Evidence-Based Clinical Reviews: Guidelines for Authors


To develop a series of articles for The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA) that will address key areas of our osteopathic tenets, and for which we can recruit writers and experts within our profession and throughout the United States.


Authors are asked to expand on the tenets and principles of osteopathic medicine, which were first introduced in the February 2002 issue of the JAOA. For this JAOA section, the following tenets are emphasized:

  1. health maintenance and recovery from disease
  2. patient-centered care
  3. therapeutic lifestyle changes in patient management
  4. evidence-based medicine (especially as it pertains to manual medicine or primary care)
  5. the role of the musculoskeletal system in health and disease

Scope of the Article

Evidence-based clinical reviews submitted for this JAOA section should be approximately 2500 words in length. With a few figures or tables, this would be 6 manuscript pages in the JAOA. References should number 35 or fewer.

Distinctive Features

These articles will be modeled after the clinical reviews that appear in American Family Physician. That is, they should be based on solid research evidence and formatted to provide concise, helpful information that can be immediately implemented into clinical practice. The authors are strongly encouraged to review a few articles from this journal (see "Manuscript Concerns" below) before they begin the process of preparing outlines or begin writing the manuscript itself.

The defining feature that will set these contributions apart will be the incorporation of the previously mentioned tenets and principles of osteopathic medicine into the article. Each manuscript topic will be sufficiently broad that the author will need to select certain areas for emphasis. The tenets can be an organizing focus for the article. Some topics will provide greater opportunities to provide references to these precepts; it would not be appropriate to try to address each of the tenets. The emphasis must always be on evidence-based reviews, but many of these areas will be ones in which there is little or no primary osteopathic research. In these cases, the incorporation of an osteopathic tenet must follow basic rules of logic, and the supportive evidence for that idea must come from solid research.


Students, interns, residents, physicians new in practice. Also, thought leaders from colleges of osteopathic medicine, so these ideas might be incorporated into osteopathic principles and practice and internal medicine and family practice curricula.

Short-term goals

The short-term goals of this section include enhancing the appeal and quality of the JAOA and promoting discussion of the tenets and principles of osteopathic medicine. In addition, these articles will have the potential to develop hypothesis-generating research and help improve the quality of health care delivery by osteopathic physicians throughout the country.

Long-term goals

In the long term, we aim to make the JAOA the preferred journal among osteopathic physicians. It should become a tool that osteopathic medical students and physicians look forward to receiving every month and incorporate into clinical practice. It is the only journal that should be of interest to every DO, regardless of specialty. To make the JAOA that compelling, we will be required to focus on certain useful concepts that change practice behavior or patient care delivery. Ultimately, a validation of osteopathic medicine will increase its use among DOs and non-DOs alike.

Manuscript concerns

Authors will be invited by the section editors or the advisory board for this project. The authors, in turn, may recruit coauthors to collaborate on the manuscript. There are no restrictions concerning author degrees or institutional affiliation. While the section editors will consider unsolicited material, authors are encouraged to contact the JAOA for additional author guidelines before writing a clinical review article.

The first step in preparing an evidence-based clinical review should be to create a 1-page outline that describes the general plan for the paper and submit it to An outline is not just a good way to show that the manuscript will incorporate 1 or 2 key tenets; it is also a good discipline to focus the efforts of the author and to help clarify key objectives for the paper.

Authors are asked to provide full conflict of interest and financial disclosure information on the title page of their submitted manuscript.

The manuscript should be introduced with a narrative abstract of 150 to 200 words. A structured abstract is not needed.

It is expected that the authors will focus on at least 1 of the previously mentioned 5 tenets emphasized in this JAOA section. For most broad topics, this tenet may just represent a part of the overall picture. For example, the musculoskeletal system plays a major role in the etiology and management of type 2 diabetes mellitus, but it is only 1 of multiple features of the disease process. The author will need to use a table, figure, or other means to ensure that the reader is aware of the overall management of the clinical condition.

Each manuscript should include a table of 3 to 5 take-home points, a table of key summary points, and call out statements:

Key Points
Key points are summary statements of the article's main ideas and contributions to the literature. These statements appear in a single boxed item (see for example).

Take-Home Points
Take-home points highlight the most clinically relevant point of an article. Readers should be able to "take home" the information in this element and apply it to their practice. For example, the author may describe how to properly interpret test results. Take-home points can take the form of a table or figure (see for example).

Call Outs
Authors should indicate 3 statements for the JAOA to highlight separately in the text (see for examples). Call outs should represent the most pertinent statements of the article.

A full manuscript may have 3 or more figures and tables. Authors are encouraged to create their own tables and figures instead of using previously published material. The JAOA's staff is not able to provide artwork or technical assistance in the preparation of these figures; the creation of these is a task for the author. The JAOA will reformat the figures and tables to conform to the style of the JAOA.

One to 4 multiple-choice continuing medical education questions should be submitted with each manuscript.

In terms of length, layout, and style, these evidence-based clinical reviews will most closely resemble the clinical reviews, which appear in AFP (eg, Am Fam Physician. 2010;81[12]:1440-1446 and Am Fam Physician. 2010;81[12]:1462-1471). Hospital libraries should have copies available. Please contact JAOA staff at or (312) 202-8166 for additional examples.

The AFP also published a very helpful "how-to" document in its January 2002 issue (Am Fam Physician. 2002;65[2]:251-258).

Because of the need to make this new JAOA section timely, recruited authors will be asked to meet publication timelines.

All manuscripts will go out for peer review. Authors are encouraged to provide the names and contact information of 2 or 3 suggested peer reviewers.

Each manuscript is assigned an oversight editor, who oversees the submission and review process. The editors for this JAOA section will review each manuscript to ensure that it conforms to the goals of this project before it goes out for peer review. Because these manuscripts are solicited, it is anticipated that the peer reviewers will complete their work within 2 weeks. A unique evaluation form for peer reviewers has been created for this project.

Section Editors:
Scott Kaatz, DO
Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan

Robert Orenstein, DO
Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, Arizona

James A. Schoen, DO
Grandview Hospital, Dayton, Ohio

Leonid Skorin Jr, DO
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

Advisory Board:
Gilbert E. D'Alonzo Jr, DO, AOA Editor in Chief
Felix J. Rogers, DO, senior section editor, Trenton, Michigan
Robert Cain, DO, Dayton, Ohio

[Updated July 10, 2015, NF]

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