Author Guidelines

Table of Contents

     Types of Articles
           Research Articles
           Program Descriptions
           Narrative/Traditional Literature Reviews
           Book 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, and before the references, provide an excplicit conflict of interest statement. Additionally, 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

Book Reviews
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 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: explicit conflict of interest statement, 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:

Further reading:

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: explicit conflict of interest statement, 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.

Comment and Opinion
Manuscripts that are primarily editorial and comment on timely and significant topics are published in the comment and opinion section of JCHLA. Submissions do not require abstracts and should not exceed 2,500 words. At the end of the article, an excplicit conflict of interest statement should be provided.

JCHLA has published columns on a wide variety of topics, including social media; consumer health; management and leadership; and other issues that are topical and of interest to the membership. These are non-peer-reviewed articles that should not exceed 2,500 words. They can range from a non-systematic discussion of current research around a topic, to opinion or discussion of the author’s own experience. We sometimes solicit columns from CHLA/ABSC interest groups, or from particular individuals, but we are interested in any ideas from our members. If you have an idea for a column, please contact the editor at Columnists should include an excplicit conflict of interest statement at the end of the article.

Preparation of the Manuscript

  • Contributions should be preprared in Microsoft Word document file format.
  • Contributions should be double-spaced, use a 12-point font, and employ italics rather than underlining (except with URL addresses).
  • Articles may be submitted in French or in English but will not be translated by the editors or their associates.
  • Style of writing should conform to acceptable usage and syntax; slang and jargon should be avoided.
  • Abbreviations and acronyms should be fully spelled out on first use, with the acronym following in parentheses; for example: “Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS).”  Subsequent mentions may use the acronym alone.
  • Spelling shall conform to that of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary; exceptions shall be at the discretion of the editors. Authors are responsible for consistency in spelling.
  • At the end of the article, and before the references, please provide an excplicit conflict of interest statement.
  • The abstract (if applicable) appears on the first page, followed by the text and the reference list.
  • Tables and captions for illustrations must be on separate pages and placed after the reference list.
  • If submitting to a peer-reviewed section of the journal, the instructions in Ensuring a Blind Review have been followed.
  • If you would like your submission to be linked to your ORCID profile, please enter your ORCID ID (under the "public" tab) when registering at the journal site.  If you have already registered, log in and then click "View profile" under your profile name at the upper right hand corner of the page.  Click the "public" tab, and click to connect your profile to your ORCID ID, or if you have already manually entered your ORCID ID, to authorize its use by the journal.  Be sure to save any changes to your profile.    

Please note: JCHLA / JABSC reserves the right to copy-edit submissions accepted for publication in accordance with its style and format. All articles submitted to the journal are also edited for clarity and readability.

Reference Style
All references should be formatted according to the guidelines set out in the National Library of Medicine’s Citing Medicine (4), which is the style recommended by the International Council of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). If you are using a reference management program, please use the NLM style filter. Each reference must be cited in the text. The reference list must be double-spaced and placed at the end of the text.

Footnotes to material in the text should not be used unless they are unavoidable, but their use is encouraged in tables. Where used in the text, footnotes should be cited in the manuscript by superscript Arabic numbers (except in the tables; see below) and should be numbered serially beginning with any that appear on the title page. Each footnote should be typed on the manuscript page on which the reference to it is made; footnotes should not be included in the list of references.

Figures and tables used in an appendix should be numbered sequentially but separately from those used in the main body of the paper, for example, Fig. A1, Table A1, etc.

Each figure or group of figures should be planned to fit into one or two columns of text. The maximum finished size of a one-column illustration is 8.6 cm × 23.7 cm (3.4 in. × 9.3 in.) and that of a two-column illustration is 18.2 cm × 23.7 cm (7.2 in. × 9.3 in.). The figures (including halftones) must be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals, and each one must be referred to in the text and self-explanatory. All terms, abbreviations, and symbols must correspond with those in the text. Only essential labelling should be used, with detailed information given in the caption.

Each table should have an Arabic number and a brief title. Each table must be referred to in the text but should be self-explanatory. Column headings should be brief but may be amplified by footnotes. Vertical rules should not be used. Footnotes in tables should be designated by symbols (*, †, ‡, §, ll, ¶, #) or superscript lowercase italic letters. Descriptive material not designated by a footnote may be placed under a table as a Note. Tables should be typed on separate pages and placed after the list of references.

Line drawings
All lines must be sufficiently thick (0.5 points minimum) to reproduce well, and all symbols, superscripts, subscripts, and decimal points must be in good proportion to the rest of the drawing and large enough to allow for any necessary reduction without loss of detail. Avoid small open symbols; these tend to fill in upon reproduction. Also avoid patterns with shades of gray; instead, use clearly distinguishable well-spaced dots or diagonal lines. The same font style and lettering sizes should be used for all figures. Characters should be scaled so the minimum height is 1.5 mm and the maximum height 2.5 mm.

A photograph, or group of photographs, should be planned to fit into the area of either one or two columns of text with no further reduction. Preparation of electronic illustration files:

  • The preferred graphic file formats of JCHLA are *.jpg, *png, *.tif, *.eps, and *.pdf.
  • All figures should be submitted at their final published size.
  • For figures with several parts (e.g., a, b, c, d, etc.) created using the same software application, assemble them into one file rather than sending several files.
  • Remember that the more complex your artwork becomes, the greater the possibility for problems at output time.
  • Avoid complicated textures and shadings, especially in vector illustration programs; this increases the chance for a poor-quality final product.
  • The proper resolution should be used when submitting illustration files. The minimum requirements for resolution are 300 dpi.

Submission of the Manuscript

Title Page
For all submissions (with the exception of book, product and resource reviews), prepare a separate file for the title page that includes the following information:

  • Title of submission
  • For each author:
    • name
    • degrees
    • title
    • institutional affiliation, including city, province, country
  • A note to indicate who the corresponding author is and their email address

Online Submission Process
Manuscripts should be submitted electronically via the OJS submission system using the “Make a new Submission” button (on the top right-hand side of the page).


  1. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Recommendations for the conduct, reporting, editing, and publication of scholarly work in medical journals [Internet]. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors 2019 Dec [cited 2020 Feb 5]. Available from:
  2. Huston P, Elmslie T. Program descriptions: information for authors and peer reviewers. CMAJ. 1996 Oct 15;155(8):1069-74.
  3. Grant MJ, Booth A. A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Info Libr J. 2009 Jun;26(2):91-108.
  4. Patrias K. Citing medicine: the NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers. 2nd ed. Wendling DL, technical editor. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2007- [updated 2015 Oct 2; cited 2020 Feb 5]. Available from: