Research articles

Guideline word limit: 3 000 words (excluding abstract and bibliography)

Research articles describe the background, methods, results and conclusions of an original research study. The article should contain the following sections: introduction, methods, results, discussion and conclusion, and should include a structured abstract (see below). The introduction should be concise – no more than three paragraphs – on the background to the research question, and must include references to other relevant published studies that clearly lay out the rationale for conducting the study. Some common reasons for conducting a study are: to fill a gap in the literature, a logical extension of previous work, or to answer an important question. If other papers related to the same study have been published previously, please make sure to refer to them specifically. Describe the study methods in as much detail as possible so that others would be able to replicate the study should they need to. Where appropriate, sample size calculations should be included to demonstrate that the study is not underpowered. Results should describe the study sample as well as the findings from the study itself, but all interpretation of findings must be kept in the discussion section. The conclusion should briefly summarise the main message of the paper and provide recommendations for further study.

  • May include up to 3 illustrations or tables.
  • A  max of 20 - 25 references

Structured abstract

  • This should be no more than 250 words, with the following recommended headings:
    • Background: why the study is being done and how it relates to other published work.
    • Objectives: what the study intends to find out
    • Methods: must include study design, number of participants, description of the research tools/instruments, any specific analyses that were done on the data.
    • Results: first sentence must be brief population and sample description; outline the results according to the methods described. Primary outcomes must be described first, even if they are not the most significant findings of the study.
    • Conclusion: must be supported by the data, include recommendations for further study/actions.
    • Please ensure that the structured abstract is complete, accurate and clear and has been approved by all authors. It should be able to be intelligible to the reader without referral to the main body of the article.
    • Do not include any references in the abstracts.

Here is an example of a good abstract.