Thursday, January 7, 2010

Make up your mind

This is so typical of what I encounter when I submit a manuscript to a journal. The IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering web page says

... all submissions of new manuscripts must be in IEEE format. This format is for double column, single spaced text with embedded figures and tables.

However, the "instructions for authors" pages consistently say

The manuscript should be formatted in one single column, double-spaced, with the figures embedded within the manuscript.

OK, do I use one or two columns? Do I make the text double- or single-spaced? This kind of ambiguity is rampant in journal submission instructions.

Here is what the difference looks like.

Once I see that discrepancy, I'm not sure what to believe anymore. Should I embed the figures in the text, or put them at the end? Should I exclude the authors' names for anonymity, or include them? Should citations be indicated as superscripts, or as numbers in brackets? For an institution in the business of communicating to the world, you'd think that the instructions would be better organized.


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