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How to Write for and Submit to the Virtual Projects Column

The Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) has for many years regularly published articles documenting the electronic information projects of its members. Because of the rapid pace of technological change and appearance of new service solutions, the JMLA introduced a new column in 2013 to highlight current innovative and notable virtual projects in health sciences libraries. This column serves as a companion to the Building Projects Column but focuses on virtual spaces, describing projects that move the library “presence” outside the physical building and support users in their digital spaces, wherever and whenever needed. Virtual projects are defined in the broadest possible terms to include library projects that employ technology (systems, communications technologies, software, social media technologies, etc.) to provide electronic information services and collections to remote or off-site users. Columns are published on an annual basis in conjunction with periodic calls and announcements to encourage submissions. Virtual projects for the column are developed by a small advisory group of Medical Library Association (MLA) members who are technology experts.

Given the currency, technical focus, and largely descriptive nature of the articles in the Virtual Projects Column, the scope and manuscript elements of the articles require a somewhat different format than the other types of JMLA articles. The following instructions are offered to authors for their consideration in preparing their manuscripts for the Virtual Projects Column.

  1. Context, aims, and significance of the virtual project: Provide background information for the project (library setting, goals, participants, and resources or funding, if any). Describe what is novel or innovative about the approach?
  2. Brief description of the virtual project: Describe the core activities or phases of the project, such as planning, testing, implementation, and evaluation (if any) activities.
  3. Technology used: Provide sufficient detail about the systems, communications technologies, software, or social media technologies used for the project. As a guideline, if the technology involved is something that the average librarian probably would not know, include some background information for readers to understand the technology.
  4. Advantages, limitations, and impact: Describe the advantages and limitations of the approach and the impact the project had on the library and its users.
  5. Contact information: Provide contact information so that interested individuals or groups who may be considering such a project for their libraries can easily ask follow-up questions.
  6. Screenshots and links: Each project may include a link to a relevant website in the print article and a screenshot that will be available as “online only” in the PMC version of the column. Alternatively, a photo of a relevant website at 300 dpi can be used in the print article (screenshots are not normally of sufficient resolution for print).
  7. Format and word count: Submissions should be double-spaced, use Times New Roman 11-point font, and generally not exceed 500 words. Manuscript pages should be numbered.
  8. References (optional): In most cases references are not necessary, but they can be included if relevant. Authors should use the reference formats in the MLA Style Manual).
  9. Copyright forms: A copy of the JMLA Copyright License Agreement is available at www.mlanet.org/pdf/jmla_copyright_disclosure.pdf. Please complete this agreement and submit it with the final draft of your manuscript. If there are multiple authors, each author needs to sign a separate form.
  10. MLA Information for Authors: The JMLA provides an extensive guide for authors). The MLA guide serves as the authoritative source for articles published in the JMLA.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA, associate editor, Virtual Projects Column, or the other committee members:

We appreciate your time and contributions!