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MJA instructions for authors - types of articles published by the MJA

The following types of articles are published by the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA).

Please note: From July 2016, reference lists for selected articles only will be published in print.

Perspectives

1-page article

  • Maximum 750 words (main text only)
  • Maximum 10 references (online only)
  • "Introline" of up to 15 words
  • Maximum 3 authors
  • Please supply a 100 word (maximum) abstract. Note this is not for publication but may be used in correspondence with reviewers

2-page article

  • Maximum 1500 words (main text only)
  • Maximum 15 references (online only)
  • "Introline" of up to 15 words
  • Maximum 3 authors
  • Please supply a 100 word (maximum) abstract. Note this is not for publication but may be used in correspondence with reviewers

Perspectives are opinion pieces that discuss challenging and controversial questions relating to medicine and health. This also includes issues in developing or rapidly changing areas in medicine. Articles should be scholarly and well argued, and assertions must be supported by appropriate evidence that is referenced.

Medical education

1. Medical Education (commissioned only)

  • Maximum 1500 words (main text)
  • Maximum 15 references (online only)
  • At least one of any of the following: tables, figures, boxes
  • Maximum 3 authors
  • Please supply a 100 word (maximum) abstract. Note this is not for publication but may be used in correspondence with reviewers

2. Lessons from practice

  • Maximum 750 words (main text only)
  • Maximum 5 references (online only)
  • Please supply a 100 word (maximum) abstract. Note this is not for publication but may be used in correspondence with reviewers
  • “Clinical record” and “Discussion” headings
  • A separate box containing up to 4 brief bullet points highlighting the main “lessons”
  • MJA Patient consent form completed by the patient/s (or their next-of-kin or legal guardian) must be signed, submitted and dated within 18 months of time of submission. Please note we do not accept institution patient permission forms
  • The senior clinician responsible for the patient's overall management should be included among the authors

We are interested in cases which describe conditions that are often missed, or that have serious consequences if missed. The lessons should be important for diagnosis or management and likely to lead to significant practice change. We are not interested in publishing cases which describe highly rare conditions, or cases that have been mismanaged. High-resolution clinical images are encouraged. 

3. Snapshots

  • Maximum 100 words (main text only)
  • Clinical image
  • Maximum 2 references (online only)
  • Maximum 2 authors
  • MJA Patient consent form completed by the patient/s (or their next-of-kin or legal guardian) must be signed, submitted and dated within 18 months of time of submission. Please note we do not accept institution patient permission forms

These are interesting or unusual clinical images accompanied by a very brief explanation. Please provide high-resolution images and copyright permission where applicable.

4. Teaching series (commissioned only)

  • Maximum word count:
    • Up to 750 words for Clinical skills (main text only)
    • Up to 1500 words for Innovations and Key research skills (main text only)
  • Maximum references:
    • Up to 5 references for Clinical skills (online only)
    • Up to 15 references for Innovations and Key research skills (online only)
  • At least one of any of the following: tables, figures, boxes or videos
  • Maximum 3 authors
  • Please supply a 100 word (maximum) abstract. Note this is not for publication but may be used in correspondence with reviewers

a. Clinical skills

The Clinical Skills series focuses on how to perform bedside clinical tests. They describe how to correctly perform a test, its evidence base and its clinical applications.

b. Innovations

The Innovations in Medical Education series highlights new and emerging approaches to medical education and assessment, both nationally and internationally.

c. Key research skills

Manuscripts in the Key research skills series explain core skills in study design, research development and statistical analysis. Discussion of statistical concepts should be aimed at the MJA’s general medical readership.

Ethics and law

  • Maximum 1500 words (main text only)
  • Maximum 15 references (online only)
  • “Introline” up to 15 words
  • Maximum 3 authors
  • Please supply a 100 word (maximum) abstract. Note this is not for publication but may be used in correspondence with reviewers

These articles discuss ethical or legal issues related to patient care. They should have a clinical focus and case scenarios should be considered to help illustrate important points. Note that if a case scenario describes an actual patient, the MJA Patient consent form must be completed by the patient and submitted together with the manuscript. Please note we do not accept institution patient permission forms.

Ageing series (commissioned only)

  • Maximum 1500 words (main text)
  • Maximum 15 references (online only)
  • "Introline" of up to 15 words
  • Maximum 3 authors
  • Please supply a 100 word (maximum) abstract. Note this is not for publication but may be used in correspondence with reviewers

Reflections

The Reflections section contains items related to personal experience or the humanities with respect to medicine. Photographs are encouraged.

1. Reflection article

  • Maximum 1500 words (main text only)
  • Maximum 5 references (online only)
  • "Introline" of up to 15 word
  • Maximum 2 authors
  • Please supply a 50 word (maximum) abstract. Note this is not for publication but may be used in correspondence with reviewers

2. Medical history

  • Maximum 1500 words (main text only)
  • Maximum 10 references (online only)
  • "Introline" of up to 15 words
  • Please supply a 100 word (maximum) abstract. Note this is not for publication but may be used in correspondence with reviewers

History articles are scholarly essays on interesting aspects of the history of medicine. An Australian perspective is preferred but not essential.

Book/film/app/media reviews

  • Maximum 350 words (main text only)
  • An image of the book cover or app

Reviews of newly released books or other media are usually invited by the Editor. If you would like to suggest an item for review, please contact the Book Review Editor at mjabookreviews@mja.com.au. Reviews should tell readers something new or interesting about the subject in addition to appraising the book, app or media. Film reviews should be limited to documentaries/biographies with direct links to medicine/public health.

Obituaries (commissioned only)

  • Maximum 350 words (main text only)
  • At least one photograph

Obituaries for the MJA are brief overviews of a medical practitioner's life and works. Please include the person's birth and death dates, place of birth, names and cities of the major institutions where the person trained, worked and obtained each qualification, positions of importance held, other interests outside medicine, personal traits that define their character and cause of death (with approval from the family). Quality of the image as described here. If you would like the MJA to publish the name of a deceased practitioner in a notice in the Journal, please email mja@mja.com.au with their name, affiliations and one or two sentences describing their achievements in their field of practice.

Poems

  • Maximum 50 lines

We now only consider poems which are of a humorous nature for our annual Christmas competition.

Competition entries

Please see the Awards section for information about submitting entries to the MJA’s writing and artwork competitions.

Editorials (commissioned only)

  • Maximum 750 words (main text only)
  • Maximum 10 references (print and online)
  • "Introline" of up to 15 words
  • 1 figure (optional)
  • Maximum 2 authors
  • Please supply a 100 word (maximum) abstract. Note this is not for publication but may be used in correspondence with reviewers

Editorials are peer-reviewed authoritative commentaries which are linked to research articles that are published in the same issue.

Research

1. Original research

  • Maximum 2500 words (main text only)*
  • 25 references* (print and online)
  • 250-word structured abstract (see below)
  • Maximum 140 characters: supply a single statement for the MJA to tweet which shares the most important message from your article, this can include an optional figure
  • Box containing dot-points using the following headings/content: “The known” [the starting point for your investigation], “The new” [your major novel finding] and “The implications” [the consequences of your finding] with maximum 100 words

*Randomised trials may exceed these limits, by negotiation with the editor.

The MJA considers original research directly relevant to clinical medicine and of interest to a general medical audience for publication. The MJA generally does not consider research that is primarily concerned with the basic science, statistical or social sciences without clear application to clinical practice or to health care delivery. Priority is given to work of interest to a general medical audience, or of relevance to more than one specialty. See also, “Is my research article suitable for the MJA?

Research articles must include:

  • An IMRaD format (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion)
  • A structured abstract, which should contain the following headings:
    • Objective(s): a clear statement of the main aim or hypothesis of the study
    • Design: eg, prospective, randomised, placebo-controlled, case-controlled, crossover, etc; include study dates
    • Setting: include the level of care (eg primary care, tertiary referral hospital) and number of participating centres
    • Participants: include selection criteria and participation or response rate
    • Intervention (if applicable): what, how, when and for how long
    • Main outcome measures
    • Results: include absolute event rates (not just proportions), 95% confidence intervals, level of statistical significance, number needed to treat/harm, as appropriate
    • Conclusion(s): conclusions and their implications must directly relate to data in the study
    • Trial registration (if applicable): registry and registration number for clinical trials
  • Data that are original and as timely and current as possible
  • Signed patient permission if any patients are potentially identifiable in the text or images (download a consent for publication of personal material form). Please note we do not accept institution patient permission forms
  • A statement that ethics approval was obtained for the study (or that it was not required), including the name of the ethics committee or institutional review board
  • A statement giving the details of all sources of funding for the study, outlining any role the funder had in any part of the study, and that the researchers were independent from the funder
  • A statement that the authors had full access to all of the data (including statistical reports and tables) in the study
  • A data sharing statement (for interventional trials). See example statements here.
  • Copies of any non-standard questionnaires used in the research
  • Copies of published articles based on the same research, especially if the methods have been published elsewhere

Randomised trials must:

The use of checklists for other study types is encouraged (see also EQUATOR Network).

2. Systematic reviews

  • Maximum 3000 words (main text only)*
  • 50 references* (up to 50 references will be published in print, if more than 50 the complete list will be published online as an appendix)
  • 250-word structured abstract suitable for a systematic review (see below)
  • Maximum 3 tables and/or figures
  • Maximum 140 characters: supply a single statement for the MJA to tweet which shares the most important message from your article, this can include an optional figure

The structured abstract for systematic reviews should contain the following headings:

  • Objectives
  • Study design
  • Data sources
  • Data synthesis
  • Conclusions

The use of the following is strongly encouraged:

PRISMA Statement checklist and flowchart for a systematic review or meta-analysis of randomised trials and other evaluation studies

A systematic review collates evidence from individual clinical studies and uses a methodology to minimise selection bias, including strict criteria for study inclusion and exclusion, to review a specific research topic. It presents a critically appraised review of evidence on that topic.

3. Meta-analysis

  • Maximum 3000 words (main text only)
  • 50 references (up to 50 references will be published in print, if more than 50 the complete list will be published online as an appendix)
  • 250-word structured abstract suitable for a systematic review (see above)
  • Maximum 3 tables and/or figures
  • The use of the following checklists (where applicable) is strongly encouraged:
  • PRISMA Statement checklist and flowchart for a systematic review or meta-analysis of randomised trials and other evaluation studies
  • MOOSE (Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology) checklist for a meta-analysis of observational studies

A meta-analysis article reports on the methodology and findings of a meta-analysis which reviews and combines the results of multiple studies, integrating the findings into one outcome measure.

4. Study protocols

  • Maximum 2500 words (main text only)
  • Maximum 25 references (print and online)
  • Maximum 3 tables and/or figures
  • 250-word abstract (for online only; see below)
  • Also, 750-word summary (for print only); download template here

A Study Protocol article is a report about a planned study or a study currently underway. The MJA invites protocols for studies which are likely to lead to significant changes in clinical practice. This will generally apply to large, multi-centre randomised controlled trials and cohort studies. If data collection is already complete, the article should instead be submitted to the Journal as a Research article.

The MJA publishes study protocols to facilitate awareness among researchers, clinicians and other interested parties of ongoing research activity elsewhere. The aim is to avert superfluous studies and also to promote broader cooperation. Publication of protocols prior to completion of the study also increases the transparency of research by making full details of investigations available for reference and comment, and to allow checking of any changes to the study protocol made between its commencement and its completion.

We encourage authors to use SPIRIT recommendations for randomised trials and PRISMA-P for systematic reviews and meta-analyses. We also strongly recommend that investigators register their study; prospective registration is mandatory for all clinical trials. Appropriate registries for investigations are listed on the WHO website.

Study protocol manuscripts should include the following elements:

  • Title: Concise but informative, including the specific study type; e.g. “The effects of Treatment X on the progress of Disorder Y in younger patients: a randomised controlled trial.”
  • Structured abstract with the following sections: Introduction; Methods and analysis; Ethics; Dissemination of results; Registration details (if appropriate).
  • Planned timetable and site(s) for the study.
  • Introduction: the background to the study, and the exact research or clinical question it seeks to answer.
  • Methods and analysis:
    • the overall study design;
    • the recruitment and selection of the sample population; interventions, including power calculations for determining the required sample size for detecting statistically and clinically significant differences in the primary outcome ;
    • the exact definition of primary and secondary outcomes, and the means and timetable for their assessment;
    • the data analysis plan.
  • Ethics statement on all required ethics approvals, including the names of the approving bodies and reference numbers.
  • Dissemination of findings: including storage of data, presentation at meetings, and publications in scientific and public media. Ethical and safety considerations should also be considered. We follow the ICMJE policy regarding data sharing.
  • References: formatted according to the MJA guidelines (https://www.mja.com.au/journal/reference-examples).
  • Statement of the specific contributions to of each author to the design of the protocol.
  • Funding statement: including details (organisation name, grant number where applicable) for all organisations that contributed to its funding.
  • Acknowledgements of specific organisations or individuals who contributed significantly to design of the protocol or who will contribute significantly to its implementation (apart from protocol authors and funders).
  • Competing interests statement.

Guideline summaries/consensus statements/position statements (hereafter referred to as guidelines)

  • Maximum 2500 words (main text only)
  • Minimum 1 figure, table or box
  • Maximum 50 references (print and online)
  • 250 word abstract using template headings: Introduction, Main recommendations, Changes in management as result of the guideline.
  • Text to have following headings: Background, Methods, Recommendations
  • Recommendations must include both the NHMRC Level of Evidence and the GRADE system for strength of recommendation (article 1 and article 2).
  • We recommend use of the AGREE (Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation) instrument for evaluating the process of practice guideline development and the quality of reporting.
  • Maximum 10 authors (if more than 10, remainder of group to be acknowledged collectively)
  • MJA will request all authors to sign the MJA copyright form for the summary only. Please note that this does not include the full guidelines, regardless of where these are hosted.

This manuscript type provides a concise description for the general medical reader of updates or changes in clinical management as recommended by qualified experts and/or relevant bodies.

It is optional for authors to publish the full version of the guidelines on the MJA website or their own organisation’s website.

If the full guideline is to be published on the MJA website it must be provided as a PDF document and will not be edited by MJA staff. If the full guideline is in the organisation’s website, it must be open-access and available from the date of publication in the MJA. The link to the guideline’s website must be given in the summary.

The summary should not contain any unpublished information or information that is not also contained in the full guideline.

Guideline reviews (commissioned only)

  • Maximum 3000 words (main text only)
  • 50 references (up to 50 references will be published in print, if more than 50 the complete list will be published online as an appendix)
  • 250 word summary, giving 4-6 dot-points which cover the key issues
  • A brief description of the sources and selection criteria used for your literature review should be included in the main text.
  • Maximum 140 characters: supply a single statement for the MJA to tweet which shares the most important message from your article, this can include an optional figure

A guideline review presents the author’s synthesis of currently available local and international guidelines to formulate an evidence-based discussion on a particular clinical topic

Narrative reviews

  • Maximum 3000 words (main text only)
  • 50 references (up to 50 references will be published in print, if more than 50 the complete list will be published online as an appendix)
  • 250 word summary, giving 4-6 dot-points which cover the key issues
  • A brief description of the sources and selection criteria used for your literature review should be included in the main text.
  • Maximum 140 characters: supply a single statement for the MJA to tweet which shares the most important message from your article, this can include an optional figure

A narrative review presents the author’s synthesis of relevant evidence and experience to formulate an evidence-based discussion on a particular clinical topic.

Research letters

  • Maximum 500 words (main text only)
  • Maximum 5 references (online only)
  • 1 table and/or figure (optional)
  • Maximum 5 authors
  • Please supply a 50 word (maximum) abstract. Note this is not for publication but may be used in correspondence with reviewers

Research letters should provide novel research observations. Research letters should be appropriately referenced in the same style and format as other MJA articles (see References in MJA style). Research letters should be submitted via our online manuscript tracking system ScholarOne and may be peer reviewed. Please note that the inclusion of a table and/or figure may require a reduction in word count in the main text.

Letters to the Editor and Online responses

NOTE: The MJA does not allow duplication of publication. If a Letter to the Editor has the same content as that of a published online response, it will not be considered for publication in print.

Letters to the Editor

New topics

  • Maximum 350 words (main text only)
  • Maximum 5 references (online only)
  • 1 small text box, table or figure (optional)
  • Maximum 3 authors
  • Please supply a 50 word (maximum) abstract. Note this is not for publication but may be used in correspondence with reviewers

Comments on published MJA articles

  • Maximum 350 words (main text only)
  • Maximum 5 references (online only)
  • Please include the published article you are commenting on as the first reference
  • For indexing purposes, please use the same title as the article on which you are commenting
  • Maximum 3 authors
  • Comments about MJA articles should be submitted within 1 month of that article's publication. Note: a decision may not be made until after this time has elapsed and the authors have been given the option to submit a formal reply

Letters by authors of published MJA articles in reply to comments

  • Maximum 350 words (main text only)
  • Maximum 5 references (online only)
  • Maximum 3 authors

There is a maximum of 3 authors for Letters to the Editor (in reply). This is the case even when there were more than 3 authors of the original article. In the latter case, we suggest that 3 authors write the Letter (in reply) on behalf of all the authors of the original article. Letters should reference the original article and letter or letters commenting on the original published article. Letters should be appropriately referenced in the same style and format as other MJA articles (see References in MJA style).

Online responses

  • Maximum 3000 characters
  • 5 references (included in the above character count)
  • Maximum 3 authors

For rapid publication of comments on published articles, you can submit responses via the website by clicking on the tab adjacent to the article that you are responding to. Please note that responses are subject to moderation and light editing by the Editor and that the original authors may reply to your response.

Online responses to an article may be submitted up to 2 months after the article’s original print publication date. The majority of article types are available for response with the exception of snapshots, obituaries, book reviews and poems.

You will be asked to enter your name, your professional qualifications and affiliations and those of your coauthor/s (if any). You will also be asked to provide a competing interest statement. Details on completing this statement can be found in the “Declarations” section of “MJA Instructions to Authors - Submitting an Article to the MJA”. Please note the Editor will not accept anonymous responses.

You will be notified if your response is published online. The original authors of the article may choose to provide a reply if a response is accepted. Please note that replies are also subject to review by the Editor.

Response process

  1. Click on the “Responses” tab or click on the “Add a response” link at the top of the article you are commenting on
  2. Enter your author information. To enter other authors’ information, click on “Add additional authors”, maximum of 3 authors allowed
  3. Complete your “Competing interests” statement. Suggestions on how to compose this statement can be found in the “Declarations” section of Author Instructions – Submitting an article to the MJA, found here
  4. Enter your response and references into the text box provided. Note: references should be formatted in “Vancouver style”. Information on references can be found here
  5. Agree to the conditions of publication and terms of use of the MJA website
  6. Click “Submit”. Once submitted, your Response will be sent to an Editor for moderation. You will be notified by email should your Response be accepted.