPI Dots per inch — the number of pixels that can be measured in an inch on an image. Generally the higher the number of dots per inch, the sharper and clearer the image.

Draft Any version of a manuscript prior to its final form.

Duplicate Submission The simultaneous submission of a manuscript to more than one publication. Authors may do this to ensure their article is accepted quickly at one of these titles. They may do it to obtain additional comments. They may be submitting manuscripts to multiple journals in a scattershot fashion in the hope one will accept. Journals consider this behavior an ethical violation, largely because they wish to publish original material.

Disclosure See Conflict of Interest Statement

DOI Digital Object Identifier — a unique numerical code assigned to a digital document. Every journal article published online has a DOI number. This number can be used for citation purposes if the article is published online ahead of print, and, therefore, before the ascription of a volume/page/issue number.


Editor A generic term that refers to a person/persons who possesses decision making power over the publication or rejection of content. Editors influence content direction and determine the type of material they wish to see published. They may also undertake some manuscript editing.

Editor-in-Chief In journal publishing, the Editor-in-Chief normally has the final say on what content is published. They are typically, but not exclusively, drawn from amongst the leaders in their particular field. They have responsibility for accepting content for publication, assembling issues in a timely fashion and providing oversight of the peer review process by either directly assigning reviewers or assigning an Associate Editor to manage that part of the process. The Editor-in-Chief appoints an editorial board. They also have a responsibility to generate editorials.

Editorial An article that expresses the opinion of the Editor, or guest editor. It may also be used to introduce papers in an issue and/or any general content themes.

Editorial Board A group of people that supports the Editor-in-Chief, and help shape the editorial direction of a journal. They may serve the journal directly by assigning reviewers to manuscripts (see also Associate Editors) or work in a more advisory capacity. The Editor-in-Chief typically calls at least one editorial board meeting annually.

Editorial Office Editorial office may refer collectively to the Editor, the Managing Editor and a team of support staff, or to the individuals that handle the management of manuscripts through the peer review process and eventual dispatch to the publishers. Some editorial offices have expanded their remit to include sales and marketing support and advocating for higher publication standards. Editorial offices also have responsibility for reporting on the performance of a journal's submission and peer review performances. At journals that are self-published (ie publication responsibility is not placed in the hands of a publisher), the editorial office may assume the duties normally undertaken by a publisher such as production, online content development and budgetary management.

EM dash An em dash (—) is a punctuation mark used to indicate a break in a sentence, generally illustrating or supporting a particular point. Its name is derived from the fact that it is the width of an uppercase letter M of any typeface used.

EN dash An en dash () is generally used to indicate range (e.g., 40%–50%). Its name is derived from the fact that it is the width of an uppercase letter N of any typeface used.

Ethics Ethics refers to several issues that question the veracity of the results or ideas presented in a paper or cast doubt on the honesty of submitting authors (and occasionally reviewers or editors). Ethics covers a variety of issues ranging from authorship disputes, incomplete disclosure of conflicts of interest, dual submission, through to more serious issues such as fabrication and plagiarism.

EPS Encapsulated Postscript File a graphics file format many journals prefer for line art. Files can contain text, graphics and images and prove useful because they can be resized without a diminution in resolution.

Editorial Assistant An individual who works in an editorial office directly handling the processing of manuscripts. For some journals, the editorial assistant is the only individual working on manuscript management. At larger titles, the editorial assistant may report to the Managing Editor, with their role consisting of managing standard tasks.


Figure Legend The text accompanying a figure that explains what an image or graph demonstrates. Figure legends should present additional information in describing the image rather than repeating the prose in the main text of the manuscript. Also known as Caption.

Footnotes Additional text that appears at the bottom of the page in a manuscript that provides further description or comment. In some fields, footnotes are used to cite previously published material.

Foul proof Page proofs that have been marked for correction.


Gif Graphics Interchange Format a figure file that is more commonly used for logos in web publishing. Journals tend not to accept images saved as GIF files as GIF files are limited to 256 colors. This leads to poor color image reproduction.


Halftone The reproduction of continuous tone artwork, such as a photograph, that converts the image to dots.


ICMJE International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) — a volunteer professional body that advises biomedical journals on publication standards and good practice. The ICMJE is responsible for the publication of the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publications. This document shapes the editorial policies of many biomedical journals.

ISMTE International Society of Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE) — an organization devoted to educating editorial office staff on best practices and new trends in journal publishing.

Instructions for authors A set of guidelines that advises authors how to format their manuscripts to suit journal style. The Instructions for Authors also contain important information on the various steps of the submission process.

Impact Factor A measurement of the citation average of articles published in a journal. Higher citation journals typically are recognized as the most influential journals in a particular field. The size of the score can have a significant impact on the ability for journals to attract a certain quality of papers and authors. It is calculated by taking the number of citations in a calendar year to articles published in the prior two years and divided by the number of articles published in those previous two years. Several thousand journals are awarded an Impact Factor. A new Impact Factor is produced typically in June, and is now the copyright of Thomson Reuters.

Invited Submission A manuscript commissioned by an editor. The author is usually chosen because of their recognized expertise in a particular subject. The commission may be based around the production of a collection of themed content, to fill the need for information in a particular area or as an exercise to secure content from a prominent individual — a tactic often used by smaller journals that struggle to receive quality papers.

IMRAD IMRAD is an acronym for Introduction, Methods, Results And Discussion


Journal A collection of papers, published as a periodical, on a particular subject. Journals range in size of circulation and volume of submissions and cover all subjects studied in academic and research settings as well as professional fields.

Journal Office Administrator An individual charged with handling the processing of manuscripts during peer review. At larger journals, an administrator may perform a coordinating role between the various activities undertaken in an editorial office.

JPG or JPEG Image file format, most commonly used by cameras and other image-capturing devices. The term is an acronym for Joint Photographic Experts Group. JPEG is not an ideal file format for line art.


Kerning Adjusting the space between letters in typesetting.

Keywords Authors select a limited number of words that describe the content of their article. Keywords may be employed in article searching within subject article databases (such as PubMed)


LaTeX LaTex- a programming language that is used for typesetting technical data. It is popular among mathematicians, scientists, and engineers, because it facilitates the use of mathematical symbols and equations in text.

Leading In typesetting, the measurement between lines of type as measured in points. (E.g., the type spec designation "10/12 TR" would call for 10 point Times Roman type on a 12 point line [10 point type + 2 point leading].) The term is derived from the lead slugs that were used in traditional moveable type composition to separate rows of type.

Letter to the Editor Typically a letter that challenges, clarifies or supports contentions made in a previously published article. Some journals also use letters to function as short articles, such as a very basic case presentation.


Managing Editor An employee of the editorial office with a variety of responsibilities that typically involve the management of a manuscript through all stages of submission, peer review and transmittal to the publisher.

Manuscript A collection of text, tables and graphic files submitted to a journal; the output from a scholarly endeavor.

Marked Copy A manuscript containing proposed changes and revisions as recommended by an editor. It may also contain editorial comments on amendments authors are encouraged to make.

Major Revision A decision that requests authors to make significant structural changes to their manuscript before it can be considered for publication.

Minor Revision A decision that requires authors to make small changes to a manuscript (such as correcting minor errors, spelling mistakes or formatting issues) before their manuscript can be considered for publication.

Misconduct Behavior that is deemed unethical. Normally this refers to author behavior (plagiarism, authorship disputes, failure to disclose required information) but can sometimes also refer to reviewer behavior (such as accepting an invitation to review when they they held a significant conflict of interest).

Multiple Submissions Also know as salami slicing - authors attempt to increase their publication output, and consequently bias the published record, by submitting multiple papers from a study which in reality should have formed one paper. Often the papers contain considerable overlap, which may lead to other ethical concerns.

Methods A section of a manuscript that contains information on the techniques used to collect data. A strong methods section is critical to the success of a paper clearing peer review. Once published, readers look to the methods section for information that could lead them to replicate the study described in the paper.

MeSH terms Medical Subject Headings a list of terms created by the National Library of Medicine for indexing and searching content. MeSH terms aim to standardize the content search process.



Offprints An offprint is a separate print of an article that has been typeset and published. Offprints are created at the initial print run; presses are simply allowed to run longer to create additional article pages, which are then folded, trimmed, staple-bound and sent to authors and other customers. Prior to the digital age, authors used to receive offprints of their article for their personal use or to dispense to interested readers. Most publishes now simply provide a PDF of the published article. See Reprints.

Open Access Ability for anyone to access a manuscript free of charge. Some journals offer Open Access content, with the cost burden covered by the authors. Other journals may offer some content free after a period of time. Some funding bodies (e.g., National Institutes of Health, Welcome Trust) insist that all material must be made freely available.

Open Peer Review Ability for any individual to comment on a manuscript and make suggestions to an editor. An alternative to traditional peer review in that it is a collaborative effort rather than the closed process whereby a journal selects the reviewers. Typically authors post a manuscript for open review and then accept feedback and comments, submitting the manuscript officially sometime later.


PDF Portable Document Format — a file that usually is comprised of all text, tabular and graphic material associated with a submission.

Peer Review Evaluation of a manuscript by individuals with subject expertise. In some instances, peer reviewers know the names of authors. Under a double-blind system the author's identity is not revealed. Under both processes, the identity of a reviewer is not normally revealed.

Permissions If a manuscript is to publish a figure, table, or other matter previously published, the author of that manuscript must secure permission to do so from the copyright holder. Typically, the publisher of the previously published work has the capacity to grant permission to reproduce the material, and generally requires that an acknowledgment (including a copyright citation) accompany it.

Pica Unit of measurement used by printers and typesetters. One pica is approximately one sixth of an inch.

Pict Pict files are a type of image file.

Plagiarism The act of appropriating someone else s work and passing it off as your own. Journals periodically receive manuscripts containing substantial portions of text that have been copied from a previously published article. Plagiarism represents a very serious ethical offense. Authors can face significant disciplinary action if their plagiarism is uncovered

Point Unit of measurement used by printers and typesetters. There are 12 points to 1 pica.

Point By Point Response A detailed response by authors in preparing a revision to their manuscript to any comments or suggestions made by reviewers, associate editors, or the Editor-in-Chief.

Production Department within the publisher's offices responsible for the editorial-production process and eventual publication of the manuscript.

Production Editor Individual, usually at the publisher's offices, responsible for coordinating all the elements of production (manuscript logging and preparation, typesetting, proof-reading, copyright collection, etc.) that will allow for an article to be published. The production editor typically takes control of a manuscript following the final decision made by the editorial office and shepherds the manuscript through to publication (both digitally and in print).

Proofs/Page Proofs The first uncorrected version of the journal article as it will appear in the print issue.

Proofreader The proofreader is responsible for checking the page proof against the original, copy edited manuscript.

Publication Date Date manuscript either appears in print or online. Certain databases, such as PubMed now recognize online publication as the date of official publication.



Rebuttal An article, most commonly presented in the form of a Letter written in response to a criticism of a previously published article. Under such a scenario, an Editor receives a formal letter, intended for publication challenging data or an idea in a previously published article in a journal. The author of the original article is given an opportunity to respond to the criticisms: this is the rebuttal.

References A section of a manuscript that lists articles cited in the main text of a manuscript.

Referee See Reviewer

Reject A decision made by a journal not to publish a manuscript. Usually this decision is rendered if the manuscript does not meet the minimum threshold for publication.

Rejection Letter Decision letter informing an author that their manuscript has been rejected. Some journals use the rejection letter to inform authors that they should not resubmit their manuscript; others suggest considerable changes to the focus/composition of a paper with a view to resubmitting the manuscript later (e.g., a Reject and Resubmit decision).

Reprints Reprints usually involve the placing of an article back on the printing press - the reproduction is usually part of a sales order for additional copies. Reprints are common in biomedical publishing and typically involve a company paying to receive hundreds or thousands of copies of an article that they in turn dispatch to people they believe would be interested in reading the article. The pharmaceutical industry uses reprints often as a sales and education tool to inform doctors of the particular efficacy of a drug or treatment. Reprints can generate considerable sums of money for journals and often impact the journal budget more positively than advertising sales. See Offprints.

Resolution The level of detail retained in an image - a high-resolution image, for example contains large amounts of data that ensure a digital image is especially sharp and/or retains an extensive color palette. Publishers typically ask for image files with a high DPI (Dots per Inch) to ensure the images, when typeset, retain a high-level of resolution

Response to Reviewers See Point by Point Response.

Review (1) An evaluation of a submitted manuscript, usually by peers and experts in a particular field, to determine that manuscript's publication worthiness.

Review (2) A type of article (sometimes called systematic review, meta-analysis) that consists of an extensive study of literature and an attempt to draw conclusions from pooling the results/ideas from previously published material.

Reviewer A subject expert invited/assigned by an editor to evaluate a manuscript. The role typically comprises of pointing out errors, making suggestions for additional content, new ideas to explore or evidence to back up assertions. Reviewers also determine the originality of content and make an assessment on whether a manuscript should be published, rejected or revised. Also know as Referee

Revision/Revised Manuscript After an initial submission has completed peer review, an author may be required to make amendments to their article before it can be accepted for publication. Changes may range for minor adjustments to grammar and syntax through to a significant restructuring of the content presented or a request to consider additional ideas or include new/more data

Rtf Rich Text Format - a word processing file. Most journals will accept .rtf files as an alternative to the ubiquitous .doc file. As a file format, it is interchangeable across many different platforms

Running Head Abridged version of title published in the header margin of a manuscript

Retraction Retractions are used to record a significant ethical problem with a published article in an attempt to correct the publication record. This does not normally mean an article is physically expunged, however. Retractions are usually used in cases of fabrication, plagiarism and sometimes redundant publication. It is often an action outcome following an ethical investigation. Authors, in admitting guilt, will offer to retract their manuscript.

Redundant Publication Redundant, or duplicate, publication involves the publishing a manuscript that substantially overlaps, or is essentially, the same paper.


Submission Checklist Some journals insist that authors complete, if not necessarily submit, a checklist of activities that must be undertaken before submitting a manuscript. Such checklists may require authors to consider including certain information or ensure their manuscript has been formatted to meet the journal guidelines.

Submitting Author/Submitting Agent An individual who submitted a manuscript either by uploading it to an online submission system or via the mail. The submitting author may be an author named in the author byline of the article. Equally, they could be an administrative assistant tasked with submitting a manuscript on behalf of an author or authors.

Supporting Material/Supporting Information Documentary evidence to back up a manuscript such as patient consent forms, legal clearance, or other material to prove the validity of a study.

Structured Abstract Structured abstracts present article summaries that often reflect the format of the article itself. Typically, these abstracts may be broken into sections such as Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Conclusions, etc.

Supplementary Material for Review This material may be intended for supplemental publication, either exclusively online or as an appendix. Appendix material is intended for some form of publication.

Supplementry Material Not for Review Material submitted during peer review to support the evaluation of a manuscript but not intended for publication (e.g.,local language version of a questionnaire). Also referred to as supporting material.

Simultaneous submission Submission of a manuscript to more than one journal at the same time. This is typically viewed as unethical practice and many journals require authors to state that they have not submitted the manuscript to another journal simultaneously.


Template (Letter Template) A form letter used for one of the processes undertaken as part of peer review. Within online peer review management systems, a sizable collection of template letters will exist, often with coding components (tags) that allow the system to automatically insert personal details into the template letter.

Tif/Tiff Tagged Image File Format - a graphics file preferred by many journals as the file does not lose resolution when reproduced in a typeset format

Title Full name of manuscript - some journals impose character limits

Title Page Listing of: article title; authors and corresponding author contact information. Additionally, some journals may insist that authors also include the following on title pages: running head; conflict of interest statement; funding source declaration, acknowledgement; count of words, tables and figures

Typeset The formal composition of a page for publication. Today this can be accomplished via desktop applications to sophisticated composition programs.

Typo An error introduced into the text. Short for typographic error.


Unsolicited Submission Content received by a journal that has not been commissioned by the editorial team.

Unsubmit Temporarily remove a manuscript from the peer review process - usually because the author wishes to make an update. Unsubmit is typically used before a manuscript reaches reviewers and is usually triggered by an author spotting an error or omission shortly after submission. Different from a Withdrawn manuscript, in that the author intends to resubmit in short order

Unstructured Abstract An abstract that presents an article summary in several sentences, usually formatted as a single paragraph. Some journals may use unstructured abstracts for editorial matter or simple case notes, where the rigid apportioning of content does not fit the content that typically befits a full investigative study.


Video Many journals permit the uploading of video files as supplementary data that can be posted with an article online.


Withdraw Manuscript removed permanently from the peer review process, usually at the request of the author. It is ethically appropriate to request an official statement from the author regarding their reasons for withdrawing a manuscript. Should an author wish to resubmit a withdrawn manuscript at a later date, they must submit the manuscript as if new. Occasionally, editorial offices may be compelled to withdraw a manuscript, but not unilaterally without the author's permission, unless an ethical violation has occurred.

Working Title A title used during the drafting stage of manuscript preparation. Invariably the title is changed or formalized once article composition is completed.




ISMTE Supporters

Empowering editorial offices around the world

Contact Us

275 North York Street, Suite 401
Elmhurst, IL 60126 USA
TEL: +1.630.433.4513

Privacy Policy

Connect With Us