Editorial process

Once you submit your first complete manuscript, before we can send a protocol/review to the peer referees, Editorial Base staff have to check that the content complies with the Cochrane Handbook, and very importantly, meets all the mandatory Cochrane MECIR standards (Methodological Expectations for Cochrane Intervention Reviews). To try to undertake these checks as efficiently as possible, we have developed a system whereby we do an initial high-level check to ensure, amongst other things, that the search date is within six months of the submission date, there are no validation errors, that GRADE and risk of bias have been referred to in the Methods, and that there is at least one Summary of Findings table. If your review does not meet these initial key criteria, we will send it back to you to address the issues without performing any further checks. If your review passes this initial check, we will look at a few more detailed criteria to check if the search methods conform to MECIR standards, and that the results of the search and study flow diagram make sense and are consistent. We will also check that studies have been correctly assigned as Studies Awaiting Classification, Ongoing or Excluded. Your review team will then receive an email from us including the following text:


Thank you for the submission of your review. We have now completed full checks of your review and have allocated it a category x:

1. Accept for the editorial process – we will now send it to the referees.

2. Interested in accepting your review provided you attend to the minor revisions requested. Once you address these points satisfactorily and re-submit it we will accept it for the editorial process and send it to the referees.

3. Interested in accepting your review on condition that you attend to the major and minor revisions requested. Once you address these points satisfactorily and re-submit it we will accept it for the editorial process and send it to the referees.

4. The review falls below the standard that we can accept for the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group. We would be willing to look at a more substantial revision within the next X months. If at that stage we are not satisfied that the concerns have been dealt with satisfactorily, or there remain significant concerns about the standard of the review then we will not accept it for the editorial process and you would be free to publish it elsewhere.

5. Your submission falls well below the standard required for a Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group review, and we regretfully have to reject the review with no recourse for resubmission. We wish you well in publishing the review elsewhere.


The above process means that after you have submitted your review, you may well have several members of Editorial Base staff contacting you with queries about different aspects of your review, but please rest assured that we are all responsible for different areas and are not duplicating work.

The best way to ensure your review goes through our checking processes as quickly and efficiently as possible and gets straight on to peer review is to ensure before you submit that all MECIR mandatory standards have been met.  The Cochrane Editorial Unit insists on the mandatory standards being met, so we can’t allow reviews to progress to peer review if they are not.  In our experience, many review teams do not ensure that their reviews meet the standards before submitting to us, and then have the frustration of the review requiring significant work before we can accept it for peer review.  This is not efficient for author teams or for the Editorial Base staff and leads to a backlog amongst submissions as we identify standards that have not been met and feed this back to teams.

We are very happy to help with any queries you have in relation to the editorial process or the MECIR standards.