Table of Contents
Types of Articles
Narrative/Traditional Literature Reviews
Product & Resource Reviews
Comment and Opinion
Preparation of the Manuscript
Submission of the Manuscript
Types of Articles
The JCHLA / JABSC publishes accepted manuscripts covering a range of article types to serve its readership. General guidelines for the most frequent types are described below:
Research Articles (Peer-Reviewed)
The following guidelines, adapted from The Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals(1), are meant as general guidelines for potential contributors of full-length research articles. Research articles (excluding the abstract and references), should not exceed 5,000 words.
Components of a Research Article:
- Research articles should use the following section headings: Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Long articles may need subheadings within some sections (especially the Results and Discussion sections) to clarify their content.
- Structured abstracts (with bolded section headings) must be provided on a separate page and should contain not more than 250 words (excluding section indicators). References should not be included unless they are absolutely essential and complete bibliographic information is given.
- The Introduction should clearly state the purpose of the article, summarize the rationale for the study, and review the literature relevant to the work. Only strictly pertinent references should be included.
- Methods should describe the design of the study in sufficient detail to allow others to reproduce the results. Statistical methods should also be detailed sufficiently to enable a knowledgeable reader, with access to the original data, to verify the reported results. Authors should name any general-use computer programs used, provide a general description in the Methods section, and specify the statistical methods used to analyze data presented in the Results section.
- Survey instruments or other evaluation tools should be included as an appendix.
- Results should be presented in logical sequence in the text, tables and illustrations. The text section should not repeat all the data in the tables or illustrations. Authors are advised to use graphs as an alternative to tables with many entries and refrain from duplicating data in graphs and tables.
- Please report both percentages and raw numbers (e.g., "Of the respondents, 10% (n=10) were in favour of...").
- The Discussion should state the implications of the findings, including implications for future research, as well as limitations of the findings. The conclusions should connect with the goals of the study but avoid unqualified statements and statements not completely supported by the data.
- At the end of the article, one or more statements should specify contributions such as acknowledgements of technical help or acknowledgements of financial and material support (which should specify the nature of the support), but do not justify authorship.
Program Descriptions (Peer-Reviewed)
Program development or redevelopment is a key component of our practice as medical librarians. Often, a program may be unique or interesting, but may not be broad enough to be the focus of a research project. Program Descriptions provide an alternative for reporting on such initiatives. Program Descriptions should be approximately 2,500-3,000 words in length.
The following outline provides a simple framework for composing a program description about new or redesigned services recently implemented in your organization. It summarizes an editorial policy report from the Canadian Medical Association Journal entitled “Program descriptions: information for authors and peer reviewers”(2).
Components of a Program Description:
- Program descriptions should use the following section headings: Abstract, Introduction, Description, Outcomes, and Discussion. Long articles may need subheadings within some sections to clarify their content.
- The Introduction should include the problem definition, a brief review of relevant literature to indicate how the problem or issue has been discussed or addressed by others, and the specific objective(s) of the program.
- The Description is similar to the methods section of a research article and outlines how the program was planned, structured, and delivered. This section should describe the following: the information or service offered, the target population, the service providers, and particulars of the setting (location, period, and duration) of service delivery. This section should provide readers with the information they require to decide whether it is useful or practical to adapt this program to their own setting. A discussion of alternative options explored and discarded as part of the program development process may be pertinent in some situations.
- Outcomes demonstrate the effectiveness of a program by including an initial evaluation. Outcome measures will vary depending on the nature of the program. Examples of evaluated outcomes include user satisfaction, a change in uptake of a tool as measured by usage statistics, or before-and-after levels of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviours of the target group(s). While evaluation will likely not be done to the extent that would be the case in a research study, we do expect all program descriptions to contain some evaluative component.
- The Discussion is similar to that of any scientific paper and summarizes the usefulness of the program, lessons learned, and future directions. The Discussion generally includes comparisons with related programs, implications of the new program, an outline of the program’s strengths and weaknesses, what might be done differently the next time the program is offered, or whether there is potential to expand the program to a greater number of users, or to different groups. The Discussion should end with a few concluding thoughts on the program.
Narrative/Traditional Literature Reviews (Peer-Reviewed)
In addition to knowledge syntheses, which are considered original research and should be submitted as a Research Article, JCHLA also welcomes narrative/traditional literature reviews. Review articles should be approximately 2,500-3,000 words, and include descriptive headings to suit the content including an Abstract and an Introduction and Discussion section.
The Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) scope note for a literature review provided by MEDLINE describes this type of publication as “An article or book published after examination of published material on a subject. It may be comprehensive to various degrees and the time range of material scrutinized may be broad or narrow, but the reviews most often desired are reviews of the current literature. The textual material examined may be equally broad and can encompass, in medicine specifically, clinical material as well as experimental research or case reports. State-of-the-art reviews tend to address more current matters.”
The following articles about quality assessment and peer review of narrative literature reviews may also provide insight into how to write a strong review:
- Byrne JA. Improving the peer review of narrative literature reviews. Res Integr Peer Rev. 2016;1:12. Published 2016 Sep 4. doi:10.1186/s41073-016-0019-2
- Baethge C, Goldbeck-Wood S, Mertens S. SANRA-a scale for the quality assessment of narrative review articles. Res Integr Peer Rev. 2019;4:5. Published 2019 Mar 26. doi:1186/s41073-019-0064-8
Periodically, the editors of JCHLA will solicit requests for book reviewers for specific titles on CANMEDLIB. We also welcome proposals from members; if you are interested in reviewing a particular title, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are acquainted with any of the book’s authors, please state the nature of the acquaintance, so that the editors may assess whether this represents a potential conflict for the reviewer. Book reviews should be no longer than 1,250 words.
The general structure of the book review should be as follows:
- In one or two paragraphs, briefly introduce the issue or topic discussed by the book, including a general overview, and how this book supplements, updates or expands on similar books and resources on the same topic (if you are aware of any). Then introduce the author(s) and title, with a brief discussion of the author(s)’ background/credentials.
- A brief summary of the book’s coverage. Provide a brief overview of how the book is organized, and what is covered.
- Analysis of the book’s content or ideas. You might choose to address any or all of the following. This is a guide, and not a comprehensive list of things you might address:
- target audience(s), and how well the book meets their needs
- topic coverage (are there gaps?)
- level of detail – too much, too little, or just right?
- usefulness to practice
- quality of the writing (entertaining and accessible? jargon-laden? dense?) and editing (is the book riddled with errors?)
- authors’ point of view (which ideas do they promote or endorse? Do they dismiss or fail to mention other relevant points of view?)
- If applicable, feel free to tie the book’s content to your own experience. Is it a book you wish you’d had as a resource on a previous project? Is it one you intend to use in future?
- Concluding remarks. Is this a book that you would recommend your colleagues purchase and read? Does it represent good value for the money?
- Please include the following information at the end of the review: author name, degree(s), title, institutional affiliation, including city, province, country, and a corresponding email address.
Citing the reviewed book:
- Provide the following information about the book at the top of the review, formatted as:
Author(s)/Editor(s). Title. Edition. Place of Publication: Publisher; Year. Hardcover/softcover: No. of pages. ISBN #. Price: CAN$ or USD$. Available from: [link to publisher web page for this title].
- Example: Kahn MB. Disaster response and planning for libraries. 3rd ed. Chicago: ALA Editions; 2012. Hardcover: 176 p. ISBN: 978-0-8389-1151-8. Price: USD$60.00. Available from: http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=3531.
- We recommend the following article as a very good introduction to writing book reviews:
Hartley J. [Internet]. How to…write a book review. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. [n.d.; cited 2012 Jul 4]. Available from: https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/authors/guides/write/book_review.htm
Product & Resource Reviews
This column is intended to highlight and review new or existing products, hardware, utilities, databases, websites, resources, library furniture and accessories of interest to health sciences librarians. For specific examples of product and resource reviews, please see recent issues of the journal. Product and resource reviews should be no more than 1,250 words in length.
Your review should include the following headings, as applicable: Purpose; Product/Resource Description; Intended Audience/Users; Special Features; Compatibility Issues; Platform; Usability; Strengths and Weaknesses; Comparison with Similar Products; Currency; Cost/Value; Contact Information. Screenshots or photos may be included to illustrate key features. Please include the following information at the end of the review: author name, degree(s), title, institutional affiliation, including city, province, country, and a corresponding email address.
Examples of types of products we review include:
- reference management programs
- screencasting and other instructional development tools
- free or subscription-based online health databases, consumer health websites and apps
- hardware either for loan or available in library spaces such as tablets, laptops, power options (add-on outlets, portable chargers etc), immersive technology such as virtual reality (VR), 360 projection and more
- library furniture and accessories including couches, carrels, pods, exercise and standing desks, 3D printers, smart tables etc.