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JMLA Instructions to Authors

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The following editorial guidelines for the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) are in accordance with the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” [1].

Scope of Articles

The JMLA is an international, peer-reviewed specialty journal that aims to advance the practice and research knowledgebase of health sciences librarianship and information provision. The JMLA welcomes the submission of any original manuscript that seeks to improve the practice of health sciences librarianship or information provision in health or biological sciences or articulates developments and history of the profession and related fields. The JMLA also welcomes manuscripts that extend the knowledgebase through research in the organization, delivery, use, and impact of information on health care, biomedical research, and health professionals’ education.

Manuscripts are reviewed for possible publication with the understanding that they have not been published, submitted, or accepted for publication elsewhere. General availability or mass distribution in an online format is considered publication. Presentation of a paper at a conference or inclusion of a preliminary report in a published proceedings is not considered to be prior publication, provided that the submitted manuscript is substantially more complete than an initial report and any duplicative material is kept to a minimum. Specific cases should be referred to the editor.

Material published in the quarterly print journal also appears online on the Medical Library Association website and through the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM’s) PMC digital archive. Preprints of articles published in the JMLA are available, to MLA members only, on the JMLA website two months prior to the print publication.

Categories of Articles

1. General Overview

The text of research type articles is divided into Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections. This is called the “IMRAD” structure format and reflects the process of scientific discovery. Articles often need subheadings within these sections to further organize their content. Other types of articles, such as systematic reviews and case studies require different formats, while editorials and commentaries may have less-structured or unstructured formats.

Electronic formats have created opportunities for adding details or sections, layering information, cross-linking, or extracting portions of articles in electronic versions. Supplementary electronic-only material should be submitted and sent for peer review simultaneously with the primary manuscript.

2. JMLA Article Categories

I. Research

NOTE:

  1. This list does not imply higher importance or quality of one category over another.
  2. Word limits are maximums; word count alone will not determine the research category—shorter articles are welcomed and may be more widely read.
  3. Authors should state conflicts of interest and funding. If no relevant conflicts of interest or funding exist, state “Research was performed with no external funding.”
  4. Manuscripts follow the IMRAD format.

Research paper

Definition: The research paper has substantial implications for health sciences librarianship. It employs a research design that allows the results to be extrapolated (generalized) to a larger population. It presents definitive results of an important question. The research model, analysis, and write-up are essentially without problems. Examples: randomized double blind controlled trials; high response surveys with representative subjects and definitive results (one-time surveys with medium or low response rates, and sequential surveys [e.g., before/after] using convenience samples are unlikely to fit this group).

Research paper details

  • Manuscript follows the IMRAD format
  • Abstract is structured, is no more than 300 words, and includes (percentages are guidelines only and do not need to be exact):
    • Objective: 25% of allotted word count on the importance of your research
    • Methods: 25% of allotted word count on what you did
    • Results: 35% of allotted word count on what you found from your study
    • Conclusions: 15% of allotted word count on the implications of your research
  • Manuscript words: no more than 5,000, exclusive of references, abstract, and illustrations
  • Double-spaced, Times New Roman 11-point font; and numbered pages
  • Illustrations, up to 6 in the print version of the JMLA
  • Keywords: No less than 4 and up to 10 keywords should be provided during the submission. These should be selected from Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).

NOTE:

  1. Abstracts have no Discussion section, so a Conclusion section is necessary.
  2. Manuscripts have a Discussion section, and Conclusions, which are the findings, are usually implied or discussed in the first paragraph.

Research report

Definition: A research report reports interesting and important findings but presents suggestive rather than definitive results. Usually, these articles follow a more limited research methodology and have important limitations such as low numbers in sample size, non-generalizable results, or lack of absolute safeguards to assure non-influence of the researchers on the results (confirmation bias). Examples: surveys where sample bias cannot be determined; no adequate control group or pre/post evaluation; feasibility or qualitative studies with a small but representative sample size; benchmarking studies designed to document current practice (but only if the benchmarking is across an entire population or field, not an institution or particular program).

Research report details:

  • Manuscript follows the IMRAD format
  • Abstract is structured, is no more than 300 words, and includes (percentages are guidelines only and do not need to be exact):
    • Objective: 25% of allotted word count on the importance of your research
    • Methods: 25% of allotted word count on what you did
    • Results: 35% of allotted word count on what you found from your study
    • Conclusions: 15% of allotted word count on the implications of your research
  • Manuscript words: no more than 2,500, exclusive of references, abstract, and illustrations
  • Double-spaced, Times New Roman 11-point font; and number pages
  • Illustrations, up to 1 in the print version of the JMLA
  • Keywords: No less than 4 and up to 10 keywords should be provided during the submission. These should be selected from Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).
Research communication

Description: A research communication reports on a narrower topic or a topic presented at a national or regional meeting or conference that reports on important findings but is not definitive. This type of article may be a proof of concept (POC). (POC studies are prototypes that represent feasibility but do not deliver reliable conclusions.) The article may call for more elaborate studies on the topic. Examples include: conference posters, conference presentations, and studies that the authors want to get into the public arena but for which they do not, for any reason, want to write a longer article. The approach must be scientifically valid.

Research communication details:

  • Manuscript follows the IMRAD format
  • Abstract is structured, is no more than 200 words, and includes (percentages are guidelines only and do not need to be exact):
    • Objective: 25% of allotted word count on the importance of your research
    • Methods: 25% of allotted word count on what you did
    • Results: 35% of allotted word count on what you found from your study
    • Conclusions: 15% of allotted word count on the implications of your research
  • Words: no more than 1,000, exclusive of references, abstract, and illustrations
  • Double-spaced, Times New Roman 11-point font; and number pages
  • Illustrations, up to 1 in the print version of the JMLA
  • Keywords: No less than 4 and up to 10 keywords should be provided during the submission. These should be selected from Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)l.
II. Systematic review

Definition: A systematic review assesses and evaluates all publications on a specific topic or issue based on a systematic comprehensive and meaningful literature search. It provides a comprehensive review of literature using a specific set of criteria that are described and includes a description of the findings of the studies retrieved in a quantitative format if possible.

Systematic review details:


NOTE: All systematic reviews should state funding. If no funding, authors should state, “Research was performed with no external funding.”


  • Abstract is structured based on PRISMA abstract format, is no more than 250 words, and includes:
    • Background (objective)
    • Methods (eligibility criteria, information sources, risk of bias)
    • Results (included studies, synthesis of results, description of the effect)
    • Discussion (strength and limitations of evidence, interpretation)
    • Other (funding)
  • Manuscript words: no more than 5,000, exclusive of references, abstract, and illustrations
  • Double-spaced, Times New Roman 11-point font; and number pages
  • Illustrations, up to 3 in the print version of the JMLA
  • Keywords: No less than 4 and up to 10 keywords should be provided during the submission. These should be selected from Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).

More detailed information on PRISMA guidelines, including the PRISMA flowchart diagram can be found at PRISMA: Transparent Reporting of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses.

III. Case study

Definition: A case study reports on an improvement in library services or on a problem or issue solved that advances health sciences librarianship. The paper shows evidence of success and/or failure of the improvement or resolution, along with a discussion of sustainability. The case describes a comparison to another process or situation with valid and objective outcomes. Data or other evaluative information should be measurable by others and not the investigators, to avoid confirmation bias. Case studies are examples of descriptive research. They can be very valuable to others wishing to deal with similar situations.

Case study details:

  • Manuscript follows the IMRAD format
  • Abstract is structured, is no more than 100 words, and includes:
    • Question/Purpose (or problem or case covered in the study)
    • Setting (where it took place)
    • Methods
    • Results
    • Conclusions (including lessons learned)
  • Manuscript words: no more than 2,500, exclusive of references, abstract, and illustrations
  • Double-spaced, Times New Roman 11-point font; and number pages
  • Illustrations, up to 1 in the print version of the JMLA
  • Keywords: No less than 4 and up to 10 keywords should be provided during the submission. These should be selected from Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).
IV. Commentary

Definition: Commentaries present viewpoints or interpretations on library and information science topics and cover important or timely topics of interest to librarians. This category allows freedom of expression and encourages constructive discussion. Presentations should be supported by evidence (factual or anecdotal) to promote discussion among others in the field; however, generally they should not contain unpublished or original data.

Commentary details:

  • Words: no more than 2,500, exclusive of references and illustrations
  • Abstract: none
  • References: up to 5 references
  • Double-spaced, Times New Roman 11-point font; and number pages
  • Illustration, up to 1 in the print version of the JMLA
V. Letter to the editor

Description: Letters to the editor comment on recent JMLA publications. Letters need to be respectful in tone and limit criticism to the scholarly methods or importance of the paper. Letters to the editor are sent to the lead author of a paper to invite commentary if the author desires; an author’s response (if provided) is generally not sent back to individuals submitting a letter to the editor. Letters and associated commentary from the original author (if provided) are published together in the JMLA issue.

Letter details:

  • Words: no more than 300–500 words, exclusive of references
  • References: no more than 5
  • Double-spaced, Times New Roman 11-point font; and number pages
VI. Special articles

These are usually invited by the editor or selected by the editor. For example, they may be a series of background, introductory, or review articles that are pertinent to health sciences librarianship; they may be articles for a special focus issue; section columns; MLA proceedings; the Janet Doe Lecture; and MLA president articles. They also may include important announcements or journal information.

Publication Format

To complement the print work, some of the paper’s supplementary material may be published in electronic format only (e.g., extensive data tables, survey instruments). In some cases, at the editor’s discretion, articles are published in their entirety online. In this case, the abstract will appear in the print version of the JMLA to direct readers to the online content. Appropriate pointers will also appear in the issue table of contents and annual index. Online content is indexed in PubMed, paginated, and referenced or cited in the same manner as content appearing in the print journal.

Writing Guidelines and Editorial Style

Writing guidelines

Many published guidelines can be of assistance in organizing the content and preparing a manuscript for submission to the JMLA. Because the peer-review evaluation examines the writing style in addition to the content, authors should take great care to submit a manuscript that is well written and adheres to applicable style guidelines. The JMLA follows the style and format guidelines for scientific and medical publications, and authors are encouraged to consult a guide with this emphasis. Examples of such guides include works by Day [2], Hall [3], Zeiger [4], and Matthews [5]. General writing guides such as Fowler [6] and Strunk [7] can also be of assistance in the preparation of a well-written manuscript.

Editorial style

The style conventions used by the JMLA conform to the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” (also known as “Vancouver Style”), prepared by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors [1]. Other authoritative sources that guide the editorial process include the Medical Library Association Style Manual [8], Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 2nd edition [9], the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style [10] for punctuation and form and other areas in which “Uniform Requirements” is silent, and the latest edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary [11] for spelling.

Editorial Review and Processing

Peer-review evaluation

Members of the JMLA Editorial Board evaluate all contributed manuscripts with certain exceptions. Exceptions include the invited Janet Doe Lecture on the history and philosophy of medical librarianship, editorials, proceedings of the annual meetings of the Medical Library Association, invited columns, comment and opinion pieces, letters to the editor, obituaries, and reviews of books and electronic resources.

The JMLA uses a double-blind peer-review process, in which reviewers do not know the identity of the author and the identity of manuscript reviewers is not revealed to the author. Manuscripts in scope for the JMLA and meeting minimum requirements for submission are reviewed by three members of the editorial board or by subject experts chosen by the editor. The JMLA aims to complete the review process and provide feedback to authors within eight weeks of submission. All submitted manuscripts are treated as confidential communication.

Prior to sending material for peer-review, the editor reviews the paper to determine if it is in scope for the JMLA and, if so, if all material needed for reviewers is included. Authors are encouraged to consult the Key Information Checklist prior to submission to be sure that all required information has been included in their submission.

The editor notifies the corresponding author of acceptance, provisional acceptance requiring revision of the manuscript before publication (revision may include significantly shortening full papers), or rejection.

The formal notification will include feedback from the review panel and suggestions for revising the manuscript if it has been accepted for publication. Reviewers are asked to examine carefully the content and style of the manuscript for relevance, originality, contribution to the knowledgebase of the field, and importance to the aims of the JMLA. Reviewers evaluate the methodology used, validity of data, presence of supportable conclusions, clarity of writing style, and appropriateness of the literature review.

Proofs

Manuscripts are considered final at proof stage. Page proofs are provided to authors for correction of serious errors; minor alterations cannot be made at this stage. Prompt return of proofs to the copy editor at MLA headquarters is essential. Use email, fax, or overnight express services. Reprint instructions are provided to authors by email via the JMLA’s production firm during the proof stage.

Corrections

Corrections are only issued for an important error that affects the publication record, the scientific integrity of the paper, or the reputation of the authors or of the JMLA. Corrections are not published for typographical errors, except in cases where the editor determines that the error is particularly significant. Errors in figures are not corrected unless the error significantly changes the interpretation of the data.

Manuscript Elements

Title page

The first page of the manuscript should be a separate title page—giving the title, author information, and title page footnotes described below. The title page must be in a separate file from the text of the paper. The title should be specific, descriptive, and concise. It should be followed by a line that gives the authors’ first and middle names or initials and highest degrees earned. Full author affiliation information (email address, authors’ professional titles, institutional affiliation, addresses, and zip codes) at the time of the study should follow in a paragraph under the heading “Authors’ Affiliations.” Present addresses of authors, if different than at the time of the study, can be indicated in a footnote following the author’s name in the “Authors’ Affiliation” section.

Additional title page footnotes, if needed, should indicate acknowledgment of grant support, including grant numbers. Manuscripts based on papers presented at a meeting should include a footnote giving the date, name, and place of the meeting. Use the following symbols in the order noted for explanatory footnotes on the title page or within the text: *, †, ‡, §, **, ††, etc. Additional footnotes should be included in a single list at the end of the manuscript.

Example:

* This program was supported by National Institutes of Health grant no. 5-GO4-LM-01609-03 from the National Library of Medicine.
† Based on a presentation at MLA ’05, the 105th Annual Meeting of the Medical Library Association; San Antonio, TX; May 16, 2005.

For papers undergoing peer review, the title page must be submitted in a separate file so that the manuscript can be adequately blinded for review. Submissions emailed directly to the editor (Doe lecture, commentary, etc.) may include the title page in the same file as the manuscript itself.

Abstract

Research article abstracts are structured, are no more than 300 words, and include (percentages are guidelines only and do not need to be exact):

  • Objective: 25% of allotted word count on the importance of your research
  • Methods: 25% of allotted word count on what you did
  • Results: 35% of allotted word count on what you found from your study
  • Conclusions: 15% of allotted word count on the implications of your research

Research report abstracts are structured, are no more than 300 words and include (percentages are guidelines only and do not need to be exact):

  • Objective: 25% of allotted word count on the importance of your research
  • Methods: 25% of allotted word count on what you did
  • Results: 35% of allotted word count on what you found from your study
  • Conclusions: 15% of allotted word count on the implications of your research

Research communication abstracts are structured, are no more than 200 words, and include (percentages are guidelines only and do not need to be exact):

  • Objective: 25% of allotted word count on the importance of your research
  • Methods: 25% of allotted word count on what you did
  • Results: 35% of allotted word count on what you found from your study
  • Conclusions: 15% of allotted word count on the implications of your research

Systematic review abstracts are structured based on PRISMA abstract format, are no more than 250 words, and include:

  • Background (objective)
  • Methods (eligibility criteria, information sources, risk of bias)
  • Results (included studies, synthesis of results, description of the effect)
  • Discussion (strength and limitations of evidence, interpretation)
  • Other (funding)

Case study abstracts are structured, are no more than 100 words, and include:

  • Question/Purpose (or problem or case covered in the study)
  • Setting (where it took place)
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Conclusions (including lessons learned)

All acronyms must be defined. Consult the MLA Research Section’s structured abstract guidelines for more information on abstract requirements. Other types of manuscripts (e.g., letters to the editor, commentary, reviews) do not require an abstract.

Organization of manuscripts

Manuscript pages on which the text appears should be numbered consecutively. Divide papers into sections, each with an appropriate, brief heading. Footnotes in the text and personal acknowledgments should be kept to a minimum. Text footnotes if needed should appear on a separate page, not at the bottom of the page on which they occur. Relate them to the text by means of the symbols noted above in the instructions for title page footnotes (e.g., *, †, etc.).

Supplemental material

Extensive data tables, survey instruments, and appendixes should be submitted as supplemental material. These items are normally not included in the print version of the JMLA but will be available to readers online. Note that papers reporting the results of a survey must include a copy of the survey instrument, unless it has been published elsewhere.

Data retention

Data analyzed for material accepted for publication in the JMLA, along with any instructions or coding systems required to interpret them, should be retained for at least five years by the first author or his/her designee, so that they may be provided, whenever possible, in response to inquiries from interested readers. Authors who have data with longitudinal interest, for example a survey that someone might wish to repeat at a future date to track changes in user behavior, are encouraged to retain their raw data for at least ten years. Authors should make provisions for adequate backup of their data, in print or digital form, as well as for retaining access to the data should they move to another institution. All material published in the JMLA is archived and publicly available on PMC. To facilitate long-term data retention, JMLA authors have the option to have data files and accompanying materials stored on PMC as well and linked from their articles. Authors are responsible for ensuring that submitted data sets comply with any local rules regarding data distribution, such as those imposed by local institutional review boards.

Statistical results

The latest edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association should be used for guidance on the presentation of statistical results in the text.

Acknowledgments

Personal acknowledgments may be placed at the end of the text, ahead of the references. People named in the acknowledgments must be notified by the author that they will be included and must agree to be so named.

Reference style

  • Follow the reference style guidelines of Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 2nd edition,and the Medical Library Association Style Manual. Number references in the order they are mentioned in the text using Arabic numerals enclosed in brackets (e.g., …as reported in JAMA [11].) in the same font and size as the rest of the text. Reference numbers at the end of a sentence should come before the period (e.g., … [3].)
  • When using word processing software, do not use the autoinsert feature for reference numbers.
  • If a particular citation is referred to again, the same number should be used again.
  • References should be listed on a separate page and double spaced.
  • Bibliographies unrelated to the text are generally not acceptable.
  • Abbreviations of journal titles should conform to the style of PubMed. For titles not appearing there, abbreviate words as indicated in the appendix to Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 2nd edition.
  • List all authors or editors.
  • Italics should not be used in references.
  • Capitalize only the first word and proper names.
  • Words following punctuation in the title of a work are not capitalized, unless they are a proper name.
  • The full date—including month, day, or season, and volume and issue number—must be included.
  • Citations to Internet documents must include the date cited.
  • If papers not yet published but accepted are included in the list of references, authors must verify acceptance when a manuscript is submitted to the JMLA. Such papers should be listed as “forthcoming.”
  • Authors are responsible for bibliographic accuracy and must compare bibliographic citations carefully with the original publications.
  • Papers cannot be accepted for publication unless all references conform to JMLA format.
  • Provide the digital object identifier (DOI) of citations where possible. DOIs should be provided in the following format and should follow the citation as shown in this example:

Schwartz DG, Blobaum PM, Shipman JP, Markwell LG, Marshall JG. The health sciences librarian in medical education: a vital pathways project task force. J Med Lib Assoc. 2009 Oct;97(4):280–4. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.97.4.012.

Reference style examples

Use the reference style of the examples below. These are based on the formats used in Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 2nd edition.

  1. Weller AC. Editorial policy and the assessment of quality among medical journals. Bull Med Lib Assoc. 1987 Oct;75(4):310–6.
  2. Frisse ME, Braude RM, Florance V, Fuller S. Informatics and medical libraries: changing needs and changing roles. Acad Med. 1995 Jan;70(1):30–5.
  3. Day RA, Gastel B. How to write and publish a scientific paper. 6th ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press; 2006.
  4. Lessick SR. Administration and organization of services. In: Lipscomb CE, ed. Information access and delivery in health sciences libraries. Lanham, MD: Medical Library Association and Scarecrow Press; 1996; p. 1–57. (Current practice in health sciences librarianship, v.3.)
  5. National Library of Medicine. Medical informatics. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health; 1986 Dec; p. 16–25. (National Library of Medicine Long Range Plan, Report of Panel 4.)
  6. Medical Library Association. MLANET [Internet]. Chicago, IL: The Association; 1996 [rev. 1 Jan 2008; cited 24 Jan 2008]. <>. [NOTE: The JMLA does not use “available from” when citing URLs in references.]
  7. Joint Commission. “What did the doctor say?”: improving health literacy to protect patient safety [Internet]. The Commission; 7 Feb 2007 [cited 8 Feb 2007]. <http://www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/18/improving_health_literacy.pdf>.
  8. Virginia Commonwealth University Health System. About us [Internet]. The System [cited 11 Apr 2007]. <http://www.vcuhealth.org/?id=5&sid=1>.
  9. Dickerson S, Reinhart AM, Feeley TH, Bidani R, Rich E, Garg VK, Hershey CO. Patient Internet use for health information at three urban primary care clinics. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2004 Nov–Dec;11(6):499–504. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1197/jamia.M1460.
  10. University of Alberta Libraries. Health sciences resources for mobile devices [Internet]. The Libraries; 7 Oct 2009 [cited 13 Oct 2009]. <http://guides.library.ualberta.ca/health_sciences_resources_for_mobile_devices/>.
  11. Smith ST. Personal communication. 15 Jan 2009.

Consult Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 2nd edition and the Medical Library Association Style Manual for further information and examples.

Tables, graphs, charts, and other illustrations

Illustrations often help to present complex information directly pertinent to the study in a way more easily conveyed than by text alone; however, they should not be included for purely illustrative or decorative purposes. Findings presented in tables, figures, and other illustrations should not be extensively restated in the text of the work and must not be embedded in the manuscript (see instructions below).

Authors may include a total of six illustrations (photographs, tables, figures) for a full-length manuscript, three for a systematic review, and one for a research report or case study. Additional illustrations may be submitted for online publication only; these should be referred to in the text as “online” (e.g., Figure 4, online only). All illustrations submitted for publication in the print journal must be in black and white. If an illustration has been previously published, acknowledge the original source and submit written permission from the copyright holder to reproduce the material. Permission is required irrespective of authorship or publisher, except for documents in the public domain.

Print illustrations:

If photographs or printed figures are used, the JMLA requires one original copy of the material, ready to be photographed. Submit black-and-white, high-quality glossies or camera-ready figures from a high-quality laser printer. Materials should be prepared using black ink on white paper. Do not combine line drawings and typewritten material in one figure; lettering must be professionally or computer produced, must be very clear, and must be large enough to permit considerable reduction in size by the printer. Care must be taken to use the same scale on all graphs and charts. Photographs should have a glossy finish, with sharp contrast between black and white areas. Each figure should be marked on its back indicating the figure number, author’s name, and the top of the figure. Captions for illustrations should be typewritten and double-spaced on a separate page at the end of the manuscript, with numbers corresponding to those on the illustrations.

Digital illustrations:

Images for the print issue should be submitted in black and white. Images should be scanned at a minimum of 300 dots per inch (dpi). Line art should be scanned at 1200 dpi. Please note that the JMLA does not accept screenshots for the print version, as nearly all images that are downloaded from the Internet will not have sufficient resolution for the printing process. Halftones should have end dot settings of 2% in the lightest area of the image and 98% in the darkest area of the image. More details about requirements for illustrations can be found at www.allenpress.com/resources/education/.

Tables:

Tables should appear on separate numbered sheets at the end of the manuscript. Each table must be numbered consecutively and headed by a brief, descriptive title that includes the number of the table (e.g., “Table 1 Number of study participants”). Use your word processor’s table commands or use a single tab between columns and a hard return between rows.

Charts and graphs may be produced with Excel, PowerPoint, or other standard software and will be labeled as figures. To allow adjustments in spacing and layout in the print JMLA, submit these materials in native file format, in a file or files separate from that containing the manuscript. Provide the data on which the chart was based; for Excel, this may be either on the same worksheet or another sheet in the workbook. Each chart or graph should print on a separate page, numbered consecutively, and headed by a brief descriptive title that includes the number of the figure (e.g., “Figure 1 Distribution of test scores”).

Indicate the placement of all illustrations and tables by referencing them in the text. For example, “Table 1 shows the relationship of authors to their citations” or “Students preferred electronic reserves to print reserves (Table 1).” For material (extensive data tables, survey instruments, color illustrations) to be published online only, use “Table 1 (online only) shows the relationship…” or “Students preferred electronic reserves (Table 1, online only).”

Copyright and Disclosure Agreement

If a manuscript is accepted for publication, the JMLA will require the author and all coauthors to submit a signed copy (or individual copies) of the JMLA copyright license agreement and disclosure forms. It is the responsibility of the first author to ensure that all coauthors sign copyright and disclosure forms.

All persons designated as authors should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for the content. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors provides guidelines for determining authorship.

Download the JMLA copyright license agreement and disclosure form.

Manuscript Submission

Manuscripts of all types should be submitted at www.editorialmanager.com/JMLA/. Authors will receive email confirmation of their submissions.

Please note that papers not adhering to JMLA guidelines—including scope, article category, word count, or reference style—will not be sent for review but will be returned to the submitting authors.

Authors will be notified of acceptance, rejection, or need for revision of their manuscripts via email.

The JMLA reserves the right to make minor editorial changes in manuscripts, if these changes will not affect the meaning.

Online manuscript submission guidelines

All manuscripts intended must be submitted through the JMLA electronic submission system at www.editorialmanager.com/JMLA/. Authors are encouraged to consult the Key Information Checklist prior to submission to be sure that all information required for peer review has been included in their submission. Papers missing key information will be returned to the authors for revision.

The online submission system will prompt you for:

  1. Article type. You may select from:
    1. Research article (full-length paper)
    2. Research report
    3. Research communication
    4. Systematic review
    5. Case study
    6. Editorial
    7. Obituary
    8. Commentary
    9. Invited papers
    10. Column
  2. Full title and subtitle (if any) of the article
  3. Coauthors names, addresses, and email addresses
  4. Abstract (where applicable)
  5. Information on any conflict of interest, prior publication, and institutional review board approval
  6. Files to upload
    1. Title page, including full author information and title page footnotes
    2. Manuscript including text, references, acknowledgements, and tables
    3. Figures, charts, graphs, and other illustrations, if any
    4. Supplemental material (appendixes, survey instruments, etc.) if any; studies reporting the results of a survey must provide the survey instrument unless it has been published elsewhere
    5. Cover letter (optional)

Format considerations

  • Title page: Title, author names, author affiliations.
  • Abstract: 300 words for a research article, invited paper, or research report; 250 for systematic review; 200 words for a research communication; 100 words for a case study.
  • Manuscript: Word or Word Perfect, double-spaced, 11-point Times Roman, numbered pages, left justified. No author information included.
  • Tables: Included in manuscript, on separate pages at the end of the file. Do not embed tables in the text.
  • Supplemental material: Same format as text; however, survey questions may be submitted as a PDF of the actual survey instrument.
  • References: Included in manuscript after the end of the text, in JMLA format.
  • Figures, charts, graphs, and other illustrations: One or more files. Figures and illustrations should be numbered sequentially, and each should print on a separate sheet. Before uploading, check page setup (landscape vs. portrait) and figure/illustration size to be sure that, when printed, the width will not extend beyond a single page. Illustrations must be at least 300 dpi to appear in the print JMLA. Do not embed figures in the manuscript.

Note that if you exit the system before completing the submission, your submission will be saved automatically. You may return to finish the submission (or remove it should you wish) at a future time. Once you have completed the submission process, you will be asked to review a PDF of your submission and will have the opportunity to revise it if needed before submitting it to the editor.

Focus Issue (Symposium) Guidelines

Proposals for potential focus issues for publication in the JMLA should include the following details.

Focus issue organizer

The individual or individuals proposing the focus issue typically are responsible for developing content ideas and proposed authors as well as securing author participation. The focus issue organizer is also responsible for coordinating the submission of manuscripts and may elect to complete an initial review of manuscripts to ensure that they fit the theme of the focus issue.

The organizers do not make editorial decisions once papers are submitted for review. Articles submitted as part of a focus issue must also go through the regular JMLA peer-review process and are subject to the word limitations and organizational parameters of all JMLA papers.

Focus issue organizers should serve as the first author on no more than one paper included in the focus issue. Focus issue proposals should include a brief statement of the organizer’s knowledge of the proposed topic and qualifications to serve as organizer.

Rationale

The proposal should include a description of the proposed focus issue topic, including:

  • pressures, challenges, changes, trends prompting the proposal
  • relevance to health sciences librarians, including discussion of practical and theoretical import
  • brief characterization of the current status of related literature and ways the proposed work would complement or add to the state of knowledge on the topic
  • overview of the scope and objectives of the proposed focus issue

List of proposed articles and authors

For each paper, the proposal should include:

  • a statement describing how the article relates to the overall theme
  • the specific objectives of the article
  • an outline of the main sections of the proposed article, with brief notes regarding section content
  • listing of the proposed authors’ names and titles

This article-level detail should provide enough information and description to allow the editorial team to understand the relationship between the article and the overall theme, as well as judge significance and potential overlap of the proposed content.

No focus issue proposal or included articles should be considered accepted until formal notification in writing by the JMLA editor. The editor may suggest additional articles to round out the coverage or perspectives on a theme or reject individual articles proposed as part of the focus issue. The editor may also determine that focus issues, in whole or in part, be published online only.

When a focus issue proposal is accepted by the JMLA editor, the editorial team will develop a production timeline with specific deadlines for initial drafts that accommodate the time required for editorial review and manuscript revision.

Additionally, as noted, focus issue papers are subject to the JMLA review process. As such, individual articles submitted as part of a focus issue may be rejected or the editors may propose a reduction in content or shift in emphasis. The editorial team is not obligated to accept focus issue submissions in their entirety.

References

  1. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals: writing and editing for biomedical publication [Internet]. The Committee; 2009 [cited 5 Jan 2011]. <http://www.icmje.org>.
  2. Day RA, Gastel B. How to write and publish a scientific paper. 6th ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press; 2006.
  3. Hall GM. How to write a paper. 4th ed. Malden, MA: BMJ Books; 2008.
  4. Zeiger M. Essentials of writing biomedical research papers. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Health Professions Division; 2000.
  5. Matthews JR, Matthews RW. Successful scientific writing: a step-by-step guide for the biological and medical sciences. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press; 2008.
  6. Fowler HW. The new Fowler’s modern English usage. Rev. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2004.
  7. Strunk W. The elements of style. 4th ed. New York, NY: Longman; 2004.
  8. Medical Library Association. MLA style manual [Internet]. Chicago, IL: The Association [cited 1 Sep 2011]. <http://www.mlanet.org/publications/style/>.
  9. Patrias K. Citing medicine: the NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers [Internet]. 2nd ed. Wendling DL, technical ed. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2007 [cited 22 Nov 2010]. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/citingmedicine/>.
  10. The Chicago manual of style. 16th ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press; 2010.
  11. Merriam Webster’s collegiate dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster; 2003.

Addresses

Manuscripts of all types should be submitted at www.editorialmanager.com/JMLA/.

Email questions about JMLA content to I. Diane Cooper, AHIP.

Send books or electronic resources for review in the JMLA to:

JMLA Review Editor, Medical Library Association, 65 East Wacker Place, Suite 1900, Chicago, IL 60601-7246; 312.419.9094; fax, 312.419.8950