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Author Guidelines

Submission Categories and Format Guidelines

If authors are not certain about the most appropriate category for their manuscripts, they are urged to contact the editor for assistance.

Research Articles

Note: For all research articles, the introduction should be concise without subheadings; provide just enough background information so that readers understand the purpose of your study. There is no separate literature review section. Avoid redundancy between the text and information shown in figures and tables; instead, write about the values in the figures and tables. Limitations and conclusions should be a part of the discussion, but there are no separate limitations, conclusions, or summary sections.

Papers use research designs that allow the results to be generalized to a larger population. Examples include meta-analyses, systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, or controlled comparison studies. Papers are peer reviewed.

Paper Submission Requirements:

  • Structured abstract (Objective, Methods, Results, Conclusions): no more than 250 words
  • Manuscript format: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion
  • Manuscript length: no more than 5,000 words
  • Figures and tables: no more than 6 in print
  • Keywords: 3–10 keywords representing the main content of the article
  • Font: double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point

Surveys and Studies report on interesting and important findings that are suggestive rather than definitive and may produce non-generalizable results. Examples include cohort studies, surveys, intervention studies with no control group, and qualitative research. Surveys and studies are peer reviewed.

Survey and Studies Submission Requirements:

  • Structured abstract (Objective, Methods, Results, Conclusions): no more than 250 words
  • Manuscript format: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion
  • Manuscript length: 3,000–4,000 words
  • Figures and tables: no more than 6 in print
  • Keywords: 3–10 keywords representing the main content of the article
  • Font: double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point

Research Communications describe preliminary findings, feasibility studies, or tests of concept. Research communications are peer reviewed.

Research Communication Submission Requirements:

  • Structured abstract (Objective, Methods, Results, Conclusions): no more than 250 words
  • Manuscript format: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion
  • Manuscript length: 1,000–2,500 words
  • Figures and tables: no more than 3 in print
  • Keywords: 3–10 keywords representing the main content of the article
  • Font: double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point

Other Article Categories

Case Studies describe an improvement in services or an innovative resolution to a problem or issue that advances health sciences librarianship. Case studies show evidence of the success or failure of the intervention along with a discussion of sustainability. Strong case studies report objective data or other evaluative information. Case studies are peer reviewed.

Case Studies Submission Requirements:

  • Structured abstract (Background, Case Presentation, Conclusions): no more than 200 words
  • Manuscript format: Background, Study Purpose, Case Presentation, and Discussion
  • Manuscript length: 1,000–2,500 words
  • Figures and tables: no more than 2 in print
  • Keywords: 3–10 keywords representing the main content of the article
  • Font: double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point

Note: For case studies, the background should be concise without subheadings. There is no separate literature review section. Avoid redundancy between the text and information shown in figures and tables; instead, write about the values in the figures and tables. Conclusions should be a part of the discussion, but there are no separate conclusions or summary sections.

Commentaries present viewpoints on timely topics of interest to health sciences librarians and information specialists. This category allows freedom of expression and encourages constructive discussion. Commentaries undergo editorial review.

Commentary Submission Requirements:

  • Abstract: none
  • Manuscript length: 1,000–2,500 words
  • Figures and tables: no more than 1 in print
  • Font: double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point
Tools and Skills are short articles that help health sciences librarians and information specialists in their day-to-day work. Topics are subjects that librarians want or need to know more about. Examples include: introduction to scoping reviews; how to de-duplicate database search resultsskills undergo editorial review.
 
Tools and Skills Submission Requirements:
 
  • Abstract: none
  • Writing style: plain writing, descriptive, to-the-point
  • Manuscript length: 2,000–3,500 words
  • Figures and tables: no more than 3 in print
  • Font: double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point

Special Papers are usually solicited by the editor-in-chief or a section editor. They include articles for special focus issues and feature columns (e.g., MLA Proceedings, Janet Doe Lecture, MLA President’s Page, Virtual Projects).

Letters to the Editor comment on recent JMLA publications. Letters should be respectful in tone. Letters are sent to the lead author of the article to invite commentary if the author desires. Letters and authors’ responses (if provided) are published together.

Letter to the Editor Submission Requirements:

  • Length: no more than 300–500 words
  • References: no more than 5
  • Font: double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point
History Matters are articles on historical topics relevant to medical librarianship.

Obituaries recognize significant service. For this reason, inclusion shall require that the deceased person fall into one of these three groups.

  • Group I: member or staff member at time of death or former member or staff member with continuous membership or service of ten years or more prior to death
  • Group II: public officials (appointed or elected) and others, whose actions have had an extraordinary effect or bearing on health sciences information work or librarianship
  • Group III: health sciences librarians, not otherwise covered, who are generally recognized as having international stature

For those in group I, the deceased shall have served the association and the profession in a way that demonstrates dedication and commitment to MLA and has significant and lasting achievement in the field. Taken into account, too, will be the person’s role in mentoring and the influence that the person has had on others.

Book Reviews provide critical appraisals of new books and serials that will assist readers in selecting works for their own professional use or for addition to their library collections. Reviewers are chosen based on their knowledge of and experience in areas relevant to the library and information world.

Book reviews should contain a brief overview of scope and content so that readers can determine the book’s interest to them. Reviewing each chapter of a book in detail is not necessary. For a research or historical work, please comment on its significance in relation to the focus area as well as to the field as a whole. For an applied or descriptive work, be sure to comment on its usefulness. In both cases, compare the book with similar publications in its area and indicate its potential audiences, where relevant. When quoting the text, indicate page numbers in parentheses at the end of the quote.

Resource Reviews provide critical appraisals of electronic resources, software, web services, and other technology tools that assist staff in health sciences libraries as they make collection development and technology implementation decisions. Reviewers evaluate many types of resources such as databases and catalogs, electronic collections, research and reference tools, library management systems, educational instruments, commercial and open source software, and web-based productivity tools. Resources should be readily accessible and of clear use to users and/or staff of health sciences libraries. Comparative reviews are encouraged, but major evaluation studies should be published as articles rather than reviews. See more detailed information.

Writing Guidelines and Editorial Style

The style conventions used by the JMLA conform to the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” (also known as “Vancouver Style”), prepared by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors [1]. Other authoritative sources that guide the editorial process include the Medical Library Association (MLA) Style Manual [2], Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 2nd edition [3], the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style [4] for punctuation and form and other areas in which “Uniform Requirements” is silent, and the latest edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary [5] for spelling.

Consult the MLA Research Section’s structured abstract guidelines for more information on abstract requirements.

Reference style

The MLA Style Manual provides examples of the JMLA reference style. Consult Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 2nd edition, for further information and examples.

Supplemental material

Extensive data tables, survey instruments, and appendixes should be submitted as supplemental material. Note that papers reporting the results of a survey must include a copy of the survey instrument, unless it has been published elsewhere.

Data retention

Data analyzed for material accepted for publication in the JMLA, along with any instructions or coding systems required to interpret them, should be retained for at least five years by the first author or his/her designee, so that they may be provided, whenever possible, in response to inquiries from interested readers. Authors who have data with longitudinal interest, for example, a survey that someone might wish to repeat at a future date to track changes in user behavior, are encouraged to retain their raw data for at least ten years. Authors should make provisions for adequate backup of their data, in print or digital form, as well as for retaining access to the data should they move to another institution. All material published in the JMLA is archived and publicly available on PMC. To facilitate long-term data retention, JMLA authors have the option to have data files and accompanying materials stored on PMC as well and linked from their articles. Authors are responsible for ensuring that submitted data sets comply with any local rules regarding data distribution, such as those imposed by local institutional review boards.

Acknowledgments

Personal acknowledgments may be placed at the end of the text, ahead of the references.

Illustrations

Images, charts, and graphs can be in color for online issues. They will be processed into black and white for print issues. Consecutively numbered, brief, descriptive captions (e.g., “Figure 1 Distribution of test scores”) should be in the text at the appropriate points.

Charts and graphs should be submitted in the program whereby they were created, such as Microsoft Excel, to be processed for publication and may raise copyright questions.

Resolution for photographs or digital images should be at a minimum of 300 dots per inch (dpi). Please note that the JMLA does not accept screenshots, as nearly all images that are downloaded from the Internet will not have sufficient resolution for publication.

Tables should be in the text at the appropriate points. Each table must be numbered consecutively and headed by a brief, descriptive title that includes the number of the table (e.g., “Table 1 Number of study participants”). Use your word processor’s table commands.

Charts and graphs should be in the text at the appropriate points, numbered consecutively, and headed by a brief descriptive title that includes the number of the figure (e.g., “Figure 1 Distribution of test scores”).

Submission Process

All manuscripts must be submitted through the JMLA electronic submission system. Authors are encouraged to consult the Key Information Checklist prior to submission to be sure that all information required for peer review has been included in their submission. Papers missing key information will be returned to the authors for revision.

Authors should submit a high resolution (300 dpi) photograph of themselves when creating their profiles. The photographs are used with certain submissions.

The online submission system will prompt you for:

  1. Article type. You may select from:
    • Editorials
    • Papers
    • Surveys and Studies
    • Research Communications
    • Case Studies
    • Reviews and Commentaries
    • Special Papers
    • Letters to the Editor
    • Obituaries
    • Book Reviews
    • Resource Reviews
  2. Full title and subtitle (if any) of the article
  3. Coauthors names, addresses, and email addresses
  4. Abstract (where applicable)
  5. Information on any conflict of interest, prior publication, and institutional review board approval
  6. Files to upload
    1. Title page, including full author information and title page footnotes
    2. Manuscript including text, references, acknowledgements, and tables
    3. Figures, charts, graphs, and other illustrations, if any
    4. Supplemental material (appendixes, survey instruments, etc.), if any; studies reporting the results of a survey must provide the survey instrument unless it has been published elsewhere
    5. Cover letter (optional)

If you exit the system before completing the submission, your submission will be saved automatically. You may return to finish the submission (or remove it should you wish) at a future time.

Peer-Review Evaluation

The JMLA uses a double-blind peer-review process, in which reviewers do not know the identity of the author and the identity of manuscript reviewers is not revealed to the author. The JMLA aims to complete the review process and provide feedback to authors within eight weeks of submission.

Proofs

Page proofs are provided to authors for correction of serious errors; minor alterations cannot be made at this stage.

References

  1. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals: writing and editing for biomedical publication [Internet]. The Committee; 2009 [cited 5 Jan 2011]. <http://www.icmje.org>.
  2. Medical Library Association. MLA style manual [Internet]. Chicago, IL: The Association [cited 1 Sep 2011]. <http://www.mlanet.org/page/style-manual>.
  3. Patrias K. Citing medicine: the NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers [Internet]. 2nd ed. Wendling DL, technical ed. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2007 [cited 22 Nov 2010]. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/citingmedicine/>.
  4. The Chicago manual of style. 16th ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press; 2010.
  5. Merriam Webster’s collegiate dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster; 2003.

Contacts

Email questions about JMLA to Katherine Akers, PhD, editor-in-chief.

Send books or resources for review in the JMLA to:

JMLA Review Editor, Medical Library Association, 65 East Wacker Place, Suite 1900, Chicago, IL 60601-7246; fax, 312.419.8950

 

Submission Preparation Checklist

As part of the submission process, authors are required to check off their submission's compliance with all of the following items, and submissions may be returned to authors that do not adhere to these guidelines.

  1. The results, data, figures, or other material in this manuscript have not been published previously and are not currently under consideration for publication elsewhere.
  2. The text adheres to the stylistic and bibliographic requirements outlined in the Author Guidelines.
  3. If submitting to a peer-reviewed section of the journal, the instructions in Ensuring a Blind Review have been followed.
  4. If relevant to your paper, information on approval or exemption by an institutional review board or equivalent is included in the Methods section. 
  5. The submission file is in OpenOffice, Microsoft Word, RTF, or WordPerfect document file format.
  6. The text is double-spaced; uses a 12-point font; employs italics, rather than underlining (except with URL addresses); and all illustrations, figures, and tables are placed in the text at the appropriate points rather than at the end.
  7. Where available, URLs for references have been provided.
  8. A photo of the first author is included as a supplemental file. Photos should have a resolution of at least 300 dpi.
 

Copyright Notice

  • The Author shall grant to the Publisher and its agents the nonexclusive perpetual right and license to publish, archive, and make accessible the Work in whole or in part in all forms of media now or hereafter known under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licenseor its equivalent, which, for the avoidance of doubt, allows others to copy, distribute, and transmit the Work under the following conditions:
    1. Attribution—other users must attribute the Work in the manner specified by the author as indicated on the journal website;
    with the understanding that the above condition can be waived with permission from the Author and that where the Work or any of its elements is in the public domain under applicable law, that status is in no way affected by the license.
  • The Author is able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the nonexclusive distribution of the journal’s published version of the Work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), as long as there is provided in the document an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
  • Authors are permitted and encouraged to post online a prepublication manuscript (but not the Publisher’s final formatted PDF version of the Work) in institutional repositories or on their Websites prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (see The Effect of Open Access). Any such posting made before acceptance and publication of the Work shall be updated upon publication to include a reference to the Publisher-assigned digital object identifier (DOI) and a link to the online abstract for the final published Work in the Journal.
  • Upon Publisher’s request, the Author agrees to furnish promptly to Publisher, at the Author’s own expense, written evidence of the permissions, licenses, and consents for use of third-party material included within the Work, except as determined by Publisher to be covered by the principles of fair use.
  • The Author represents and warrants that:
    1. the Work is the Author’s original work;
    2. the Author has not transferred, and will not transfer, exclusive rights in the Work to any third party;
    3. the Work is not pending review or under consideration by another publisher;
    4. the Work has not previously been published;
    5. the Work contains no misrepresentation or infringement of the Work or property of other authors or third parties; and
    6. the Work contains no libel, invasion of privacy, or other unlawful matter.
  • The Author agrees to indemnify and hold Publisher harmless from Author’s breach of the representations and warranties contained in Paragraph 7 above, as well as any claim or proceeding relating to Publisher’s use and publication of any content contained in the Work, including third-party content.

 

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