This is one question that probably has an archaic answer. I recently reviewed a paper for a journal that stuck all the figures at the end (with placeholders in-text). Where I publish, we typically provide camera-ready manuscripts or at least give reviewers a version with the figures embedded so that they can see what the heck is going on. Occasionally, you embed the figures plus they are attached separately at the end (due to how the system generates the PDF). However, I recognize that dumping the figures at the end of a journal submission for review is quite common in some fields.

My simple question: Why?

I assume that at some point, there was a purpose to putting figures at the end rather than where they belong. I am also aware that it is quite common for journals to shuffle around your figure positions. But why would journals possibly want their copy to have all the figures dumped at the end? Obviously it is not for the reviewers' benefit, as it makes certain papers nigh-unreadable ("As you can see in Figure 1" - opens up second copy of the PDF so I can see Fig 1 at the same time as the text). Anyone know the reasoning behind this?

  • It's a pain in the back both for authors and for referees and I guess also for production guys.I hate to referee those papers. It shows how slow some journals are at adjusting to progress. – Marco Stamazza Sep 17 '18 at 13:52

There is a long tradition of submitting text and figures separated. this stems back to when manuscripts were typewritten and figures were drawn by ink. Many journals have kept this format and now the reason to keep figures separate is to facilitate the typesetting/layout. In addition, many electronic subbmission systems assemble manuscripts by merging text files with graphics files. The reason for having separate graphics files is that the typesetting processing inserts figures during the process. Not all journals take camera ready manuscripts (in fact none in my field).

As a reviewer, and if you review from a printout, it may also be advantageous to have figures separately since it is easier to look at them in parallel with reading the text. If you review on screen, it will of course not be an advantage.

There is actually no need to format manuscript this way as long as figures and text are delivered seprately in the end if that is what the journal requires for their type-setting. Always follow any instructions provided by the journal!

  • 1
    As a person submitting a paper, I'd probably find it at least as easy (I tend to use LaTex, unless otherwise required, and can just set a flag to suppress all my in-text figures). But as a reviewer who doesn't print out paper copies, it was a real scrolling hassle. – Namey Jul 27 '13 at 20:06
  • Yes, there is no need to format papers this way but the format lives on. I have seen new online-only, LaTeX-based journals take up the format as their default for manuscripts. I can only guess because there are enough people reviewing from paper copies. – Peter Jansson Jul 27 '13 at 20:22
  • I agree w @Namey – rezakhorshidi Apr 1 '18 at 13:17
  • 2
    If the papers were easier to read with figures and tables at the end they would publish them like that. That is to say, they are a pain to referee, especially when they are double spaced 50 pages manuscripts. – Marco Stamazza Sep 17 '18 at 13:54

You are correct that this has to do with pre-online publishing practices. In "the old days," most images had to be made "camera-ready," and were to be shrunk down to the required size. Consequently, the figures should be on a separate page at the end of the paper, so that different images didn't "stray" into the area that was to be photographed for another figure.

In spite of this, there has been no real need for the journals to change this practice, and thus it persists to the present day in a number of journals.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.