Preparation of manuscript
Special Report. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. N Eng J Med 1991: 324: 424-8.
Type the manuscript on white bond paper, 216 x 279 mm (8.5 x 11 inches) or ISO A4 (212 x 297 mm), with margins of at least 25 mm (1 inch). Type only on one side of the paper. Use double spacing throughout including title page, abstracts, text, acknowledgments, references, tables, and legends for illustrations. Begin each of the following sections on separate pages: title page, abstract and key words, text, acknowledgments, references, individual tables, and legends. Number pages consecutively beginning with the title page. Type the page number in the upper of lower right-hand corner of each page.
The title page should carry (a) the title of the article, which should be concise but informative; (b) first name, middle initial, and last name of each author, with highest academic degree (s) and institutional affiliation; (c) name of department (s) to which the work should be attributed; (d) disclaimers, if any; (e) name and address of author responsible for correspondence about the manuscripts (f) name and address of author to whom request for reprints should be address or statement that reprints will not be available from the author; (g) source (s) of support in the form of grants, equipment, drugs, or all of these; and (h) a short running head or foot line of no more than 40 characters (count letters and spaces) placed at the foot of the title page and identified.
All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship. The order of authorship should be a joint decision of the co-authors. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for the content.
Authorship credit should be based only on substantial contributions (a) to conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data; (b) to drafting the article of revising it critically for important intellectual content; (c) on final approval of the version to be published. Conditions (a), (b), and (c) must all be met. Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or the collection of data does not justify authorship. General supervision of the research group is also not sufficient for authorship. Any part of an article to its main conclusion must be the responsibility of at least one author.
A paper with corporate (collective) authorship must specify the key persons responsible for the article; others contributing to the work should be recognized separately (see Acknowledgments).
Editors may require authors to justify the assignment of authorship.
The second page should carry an abstract of no more than 150 words for unstructured abstracts or 250 words for structured abstracts. The abstract should state the purpose(s) of the study or investigation, basic procedures (selection of study subjects or laboratory animals; observational and analytical methods), main findings (give specific data and their statistical significance, if possible), and the principal conclusions. Emphasize new and important aspects of the study or observation.
Below the abstract provide, and identify as such, 3-10 key words or short phrases that will assist indexers in cross indexing the article and may be published with the abstract. Use terms from the medical subject heading (MeSH) list of Index Medicus; if suitable MeSH terms are not yet available for recently introduced terms, present terms may be used.
The text of observational and experimental articles is usually but not necessarily divided into sections with the headings: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Long articles may need subheadings within some sections to clarify their content, especially the Methods, Results and Discussion sections.
State the purpose of the article. Summarize the rationale for the study or observation. Give only strictly pertinent references and do not review the subject extensively. Do not include data or conclusions from the work being reported.
Describe your selection of the observational or experimental subjects (patients or laboratory animals, including controls) clearly. Identify the methods, apparatus (manufacturer, name and address in parentheses), and procedures in sufficient detail to allow other references to established methods including statistical methods. Provide references and brief descriptions for methods that have been published but are well known; describe new or substantially modified methods, give reasons for using them, and evaluate chemicals used, including generic name(s), dose(s), and route(s) of administration.
Describe statistical methods with enough detail to enable a knowledgeable reader with access to the original data to verify the reported results. When possible, quantify findings and present them with
appropriate indicators of measurement error or uncertainty (such as confidence intervals). Avoid sole reliance on statistical hypothesis testing, such as the use of p values, which fails to convey important quantitative information. Discuss eligibility of experimental subjects. Give details about randomization, Describe the methods for and success of any blinding of observations. Report treatment complications. Give number of observations. Report losses to observation (such as dropouts from a clinical trial). References for study design and statistical methods should be according to standard works (with pages stated) when possible rather than to papers in which the designs or methods were originally reported. Specify any general-use computer programmes used.
Put general description of methods in the Methods section. When data are summarized in the Results section specify the statistical methods used to analyze them. Restrict tables and figures to those needed to explain the argument of the paper and to assess its support. Use graphs as an alternative to tables with many entries; do not duplicate data in graphs and tables. Avoid non-technical use of technical terms in statistics, such as "random" (which implies a randomizing device), "normal", "significant", "correlations", and "sample". Define statistical terms, abbreviations, and most symbols.
present your results, in logical sequence in the test tables, and illustrations. Do not repeat in the text all the data in the tables or illustrations; emphasize or summarize only important observations.
Emphasize new and important aspects of the study and the conclusions that follow from them. Do not repeat in detail data or other material given in the Introduction or the Results section. Include in the Discussion section the implications of the findings and their limitations including implications for future research. Relate the observations to other relevant studies. Link the conclusions with the goals of the study and avoid unqualified statements and conclusions not completely supported by your data. Avoid claiming priority to work that has not been completed. State new hypotheses when warranted but clearly label them as such. Recommendations, when appropriate, may be included.
At an appropriate place in the article (title-page footnote or appendix to the test, one or more statements should specify (a) contributions that need acknowledging but do not justify authorship, such as general support by a departmental chairman; (b) acknowledgments of technical help; (e) acknowledgments of financial and material support, specifying the nature of the support; (d) financial relationships that may pose a conflict of interest.
Persons who have contributed intellectually to the paper but whose contributions do not justify authorship may be named and their function or contribution described e.g., "scientific advisor", "critical review of study proposal", "data collection" or "participation in clinical trial". Such persons must have given their permission to be named. Authors are responsible for obtaining written permission from persons acknowledged by name, because readers may infer their endorsement of the data and conclusions. Technical help should be acknowledged in a paragraph separate from those acknowledging other contributions.
Number references consecutively in order in which they are first mentioned in the test. Identify references in text, tables, and legends by arabic numericals in parentheses. References cited only in tables or in legends to figures should be numbered in accordance with a sequence established by the first identification in the text of the particular table or illustration.
Use the style of the examples below which are based with slight modifications on the formats used by the US National Library of Medicine used in Index Medicus Consult list of Journals indexed in Index Medicus, Published annually as separate publication by the library and as a list in the January issue of Index Medicus.
Try to avoid using abstracts as references. "Unpublished observations" and "Personal Communications" may not be used as references, although references to written, not oral, communications may be inserted (in parentheses) in the text. Include among the references, papers accepted but not yet published; designate the journal and add "In press". Information from manuscripts submitted but not yet accepted should be cited in the text as "unpublished observations" (in parentheses). The references must be verified by the author(s) against the original documents.
Examples of correct forms of references are given below:
Books and other monographs
Other published material
Type each table double-spaced on a separate sheet. Do not submit table as photographs. Number tables consecutively in the order of their first citation in the text and supply a brief legend for each. Give each column a short or abbreviated heading. Place explanatory matter in footnotes, not in the heading. Explain in footnotes all nonstandard abbreviations that are used in each table.
Identify statistical measures of variations such as standard deviation and standard error of the mean.
Do not use internal horizontal and vertical rules.
Be sure that each table is cited in the text.
If you use data from another published or unpublished source obtain permission and acknowledge fully.
The use of too many tables in rotation to the length of the text may produce difficulties in the layout of pages. Examine issues of the journal to estimate how many tables can be used per 1000 words of text.
Submit the required number of complete sets of figures. Figures should be professionally drawn and photographed free hand or typewritten lettering is unacceptable. Instead of original drawings, roentgenograms, and other material send sharp, glossy black-and-white photographic prints, usually 127x173 mm (5x7 inch) but no larger than 203x254 mm (9x10 inch). Letters, numbers, and symbols should be clear and even throughout; and of sufficient size that when reduced for publication each item would still be legible. Titles and detailed explanations should be given in the legends for illustrations, not on the illustrations themselves.
Each figure should have a label pasted at its back indicating the number of the figure, author's name, and top of the figure. Do not write on the back of figures or scratch or mark them by using paper clips. Do not bend figures or mount them on cardboard.
Photomicrographs must have internal scale markers. Symbols, arrows, or letters used in the photomicrographs should contrast with the background.
If photographs of persons are used, either the subjects must not be identifiable or their pictures must be accompanied by written permission to use the photographs.
Figure should be numbered consecutively according to the order in which they have been first cited in the text. If a figure has been 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.
For illustrations in colour, send the colour negatives, positive transparencies, or colour prints. Accompanying drawings marked to indicate the region to be reproduced may be useful to the editor. Illustrations in colour will be published only if the author pays for the extra cost.
Type legends for illustrations/tables double-spaced, starting on separate page, with Arabic numerals corresponding to the illustrations. When symbols, arrows, numbers, or letters are used to identify parts of the illustrations, identify and explain each one clearly in the legend. Explain the internal scale and identify method of staining in photomicrographs.
Measurement of length, height, weight and volume should be reported in metric units (meter, kilogram, or liter) or their decimal multiples.
Temperatures should be given in degrees Celsius. Blood pressures should be given in millimeters of mercury.
All haematologic and clinical-chemistry measurements should be reported in the Metric system in terms of the International System of Units (SI). Editors may request conventional or non-SI Units to be added by the authors before publications.
Use only standard abbreviations. Avoid abbreviation in the title and abstract. The full term for which an abbreviation stands should precede its first use in the text unless it is a standard unit measurement.
Special Report. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. N Eng J Med 1991: 324: 424-8.