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The Sri Lanka Journal of Health Research publishes the following types of articles: editorials; leading articles; original articles including original research articles, systematic reviews and meta- analyses; case reports/case series; clinical audits; cover stories; picture stories; brief reports; updates on evidence-based practices in health policy and systems; manuscripts on continuous medical education; perspectives; opinion articles; commentaries; review articles; correspondence/letters to the editors; notices/ obituaries/appreciations; and innovations.
This document is intended to guide the authors in submitting manuscripts to the Sri Lanka Journal of Health Research (SLJHR), the official journal of the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka. SLJHR is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal. Its mission is to efficiently and promptly publish rigorous, accessible, and relevant material that will help health professionals in Sri Lanka in their practice, lifelong learning, and career development.
01. Who is an author?
The SLJHR reserves the status of authorship for those who deserve credit for the intellectual contribution to the manuscript and can take the responsibility for the work. This is based on the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommendations. The ICMJE also recommends that the authorship be based on the following four criteria:
In addition to being accountable for the parts of the work he/she has done, an author should be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for other specific parts of the work. In addition, authors should have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors. All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for the authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged.
The corresponding author is the individual who takes the primary responsibility for communicating with the journal during manuscript submission, peer-review, and publication processes. The corresponding author typically ensures that all administrative requirements of the journal such as providing details of the authorship, Ethics Review Committee approval, clinical trial registration documentation and disclosures of relationships and activities are properly completed and reported although these duties may be delegated to one or more co-authors. The corresponding author should be available throughout the submission and peer-review process to respond to editorial queries timely, cooperate with any requests from the journal for data/additional information, and respond to critiques/ questions on the work after publication.
02. Types of manuscripts that SLJHR will consider:
The SLJHR will accept the following types of manuscripts for publication: editorials; leading articles; original articles including original research articles, systematic reviews and meta-analyses; case reports/ case series; clinical audits; cover stories; picture stories; brief reports; updates on evidence-based practices in health policy and systems; manuscripts on continuous medical education; perspectives; opinion articles; commentaries; review articles; correspondence/letters to the editor; notices/obituaries/appreciations; and innovations. Further details about the format of each of these types are described under 03 (A) below.
03. Preparation of manuscripts for SLJHR and submission to the Journal:
(A) Preparation of manuscripts
1. Editorials and leading articles
These give a balanced overview of the current state of development of an emerging area. They usually do not exceed 1,500 words and are devoid of any tables and illustrations. It might have references. These may be solicited by the editors from the experts in a given field and SLJHR does not accept unsolicited manuscripts under this category.
2. Original articles
The SLJHR entertains the following categories of original articles: original research articles; systematic reviews; meta-analyses. Original research articles are based on original research studies where there is primary data collection.
Original articles have to adhere to the reporting guidelines relevant to the respective study design. These reporting guidelines help authors describe the study in adequate detail for it to be evaluated by editors, reviewers, readers, and other researchers. The authors are encouraged to visit EQUATOR (Enhancing the Quality and Transparency Of health Research) Network (https://www.equator-network.org/reporting-guidelines/) which is an international initiative that aims to improve the quality of research publications and US National Library of Medicine (https://www.nlm.nih.gov/services/research_report_guide.html) which provide a comprehensive list of reporting guidelines and other material to help improve reporting.
The reporting guidelines for specific study designs are as follows:
Randomised trials: CONSORT and Extensions
Observational studies: STROBE and Extensions
Systematic reviews: PRISMA and Extensions
Study protocols for clinical trials and systematic reviews: PRISMA-P, SPIRIT
Prediction model for individual prognosis or diagnosis: TRIPOD
Diagnostic accuracy studies: STARD
Case reports: CARE and Extensions
Clinical practice guidelines: AGREE, RIGHT
Qualitative research: SRQR, COREQ
Animal pre-clinical studies: ARRIVE
Quality improvement studies: SQUIRE
Economic evaluations of health interventions: CHEERS
Manuscript sections of original articles: Please refer to the section below titled “Organization of the manuscript for original research for the Sri Lanka Journal of Health Research”.
3. Case reports/Case series
The SLJHR will only publish cases with valuable clinical lessons. Case reports and case series should be prepared conforming to the Consensus-based Clinical Case Reporting (CARE) guidelines (https://www.care-statement.org/checklist). The word count is 1,500 for a case report and that for a case series is 2,000. These should not contain more than two tables/illustrations and five references. It could contain up to a maximum of two pictures. Case series need Ethics Review Committee approval but not case reports. However, obtaining the patient’s consent is mandatory for case reports.
4. Clinical audits
‘Clinical audit is a quality improvement process that seeks to improve patient care and outcomes through a systematic review of care against explicit criteria and the implementation of change. Aspects of the structure, processes and outcomes of care are selected and systematically evaluated against explicit criteria. Where indicated, changes are implemented at an individual, team, or service level and further monitoring is used to confirm improvement in healthcare delivery.’ (www.nice.org.uk. Principles of Best Practice in Clinical Audit 2002). Clinical audits are not considered as original research by the SLJHR. The authors are encouraged to go through the related links and the following when they submit manuscripts based on clinical audits. https://www.hqip.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/documenting-local-clinical-audit-a-guide-to-reporting-and-recording.pdf (Documenting local clinical audit: A guide to reporting and recording, Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership, UK). The word count is 1,500 – 2,500.
5. Cover stories
Authors need to submit cover stories based on a contemporarily or historically important issue/event in the areas of health services management and delivery. It needs to be submitted preferably with a picture that will appear on the front cover of the journal. If there is no picture associated with the cover story, the editors will find a suitable picture for the article. The title has to be catchy and the lead paragraph has to summarize the main ideas of the article. The word count is 250.
6. Picture stories
This is an unstructured narrative consisting of less than 300 words based on a picture that is powerful enough to create an understanding and/or empathy among the readership towards an issue that is important yet not sufficiently attended in healthcare delivery. The stories should also briefly discuss what is portrayed in the picture and should also highlight the challenges to the healthcare system. The picture could be an image or an illustration.
7. Brief reports
Brief reports could be based on original research, novel public health and patient management interventions, hospital management practices, etc. Public health innovations and best practices that have yielded evidence-based results are also considered. Brief reports should be limited to 2,000 words, three tables/illustrations and ten references, and may have an unstructured abstract of fewer than 300 words. Articles that are based on ongoing projects without evidence-based results will not be accepted. Please see Item 11 in 'Submission of the Manuscript' below too.
8. Updates on evidence-based practices in health policy and systems
These manuscripts need to be based on updates on health policy and guidelines relevant to Sri Lanka. The implications to the health system strengthening, patient care and public health practices should be highlighted. Unstructured articles with a word count of less than 1,000 are considered. Those do not require an abstract. Necessary references should be stated. Those articles without tangible outcomes will not be accepted. Please see Item 11 in 'Submission of the Manuscript' below too.
9. Manuscripts on continuing medical education
These could be concerning medical, nursing, paramedical or professions supplementary to medicine. The article should clearly demonstrate the author’s expertise in the area. Only the articles of sufficient quality which have clearly demonstrated the worth of the article in assisting relevant health professionals in carrying out their professional responsibilities effectively and efficiently will be published. The word count should be less than 750. Please see Item 11 in 'Submission of the Manuscript' below too.
Perspectives intended for publishing in SLJHR has to present a new and unique viewpoint on existing problems, fundamental concepts, or prevalent notions on a specific topic, propose and support a new hypothesis or discuss the implications of a newly implemented innovation. These could also focus on current advances and future directions on a topic. They need to be intended to stimulate a discussion. These articles may contain original data as well as personal opinions. Abstract, tables and figures are not warranted. There can be references. The word count is 2,000-3,000.
11. Opinion articles
Opinion articles present the author’s viewpoint on the strengths and weaknesses of a hypothesis or scientific theory. Opinion articles are generally based on constructive criticism and should be backed by evidence. However, opinion articles do not contain unpublished or original data. These articles promote scientific discourse that challenges the current state of knowledge in a particular field. Opinion pieces are also relatively short articles, of around 2,000-2,500 words, typically with a short abstract of about 150 words, at least five references, and one or two figures or tables.
Commentary articles are generally agenda- setting, authoritative, informed and often provocative expert pieces calling for action on topical issues about scientific research and its political, ethical and social ramifications. They do not simply snapshot a problem, but roadmap a proposed solution in detail. Alternatively, comment pieces can be writerly historical narratives or conceptual or philosophical arguments of pressing contemporary relevance, told with authority, colour, vivacity and personal voice. These attempts to bring an original perspective before the widest readership, through erudite reasoning and giving examples. Commentaries can draw attention to or present criticism on a previously published article, book, or report, often using the findings as a call to action or highlighting a few points of wider relevance to the field. Commentaries do not include original data and are heavily dependent on the author’s perspective or anecdotal evidence from the author’s personal experience to support the argument. However, if an author intends to publish such content, he/she can solicit permission from the editors to submit this to SLJHR. Commentaries are usually short articles of less than 1,000 words and are in most cases invited by editors from experts in the field. They include a few references, and one or two tables and figures. No abstracts are needed.
13. Book reviews
These have to be unbiased analyses, as decided by the Editorial Committee, of books from the fields of medicine, nursing, allied health Sciences, complementary and alternative Medicine and related fields published during the last two years in Sri Lanka. The review should consist of an introduction including the bibliographic details of the book, intended audience, scope and objectives and a critical analysis of its contents. The editors of the newly published books are encouraged to send them to the journal if they wish to have a review published in SLJHR. If the Editorial Committee agrees that the relevant book needs a review published in SLJHR, it will seek the contribution of the experts of that field to write the review. The word count is 1,000.
14. Correspondence/Letters to the editor
Correspondences are the readers’ reactions to technical and other material published in SLJHR. These are made as a reply to a previously published article in SLJHR. These could range from methods to implications. These should be submitted within four weeks of the online publication of a manuscript. The original authors will have to frame appropriate responses to such correspondence. Correspondence submissions are not usually peer-reviewed and will be edited appropriately without altering the original meaning to suit the publication. These have to be less than 300 words and need to have a maximum of two authors.
We welcome suggestions of the readers to inform us of those deserving an obituary in SLJHR. These suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word ‘Obituary notice’ in the email title. The editors’ decision will be the final. Notices and appreciations will be decided by the editors based on the objectives of SLJHR and the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka. The word count is 500.
(B) Submission of the Manuscript
The first issue of the SLJHR will be made from the articles submitted through email to the Editorial Office. From the second issue onwards, to submit an article, the corresponding author needs to log on to the journal and then click the Start Submission button at the top of any of the public journal pages. The authors who have an ORCID account can log in through that and those who do not have will have to create an account.
The manuscript submission consists of five stages: start; author details; article details; upload files; and review and submit. On the start page, there is an ‘Author agreement’. You will be notified of the following submission requirements and you will have to make a declaration that your manuscript adheres to all these submission requirements. Please note that the SLJHR does not charge any publication fee from authors.
04. Copyright notice
Authors of the articles published in SLJHR retain the copyright of their articles. The articles in SLJHR are published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence. The public has the freedom to use, copy, distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the authors’ work, as long as they credit the author/s for the original creation. The Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka will be identified as the original publisher. The authors, the Ministry of Health Sri Lanka and the readers are free to reproduce and disseminate the published work provided that the original work is properly cited.
05. Privacy statement
The personal information which appears in SLJHR will be used exclusively for the stated purposes of this journal and will not be made available for any other purpose or to any other party.
06. Editorial procedure
Each manuscript submitted to the SLJHR is evaluated by the editors in chief. The manuscripts that do not meet the criteria listed under the Author Guidelines of SLJHR will be returned to authors without considering its content for review. The manuscripts which have been submitted following the Author Guidelines will be further processed.
07. Peer-review process
The SLJHR follows a double-blind peer review process, which means that both reviewer and author remain unknown to each other. Each article is reviewed by two independent reviewers and a statistical expert within three weeks. The names of the authors will not be revealed to the Editorial Committee until the final decision on the acceptance/rejection of the manuscript is taken. The estimated time from submission to the first decision is within 10 weeks.
The review will focus on health implications, originality of the work, the scientific rigour of the manuscript and ethical conduct. The review will be done among the members of the editorial committee if it is within the expertise of the committee. If the editors in chief/editorial committee feel that the submitted article needs review by an external reviewer, it will be reviewed by two members of the external review panel. The external reviewers will be experts on specific content areas and will represent different categories of health professionals.
Each reviewer is supposed to go through the whole manuscript, make the necessary comments and changes in the manuscript in its MS Word document using Comments and Tracked Changes, and also give independent recommendations at the time of submitting the decision. When submitting recommendations, they will have to declare that they do not have any conflicts of interest in reviewing the relevant manuscript. The final decision on the manuscript will be made based on ‘The decision framework for the Sri Lanka Journal of Health Research’. Selected articles based on that framework will be discussed at the editorial committee meeting.
The editorial committee meeting will be held once in two months at the start. All the reviewers are supposed to send their comments two weeks before this meeting. All primary reviewers are supposed to join the meeting in person or through video conferencing. An attendance policy will be in place to ensure adequate participation of the editorial committee members to the meeting.
The decisions for any manuscript will be as follows:
The comments and recommendations will be communicated to the authors within one week after the decision is made. Resubmission after revisions will have to be submitted within three weeks. All resubmissions will have to be submitted in compliance with the instructions stated in the due format addressing each concern/comment made by the editors and reviewers.
Two reminders will be sent to the authors about the deadlines for resubmissions. If there is no response from the authors even after two reminders or the resubmission is delayed without any valid reason, these articles will be removed from the system.
When the members of the editorial committee also wish to submit manuscripts to SLJHR, these too will be processed in the same way as all other manuscripts received by the journal. However, due to conflicts of interest, these manuscripts will not be reviewed and edited by the same members and they do not participate in the final decision-making process. The number of manuscripts published where the Editorial Committee members and editors in chief are involved will be kept to a maximum of one.
All authors have the liberty to appeal if they think the decision of the SLJHR on a submitted manuscript is unfair. Such appeals will be answered by the editors in chief based on the stated editorial policy. However, in an appeal, the decision of the editors in chief will be final.
Comments of readers and authors
Readers and authors are also welcome to submit comments to the published articles. Authors of the criticized article have the opportunity for responding to such comments. All such written material should be submitted as any other manuscript through the online submission system.
08. Section policies for future publications in SLJHR
See the section policies here.
Title of the manuscript
The main text: General comments
Objective/s should be clearly phrased in operational terms using action verbs (not to use action verbs such as to understand, to study, etc.). The general objective, and when indicated, specific objectives have to be included. Inclusion of the study setting, study population and the study period within the statement of the objective is not essential unless the inclusion of these clearly explains the objective/s furthermore.
This section has to contain the following whenever appropriate in a single paragraph (however, there is no need to have subheadings for the following or name these subcategories in the text): study design; study setting; study period; study population/s with inclusion and exclusion criteria; sampling method and sample size; study instruments; study implementation with relevant details such as data collectors and training of them; data analysis; administrative requirements; ethical issues; and definitions of relevant variables/ operationalisation of the variables.
This section must include the results in contrast to the findings of other studies along with the public health relevance of the findings, suggestions for future research and ethical issues. Limitations of the study, if any, need to be included here.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Tables and Figures
Each manuscript will be screened by the editorial board (editors in chief/nominated editorial committee member/editorial assistants) to see whether the article has been prepared according to the instructions given in the Author Guidelines and to see whether the required material eg: Author Declaration, Ethical Clearance (when needed) and other supplementary material have been attached. (This will be applied from the second issue onwards). See Manuscript Review Flowchart.
Ethics Framework of the Sri Lanka Journal of Health Research
At the submission of any manuscript, the authors need to make a declaration that the manuscript is free from any conflicts of interest and ethical issues. When the authors have obtained ethics review approval from an Ethics Review Committee (ERC) accepted by the Ministry of Health Sri Lanka, it should be uploaded together with the manuscript. The administrative approval letters need also to be uploaded especially when the manuscript/research is related to the work carried out by the Ministry of Health Sri Lanka.
The Editorial Committee may exempt the following types of articles from the need to have ERC approval:
All the other original research needs ERC approval. The ERC approval date has to precede the data collection of the study.
Author Declaration Form of the Sri Lanka Journal of Health Research
Important: All authors are advised to download and read the Author Declaration Form before they place their signatures on the last page of the document. Please check all applicable boxes and provide additional information as requested. The form should then be submitted with your manuscript.
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.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
Should any authors require that the published article deviate from the above (e.g. copyright needs to reside with your employer or an alternative license is required - e.g. authors who are Crown employees), you must add this request to your cover letter to the editor. The submitting author is responsible for requesting (and following up) this deviation from the standard licensing agreement. All deviations from the above must be agreed in writing as early as possible in the submission process and must be in place before the article is sent for final layout.