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How a format-free submission process works

How a format-free submission process works

At Hindawi, we operate a format-free submission process, meaning that authors don't have to follow a style guide at submission. Rebecca Windless, Editorial Production Editor at Hindawi, explains how the process works and how it helps to make the overall publishing process as seamless as possible for both authors and editors.

Submitting research to a journal can be daunting for both first time authors and veteran authors alike. At Hindawi we aim to make the submission process as simple as possible for our authors, whilst also providing guidance and support where it may be needed. The reason why we try to keep the initial submission quick and simple is to ensure that authors don’t have to spend their time on any secondary details that can be resolved later in the publishing process. In light of this, our submission process is split into 2 parts; Submission (the authors’ responsibility), and Screening (our responsibility). Both processes are explained in further detail below.


Our submission process for authors is comprised of four short stages:

  1. Select the journal you wish to submit to.

  2. Read the submission checklist.

  3. Enter details of your manuscript (title, authors, abstract etc.).

  4. Upload your files (main manuscript and optional cover letter, and supplemental files)

The submission does not need to be completed within a set timeframe. As soon as a submission is started it will be registered with us, and the author can return to it at any point to complete it. We include links to extra guidance throughout the process but our customer service team is also on hand for any questions or concerns that aren’t covered. 


At our screening stage we want to check some critical information before sending a manuscript to peer-review. For example, we check that the research has not been published before, and that the information uploaded at submission matches the information in the uploaded file. Why can this information not be addressed during peer-review? We believe that the perfect submission process doesn’t just keep our authors happy, but our editors too. By performing these admin-heavy screening checks it saves time for our editors and reviewers, so that they only need to focus on the scientific content.

Hindawi operates a format-free submission process. Whilst we will check for some basic relevant sections (such as method, results, and conflicts of interests), we do not request any aesthetic styling to be carried out by the authors, nor do we check for this during our screening process or peer-review. We also do not ask for the references to be set in any particular style. Enforcing specific formats and styles is an outdated practice that many other publishers unfortunately still ask authors to comply with. However, it is not pertinent to the scientific content of the article, and it’s not something we think authors should be spending their time on. If the manuscript is accepted for publication, we complete all the style and formatting for the author as part of our production process. At no point will we ask the author to make style changes in order for the manuscript to be published. We are careful to not change any content of the manuscript, but we will check for spelling errors, and make sure all the figures and tables are in order. 

Any prospective authors may have noticed that Hindawi offers author services that can be used prior to submission. Is this necessary? No. Then why is it being offered? Any authors are welcome to use this service, but it is particularly beneficial for any author who feels that they are at a disadvantage. This may be early career researchers who have little experience of publishing or any authors whose first language is not English. The services offered are not Hindawi owned, and they are not working to standardize research into a certain style. Whether an author has or has not used an editing service is not information that is stored on the submission, and the use of any editing service in no way influences any publishing decisions. 

In the last few months we have been very excited about the development of our product team, and we are looking at ways that our submission process can be streamlined by improved technology. We welcome all feedback from both authors and editors at this time in consideration of maintaining and improving a researcher-friendly service.

This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). The illustration is by Hindawi and is also CC-BY.

Article of the Year Award: Outstanding research contributions of 2021, as selected by our Chief Editors. Read the winning articles.