The author guidelines contain important information that will help you to prepare your manuscript. It is important to check these guidelines before you start writing your paper. It will provide information about the page length and word count, types of articles, the structure of the article, headings, reference formatting, and any special requirements for the cover letter. We provide a summary of the author guidelines on the journal pages. Some of the more important things to look for are:

What are the word/page/figure/reference limits?
Most journals have strict requirements on the length of the manuscript. If you go over these limits, the paper will be sent back to you without being considered or peer-reviewed. Sometimes word limits only apply to the Abstract or the Introduction. Some journals have a page limit, either using a provided template or with strict requirements about the margins and font sizes that should be used. There can also be a limit on the number or figures and tables, or they could be included in the total word limits. It is important to check what is included in the total word limit. References are usually not counted, but there could be a limit on the total number of citations that can be made.

What type of articles does the journal publish?
There are many different types of manuscripts published by journals, as discussed in Lesson 5. They usually fall into three major categories: communications, full papers, and review papers. Journals use different names for these articles. Some journals publish articles that are a combination of primary and secondary research. It is important to choose the right article type for your manuscript.

What is the structure of the manuscript?
Most journals follow an Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion (IMRAD) structure, but there are many variations in the names of these sections and other sections. For example, there is almost always an Abstract, which can be structured or unstructured. There might be specific requirements about the order, numbering, and format of the headings and whether second or third level headings are allowed.

What is required on the title page?
In addition to the title, the title page also includes the authors and their affiliations, abstract, keywords, and other statements required by the journal.

What language is used by the journal?
If the primary language of the journal is English, there is usually a requirement of either British or American spelling. Some regional journals accept papers in languages other than English. Some journals request that the Abstract is written in both English and another language.

What is the citation/reference style of the journal?
Journals use different styles for in-text citations and the reference list at the end of the manuscript. There are reference management software programs that can be used to automatically select the correct reference style.

What should be included in the cover letter?
There are specific requirements and statements that might need to be included in the cover letter, such as suggested referees, disclosures of funding sources or conflicts of interest, and statements with regard to authorship, ethical approval, or informed consent.

Are there any other special requirements?
Journals might require the inclusion of other sections and statements that are particular to the journla or the research field.