Author Guidelines

Article types | Structure | Language & text | Data & Symbols | Figures & Tables | References

Submissions should be made electronically through this website.

Please ensure that you consider the following guidelines when preparing your manuscript. Failure to do so may delay the processing of your submission.

Article types

  • Research articles must describe the outcomes and application of unpublished original research. These should make a substantial contribution to knowledge and understanding in the subject matter and should be supported by relevant figures and tabulated data. Research articles should be no more than 8,000 words in length.

  • Methods articles should outline and test new techniques and discuss potential applications and significance of the technique. In addition, articles that critique or modify extant methodologies and approaches are welcome. Authors should provide a detailed summary of the protocol followed and establish replicability within the body of the paper. Methods articles should be no longer than 3,000 words in length.

  • Commentaries should reflect upon or critique a specific "happening" such as a release of a major study or other notable occurrence related to journal focus. Authors interested in submitting a commentary piece should discuss the content with the editor before submitting a manuscript. Commentary articles should be no longer than 3,000 words in length.

  • Reviews can cover topics such as current controversies or the historical development of studies as well as issues of regional or temporal focus. Papers should critically engage with the relevant body of extant literature. Review articles should be no longer than 3,000 words in length.

All word limits include referencing and citation.


Title page

The title page must include all of the below information, in the same order. No further information should be included:

  • Title
  • Full author name(s)
  • Affiliation(s)
  • Corresponding author's email address (other author email addresses are optional)

Author names must include a forename and a surname. Forenames should preferably not include only initials.

The affiliation should ideally include Department, Institution, City and Country, however only the Institution and Country are mandatory.

Research articles must have the main text prefaced by an abstract of no more than 250 words summarising the main arguments and conclusions of the article. This must have the heading 'Abstract' and be easily identified from the start of the main text.

A list of up to six key words may be placed below the abstract (optional).

The Abstract and Keywords should also be added to the metadata when making the initial online submission.

Main text
The body of the submission should be structured in a logical and easy to follow manner. A clear introduction section should be given that allows non-specialists in the subject an understanding of the publication and a background of the issue(s) involved. Methods, results, discussion and conclusion sections may then follow to clearly detail the information and research being presented.

Up to three level headings may be present and must be clearly identifiable using different font sizes, bold or italics. We suggest using Headings 1, 2 and 3 in MS-Word's 'Style' section.

Acknowledgements (optional)
Any acknowledgements must be headed and in a separate paragraph, placed after the main text but before the reference list.

Competing interests
If any of the authors have any competing interests then these must be declared. A short paragraph should be placed before the references. Guidelines for competing interests can be found

Ethics and consent (if applicable)
Research involving human subjects, human material, or human data, must have been performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Where applicable, the studies must have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee and the authors should include a statement within the article text detailing this approval, including the name of the ethics committee and reference number of the approval. The identity of the research subject should be anonymised whenever possible. For research involving human subjects, informed consent to participate in the study must be obtained from participants (or their legal guardian).

Experiments using animals must follow national standards of care. For further information, click here.

All references cited within the submission must be listed at the end of the main text file.

Language & Text

For the submission title:

Capitalise all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs and subordinate conjunctions (i.e. as, because, although). Use lowercase for all articles, coordinate conjunctions and prepositions.

  • Slip-Sliding on a Yellow Brick Road: Stabilization Efforts in Afghanistan

Headings within the main text:

First level headings in the text should follow the same rule as the main title.

For lower-level subheadings, only capitalise first letter and proper nouns.

Headings should be under 75 characters.

Submissions must be made in English. Authors are welcome to use American or British spellings as long as they are used consistently throughout the whole of the submission.

  • Colour (UK) vs. Color (US)

When referring to proper nouns and normal institutional titles, the official, original spelling must be used.

  • World Health Organization, not World Health Organisation

American or English grammar rules may be used as long as they are used consistently and match the spelling format (see above). For instance, you may use a serial comma or not.

  • red, white, and blue OR red, white and blue

The font used should be commonly available and in an easily readable size. This may be changed during the typesetting process.

Underlined text should be avoided whenever possible.

Bold or italicised text to emphasise a point are permitted, although should be restricted to minimal occurrences to maximise their efficiency.

Use bullet points to denote a list without hierarchy or order of value. If the list indicates a specific sequence then a numbered list must be used.

Lists should be used sparingly to maximise their impact.

Quotation marks
Use single quotation marks except for quotes within another speech, in which case double quotation marks are used.

Quotations that are longer than three lines in length must be in an indented paragraph separate from the main text.

The standard, non-italicised font must be used for all quotes.

It must be clear from the text and/or citation where the quote is sourced. If quoting from material that is under copyright then permission will need to be obtained from the copyright holder.

Acronyms & Abbreviations
With abbreviations, the crucial goal is to ensure that the reader - particularly one who may not be fully familiar with the topic or context being addressed - is able to follow along. Spell out almost all acronyms on first use, indicating the
acronym in parentheses immediately thereafter. Use the acronym for all subsequent references.

  • Research completed by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows …

A number of abbreviations are so common that they do not require the full text on the first instance. Examples of these can be found here.

Abbreviations should usually be in capital letters without full stops.

  • USA, not U.S.A

Common examples from Latin origin do not follow this rule and should be lower case and can include full stops.

  • e.g., i.e., etc.

Use of footnotes/endnotes
Use endnotes rather than footnotes (we refer to these as 'Notes' in the online publication). These will appear at the end of the main text, before 'References'.

All notes should be used only where crucial clarifying information needs to be conveyed.

Avoid using notes for purposes of referencing, with in-text citations used instead. If in-text citations cannot be used, a source can be cited as part of a note.

Please insert the endnote marker after the end punctuation.

Data & Symbols

Symbols are permitted within the main text and datasets as long as they are commonly in use or have explanatory definition on their first usage.

Hyphenation, em and en dashes
There is no set rule on the use of hyphenation between words, as long as they are consistently used.

Em dashes should be used sparingly. If they are present, they should denote emphasis, change of thought or interruption to the main sentence and can replace comas, parentheses, colons or semicolons.

  • The president's niece-daughter of his younger brother-caused a media scandal when…

En dashes can be used to replace 'to' when indicating a range. No space should surround the dash.

  • 10-25 years
  • pp. 10-65

For numbers zero to nine please spell the whole words. Please use figures for numbers 10 or higher.

We are happy for authors to use either words or figures to represent large whole figures (i.e. one million or 1,000,000) as long as the usage is consistent throughout the text.

If the sentence includes a series of numbers then figures must be used in each instance.

  • Artefacts were found at depths of 5, 9, and 29 cm.

If the number appears as part of a dataset, in conjunction with a symbol or as part of a table then the figure must be used.

  • This study confirmed that 5% of…

If a sentence starts with a number it must be spelt, or the sentence should be re-written so that it no longer starts with the number.

  • Fifteen examples were found to exist…
  • The result showed that 15 examples existed…

Do not use a comma for a decimal place.

  • 2.43 NOT 2,43

Numbers that are less than zero must have '0' precede the decimal point.

  • 0.24 NOT .24

Units of measurement
Symbols following a figure to denote a unit of measurement must be taken from the latest SI brochure. See for the full brochure.

Formulae must be proofed carefully by the author. Editors will not edit formulae. If special software has been used to create formulae, the way it is laid out is the way they will appear in the publication.

Figures & Tables

Figures, including graphs and diagrams, must be professionally and clearly presented. If a figure is not easy to understand or does not appear to be of a suitable quality, the editor may ask to re-render or omit it.

All figures must be cited within the main text, in consecutive order using Arabic numerals (e.g. Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.).

Each figure must have an accompanying descriptive main title. This should clearly and concisely summarise the content and/or use of the figure image. A short additional figure legend is optional to offer a further description

  • Figure 1: 1685 map of London.
  • Figure 1: 1685 map of London. Note the addition of St Paul's Cathedral, absent from earlier maps.

Figure titles and legends should be placed within the text document, either after the paragraph of their first citation, or as a list after the references.

The source of the image should be included, along with any relevant copyright information and a statement of authorisation (if needed).

  • Figure 1: Firemen try to free workers buried under piles of concrete and metal girders. Photo: Claude-Michel Masson. Reproduced with permission of the photographer.

If your figure file includes text then please present the font as Ariel, Helvetica, or Verdana. This will mean that it matches the typeset text.

NOTE: All figures must be uploaded separately as supplementary files during the submission process, if possible in colour and at a resolution of at least 300dpi. Each file should not be more than 20MB. Standard formats accepted are: JPG, TIFF, GIF, PNG, EPS. For line drawings, please provide the original vector file (e.g. .ai, or .eps).

Tables must be created using a word processor's table function, not tabbed text.

Tables should be included in the manuscript. The final layout will place the tables as close to their first citation as possible.

All tables must be cited within the main text, numbered with Arabic numerals in consecutive order (e.g. Table 1, Table 2, etc.).

Each table must have an accompanying descriptive title. This should clearly and concisely summarise the content and/or use of the table. A short additional table legend is optional to offer a further description of the table. The table title and legend should be placed underneath the table.

Tables should not include:

  • Rotated text
  • Colour to denote meaning (it will not display the same on all devices)
  • Images
  • Vertical or diagonal lines
  • Multiple parts (e.g. 'Table 1a' and 'Table 1b'). These should either be merged into one table, or separated into 'Table 1' and 'Table 2'.

NOTE: If there are more columns than can fit on a single page, then the table will be placed horizontally on the page. If it still can't fit horizontally on a page, the table will be broken into two.


In-text citations
Every use of information from other sources must be cited in the text so that it is clear that external material has been used.

If the author is already mentioned in the main text then the year should follow the name within parenthesis.

  • Both Jones (2013) and Brown (2010) showed that …

If the author name is not mentioned in the main text then the surname and year should be inserted, in parenthesis, after the relevant text. Multiple citations should be separated by semi-colon and follow alphabetical order.

  • The statistics clearly show this to be untrue (Brown 2010; Jones 2013).

If three or fewer authors are cited from the same citation then all should be listed. If four or more authors are part of the citation then 'et al.' should follow the first author name.

  • (Jones, Smith & Brown 2008)
  • (Jones et al. 2008)

If citations are used from the same author and the same year, then a lowercase letter, starting from 'a', should be placed after the year.

  • (Jones 2013a; Jones 2013b)

If specific pages are being cited then the page number should follow the year, after a colon.

  • (Brown 2004: 65; Jones 2013: 143)

For publications authored and published by organisations, use the short form of the organisation's name or its acronym in lieu of the full name.

  • (ICRC 2000) NOT (International Committee of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 2000)

Please do not include URLs in parenthetical citations, but rather cite the author or page title and include all details, including the URL, in the reference list.

Reference list

All citations must be listed at the end of the text file, in alphabetical order of authors' surnames.

All reading materials should be included in 'References' - works which have not been cited within the main text, but which the author wishes to share with the reader, must be cited as additional information in endnotes explaining the relevance of the work. This will ensure that all works within the reference list are cited within the text.

NOTE: If multiple works by the same author are being listed, please re-type the author's name out for each entry, rather than using a long dash.

NOTE: DOIs should be included for all reference entries, where possible.

Reference format
This journal uses the Chicago system of reference