AJGP > Reviewers > Author guidelines

Author guidelines

1. Review and acceptance

Acceptance of manuscripts for publication is based on quality, originality and relevance for a GP readership.

Articles submitted to AJGP are subject to external, double-blind peer review. Manuscripts should be submitted online via http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ajgp (refer to Section 4. ‘Submission of manuscripts’ for more information).

The AJGP editors make the final decisions on acceptance or rejection. The editors reserve the right to reject any manuscript without peer review if it is not considered relevant to general practice or is otherwise unsuitable for publication in AJGP.

AJGP reserves the right to use plagiarism detection software. By submitting a manuscript, the authors accept that it may be screened against previously published works. AJGP follows the process outlined in the COPE guidelines for managing cases of suspected plagiarism (http://publicationethics.org/resources/flowcharts).

2. Manuscript preparation

2.1 Manuscript categories

2.1.1 Clinical articles

  • Description – evidence-based review articles relating to the assessment and/or management of specific symptoms or conditions presenting to general practice

  • Word limit – 1500 words maximum, excluding abstract, tables, boxes, figures and references. Longer articles may be accepted at the discretion of the editors.

  • Abstract – 150 words maximum, structured under the headings: Background, Objective(s), Discussion

  • References – 30 references suggested maximum; some topics may require additional references

  • Figures/tables – four tables, boxes and/or figures maximum. Additional figures, tables, illustrations or audiovisual supporting content may be published online at the discretion of the editors

  • Key points – at the end of the article, an optional summary or list of key points

2.1.2 Case studies

  • Description – cases that present interesting or unusual problems relevant to practising GPs. Case studies should be presented in question and answer format. They should begin with a short clinical case history that may be accompanied by clinical photographs (refer to Section 4.1.6. ‘Ethics for requirements on case-based submissions’). This should be followed by questions and answers that bring out the salient diagnostic or management points. If the author wishes to present a case in an alternative format, they should explain their reasoning in the cover letter for consideration by the editorial team

  • Word limit – 750 words maximum, excluding tables, boxes, figures and references

  • Abstract – no abstract is required; the introductory paragraph will be used for indexation

  • References – 10 references suggested maximum

  • Figures/tables – two tables, boxes and/or figures maximum

  • Key points – at the end of the article, a short summary or list of key learning points from the case

2.1.3 Original research articles

  • Description – reports of high-quality, original research relevant to the needs of GPs. Certain types of research are a lower priority for publication; these include surveys with low response rates, pilot studies and educational interventions. Human research ethics committee (HREC) approval must be demonstrated where applicable

  • Word limits – 2000 words maximum, excluding abstract, tables, boxes, figures and references, with up to an extra 1000 words permitted for quotes in qualitative research. Longer articles may be accepted at the discretion of the editors. To submit a larger piece of research that may be suitable for publication in AJGP, please contact the editors at ajgp@racgp.org.au prior to submission, providing full details of the proposed article

  • Abstract – 150 words maximum, structured under the headings: Background and objective(s), Method, Results, Discussion

  • References – 30 references suggested maximum; some topics may require additional references

  • Figures/tables – four tables, boxes and/or figures (quantitative research), or two tables, boxes and/or figures (qualitative research) maximum. Additional figures, tables, illustrations or audiovisual supporting content may be published online at the discretion of the editors

  • Implications for general practice – at the end of the report, an optional short summary of what the research adds to the literature and the implications for Australian general practice Original research articles – ‘In brief’

  • Description – shorter or ‘in brief’ reports of high-quality research, suitable for brief research findings, relevant to GPs. The methodological rigour of in-brief articles should be the same as that expected for full-length research articles. HREC approval must be demonstrated where applicable

  • Word limit – 800 words maximum, excluding abstract, tables, boxes, figures, references

  • Abstract – 100 words, unstructured

  • References – 10 references suggested maximum

  • Figures/tables – two tables, boxes and/or figures maximum Original research articles – protocols

  • Description – a plan for a proposed research study, outlining the objectives of the study, hypotheses to be tested, and methodology and analyses to be used. Authors must clearly explain why their protocol is sufficiently important, novel or ground-breaking to justify publication. HREC approval must be demonstrated where applicable

  • Word limits – 1500 words maximum, excluding abstract, tables, boxes, figures and references

  • Abstract – 150 words maximum; structured under the headings: Background and objective(s), Methods and analysis, Discussion

  • References – 30 references suggested maximum

  • Figures/tables – two tables, boxes and/or figures maximum. Additional figures, tables, illustrations or audiovisual supporting content may be published online at the discretion of the editors

2.1.4 Professional articles
  • Description – articles on non-clinical topics such as practice management, medico-legal issues, medical ethics, patient safety, healthcare systems and service delivery, and medical education. Occasionally, practice audits and reports of educational interventions may be considered for publication, but are considered low priority and may require ethics approval

  • Word limit – 1500 words maximum; excludes abstract, tables, boxes, figures and references

  • Abstract – 150 words maximum; structured under the headings: Background, Objective(s), Discussion

  • References – 30 references suggested maximum; some topics may require additional references

  • Figures/tables – four tables, boxes and/or figures maximum

2.1.5 Viewpoint articles
  • Description – clearly argued opinion pieces relating to any primary care topic and supported by appropriate references

  • Word limit – 750 words maximum; excludes tables, boxes, figures and references

  • Abstract – no abstract is required

  • References – 10 references suggested maximum

  • Figures/tables – two tables, boxes and/or figures maximum

2.1.6 Letters to the Editor
  • Description – letters of broad interest to GPs, or letters that offer a perspective on content published by AJGP, are published at the discretion of the editors and may be edited. Letters accepted for publication are subject to right of reply, where applicable

  • Word limit – 350 words maximum; excludes references

  • Abstract – no abstract is required; the introductory paragraph will be used for indexation

  • References – five references suggested maximum

2.2 Manuscript style

Authors should present their work in a way that engages and informs practising GPs. AJGP recommends using consensus statements and checklists, where available, as a guide when writing manuscripts. Examples include:

  • CONSORT, www.consort-statement.org, for randomised controlled trials

  • STARD, www.stard-statement.org, for diagnostic accuracy studies

  • STROBE, www.strobe-statement.org, for observational studies in epidemiology

For an up-to-date list of resources, please visit www.equator-network.org

Medicine ingredient names and spellings should be in the style recommended by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (www.tga.gov.au/updating-medicine-ingredient-names-list-affected-ingredients)

Manuscripts should be presented in the following order:

  • Abstract, where applicable

  • Main text

  • References

  • Tables and or boxes (with titles)

  • Figures (with titles and, if applicable, legends)

For the main text of research articles, AJGP uses a modified IMRAD (Introduction [unnamed], Methods, Results and Discussion) format, followed by an optional short summary of the implications for general practice.

In addition, authors should:

  • use generic names when referring to medicines; do not use brand or trade names

  • use acronyms and abbreviations sparingly; spell out all acronyms and abbreviations in full on the first reference

  • clearly indicate headings and subheadings; do not use all capitals in headings

  • label all tables, boxes and figures and include references to the tables, boxes and figures in numerical order in the text

  • submit tables, boxes and figures in an editable form in portrait orientation not exceeding one page per table, box or figure

  • ensure all medical claims and statements are referenced

  • cite references in numerical order in the main text; for references that are cited in tables, boxes and figures, but not the main text, numbering should continue from the last reference cited in the text (eg, if a manuscript has 25 references, but two references are cited only in a table, box or figure, number from 1 to 23 in the main text, and 24 and 25 where applicable in the table, box or figure).

Manuscripts that do not comply with these instructions may be returned to the author, resulting in a possible delay to publication.

2.3 Parts of the manuscript

2.3.1 Title page

Upload the title page as a separate document in ScholarOne; this helps facilitate the peer review process.

The title page must contain:

  • the title of the article

  • a list of all authors and each author’s qualifications, current position(s) and affiliations

  • contact details of the designated corresponding author

  • competing interest statement (refer to Section 3.1.5)

  • funding statement (refer to Section 3.1.5)

  • acknowledgements, if applicable

  • word count (excluding abstract, tables, boxes, figures and references).

Article titles should be as brief as practicable, with a maximum of 100 characters (not including spaces) and not more than one level of subheading.

2.3.2 Main text and abstract

Submit the main text of the article as a Word document, and include an abstract where applicable (clinical, research, professional articles), list of references and, if applicable, a list of figure legends, tables and boxes.

The abstract should accurately reflect the contents of the article and include the ‘take home’ messages of the article (refer to Section 3.1 for abstract structure).

Use automatic page numbering but no footnotes, headers or footers. Do not include author details or contact information in the text. Information that can lead to the identification of authors should be removed for the peer-review process.

2.3.3 Tables, boxes and figures

Tables, boxes, images, figures or illustrations are valuable but their use should supplement the text without duplicating its content. Their inclusion is subject to editorial judgement. Include in-text references to all tables, boxes and figures.

Tables and boxes can be included in the manuscript file or uploaded as separate files if necessary. In the main text, after the references, include a summary of table titles, figure captions and, where applicable, legends of no more than 25 words.

Tables, boxes and figures should not exceed one A4 page in portrait orientation at 8 point in a standard font such as Times New Roman. At the discretion of the editors, large tables may be published online only. Tables, boxes and figures submitted in landscape orientation will not be accepted.

Tables, boxes and figures should be supplied in an editable form in Word. Figures, including photos, scans and similar, should be in tiff, jpeg or eps format, all at 300 dpi.

Graphs, flowcharts and algorithms should, preferably, be supplied in their native form (eg Microsoft Excel). If native files cannot be supplied, please provide numeric data for graphs in case they need to be redrawn. Images that include the author’s own text should be supplied in an editable format.

A copy of written permission from the copyright holder, if required, must be provided for all tables, boxes, images, figures or illustrations that have been reproduced or adapted from copyrighted sources, including online material (see Section 3.1.3. ‘Permissions’ for further details).

2.3.4 References

AJGP uses a modified Vancouver style for referencing.

Particulars of the AJGP Vancouver style include the following.

  • For standard journals, AJGP lists all authors when there are six or fewer. When there are seven or more authors, in the reference list include the first three and add ‘et al’, and in body text include just the first and add ‘et al’.

  • The title of the paper should be given in full and the title of the journal abbreviated according to Index Medicus (if not listed by Index Medicus, spell out in full).

  • ​Include the year, volume number, issue number and the first and last page numbers of the article: – eg Paige G, Cooke MA, Fielding AJ, et al. Childhood development: The role of the general practitioner. Arch Pediatr 2005;12(5):863–65.
  • Where available, include DOIs for references

Articles in preparation or submitted for publication must not be included in the reference list, but can be mentioned in the text as ‘unpublished data’ with a list of authors (or initials if co-authors of the present work). Written permission from the authors of any unpublished data or personal communications must be provided.

Linked reference fields (eg EndNote codes) must be removed before submitting manuscripts.

Authors should set in-text reference numbers in superscript and numerical order. Numbering of additional references cited in tables, boxes and figures should continue from the last reference in the main body of the article, if not already cited. For example, if the last reference in the article is number 20, any additional references in tables, boxes and figures would continue as 21, 22, etc, if not already cited in the main body of the article.

3. Submission of manuscripts

3.1 Submission requirements

Authors must submit manuscripts in electronic form via the AJGP manuscript submission portal (http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ajgp).

After registering and logging in to the site, click on the ‘Author’ tab and then follow the prompts to submit a manuscript.

In addition to uploading manuscript files, authors should ensure they have included the required statements in the cover letter section of the online submission and that they have uploaded the required forms. More detail is provided below. Note that manuscripts submitted without the necessary forms will be returned to authors.

You may track the progress of your submission at any time by logging in to ScholarOne and/or contacting the editorial office (ajgp@racgp.org.au).

3.1.1 Covering letter

Submitted manuscripts must be original work that has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere. A statement to this effect must be included in the cover letter. The cover letter must also contain the following information:

  • Details of individual author contributions

  • Competing interests statement (refer to Section 3.1.5)

  • Sources of funding (refer to Section 3.1.5)

  • Declaration that all authors have approved the final submitted version of the manuscript

Where applicable, the cover later must include statements confirming that patient consent, permission to reproduce or adapt copyrighted material, and HREC approval have been obtained (refer to Sections 3.1.2, 3.1.3 and 3.1.6).

Authors should use their covering letter to provide two to three reasons to articulate why they believe their article should be published in AJGP.

3.1.2 Copyright

Authors must complete a standard ‘Assignment of copyright and Health information authorisation’ form. This can be found on ScholarOne website.

3.1.3 Permissions

On the ‘Assignment of copyright and Health information authorisation’ form, authors must indicate whether tables, boxes and figures:

  • are original creations

  • contain information taken from published sources

  • are reproduced or adapted from published sources

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission from the appropriate copyright holder to reproduce or adapt all published (or otherwise copyrighted) material. The copyright holder’s permission statement must be provided at the time of manuscript submission, together with a copy of the source material.

Refer to Section 6 for information about permission to reproduce content from an AJGP article.

3.1.4 Author contributions

Authors must meet all of the following four criteria, as outlined in the ICMJE recommendations:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND

  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND

  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND

  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Ghost authorship is not permitted by AJGP. All contributors who fulfil the ICMJE criteria for authorship must be listed as authors.

Individuals who have assisted with writing the manuscript (eg medical writers, professional editors) must be named in an acknowledgement section, and any competing interests they have must be declared (refer to Section 3.1.5).

Other contributors who do not meet authorship requirements can be included in an acknowledgement section and their contribution specified. Permission to acknowledge is required from those who are named.

The contribution of each listed author must be outlined in the cover letter completed as part of the ScholarOne submission process.

3.1.5 Disclosure of funding arrangements and/or competing interests

Any potential conflicts of interest must be stated on the ‘ICMJE form for disclosure of potential conflicts of interest’ available on the ScholarOne Manuscripts site.

Declarations on funding and financial arrangements must also be made in sections 2 and 3 of the ICMJE form.

Authors must also include in their article, before the references list, a ‘Competing interests’ statement. The statement should specify board memberships of, affiliations with, and/or funding/honoraria from pharmaceutical or other for-profit organisations. Sponsorship or funding arrangements relating to the authors’ research must be disclosed.

If a commercial organisation has initiated or significantly contributed to the writing of the article, the organisation must be identified.
The ‘Competing interests’ and funding statements must include any interests and potential conflicts identified in the ICMJE form.

If there are no competing interests and no funding, authors should nevertheless include a statement of ‘None’.

When competing interests and funding are indicated as present, authors must include in their covering letter the following statement: ‘I/we had full access to all relevant data in this study, and supporting sources had no involvement in data analysis and interpretation, or in the writing of the article’.

While declared competing interests and funding do not automatically exclude an article from publication, articles with declarations other than ‘none’ may be referred to the AJGP Editorial Board to further scrutinise whether such competing interests and funding might have compromised the integrity of the article.

Articles that have been commissioned or funded by a commercial company or organisation may be rejected if the editors perceive that content has been unduly influenced by the interests of the commissioning or funding company or organisation. This includes articles written by paid employees of commercial companies or organisations.

3.1.6 Ethics

In keeping with international protocols and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines, all research papers reporting new research must be able to state that appropriate ethics approval was obtained before undertaking the study. All clinical trials must be registered. Ethics approval details must be described in the manuscript, and the human research ethics committee approval number or a copy of the approval certificate must be supplied (certificates should be uploaded with manuscript files at the manuscript submission stage and allocated the file type ‘Forms’).

For research that is eligible for an exemption from ethics approval, authors will need to submit a letter of ethics exemption from a duly constituted HREC. For guidance, see the NHMRC publication ‘National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research’ available at www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/publications/e72

For any case-based submission, authors must ensure informed consent is obtained from patients discussed or depicted in the manuscript, or their legal representatives. The RACGP ‘Patient consent’ form provides a template for ensuring informed consent and must be completed and retained by the author and the patient or their legal representative. Authors must not supply these forms to AJGP unless directed. This requirement applies whether or not clinical photographs are used. Forms are available on ScholarOne Manuscripts site. Submissions will not progress until confirmation of patient or legal representative consent has been confirmed through provision of a signed ‘Assignment of copyright and Health information authorisation’ form.

All patient information must be de-identified.

4. Responding to peer reviewers' comments

Authors should provide a point-by-point, detailed explanation of how they have responded to the peer reviewers’ comments. Responses to peer reviewers’ comments should be submitted in a table format with each item numbered. The revised manuscript should be submitted as a ‘track changes’ version showing where changes have been made, and a ‘clean copy’ version with all changes accepted.

5. Post-acceptance

All accepted manuscripts are subject to editing for length, clarity and conformity with AJGP style.

If your article is accepted, a PDF proof of the final manuscript will be sent to the corresponding author before publication and must be returned by the date requested.

It is the author’s responsibility to carefully read the final proof and ensure that no mistakes have inadvertently occurred in the production process, especially in regard to numbers and statistics in tables, or investigation results and medication doses.

Please note that AJGP reserves the right to rescind an ‘accept’ decision if undeclared concerns with authorship, conflicts of interest, plagiarism or other significant issues arise during the production process, in accordance with COPE guidelines (www.publicationethics.org/resources/guidelines) and ICMJE recommendations (www.icmje.org/recommendations).

6. Permissions post-publication

Permission to reproduce all or part of any AJGP article must be obtained by emailing permissions@racgp.org.au

Further details are available at www.racgp.org.au/ajgp/permissions

Note that while pharmaceutical companies may apply to reproduce articles, AJGP will not assist with reproduction beyond providing the necessary permission.

7. Appeals policy

AJGP acknowledges that peer review and editorial decision-making are processes that involve both data and judgement. If you feel that a mistake has been made in rejecting your paper, you may appeal the decision.

7.1. How to appeal

The appeal should be received by the editorial office within 30 days of the decision being made. It should be submitted via the Author Centre on Manuscript Central at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ajgp. The appeal should be as detailed as possible. It should specify why the appellant feels the reviewers comments or editors decision letter were incorrect.

Please note only one appeal per manuscript can be considered. At this stage a revised manuscript should not be submitted.

7.2 Actions by AJGP on receipt of an appeal

All appeals will be acknowledged on receipt. An initial panel of the medical editing team will screen appeals. This will occur within 21 days.

There are three possible outcomes from this initial appeal screening process:

  • The appeal is accepted without further assessment and the author is asked to submit a revised manuscript, which may be subject to further peer review

  • If the appeal is felt to have the possibility of merit, then an appeal panel will be formed with at least two members (reviewers with particular relevant expertise to the content of the appeal; where possible, at least one of the reviewers may be an editorial board member). This panel will be provided with the article, the initial reviews, reason for decision, and the appeal details as per the author appeal. The panel then makes a recommendation to the editor about the outcome of the manuscript that is the subject of the appeal. This outcome is more likely to occur with appeals relating to concerns that the scientific content of the paper has been misunderstood or bias in reviews.
  • The appeal is rejected as having no valid basis. This outcome is most likely if the initial rejection involved issues about audience interest or journal requirements (such as the absence of ethics approval).

7.3 Outcome

The appellant will be notified of the outcome of the appeal within 60 days. This will be in a written format, either letter or email.
Please note that the acceptance of an appeal does not equate with acceptance of the manuscript for publication. The manuscript may be subject to further reviews (as will be detailed in the written outcome of the appeal). These reviews will then be considered when making the final decision about the manuscripts suitability for publication.

Last revision: July 2018