Journal of Health Services Research & Policy Guidelines for Authors


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For details of our policy on depositing articles in institutional or central respositories, please visit our archiving page.

These instructions comply with the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals formulated by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (for further details, see the ICMJE site)

1. Aims and scope
The Journal of Health Services Research and Policy publishes scientific research on health services from a wide variety of disciplines and rigorous health care policy analysis.
The Journal also engages in, and responds to, current scientific, methodological and policy debates in health care.
The Journal aims both to reflect current concerns and to contribute to setting the agenda.

2. Editorial policy
Covering letter

The covering letter is important. To help the Editors in their preliminary evaluation, please indicate why you think the paper suitable for publication.

Peer review

All papers submitted for publication undergo peer review.

Ethical approval

All research submitted for publication must be approved by an ethics committee.

Patient consent

Any article containing identifiable patient information must be accompanied by a statement of consent to publication.
If there is any doubt about whether or not information is identifiable, the Editors are happy to discuss this before an article is submitted.
Reviewers will also be asked to take careful account of issues relating to patient confidentiality when reviewing articles.

Case studies are not the only kinds of article to which this rule will be applied, but they will be subject to additional scrutiny.
Not only should submissions be accompanied by a statement of consent, but the Editors also expect to be informed about the measures that have been taken to anonymise the details that could have led to parties being identified.
They also reserve the right to work with the authors to make additional anonymising changes as they or the reviewers see fit.
The Editors may also ask authors to remove personal information that, whilst interesting and colourful, does not add to the substance of an article, but does increase the likelihood of parties being identified.
The exception to this will be where the patient has indicated in writing that she/he wants to be identified, has read the material, has discussed the consequences of being identified, and has agreed to the disclosure of all the personal information contained in the article.

In order to ensure that valuable and novel issues are aired, the Editors will sometimes consider publishing cases studies that contain potentially identifiable information where it has been impossible or clearly undesirable to seek consent from relevant parties.
However, given the strong preference for consent having been sought and obtained the reasons for not seeking consent must be compelling, and the public interest arguments for publishing the case must be powerful.
In cases where consent has not been obtained, the authors must provide a statement from a Medical Director or equivalent that the hospital or medical centre is happy for the case to be published.

Competing interests and other declarations

All authors are required to declare any conflicts of interest when submitting papers for publication.
Declarations of funding sources, a guarantor and a statement of contributorship are also required.


All previously published material must be accompanied by the written consent to reproduction of the copyright holder.
An acknowledgement of permission should be included at the relevant point in the paper, and a full reference to the original place of publication should be included in the reference list.


Authors of accepted manuscripts will be required to allocate copyright to the publisher prior to publication.

3. Types of articles
Please note that all word counts include the abstract, acknowledgements and references. Please take care not to exceed the word limit.

  • Quantitative empirical research papers should be up to 3000 words in length plus up to six tables or figures and 30 references
  • Qualitative and mixed methods papers can be up to 5000 words in length with up to 30 references
  • Essays (i.e. commentaries and theoretical pieces) can be up to 4000 words and 30 references
  • Systematic reviews can be up to 5000 words and 50 references
  • Editorials should be 800-1200 words with up to 12 references
  • Perspective articles require an unstructured abstract and can be up to 2000 words with up to 30 references
  • Worth a Second Look articles can be up to 1500 words with up to 12 references
  • 4. How to submit a manuscript
    Only manuscripts submitted via the online manuscript submission and peer review site, which can be found at will be considered for publication.

    All manuscripts submitted must be accompanied by an Author Statement which must be signed by all authors. The form can be scanned in and uploaded as a supplementary file on submission. Alternatively, send by fax or by mail to: Christine Rivett-Carnac, Editorial Administrator, Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, LSHTM, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK – [FAX: +44 (0)20 7927 2285].

    All submissions must be in English.

    To allow for blinded peer review, details of authorship (for each author: one qualification, appointment at the time of the research, current address and email address) and acknowledgements must not be included in the main manuscript, but must be supplied separately.

    When submitting a manuscript, the title page, main text, tables, figures and acknowledgements must be saved and uploaded as separate files:

  • Title page file – Manuscript title, Author(s)’ name; principal academic degree, affiliation, full address and email address; Name, telephone and fax of corresponding author
  • Main text file – Manuscript title, Abstract, Main Text and References (minus author details, acknowledgements and any running heads of author names, to allow blinded review)
  • Tables [or Boxes] – separate file(s)
  • Figures – separate file(s)
  • Appendix – separate file(s)
  • Acknowledgements – separate file
  • Supplementary file – the copyright/authorship statement can be uploaded as a supplementary file.
  • File formats

    Text files must be saved in .doc or .rtf format. Other suitable formats include .tif for photographic images, .xls for graphs produced in Excel, and .eps for other line drawings.

    5. How to prepare a manuscript

    Manuscripts should be prepared using word processing software on single-sided A4 paper, in double-spaced, unjustified text with margins of not less than 25 mm.
    Please use minimum font size of 12 points (6 cpi) and number all pages.
    Footnotes are not permitted.

    Title page

    The first page should contain the full title of the manuscript, a short title, the author(s) name(s) and affiliation(s), and the name, postal and email addresses of the author for correspondence, as well as a full list of declarations.

    The title should be concise and informative, accurately indicating the content of the article. The short title should be no more than six words long.


    Theoretical and review articles should include an abstract (maximum 250 words).
    Articles reporting primary or secondary empirical research should include a structured abstract (maximum 250 words: objectives, methods, results, conclusions).


    Tables must be prepared using the Table feature of the word processor. Tables should not duplicate information given in the text, should be numbered in the order in which they are mentioned in the text, and should be given a brief title.


    All figures should be numbered in the order in which they are mentioned in the text. All figures must be accompanied by a figure legend. If figures are supplied in separate files, the figure legends must all be listed at the end of the main text file.

    Line drawings should be produced electronically and clearly labelled using a sans serif font such as Arial. Graphs may be supplied as Excel spreadsheets (one per sheet). Other line drawings should be supplied in a suitable vector graphic file format (e.g. .eps)

    All photographic images should be submitted in camera-ready form (i.e. with all extraneous areas removed), and where necessary, magnification should be shown using a scale marker. Photographic images must be supplied at high resolution, preferably 600 dpi. Images supplied at less than 300 dpi are unsuitable for print and will delay publication. The preferred file format is .tif.


    Only essential references should be included. Authors are responsible for verifying them against the original source material. RSM Press uses the Vancouver referencing system: references should be identified in the text by superscript Arabic numerals after any punctuation, and numbered and listed at the end of the paper in the order in which they are first cited in the text. Automatic numbering should be avoided. References should include the names and initials of up to six authors. If there are more than six authors, only the first three should be named, followed by et al. Publications for which no author is apparent may be attributed to the organization from which they originate. Simply omit the name of the author for anonymous journal articles – avoid using ’Anonymous’. Punctuation in references should be kept to a minimum, as shown in the following examples:

    1. Handy CB. Understanding organisations. 3rd edn. London: Penguin, 1985
    2. Hart E. Ghost in the machine. Health Serv J 1991;101:20–1


    Symbols and abbreviations should be those currently in use. Authors should not create new abbreviations and acronyms. The RSM’s book Units, Symbols and Abbreviations provides lists of approved abbreviations.


    All measurements should be expressed in SI units.


    If preparing statistical data for publication, please read the statistical guidelines.

    6. Proofs and eprints
    Proofs will be sent by email to the designated corresponding author as a PDF file attachment and should be corrected and returned promptly; corrections should be kept to a minimum.

    A PDF eprint of each published article will be supplied free of charge to the author for correspondence; hardcopy offprints may be ordered from the publisher when the proofs are returned.