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Editorial Audits and Research 

Editorial Audits and Research

Ethical and Legal Considerations

Annette Flanagin

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Subscriber: null; date: 28 October 2016

Editorial Audits and Research

Many journals conduct internal assessments, audits, and research into various aspects of the editorial process. For example, a journal may produce monthly or annual reports from its database of manuscripts, authors, and peer reviewers to track inventory, workflow, and efficiency metrics.2 Trends from these reports can help editors determine the number and types of papers to accept for publication, assess staffing needs, track reviewer performance, and determine when to institute corrective action. For example, JAMA publishes an annual editorial audit that includes the number of manuscripts received the previous year, acceptance rates, and the turnaround time for manuscripts that are reviewed, accepted or rejected, and published.20 The Archives Journals publish dates of acceptance with each article.

In addition, some journals systematically analyze information from submitted manuscripts as part of research to improve the quality of the editorial or peer review processes. All identifying information should remain confidential during such assessments, and any research conducted should not interfere with the review process or the ultimate editorial decision. For example, JAMA’s instructions for authors inform prospective authors that information related to their submissions may be subject to such analysis and that confidentiality will be maintained. If a research project involves change in the journal’s usual review process (eg, random assignment to a different review procedure), authors should be informed and given the opportunity to choose whether they want their manuscripts to be included in the study. Their decision to participate or not should not adversely affect the editorial consideration of their manuscript in any way.

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