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Open Access Research article

A survey of orthopaedic journal editors determining the criteria of manuscript selection for publication

Caroline B Hing1*, Deborah Higgs2, Lee Hooper3, Simon T Donell4 and Fujian Song3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Trauma & Orthopaedics, St George's Hospital, Tooting, UK

2 Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, UK

3 School of Medicine, Health Policy & Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

4 Institute of Orthopaedics, Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, Norwich, UK

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Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2011, 6:19  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-6-19

Published: 28 April 2011



To investigate the characteristics of editors and criteria used by orthopaedic journal editors in assessing submitted manuscripts.


Between 2008 to 2009 all 70 editors of Medline listed orthopaedic journals were approached prospectively with a questionnaire to determine the criteria used in assessing manuscripts for publication.


There was a 42% response rate. There was 1 female editor and the rest were male with 57% greater than 60 years of age. 67% of the editors worked in university teaching hospitals and 90% of publications were in English.

The review process differed between journals with 59% using a review proforma, 52% reviewing an anonymised manuscript, 76% using a routine statistical review and 59% of journals used 2 reviewers routinely. In 89% of the editors surveyed, the editor was able to overrule the final decision of the reviewers.

Important design factors considered for manuscript acceptance were that the study conclusions were justified (80%), that the statistical analysis was appropriate (76%), that the findings could change practice (72%). The level of evidence (70%) and type of study (62%) were deemed less important. When asked what factors were important in the manuscript influencing acceptance, 73% cited an understandable manuscript, 53% cited a well written manuscript and 50% a thorough literature review as very important factors.


The editorial and review process in orthopaedic journals uses different approaches. There may be a risk of language bias among editors of orthopaedic journals with under-representation of non-English publications in the orthopaedic literature.

editor; orthopaedic