CORP: Assessing author compliance with data presentation guidelines for manuscript figures

Kara Hansell Keehan, Michelle C. Gaffney, Irving H. Zucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present study was undertaken to address the concern that author compliance with American Physiological Society (APS) journal instructions to authors for data presentation in manuscript figures is inadequate. Common instances of noncompliance are omitted molecular weight markers for immunoblots and bar graphs lacking individual data points. The American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology (AJP-Heart and Circ) editorial team designed a program to assess figure data presentation in submitted manuscripts. The intended outcome was to improve author compliance with APS data presentation guidelines and to improve overall rigor and reproducibility in articles published in AJP-Heart and Circ. The AJP-Heart and Circ team invited 37 peer reviewers to participate in a figure reviewer project (FRp). Over a period of five months, 32 first-revision manuscripts were enrolled in the FRp. Each manuscript was reviewed by the original peer reviewers and an additional figure reviewer (FR). Post-peer review, corresponding authors and FRs were surveyed for insight into their experiences. Of the 32 corresponding authors invited, 20 (63%) responded to the survey. In response to the survey, 100% of respondents stated that peer review was performed in a timely fashion despite the additional FR. When asked whether the FR experience had any effect on how one would present data in manuscript figures in future submissions, 65% of authors and 83% of FRs said yes. In addition, 63% of authors responding agreed that the overall quality of their figures was improved after revising based on FR comments. This exercise resulted in improved compliance with APS data presentation guidelines and changed attitudes among both authors and reviewers as to the need for consistent and clear data presentation in manuscript figures.NEW & NOTEWORTHY The goal of the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology figure reviewer program was to improve author compliance with existing APS data presentation instructions for manuscript figures. The result was an improvement in compliance with these guidelines. Time from submission to final decision did not significantly increase for papers with the additional figure reviewer, and both figure reviewers and corresponding authors reported positive feedback in post-program surveys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1051-H1058
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology
Volume318
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Keywords

  • data presentation
  • guidelines
  • peer review
  • rigor and reproducibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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