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Reformatting wastes public funds

Limited public funds for scientific research are being spent on reformatting manuscripts for different journals, without any apparent gain for science or society (see Q. Guo Nature 540, 525; 2016 and J. P. Moore Nature 542, 31; 2017). As a peer reviewer, I am interested in a manuscript's content — not its format. The increasing popularity of preprint servers indicates that format does not bother readers either.

In 2013, for instance, Nature published less than 8% (856 of 10,952) of the research papers submitted (see go.nature.com/2m102lb). If it takes authors, say, an hour or more to reformat each rejected article for submission to another journal, this will amount to some 10,000 scientist-hours over just one year.

For many papers that are rejected without review, there will be no need to change the scientific content before resubmission, and so paid time spent on reformatting them is not even scientifically justified.

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Correspondence to Julian Budd.

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Budd, J. Reformatting wastes public funds. Nature 543, 40 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/543040e

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