Peer Review Process

The Medical Decision Making journals are a member of COPE, the Committee on Publication Ethics. The journals have full editorial independence from the Society for Medical Decision Making. Reviewers are asked to adhere to the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers (March 2013).

After initial review by the editors, approximately 50% of manuscripts submitted to MDM are sent out for peer review, usually to at least two reviewers. Before a manuscript is rejected without outside review, two editors—usually the editor-in-chief and one or two associate editors—must agree on the decision. If one editor believes the article should be sent to reviewers, it will be sent.

The editors select reviewers from an electronic database of approximately 5,000 reviewers. During the submission process, authors are asked to identify keywords from two lists: APPLICATION AREAS and DETAILED METHODOLOGY. The editors use these author-selected keywords to match the manuscript to reviewers who have pertinent expertise. Authors are encouraged to review their keyword lists carefully—and completely—before making selections to ensure that the best possible keywords are chosen for the manuscript.

The reviewer database is supplemented, as necessary, by authors cited in the references list of the submitted manuscript and by a literature search. Authors are also encouraged to suggest preferred (and nonpreferred) reviewers in the manuscript submission form. MDM does not send manuscripts to reviewers who have the same institutional affiliation as manuscript authors. In addition, MDM requests that reviewers disclose any potential conflicts of interest before reviewing a manuscript. MDM reviews are a CME-eligible activity.

When outside reviews have been completed, the editors make one of the decisions listed below. Among first submissions, approximately 30% result in a “revise and resubmit” or “provisional accept” decision; 10% receive a “reject and resubmit” decision.

Accept. (More information about manuscript acceptance is provided below.)

Provisional accept. Almost all manuscripts that MDM accepts require some editorial and/or statistical revision prior to publication. Specific changes to the manuscript are requested. Revisions to provisionally accepted manuscript should be uploaded as soon as possible, ideally within one week—but no later than a month from the time the decision notification was received by the author. Extension requests are considered by the editor on a case-by-case basis.

Revise and resubmit. Additional editorial and/or statistical revision is required prior to publication. The authors are invited to revise the manuscript to address the reviewers’ and editors’ concerns. Specific changes to the manuscript are requested and the manuscript must be reviewed once again by the editors for further consideration. Revised manuscripts should be uploaded as soon as possible—but generally no later than three months from the time the decision notification was received by the author. Extension requests are considered by the editor on a case-by-case basis. (More information about revisions is provided below.)

Reject and resubmit. MDM editors sometimes reject a manuscript but invite a resubmission that addresses specific reviewer and editor concerns about the work. This invitation means that the editors believe the research described is of potential interest and would have a chance of eventual acceptance if presented in a different manner. However, this decision means that the manuscript must be changed fundamentally. The authors are invited to resubmit the results of their work to MDM if they feel confident that they can make the required revisions. However, there is no guarantee that the resubmission will be successful. (More information about resubmissions is provided below.)

Reject and propose transfer. A manuscript that is not high priority for MDM may be suitable for MDM P&P, or vice versa. If the author has indicated at the time of submission that they would be willing to have the manuscript transferred, instructions will be sent for how to resubmit to the other journal. If the author did not provide approval at time of submission, they may be invited to consider a transfer at the time of this decision as well.

Reject. Because MDM receives a large number of submissions, the editors often have to reject valuable and worthwhile work. In particular, the editors must decide whether a piece will interest and inform MDM readers and whether it adds sufficiently to previous work. Manuscripts that are not appropriate for publication in MDM receive a reject decision. Occasionally, the editors will take the extra step of recommending that authors pursue publication in another journal that is more closely aligned with the topic addressed in the manuscript.

Editors have very broad discretion in determining whether an article is an appropriate fit for the journal. Many manuscripts are declined with a very general statement of the rejection decision. These decisions are not eligible for formal appeal unless the author believes the decision to reject the manuscript was based on an error in the review of the article.

Authors whose manuscript received peer review and who feel their manuscript was wrongly rejected may e-mail an appeal request to the editor-in-chief. Appeal requests must be submitted within three months from the time the decision notification was received by the author.

In the appeal request letter, the author should state the reason he or she feels the editor should reconsider the decision. Common reasons are that an author feels the editor’s decision was substantially based on an incorrect reading of the manuscript by a reviewer or by the editors—or that a reviewer or editor was biased or unfair in his or her judgment. The appeal request should detail the author’s concerns and discuss how the manuscript could be revised to address the main issues brought up in the editor and reviewer comments.

After considering the request for appeal, the editor-in-chief will either confirm the original decision of reject or allow the authors to submit a formal appeal through ScholarOne Manuscripts. If the editor-in-chief grants the appeal request, the corresponding (contact) author will receive instructions via e-mail on how to submit a formal appeal through ScholarOne Manuscripts.

Revision vs Resubmission Process
MDM editors differentiate between manuscripts that have:

  • received a provisional accept or a revise and resubmit decision and will undergo further consideration after reviewer- and editor-requested changes have been made by the authors, and
  • received a reject and resubmit decision, meaning that the work requires major revision.

All revised and resubmitted manuscripts must include a detailed, point-by-point response to reviewer and editor comments, called an author rebuttal. Within the revised manuscript submission process, a screen is provided for this response. Authors of resubmitted manuscripts are required to include a rebuttal in the cover letter. Author rebuttals can also be uploaded. Revised manuscripts and resubmissions that are not accompanied by a rebuttal will be returned to the authors without further review.

Authors of manuscripts with a provisional accept or a revise and resubmit decision are invited to submit their revised work through ScholarOne Manuscripts as a revision. The corresponding author is responsible for submitting the revision.

To submit a revised manuscript to MDM, please complete the following steps:

  1. Access the Web site: (MDM) or a title=”MDM – ScholarOne Manuscripts” href=””> (MDM P&P).
  2. On the Welcome page, enter the Author Center.
  3. Under Author Resources, click anywhere on the following line:
    ★ Click here to submit a revision
    Note: If you have multiple revisions outstanding, a Manuscripts Awaiting Revision table appears, prompting you to select from among them. Click
    create a revision next to the appropriate manuscript record, then click the OK button.
  4. Follow the online prompts to submit a revision.
    Note: After the revision has been accepted for review by ScholarOne Manuscripts, R1 appears at the end of the original manuscript ID (e.g., MDM-YY-XXX.R1).

Authors of manuscripts that have received a letter of rejection with a conditional option to resubmit (i.e., reject and resubmit) are invited to consider carefully the conditions of resubmission. In such cases, the editors have indicated that the work may be of promise but that extensive revisions are required for reconsideration. When authors agree that such revisions are possible (and desirable), the resubmitted manuscript will remain connected to the original submission but it will, for all intents and purposes, be considered a new submission—receiving a new five-digit manuscript ID. Please note that resubmitted manuscripts not entered within ScholarOne Manuscripts as instructed here will be returned to the authors for further processing.

To resubmit a manuscript, please complete the following steps:

  1. Access the Web site: (MDM) or a title=”MDM – ScholarOne Manuscripts” href=””> (MDM P&P).
  2. On the Welcome page, enter the Author Center.
  3. Under My Manuscripts, click Manuscripts with Decisions.
    Note: The Manuscripts with Decisions table appears, prompting you to select from among them. Click create a resubmission next to the appropriate manuscript record, then click the OK button.
  4. Follow the online prompts to resubmit the manuscript, entering the manuscript ID of the original submission under “Has this manuscript been submitted previously to this journal?” on the Details & Comments screen.
    Note: After the resubmission has been accepted for review by ScholarOne Manuscripts, the new manuscript ID appears on the Submission Confirmation screen.

Manuscript Acceptance
MDM accepts approximately 18% of the 500 manuscripts received annually. Mean (median) turnaround time from submission to initial decision is 38 days; acceptance to online publication, 54 days.

MDM P&P has not yet established an acceptance rate. Turnaround times are expected to match those of MDM.

After a manuscript is accepted by the editors for publication in MDM or MDM P&P, it is processed by MDM editorial staff in ScholarOne Manuscripts before it is exported to the publisher, SAGE Publications. The manuscript’s formal acceptance date is the date the document leaves ScholarOne Manuscripts and is accepted by the publisher for production—not the date the editors inform authors of their intent to publish the manuscript in MDM.

Once the manuscript is accepted by the publisher for production, several preproduction steps occur simultaneously: (1) the corresponding author is prompted to fill out a Journal Contributor Publishing Agreement, (2) the manuscript receives a tentative print issue assignment (for MDM), and (3) the manuscript undergoes a final First Look evaluation by MDM editorial staff.

The editor-in-chief reserves the right to deem any figures, large tables, appendices, supplementary materials, or other manuscript-related content as online-only material in MDM. In such cases, the print edition includes the following note next to the article’s author information: Supplementary material for this article is available on the Medical Decision Making Web site at The electronic version of the article includes a hyperlink to data supplements (e.g., Supplemental Tables) at the bottom of the article’s download options, under This Article.

In addition, the editor-in-chief retains the right to deem full articles as Web-Only Articles in MDM. Articles that exceed 20 printed journal pages are generally published online only. Web-Only Articles are listed at the bottom of the table of contents in the print version, generally on the second page (across from the masthead) and on the inside back cover. In the online edition, these articles appear at the top of the issue’s table of contents.

All MDM P&P articles are published online only.

Manuscript Production, Prepublication Policy, Publication, and Copyright
For MDM, all authors, except government employees whose work was done as part of their official duties, must transfer copyright or exclusive license to publish to the owner of Medical Decision Making, the Society for Medical Decision Making. Transfer of copyright signifies transfer of rights for print and electronic publication as well as production of reprints, facsimiles, microfilm, or microfiche, and publication in languages other than English. (After publication, inquiries regarding permission to reprint should be directed to Copyright Clearance Center. Permissions inquiries related to trainee thesis and dissertation work must be directed to the publisher, SAGE Publications.) The prepublication version of the manuscript and the published article are both protected by MDM copyright at the time of publication and thereafter.

For MDM P&P, authors provide the Society with license to publish the article under a Creative Commons license, and may provide exclusive license for commercial use.

Immediately on formal acceptance of the manuscript for publication, authors are prompted by ScholarOne Manuscripts to sign a Journal Contributor Publishing Agreement. A notification to access the form online is sent by e-mail—at which point the corresponding author can log in to his or her Author Center (at MDM or MDM P&P) to read and sign the form. Government employees who are required to submit a different form must contact the MDM editorial office directly.

After completing the publishing agreement, an author may be contacted by the MDM editorial office to make any remaining minor changes that are required. Such changes may include editor suggestions from the final acceptance letter, changes to formatting, requests for alternate figure files, or a request for the submission of supplementary materials. The author will receive an e-mail from the FirstLook Center that details the remaining changes that are required. Instructions are provided so that the author can access the manuscript in ScholarOne First Look. If no changes are required, the manuscript skips First Look and is exported directly to SAGE Publications for production.

Once the MDM preproduction process is complete and the editorial office forwards the manuscript to SAGE Publications for production, the production editor at SAGE Publications contacts the author with article proofs after the manuscript has been processed and typeset. This process may take up to one month from the time the manuscript is formally accepted by the publisher.

After the author has reviewed and, if necessary, edited the article proofs, he or she may send an advance copy of the article to his or her institution’s press or public relations office. Although authors are free to discuss their research with representatives of the media and to be interviewed about their work, they may not distribute copies of the accepted manuscript—unless they obtain the formal permission of the editor-in-chief to do so. In addition, distribution of the submitted manuscript to manufacturers and government agencies requires advance permission from the editor-in-chief. Authors should discuss any possible prepublication disclosure with the editor-in-chief in advance and obtain his formal consent.

The electronic version of the article is published as soon as the final proofs are processed by the publisher. All MDM articles are available via OnlineFirst after the production and proof process is complete and before the release of an article’s assigned print issue. Authors are encouraged to sign up for SAGE contents alerts to receive immediate notification when the published article goes live—at which time authors may begin their self-promotion efforts. OnlineFirst articles may be cited using the online posting date and the assigned DOI number, which appear beneath the list of authors and article title (e.g., first published on March 3, 2013, doi:10.1177/0272989X12475091). Once an article appears in a print issue of MDM, its citation information is complete (i.e., volume, issue, and page numbers) and it joins the articles in its assigned issue, leaving OnlineFirst.

Research Articles Funded by the Wellcome Trust and National Institutes of Health
Some authors must comply with funding body requirements, such as those in place from the Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health. The NIH Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research (i.e., public access policy) strongly encourages all investigators to make their NIH-funded, peer-reviewed, author’s final manuscript available to other researchers and the public through PubMed Central at the National Library of Medicine immediately after the final date of journal publication. In support of this policy, MDM encourages authors of accepted manuscripts that describe original research funded entirely or in part by a NIH grant to submit their manuscript to the NIH grantee site.

Authors of accepted manuscripts in MDM have two options for making their articles available to nonsubscribers. One option is to pay a SAGE Choice fee to SAGE Publications for the public release of the article. The other is to submit a prepublication version of the manuscript to NIH. If the latter approach is taken, authors should ask PubMed Central to display prominently the following disclaimer:

This is the prepublication, author-produced version of a manuscript accepted for publication in Medical Decision Making. This version does not include postacceptance editing and formatting. Medical Decision Making is not responsible for the quality of the content or presentation of the author-produced accepted version of the manuscript or of any version that a third party derives from it. Readers who wish to access the definitive published version of this manuscript and any ancillary material related to this manuscript (correspondence, corrections, editorials, hyperlinked articles, etc.) should go to Those who cite this manuscript should cite the published version as it is the official version of record.

Updated: 25 Mar 2019, RJF