Journal Policies

Medical Decision Making and Medical Decision Making Policy & Practice: Specific Policies

Duplicate publication

To reduce the potential for duplicate publication, one of Medical Decision Making’s pre-submission requirements is author verification of the following statement: “Confirm that the manuscript has been submitted solely to this journal and is not published, in press, or submitted elsewhere.”

However, there are two exceptions to this rule at MDM: (1) documents that were previously published on the authors’ institutional Web site but have never been peer reviewed, and (2) documents that have functioned in an institutional or government setting as background material, official “working papers,” or technical briefs but have never been peer reviewed. Generally, manuscripts of this kind must be modified substantively to conform to MDM manuscript requirements. In addition, the peer review process generally requires that the authors make significant revisions prior to manuscript acceptance.

In both cases, the original document must be fully acknowledged in the manuscript as a previous presentation of the material and cited appropriately throughout. Permission to reprint images and tables must be obtained in advance of manuscript submission. In addition, the original documents must be submitted as supplemental files when the manuscript is submitted to MDM. Reviewers must have full access to the original document(s) throughout the peer review process.

Finally, manuscript submissions of this kind are accepted for consideration at MDM with the understanding that, on publication, the authors will append to all original documents a notice regarding the subsequent peer review and publication of their MDM article. This notice must provide full citation information, including a hyperlink to the full text article, and an acknowledgment of MDM’s copyright.

(February 2013)

Dichotomization of continuous variables

Dichotomization of continuous variables is discouraged. If authors present research findings in which dichotomization has been used, they must present a justification that the approach is preferable to using the original continuous variable in this particular instance. This policy extends to other partitions as well (e.g., 3 or 4 groups).

See also: Dawson NV, Weiss R. (2012). Dichotomizing continuous variables in statistical analysis: a practice to avoid. Med Decis Making 32(2): 225-226.


Supplements, special issues, and special theme sections to Medical Decision Making can contribute to the field of medical decision making by highlighting controversial issues, summarizing the state-of-the-art, defining a research agenda, or presenting new data. Usually, a supplement or special issue will be based on proceedings of a conference or workshop.

1. Editorial Approval

Potential sponsors should contact the Editor-in-Chief to be certain that the topic is of interest to our readers. If the Editor-in-Chief determines that the topic seems relevant to Medical Decision Making, then the sponsors will be asked to submit the following documents:

  1. A list of authors (include titles and institutions) and title of work.
  2. A structured abstract (at least ½ page in length) for each proposed manuscript or talk.
  3. Name of the person coordinating the proceedings, symposium, or theme issue. This person may serve as an outside co-Editor during the editorial process.

This material will be forwarded to an associate editor of the journal or a member of the editorial board for confirmation of its scientific and/or policy merit and its relevance to the journal. One or more Associate Editor(s) will be assigned to shepherd the process. Once an Editor is identified, that person will define the review process and negotiate with the outside co-Editor a timeline for submitting articles.

All supplements are subject to peer review. There is no guarantee that any manuscripts submitted for a given supplement will be accepted. Quite frequently, supplement manuscripts require a major revision before they are accepted for publication. The Editor assigned to the work will make the final determination as to whether the scientific contribution of the supplement (or any of the individual papers) warrants publication.

See also: Helfand M. (2011). Independence and Medical Decision Making. Med Decis Making 31(3): 373-375.

2. Symposium Preparation and Submission

Papers should include an abstract, citations and references that meet the journal requirement. This can be found in the journal’s instructions to authors.

It is important that we receive all submissions in a timely manner. The journal staff will create an invited paper stub in the manuscript tracking system, Manuscript Central, and make the tracking number available to the author and the co-editors. When the author is ready to submit the paper, they will be able to log on and submit easily to that stub. The papers can be submitted directly by authors or by the outside co-editor on their behalf.

If the authors can provide information about the paper before hand, i.e. abstract, keywords, etc., journal staff can identify appropriate reviewers beforehand which can significantly shorten the review time once the paper is submitted.

The editors and journal staff reserve the right to make any changes they feel are needed to ready the paper for publication. Authors will be consulted on all changes.

3. Time from Submission to Production and Publication

Allow up to 8 months from time of first submission of supplement manuscripts to time of print. This time frame will vary by size of supplement and the editorial review process. The time from submission to first decision is approximately 45 days. For a typical manuscript, the time from resubmission to final decision is also approximately 45 days, which includes time for editing. However, authors should be aware that the review time can take up to five months to a final version if multiple revisions are needed. The time from acceptance to print publication is normally 16 weeks. This figure assumes that authors return corrected proofs in a timely manner.

To speed the process, articles are processed in the order they are accepted, in small batches rather than in one large one. Articles in Medical Decision Making are usually published online prior to print publication. However, the sponsor may specify that we delay online publication until the whole supplement is ready.

4. Dissemination

Sage Publications and the editorial staff will collaborate to bring attention to the symposium. A typical dissemination plan includes the following:

  • Open access for every article in the supplement.
  • A press release from the journal, distributed via EurekAlert! and other science news services.
  • Distribution of an email and an html file containing links to the articles that can be posted on lists, bulletin boards, and web sites of organizations interested in the topic.
  • In some cases, posting of the articles to document repositories such as SCRIBD, SciVEE, etc.

5. Costs

The Publishing costs for supplements are available from Sage. Call or mail Barbara Eisenberg (805) 390-1770; By MDM policy, the editorial office does not receive direct funding for any sponsored material, and is insulated from financial considerations.

Financial support of authors

In the instructions to authors, authors are directed to include the following statement in their cover letter and as a footnote on the title page:

Financial support for this study was provided [choose one: entirely or in part] by a [choose one:
grant from or contract with] (here insert the name(s) of the funding source(s), whether a company, government agency, philanthropic foundation, institute, etc.). The funding agreement ensured the authors’ independence in designing the study, interpreting the data, writing and publishing the report. [The following sentence should be inserted, if applicable] The following author(s) is/are employed by the sponsor: (identify employees).

A senior author who cannot sign this statement on behalf of all co-authors should explain any and all limitations in the cover letter. We do not rule out submissions from investigators employed by or receiving commercial support from organizations that have an interest in the research findings, but we do require full disclosure of such relationships and authorial independence in the conduct of the study. The journal reserves the right to request original data and have an independent statistician repeat the analyses proposed in the manuscript.

The aims of this policy are (1) disclosure of author relationships with support sources for a study, (2) preservation of the editorial independence of authors, and (3) assurance to reviewers and readers of the degree of independence.

See also: Elstein A. (1997). MDM Policy Regarding Financial Support of Authors. Med Decis Making 17(4): 497-498.