Q: My submitted paper does not meet the journal's formatting requirements. Will it be rejected?

Detailed Question -

I submitted my manuscript to Neurobiology of Aging on May 18. Some time ago, I wrote to the journal asking why my online status has been ‘With Editor’ since then. They replied, “We are working on getting you a decision for this manuscript”. As I went through my manuscript again, I am not sure about the reference format I used. An example would be “Nakamura K, Nemani VM, Azarbal F, et al.” Apart from that, an editing service told me to limit the abstract part to 170 words, while my original version which I have submitted, is 300 words. Do I still have a chance?

1 Answer to this question

As per the website of Neurobiology of Aging, the time for the first round of decision was 4.4 weeks and that for the final decision was 9.8 weeks in 2017. Hence, you should have received a response for the first decision by now. You may wait another week and inquire once again.


The length of the abstract is limited to 170 words. Journals usually have strict word count limitations and if your manuscript receives a positive peer-review, the journal editor might ask you to shorten the abstract. Sometimes, if the article is very long, it is returned to the authors before peer review to shorten it, if the editor deems it fit to be sent for peer review.


I am not sure which reference citation you are talking about: in-text or the References section. As per the guidelines, in the References section, a journal should be cited as “Van der Geer J, Hanraads JAJ, Lupton RA. The art of writing a scientific article. J Sci Commun 2010;163:51–9”.


Please review the following to know how citations need to be provided in-text:

  • Single author: the author's name (without initials, unless there is ambiguity) and the year of publication;
  • Two authors: both authors' names and the year of publication;
  • Three or more authors: first author's name followed by 'et al.' and the year of publication.

Citations may be made directly (or parenthetically). Groups of references should be listed first alphabetically, then chronologically.


Example: '…as demonstrated in wheat (Allan, 2000a, 2000b, 1999; Allan and Jones, 1999). Kramer et al. (2010) have recently shown ....'


List: References should be arranged first alphabetically and then further sorted chronologically if necessary. More than one reference from the same author(s) in the same year must be identified by the letters 'a', 'b', 'c', etc., placed after the year of publication.


The journal will ask you to format the references as per their style if your manuscript is accepted for publication.


In future, please ensure that you strictly follow the author guidelines to avoid delays due to quality checks and initial editorial screening processes.


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