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Editorial Policy

When an author submits a manuscript to Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD), the journal’s editors evaluate it for overall quality and appropriateness for the journal's readership. Once cleared at this level, the manuscript undergoes confidential peer review.

The solicitation of a manuscript by PCD editors or others acting on PCD’s behalf (such as a guest editor) does not guarantee that the article will be accepted for publication. The journal’s editor in chief makes final publication decisions. Editorial staff members edit accepted papers for organization, grammar, style, format, and clarity before publication. Authors may offer suggestions on these edits but do not have right of refusal.

We are committed to evaluating and publishing papers promptly and to upholding the highest standards of ethical conduct. Papers that express novel ideas of interest to a broad public health audience receive priority.

Overlapping or duplicate publication

Adapted from “Overlapping Publications” in Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, produced by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE, or Vancouver Group).

Duplicate Submission
is a primary-source periodical. We will not consider manuscripts that are simultaneously being considered by other journals, and we require authors to agree to an authorship statement that verifies that PCD is the only journal to which the authors have submitted their manuscript. Among the principal considerations that have led to this policy are: 1) the potential for disagreement when two (or more) journals claim the right to publish a manuscript that has been submitted simultaneously to more than one; and 2) the possibility that two or more journals will unknowingly and unnecessarily undertake the work of peer review, edit the same manuscript, and publish the same article.

However, PCD may decide to simultaneously or jointly publish an article if the editors believe that doing so would be in the best interest of public health.

Redundant Publication
Redundant (or duplicate) publication is publication of a paper that overlaps substantially with one already published in print or electronic media.

Readers of primary-source periodicals, whether print or electronic, deserve to be able to trust that what they are reading is original unless there is a clear statement that the author and editor are intentionally republishing an article. The bases of this position are international copyright laws, ethical conduct, and cost-effective use of resources. Duplicate publication of original research is particularly problematic, since it can result in inadvertent double counting or inappropriate weighting of the results of a single study, which distorts the available evidence.

The editors of PCD do not wish to receive papers on work that has already been reported in large part in a published article or is contained in another paper that has been submitted or accepted for publication elsewhere, in print or in electronic media. This policy does not preclude the journal considering a paper that has been rejected by another journal, or a complete report that follows publication of a preliminary report, such as an abstract or poster displayed at a professional meeting. PCD does not consider results posted in clinical trial registries as previous publication if the results are presented in the registry in the form of a brief structured abstract or table. The Results registry should either cite the full publication or include a statement that indicates that the report has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

When submitting a paper, the author must make a complete statement to the editor about all submissions and previous reports (including meeting presentations and posting of results in registries) that might be regarded as redundant or duplicate publication. The author must alert the editor if the manuscript includes subjects about which the authors have published a previous report or have submitted a related report to another publication. Any such report must be referred to and referenced in the new paper. Copies of such material should be included with the submitted manuscript to help the editor decide how to handle the matter.

If redundant or duplicate publication is attempted or occurs without such notification, authors should expect editorial action to be taken. At the least, prompt rejection of the submitted manuscript should be expected. If the editor was not aware of the violations and the article has already been published, then a notice of redundant or duplicate publication will probably be published with or without the author’s explanation or approval. See Responding to Allegations of Possible Misconduct below.

Preliminary reporting to public media, governmental agencies, or manufacturers of scientific information described in a paper or a letter to the editor that has been accepted but not yet published violates the policy of PCD. See News Media Inquiries below.

Acceptable Secondary Publication
Certain types of articles, such as guidelines produced by governmental agencies and professional organizations, may need to reach the widest possible audience. In such instances, PCD editors may deliberately publish material that is also being published in other journals, with the agreement of the authors and the editors of those journals. Secondary publication for various other reasons, in the same or another language, especially in other countries, is justifiable and can be beneficial provided that the following conditions are met.

  1. The authors have received approval from the editors of both journals; the editor concerned with secondary publication must have a photocopy, reprint, or manuscript of the primary version.
  2. The priority of the primary publication is respected is specifically negotiated by both editors.
  3. The paper for secondary publication is intended for a different group of readers; an abbreviated version could be sufficient.
  4. The secondary version faithfully reflects the data and interpretations of the primary version.
  5. The footnote on the title page of the secondary version informs readers, peers, and documenting agencies that the paper has been published in whole or in part and states the primary reference. A suitable footnote might read: “This article is based on a study first reported in the [title of journal, with full reference].” Permission for such secondary publication should be free of charge.
  6. The title of the secondary publication should indicate that it is a secondary publication (complete republication, abridged republication, complete translation, or abridged translation) of a primary publication. Of note, the NLM does not consider translations to be “republications” and does not cite or index translations when the original article was published in a journal that is indexed in MEDLINE.
  7. Editors of journals that simultaneously publish in multiple languages should understand that NLM indexes the primary language version. When the full text of an article appears in more than one language in a journal issue (such as Canadian journals with the article in both English and French), both languages are indicated in the MEDLINE citation (for example, Mercer K. The relentless challenge in health care. Healthc Manage Forum. 2008 Summer;21(2):4-5. English, French. No abstract available. PMID:18795553).

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PCD limits the number of authors to 10 in most cases; any manuscript with more than 10 authors requires a justification explaining the contributions of each author. We permit group authorship in cases of large collaborations. Additional contributions may be attributed in the Acknowledgments section of the manuscript.

We follow the criteria for authorship detailed in Uniform Requirements, beginning with the recommendation, “All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed.” The 3 criteria for authorship defined by ICMJE are the following:

  • substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data. 
  • drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content.
  • final approval of the version to be published.

Individuals must fulfill all 3 conditions to qualify for authorship. General supervision, data collection, acquisition of funding, and substantial contributions to writing and editing are not grounds for authorship. Authors should recognize these participants in Acknowledgments, with participant permission.

All authors of a manuscript submitted to PCD must agree to its submission, take responsibility for its content, and agree in writing to any corrections or retractions. All parties must also agree in writing to changes in authorship (for example, adding or deleting names, or changing the order in which they appear in the byline) after the paper has been submitted. The authorship statement, which the corresponding author must electronically sign, provides verification of the responsibilities claimed by the author. We may choose to publish explanations of specific author contributions along with articles.

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Peer review

If PCD determines that a manuscript warrants peer review, it is assigned to 2 or more peer reviewers. Some papers may be assessed by statistical reviewers.

Peer reviews are conducted in strict confidentiality. We have a single-blind review process; authors are identified to reviewers, but reviewers remain anonymous to authors. We ask reviewers to give detailed comments (with references when possible) that would help authors to improve their papers and PCD editors to decide whether or not to publish. For each article reviewed, we ask reviewers to complete the Reviewer’s Confidential Manuscript Assessment for the Editor. Reviewers serve as advisors to PCD editors, who make final decisions.

We ask reviewers to disclose any conflicts of interest or personal or professional biases that may render them unable to provide a fair and objective assessment of the manuscript under review.

We welcome suggestions from authors for appropriate peer reviewers. The author online submission process provides the opportunity to list suggested reviewers.

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Conflicts of interest 

We require authors to disclose any and all financial, professional, or personal conflicts of interest in an accompanying cover letter. Details of this information remain confidential to the journal’s editors and are not provided to peer reviewers. We may, however, choose to disclose certain financial interests to readers on publication. Disclosure encompasses information about author affiliations that may potentially be regarded as having biased the research or results described in a manuscript. Financial conflicts include employment, salary, consulting fees, honoraria, stock or equity interests, expert testimony, and intellectual property rights (patent grants and pending applications for patent grants, royalties, and copyrights).

In addition, authors are responsible for identifying all sources of funding for the work described in the manuscript and to include this information in the manuscript's Acknowledgments.

If any undisclosed conflicts or financial interests are identified after publication, we may choose to publish notices of failure to disclose such information.

We also ask reviewers to disclose any conflicts of interest and personal or professional biases that may render them unable to provide a fair and objective evaluation of the manuscript under review. Reviewers may wish to consult the editor in chief if they have any questions about such matters, and we ask reviewers to disqualify themselves if they consider themselves unable to give an impartial assessment.

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Access to manuscript data

By submitting a manuscript to PCD, authors agree to provide access to data that may be needed during the editorial and external peer review process both before and after publication, should questions arise during either time. Journal editorial staff and peer reviewers would use such data for the sole purpose of further evaluation. Failure to provide access to data will result in postponement of publication and/or overturn of the journal's decision to accept the paper.

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The author hereby grants, transfers, and assigns to the US government for the full term of copyright and all extensions thereof the full and exclusive rights comprised in the copyright in and to the report, article, or other paper (the “work”) published by PCD and the material and contributions contained therein, any revised editions thereof and all derivative works based thereon, and all other proprietary rights thereto, in all languages and forms, and in all media of expression now known or later developed, throughout the world. The US government will commit the work to the public domain and allow it to be used and reproduced by anyone without permission. An author who includes materials that are copyrighted by a third party agrees to obtain written permission to ensure that the US government may place the work, including said material, in the public domain. If the work was funded by an National Institutes of health (NIH) grant, the author and US government agree that the author retains the rights necessary to provide the manuscript to (and for display by) PubMed Central. PCD will submit the final article for indexing in PubMed and PubMed Central. For more information on indexing see our FAQs page.

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Authors must obtain written permissions in these 4 situations: 

  • Publishers of figures or tables included in the manuscript and previously published (or adapted from previously published figures or tables) must provide signed consent to the authors to publish this information in PCD
  • Persons identifiable in photographs, case descriptions, or pedigrees must provide signed consent to the authors to be identified in the manuscript. 
  • Persons named as having provided information through personal communication (oral or written, including conversations, letters, e-mails, and telephone calls) must provide signed consent to the authors to be included in the manuscript, and they must declare in writing that the information is accurate. 
  • Persons acknowledged in the manuscript must provide signed consent to the authors to be acknowledged. 

Corresponding authors are responsible for maintaining these written permissions and making them available to the editors at PCD on request.

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Use of human subjects or animals 

Manuscripts that describe projects involving human or animal subjects must indicate clearly in the Methods section that the appropriate ethics committee or institutional review board approved the project. For investigations involving human subjects, state also in the Methods section the manner in which adult subjects and parents or legal guardians of minors or incapacitated adults provided informed consent.

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Our policy is to correct mistakes within the electronic text of the article as soon as we know of them. We note within the corrected article that a correction has been made, and we note the date it was made. In the issue immediately following the correction, we detail the error in our Errata section and link the notice of error to the original article. Any disagreements with authors or others on what constitutes errata are referred to the editor in chief or his or her designee.

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Responding to allegations of possible misconduct 

Based on WAME, Publication Ethics Policies for Medical Journals (

Definitions of Misconduct
Deception may be deliberate, by disregard of possible consequences, or by ignorance. Since the underlying goal of misconduct is to deliberately deceive others as to the truth, the journal’s preliminary investigation of potential misconduct will take into account not only the particular act or omission but also the apparent intention (as best it can be determined) of the person involved. Misconduct does not include unintentional error.

The most common forms of scientific misconduct include (the following are taken with minor modification from the Office of Research Integrity publication Analysis of Institutional Policies for Responding to Allegations of Scientific Misconduct,, p. 17, accessed 01/27/10):

  • Falsification of data: ranges from fabrication to deceptive selective reporting of findings and omission of conflicting data, or willful suppression and/or distortion of data.
  • Plagiarism: The appropriation of the language, ideas, or thoughts of another without crediting their true source, and representation of them as one's own original work.
  • Improprieties of authorship: Improper assignment of credit, such as excluding others, misrepresentation of the same material as original in more than one publication, inclusion of individuals as authors who have not made a contribution to the work published; or submission of multiauthored publications without the concurrence of all authors.
  • Misappropriation of the ideas of others: an important aspect of scholarly activity is the exchange of ideas among colleagues. Scholars can acquire novel ideas from others during the process of reviewing grant applications and manuscripts. However, improper use of such information can constitute fraud. Wholesale appropriation of such material constitutes misconduct.
  • Violation of generally accepted research practices: Serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing or carrying out research, improper manipulation of experiments to obtain biased results, deceptive statistical or analytical manipulations, or improper reporting of results.
  • Material failure to comply with legislative and regulatory requirements affecting research: Including but not limited to serious or substantial, repeated, willful violations of applicable local regulations and law involving the use of funds, care of animals, human subjects, investigational drugs, recombinant products, new devices, or radioactive, biologic, or chemical materials.
  • Inappropriate behavior in relation to misconduct: this includes unfounded or knowingly false accusations of misconduct, failure to report known or suspected misconduct, withholding or destruction of information relevant to a claim of misconduct and retaliation against persons involved in the allegation or investigation.

Deliberate misrepresentation of qualifications, experience, or research accomplishments to advance the research program, to obtain external funding, or for other professional advancement is included.

Responses to Possible Misconduct
Misconduct allegations will be investigated by a committee consisting of the editor-in-chief, the editorial board, and other editors, as determined by the editor-in-chief, who have specific expertise in the area being investigated.

When allegations concern authors, the peer review and publication process for the manuscript in question will be halted while the process above is carried out. The investigation will be completed even if the authors withdraw their paper, and the responses below will still be considered. In the case of allegations against reviewers or editors, they will be replaced in the review process while the matter is investigated. Those who are the subject of such allegations will be given the opportunity to respond and provide data supporting their response.

All such allegations should be kept confidential; the number of inquiries and those involved should be kept to the minimum necessary to achieve this end. Whenever possible, references to the case in writing should be kept anonymous.

Journals have an obligation to readers and to the public to ensure that their published research is both accurate and adheres to the highest ethical standard. Therefore, if an inquiry concludes there is a reasonable possibility of misconduct, responses should be undertaken, chosen in accordance with the apparent magnitude of the misconduct. Responses may be applied separately or combined, and their implementation should depend on the circumstances of the case as well as the responses of the participating parties and institutions. The following options are ranked in approximate order of severity:

  • A letter of explanation (and education) sent only to the person against whom the complaint is made, in which there appears to be a genuine and innocent misunderstanding of principles or procedure.
  • A letter of reprimand to the same party, warning of the consequences of future such instances, in which the misunderstanding appears to be not entirely innocent.
  • A formal letter referring the concerns to the relevant head of educational institution and/or funding body, with all the commentary and evidence collected by the journal. This will occur when it is believed that genuine misconduct is likely to have occurred, and its goal will be to submit the case for consideration of formal review and judgment by organizations better suited to that task than a peer review journal.
  • A formal letter as above, including a written request to the supervising institution that a investigation be carried out and the findings of that inquiry reported in writing to the journal.
  • Publication of a notice of redundant or duplicate publication or plagiarism, if appropriate (and unequivocally documented). Such publication will not require approval of authors, and should be reported to their institution.
  • Formal withdrawal or retraction of the paper from the scientific literature, published in the journal, informing readers and the indexing authorities (National Library of Medicine, etc), if there is a formal finding of misconduct by an institution. Such publication will not require approval of authors, should be reported to their institution, and should be readily visible and identifiable in the journal. It should also meet other requirements established by the International Committee of Journal Editors ( Formal withdrawal or retraction of paper will take place only after a thorough investigation that includes due process for the author and an opportunity for the author to present a defense against any allegations before a neutral group of peers.

Editors or reviewers who are found to have engaged in scientific misconduct will be removed from further association with the journal, and this fact reported to their institution.

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Opinions and endorsements 

The opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors’ affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.

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News media inquiries 

Once a manuscript is accepted, its content remains strictly confidential and cannot appear in print, on radio or television, or in electronic form, or be released by the news media until publication. After publication, all inquiries from members of the news media will be directed to the corresponding author.

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Requests for copies

The corresponding author has the responsibility to respond to any requests for manuscript copies, and any requests received by PCD will be sent to the corresponding author. This policy also applies to requests from the author to share a manuscript with someone outside the PCD staff.

Because of our production process, documents produced by PCD, including PDF versions, translations of abstracts, generated images, and other documents or media, are not released to the author or to anyone outside of PCD before publication.

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The opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions.