A Unified Format for Manuscript Structure, Style
and Reference Citation across the Journals
Manoj Kumar Jaiswal1,2* and Ram Nath Jaiswal3
1Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA
2James J Peters VA Medical Center, USA
3Independent Scholar and Educator, India
Submission: January 16, 2018; Published: May 01, 2018
*Corresponding author: Manoj Kumar Jaiswal, Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai One Gustave L Levy Place, New York, NY 10029-6574, USA, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to cite this article: Manoj K J, Ram N J. A Unified Format for Manuscript Structure, Style and Reference Citation across the Journals. Open Access J Neurol Neurosurg. 2018; 7(4): 555716. DOI: 10.19080/OAJNN.2018.07.555716.
Recently two correspondences in nature [1,2] suggested that all scientific and biomedical journals should do their own formatting and consider uniform style for all journals. As a neuroscientist these correspondence immediately got my attention and thinking about the time we waste on submission of the same research paper to multiple different journals each with their own format and reference style requirements.
For decades almost every journals and even within same publishing house different journals have different format, structure, layout, and reference styles for the authors to follow as a guidelines for manuscript preparation . Although there are some common formatting styles and most of the basic science research papers are generally presented under the section: Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods and Materials, Results and Discussion, the style and sequence of presentation are different. For example, Cell Press has their own format under the subtitle: Title, Summary, Abstract (including graphical abstract), Highlights, Introduction, Results, Discussion and STAR Methods. In contrast, "Springer Nature" does not use Abstract or Introduction headings; and for many neuroscience journals of "Springer Nature", Method section came at the end after the rest of the article. Similarly, journal "Science" papers are generally presented under the section title: Title, One Sentence Summary, Abstract, Main Text (containing introduction, experimental findings, and discussion) but without subheadings. Unfortunately, even the same publishers e.g. Elsevier have different formatting styles for their different flagship journals.
Similarly, Journals has their own reference styles for paper citations. For example my review article  cited in 2 biomedical journals differently, shown below .
Jaiswal MK Selective vulnerability of motoneuron and perturbed mitochondrial calcium homeostasis in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: implications for motoneurons specific calcium dysregulation. Mol Cell Ther .
Whether my paper cited as above or using any other journal's defined alternatives in formatting style, name initials, publication year, journal name and page length, I don't see any major advantage of it. I believe publishing house, scientific society and journals are asking for individual formatting layout as a unique attribute. Journals editorial board and reviewers expect proper layout and format specified for their journals. Most often they confused or annoyed when a submitted manuscript is an incorrectly formatted and flawed in this regard and quite often manuscript risks immediate rejection irrespective of its scientific content (Illustration, Figure 1). Researcher like us spend days to weeks altering the format and reference style with the same data set and core ideas to fit the new journal’s style and their define limited word, sentence and character resulting in a waste of time, money and some time danger of loosing the story, science and message all together due to limitations of manuscript words or characters. In my opinion, thousands of dollars and vast amount of researcher's time and frustration spent on formatting the manuscript for specific journal during the submission avoided if the Journals, scientific society and community could consent on a unified format, style and reference for all journals. Reviewers are asked to judge submitted paper based on quality of research, original idea, and scope for a journal and not based on font, reference style, abstract length or even whether or not the method section appear before results and discussion section or after it. I see no scientific advantage and any logic in it.
Currently publishing practices across the journals waste researchers thousands of hour's productive research time while the manuscript going back and forth through several journals' individualized formatting style for citations/references. While there are several software e.g. Endnote, ReadCube, Reference manager, Mendey Bib TeX, Ref Man and Ref Works commercially available for reference management, most of them are costly to buy and not readily available for many researchers from economically disadvantage country. The core components of any biomedical and Science papers are the same across the major journals. A unified format for manuscript reference citation across the journals would save huge amount of time, money, less burden to journal pier review, and quick publication turnaround and win-win situation for everybody including researchers, publishers and society as outcome of the research readily available to public who fund our research. Journals can achieve this goal by technology driven automated formatting, similar to automated manuscripts submission and reviewer's platform used by Frontiers  and implementation of software LateX as well as policy recently adopted by EMBO Press  which require reformatting only after acceptance of manuscript. I suggest scientific society and publishers to give us more meaningful reasons why we should not opt for a single paper submission format and reference style. We really need to ponder upon if we really should continue wasting our most valuable resource i.e. time for such redundant work and what is the actual cost of this practice by us as a scientific community and stakeholders.