Information for Authors

The JAOA is the official scientific publication of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the premier peer-reviewed, indexed, scholarly publication of the osteopathic medical profession. 

The JAOA's mission is to serve as an international forum for the dissemination of scientific literature that incorporates an integrative, comprehensive, patient-centered approach to clinical care and improving health.

Article Types and Subject/Domain Areas

The JAOA accepts the following article types for peer review:

  • Original Article
  • Review Article
  • Brief Report
  • Case Report
  • Clinical Practice
  • Clinical Image
  • Commentary
  • Letter to the Editor

The JAOA gives priority to original research, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses. Authors may select from the following topic/domain categories when submitting an article to the JAOA:

  • Behavioral Health
  • Cardiopulmonary Medicine
  • General
  • Innovations
  • Medical Education
  • Musculoskeletal Medicine
  • Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine/ Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT)
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology and Pediatrics
  • Public Health and Primary Care

Preparing Your Manuscript

We strongly encourage you to consult the JAOA’s Author Resource Center for detailed information about scholarly research and publishing before submitting a manuscript to us.

Submission and Peer Review Process

To submit a manuscript to us, visit our manuscript tracking system on ScholarOne.

You may upload manuscripts and accompanying materials to the ScholarOne site referenced above, and you will receive all correspondence regarding their submissions through the site. You may use this site to check the status of your manuscript at any time.

Failure to follow these Instructions for Authors and include all required components will result in your manuscript being returned to you before peer review. The JAOA will consider the manuscript after all items are formatted properly.

Generally speaking, first decisions are returned within 30 days of submission. If you feel your publication warrants rapid review, please email us at editorial@osteopathic.org.

The JAOA employs a single-blinded peer review process. Submissions are assigned directly to a Section Editor familiar with your particular area of study, who may issue an immediate decision or decide to forward your manuscript for full peer review. During peer review, your work will be reviewed by experts in a relevant specialty.

Authors who are considering submitting multiple manuscripts that will convey the progression of a study or that are part of a series of articles intended to be published at the same time are strongly encouraged to contact JAOA staff before submitting such articles.

Research Ethics

The JAOA accepts manuscripts for consideration with the understanding that they have not been published elsewhere in print or online and that they are not simultaneously under consideration by any other print or electronic publication.

Because the JAOA's volunteer peer reviewers invest a considerable amount of time in the peer review process, manuscripts should not be submitted and/or must be withdrawn from consideration at the JAOA if they (1) have already been published in any print or online medium or (2) are currently under review by another biomedical journal or other publication.

We also encourage you to review this short summary of ethical writing guidelines (and violations to avoid) before submitting your research.

Formatting Your Manuscript

All manuscripts should be submitted as Microsoft Office Word documents. Submissions received as PDFs will be returned. All manuscripts should be formatted in 12-point standard font (eg, Times New Roman or Calibri).

All submissions to the JAOA must follow AMA style, particularly with regard to references. If your manuscript is not formatted properly, it will either be returned to you before peer review, or you will be asked to revise it before publication. References should include direct, open-access URLs (uniform resource locators) to full-text versions of the referenced articles. A URL to an abstract in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database does not meet this requirement.

Every article submitted to the JAOA must contain the following:

  • Title page, containing the following information in this order:
    • Manuscript type
    • Domain/subject category
    • Manuscript title
    • Full author names, professional titles, and affiliations
    • Corresponding author contact information, including both street address and email
    • Author contributions
    • Financial disclosures

Notes: Authors' names should appear according to the authors' preferred usage and include all doctoral and master degrees in the order in which they were earned. For authors without doctoral or master degrees, their highest earned academic degrees or relevant certifications should be listed. The names of osteopathic medical students should include the OMS designation with the year of training in Roman numerals (eg, "OMS IV" should appear after the names of fourth-year osteopathic medical students). In addition, the full professional titles and affiliations of all of the manuscript's authors should be included on the title page.

Each author's contributions must be identified using language provided by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, as follows: "[Author(s)] provided substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; [Author(s)] drafted the article or revised it critically for important intellectual content; [Author(s)] gave final approval of the version of the article to be published; and [Author(s)] agree 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." Each author must meet each of the 4 criteria. Individuals who do not meet all 4 of the requirements should be listed in the acknowledgments.

The title page should describe any financial support provided for the work on which the manuscript is based, and grant numbers should be provided. For each author, the title page should also include a financial disclosure statement (eg, employment, funding, or stock ownership with the manufacturer of the product studied) and a conflict of interest statement (eg, any nonfinancial affiliation with a group that may benefit from the study, such as serving on a formulary committee). In the event that authors do not have any potential conflicts to disclose, a statement to that effect must be made on the title page. A list of potential conflicts of interest is included in the "Manuscript Checklist" page.

  • A single manuscript file, submitted as a Word document and including references
    • References are required for all material derived from the work of others (including adapted figures/tables) and should follow the latest copy of the AMA Manual of Style. Again, references should include direct, open-access URLs (uniform resource locators) to full-text versions of the referenced articles. A URL to an abstract in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database does not meet this requirement.

For journal articles that are not accessible online for free, authors must send photocopies via email, fax, or mail, if requested, once their manuscripts are accepted for publication. For additional requirements and examples of reference style, click here.

When comparing the work of the manuscript with published studies, authors must refer to original documents rather than secondary sources.

  • CME quiz questions—Authors should submit 1 to 4 multiple-choice questions (not true/false) for the Continuing Medical Education quiz and brief discussions of the correct answers. Questions must pertain to the manuscript being submitted, and answers should be apparent from the text. Readers should not have to consult outside sources to determine the correct answer.
  • Tables and/or Figures—The minimum figure resolution we can accept is 8 inches width at 72 dpi. All research submissions should include at least 1 graphic element. All accompanying tables and figures should be numbered, and they should be cited sequentially in the text. Labeled captions for all figures should be provided at the end of the manuscript. A full bibliographic citation should be provided in each caption for reprinted or adapted graphic elements.

In addition to the required elements above, you may also submit (or be required to submit):

  • Videos in.mpg, .mpeg, .mov, .avi, or .wmv files. The maximum file size that the JAOA can accept is 20 MB. A length of 90 seconds or less is preferred.
  • Supplemental material, which is usually published online only and may include copies of original surveys, cover letters that accompanied surveys, study flow diagrams, and more.
  • Permissions, which are required when you include previously published tables, illustrations, and other graphic elements (or anything adapted from something that has been previously published). Authors must specifically obtain permission to reprint or adapt graphic elements for both the JAOA's print and online versions.

Authors must also obtain written permission from patients to use their photographic images if those patients are identifiable in the images. If a patient is younger than 18 years, authors must obtain permission from one of the patient's parents or guardians. Authors are encouraged to use the JAOA's patient-model release form for this purpose.

Authors serving in the US military must obtain armed forces' approval for their manuscripts and provide military or institutional disclaimers when submitting manuscripts.

Article Categories

Manuscripts must be submitted in 1 of the following formats, regardless of domain/topic area. Submissions from students, residents, or fellows should also have a faculty mentor (senior) trainer as an author.

A few notes about each manuscript section (Methods, Results, etc) appear in the Manuscript Components section below.

Original Article

Elements:

  • Abstract: structured, 500 words or fewer
  • Sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions
  • Word count: 3000 or fewer
  • References: 50 or fewer
  • Figures and Tables: 5 or fewer, with flow diagrams encouraged (required for Randomized Controlled Trials)

Manuscripts in this category document original clinical or applied research. Original contributions include controlled trials, observational studies, diagnostic test studies, cost-effectiveness studies, and survey-based studies. The JAOA will accept basic scientific research only if the work has clear clinical applications.

The JAOA will consider quality improvement studies that may be valuable to its readership; however, the authors of such studies must obtain a statement of exemption from the institutional review board at the author’s institution. Quality improvement studies without exemption status will not be considered.

If the manuscript includes OMT protocols, the JAOA encourages the inclusion of an accompanying video that demonstrates the OMT protocols. The JAOA will give priority to submissions with video accompaniment.

Review Article

Elements:

  • Abstract: structured, 500 words or fewer
  • Sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions
  • Word count: 3500 or fewer
  • References: 75 or fewer
  • Figures and Tables: 4 or fewer, with flow diagrams encouraged

Manuscripts of this type are detailed, critical surveys of published research relevant to clinical problems. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are preferred and will receive a higher publication priority than other reviews. Systematic reviews should have a clear objective, a description of the data-selection and exclusion process, and a discussion of the research implications.

Narrative reviews should include a clear objective, a description of the condition being reviewed, a summary of common problems in diagnosis and treatment, and a discussion of new theories in the medical literature for improving patient care.

All submissions in this category should introduce the problem or clinical question, discussing what is already known and the state of the current research on the question; assess the recent literature, pointing out limitations and highlighting areas that could benefit from further research in the field; and provide a definitive conclusion as to the meaning of the articles reviewed. See our instructional webinar on Designing a High-Quality Systematic Review and the accompanying handout for additional support.

Brief Report

Elements:

  • Abstract: Structured, 500 words or fewer
  • Sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions
  • Word count: 2500 or fewer
  • References: 35 or fewer
  • Figures and Tables: 4 or fewer

Submissions in this category substantively but briefly document clinical information, early-phase investigations and small pilot studies, clinical "pearls," and similar scholarly insights.

Case Report

Elements:

  • Abstract: Unstructured
  • Sections: Introduction, Case Description, Discussion, Conclusions
  • Word count: 1500 or fewer
  • References: 20 or fewer
  • Figures and Tables: 2 or fewer

The JAOA now accepts a very limited number of Case Reports, focusing only on those that represent truly novel or unusual contributions to the literature. All Case Reports are evaluated first by our Editors based on uniqueness of subject matter, relevance to our readership, and previous publication of similar studies. Case reports must describe clinical presentations that have strong relevance to osteopathic medicine. These manuscripts must also include results of osteopathic structural examinations and a relevant literature review. Authors should follow the CARE guidelines.

Clinical Practice

Elements:

  • Abstract: Unstructured
  • Sections: Introduction, Clinical Summary, Discussion, Conclusions
  • Word count: 3000 or fewer
  • References: 50 or fewer
  • Figures and Tables: 4 or fewer

Manuscripts in this category consist of expert critical viewpoints with practical applications for osteopathic physicians, emphasizing findings and recommendations based on the authors' clinical experience.

Clinical Images

Elements:

  • Abstract: None
  • Sections: None (brief narrative case description)
  • Word count: 150 words or fewer
  • References: 10 or fewer
  • Figures and Tables: 2 or fewer

This section showcases medical conditions encountered by osteopathic physicians.

Commentary

Commentary is typically solicited by JAOA Editors, although unsolicited editorials and commentaries may be considered. Please email editorial@osteopathic.org if you would like to inquire about submitting a Commentary. These manuscripts are typically 1000 words or fewer with no more than 10 references and 1 table or figure, if appropriate.

Letters to the Editor

Elements:

  • Abstract: None
  • Sections: None (narrative)
  • Word count: 400 or fewer
  • References: 15 or fewer
  • Figures and Tables: 2 or fewer

Osteopathic physicians, faculty members at osteopathic medical schools, osteopathic medical students, and others in the health care professions are encouraged to submit comments related either to articles published in the JAOA or to the mission of the osteopathic medical profession. The JAOA's Editors are particularly interested in letters that discuss recently published original research. Unsigned letters will not be considered for publication in the JAOA.

Manuscript Components

Abstract

For manuscripts where a structured abstract is required, authors should include the following 4 sections: context, objective, methods, results, and conclusion.

Introduction

Authors should briefly introduce the topic of their manuscript, including: (1) background describing the previous work that led to the research, (2) a description of the research question and domain of the inquiry (eg, therapy, diagnosis, quality), and (3) an outline for the goals of the study.

Methods

For prospective clinical trials, including pilot studies, the Methods section must state the name of the public registry in which the trial was listed before participant recruitment began (see "Public Registration").

For a human or experimental animal investigation, the Methods section must identify the institutional review board that approved the project. It must also state the manner in which informed consent was obtained from human subjects.

Authors must also clearly describe the basic study design, list measurement instruments and other tools used for independent and dependent variables, and clearly identify any modified or novel interventions that did not comply with approved or standard use.

In addition, authors must define the masking or blinding protocol and any statistical methods used, providing the full name of each method at first mention (eg, "Pearson product moment correlation coefficient" rather than "Pearson correlation coefficient").

As a general guideline, the methods should be written with enough detail that another researcher could replicate the study.

If your manuscript reports partial data from a single phase of a larger trial, you must state that in your Methods.

Results

Authors must report all outcome data and other results as they relate to the study's objectives and to the manuscript's Methods section. No data should be reported in the Results that wasn’t introduced in the Methods; likewise, no new data should be presented later in the Discussion that wasn’t outlined in the Methods and Results. The statistical methods used to analyze data should be accurate and appropriate for the research question.

Discussion

Authors should place their findings in the context of relevant literature, describe any limitations of the study, and make recommendations for future research. The discussion should also comment on the study's importance in relation to the tenets of osteopathic medicine.

Conclusion

Authors should succinctly summarize the study's major findings as they relate to the study's purpose and the clinical applications of those findings, if appropriate. Conclusions should be limited to 1 paragraph.

Acknowledgments

Authors should limit acknowledgments to people who substantially contributed to either the study or the preparation of the manuscript. Acknowledgments should list contributors' full names; highest earned academic degrees, including all doctoral and master degrees; and professional titles at academic and other institutions. Acknowledgments of osteopathic medical students should include their OMS designation.

Figures and Tables

Tables should consist of 3 or more interrelated columns and rows and should present only information that is relevant and of interest. Primary comparisons should be presented horizontally, left to right. Tables should be able to stand on their own, without reference to the text; thus, table titles must provide the context to help readers interpret the data presented. Read the JAOA's tips for preparing tables for additional guidance. Tables should be submitted as Word files.

Statistical figures are best used for communicating trends or relationships in a study's findings. Bar graphs are best for showing magnitude, line graphs for trends over time, or dot plots for quantitative data on a single axis (eg, time series, ranking, and nominal-comparison relationships), and scatterplots for correlations. Graphs must depict findings fairly and accurately. For instance, authors should not alter the scales used to make findings appear more meaningful. Once manuscripts are accepted for publication, JAOA staff must recreate charts before publication to ensure that the images are of reproduction quality. Authors, therefore, must provide data points for each graph. Failure to provide data points on request may result in unsubmission. Read the JAOA's tips for preparing figures for additional guidance.

Nonstatistical figures are visual representations of information that do not included data, such as clinical images, illustrations, and diagrams. All images must be submitted as separate high-resolution JPEG or TIF files. The minimum resolution that the JAOA can accept is 8 inches width at 72 dpi. All patient information must be removed from or blocked out of graphic elements. Radiologic images in particular should be checked for patient information before being submitted to the JAOA

Publication Process

Copyediting

As a means of maintaining editorial and other quality standards, all accepted manuscripts are subject to editing and abridgment. Such editing takes place after manuscripts undergo peer review and author revision. During this editing process, the JAOA's staff editors revise all accepted manuscripts for clarity, organization, grammar, conformity to house style and format, and adherence to AOA-preferred terminology, nomenclature, and spelling. Staff editors also conduct basic fact checking, including verifying referenced statements. As a consequence, they may request copies of referenced materials that were not provided on submission. Failure to respond during this process may result in delayed publication.

Corresponding authors will receive edited manuscripts for review and comment before publication. Corresponding authors are responsible for verifying all statements in their articles, including confirming the accuracy of changes made by the JAOA's staff editors.

Promoting Your Work

No material published in the JAOA may be reprinted without the written permission of the AOA. Visit the reprints page for more information.

However, the JAOA encourages authors to actively promote their articles, whether through press releases, social media, or other outlets. The following are some tips to get your research recognized:

  • Reach out to the media relations team at your institution. They may be able to help craft a press release about your article and promote your research via social media.
  • Consider creating an account on Kudos, a free service for authors to promote their studies.
  • If your study does not draw a clear conclusion, offer key takeaways that put the research into context. Reporters and readers need to understand what findings might imply—but they don’t respond well to “more research is needed.”
  • Understand that a press release isn’t an abstract. It’s more of a high-level overview that focuses on what a study found, why it matters to a broad consumer audience, and how that finding may be used.
  • Consider sharing your research via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • For those authors who choose to promote their studies, reference that the article was published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. Sometimes, promotional efforts will result in requests for interviews. Please e-mail jaoa@osteopathic.org if you are contacted by media so the AOA's media relations team can help you manage the interview and story.
  • In all cases, begin every media interaction by telling the reporter that you are a DO, if applicable, and explaining what that means.
  • Direct quotes are likely to be picked up, so ensure that osteopathic messaging is incorporated into any quotes provided.

Author CME Credit

All DO authors of articles published in the JAOA earn AOA Category 1-B continuing medical education credit for their contributions. The amount of credit varies based on the article type, ranging from 15 credit hours for writing original contributions and medical education articles to 3 credit hours for original authors responding to letters to the editor.

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