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 title of the manuscript should concisely describe the study but should not include the outcome. 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. At the end of the introduction clearly state the aim or objective of the study. The primary and secondary outcomes should be specified.

In the Methods section describe in sufficient detail so that others would be able to replicate the study should they need to. Sections of the methods that have been described in previous publications need only be referenced. The statistical methods should be described. 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.

The discussion should be confined to an interpretation of your results with respect to your stated aim and if applicable, a comparison to the results of similar studies. The strengths and weaknesses of your study should be discussed.

The conclusion should be confined to an interpretation of the results of the study and a recommendation if applicable.

  • May include up to 6 illustrations or tables.
  • References should only include the most recent and relevant articles. A maximum of 30 references is advised. 

Structured abstract

  • This should be no more than 250 words, with the following 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, and be aligned with the conclusion in the main text.
    • 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.