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Instructions for contributors

Mission and Scope:

The Journal of Clinical and Translational Science (JCTS) aims to provide a forum for the rapid communication of relevant topics of interest to the large and diverse community of clinical and translational scientists. The ultimate goal of JCTS is to improve the efficiency with which research and new diagnostics, therapies, and preventive measures, informed by health needs, are able to reach the public.

JCTS is the official journal of the Association of Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS). ACTS has partnered with the American Physician Scientists Association (APSA) and the Clinical Research Forum (CRF) to support the growth and development of JCTS.

A decade ago, the translational sciences were described as three mountains (basic translational research, clinical research, and implementation research) that were separated by the "valleys of death" where great discoveries floundered – unable to move from the bench to the bedside - or where clinical observations or clinical trial results became mired – never transitioning back to the laboratory. Today, despite profound technologic breakthroughs, the ability to manipulate genes and proteins both in vitro and in vivo and the opportunities to analyze "big data" in ways that could only be imagined just a decade ago, the time it takes a discovery to transition from the bench to the bedside remains interminably slow. We must therefore continue to create new ways to explore human biology, understand the regulatory and policy roadblocks that obstruct the translational highway, develop innovative methodologies for both basic and clinical research, and create new means to better educate tomorrow's workforce and mentor today's young scientists and clinicians who are the hope for the future. This Journal is committed to publishing the highest quality of work in these many facets of the translational sciences in order to facilitate the efforts of translational scientists and to achieve the overarching goal of improved health.


Subject Categories:

During submission, authors must clearly indicate which of the below subject categories they are submitting their paper under. All papers, no matter what the article type, should be submitted under a subject category. If authors are uncertain under which category to submit their paper, they should contact the Editor-in-Chief, Dr Arthur Feldman, at jcts@cambridge.org

Towards fulfilling its mission, the Journal publishes manuscripts across 6 broad topics areas: Basic Translational Research; Clinical Research; Education; Research Methods; Implementation, Policy and Community Engagement; and Translational Research Design and Analysis. The following list provides examples of topic areas but should not be considered as inclusive:

Basic Translational Research: This includes studies focused on understanding of mechanisms of human disease through studies in cells, animal models, and human tissues; allergy, immunology, autoimmunity and vaccine development; benign and malignant hematology; cardiovascular disease and prevention; cell signaling; endocrinology, metabolism and lipid disorders; gene therapy and vector design; regenerative biology; human genetics, genomics and proteomics; infectious disease and HIV; neurodegenerative disease, including ALS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease and aging; oncologic disease; pharmacology and pharmacogenomics; and protein quality control.

Clinical Research: This includes studies that are first in man proof of concept studies; phase I-IV clinical trials; relevant phase IV clinical studies; comparative effectiveness research; pragmatic clinical trials; post-marketing surveillance; studies that identify or support biomarkers that can be used at any stage of drug development; pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic and quantitative pharmacology studies that relate to translational medicine.

Education: This includes research that evaluates and assesses new and innovative methodologies for educating translational scientists, medical students, and physician scientists; programs focused on training residents and fellows to be community based investigators; efforts to obtain community input in setting research priorities and contributing to research design, conduct, interpretation, and implementation; programs focused on increasing the pipeline of physician scientists, opportunities that improve the ability of graduate students to enter the translational sciences, and STEM programs to increase the pool size and diversity of the translational science workforce. In addition, we encourage manuscripts that detail successful and innovative mentoring programs both within and outside of CTSAs. Manuscripts presenting quantitative data will receive priority over those that are descriptive.

Research Methods and Technology: Technologic breakthroughs are occurring at a rate that outpaces any period in the history of science. One example is CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing. First applied to genome editing in 2012, the technology has caused a major upheaval in the translational sciences. Therefore, we encourage manuscripts that detail new technology and innovative methodology that has the potential to change the way translational scientists approach their studies.

Implementation, Policy and Community Engagement: The ability to translate discoveries into improvements in the health of the population is dependent on policies that are generated by academic institutions; governmental agencies; biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies; Federal, State and private regulatory agencies; and investors, foundations and industry. Manuscripts detailing health policy research that covers health disparities and inequalities, health care quality and safety, access to care, cost effectiveness of new drugs and devices, implementation science, and regulatory science are therefore encouraged.

Translational Research Design and Analysis: Process manuscripts describe innovative methods to design clinical trials and to accrue, collate and analyze data. Subjects relevant to translational science include methodologies for novel clinical trial design (n of 1 studies, pragmatic studies, adaptive design trials), issues related to patient confidentiality and use of electronic health records, bioethical concerns relevant to both large scale and individual family genotyping, using next generation sequencing, best practices in informing subjects regarding genetic sequencing, data storage, data security, data analytics, and methodologies relevant to personalized and precision medicine. Submissions are also encouraged for studies that utilize big data to address questions relevant to translational scientists and that demonstrate how personalized medicine and/or precision medicine can improve health.


Editorial Process

All new submissions should be made through the ScholarOne site: https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jcts

If you are a new author, you will need to register, and conform to the guidelines set forth in the "Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publications," available from http://www.ICMJE.org. Manuscripts should be written in English and authors are encouraged to utilize the services of editors with experience in English to improve their manuscripts prior to submission.

After an initial screening in the editorial office, each manuscript will be assigned to a Deputy Editor. The Deputy Editor will decide in up to 10 business days whether the manuscript will be sent for review. The authors will be notified of this initial decision. A decision about manuscripts sent for review will be reached in 4-6 weeks and rapidly communicated to the authors. Manuscripts will be accepted for publication (with minor edits), accepted with major revisions, or declined. Authors of papers that have been "accepted with major revisions" will be provided with a succinct list of items that must be addressed for the manuscript to be accepted for publication. This process insures that the authors know exactly what they need to do in order for the manuscript to be accepted and obviates the inefficient and frustrating "back and forth" between the editors and the authors.

Authors are required to provide the names and contact information of at least two (2) suggested reviewers upon submission.

Author Inquiries:

Authors may contact the Journal's editorial office (jcts@cambridge.org) to inquire regarding the submission of manuscripts or to receive a status report on manuscripts that are presently under review. For information regarding articles that have been accepted for publication, please contact the Journal's editorial office.

Categories of Manuscripts

Research Articles report significant findings from original research across the broad areas of the clinical and translational sciences. Research articles should include an Abstract of no more than 150 words followed by and Introduction, Results, Materials and Methods, References, Figures and Tables. The paper should be no more than 7,000 words in length, include no more than 50 references and may have up to 7 figures or tables. Additional materials may be submitted as Supplementary Material; however, this should be limited to information that is not critical to a reader's understanding of the results that are presented in the main text.

Expedited Reports describe research results that have the potential to significantly impact the translational sciences and should include all of the information necessary for the reader to fully interpret the results. For example, an expedited report might describe a paradigm shifting observation – although the mechanism responsible for that observation might not yet be known. Expedited reports should be less than 1500 words in length, should contain no more than 2 figures or tables, and should have no more than 20 references. An abstract of no more than 75 words should accompany each Expedited Report. The editors commit to a decision regarding suitability for expedited publication processing within 5 working days and will make an effort to provide an initial decision regarding the manuscript within 14 days. Reports not viewed appropriate for expedited review will be considered for a Brief Report as outlined below.

Brief Reports describe research results that are succinct ant that may or may not represent a shift in paradigm. Despite its short length, it should include the appropriate experimental support of the conclusion and, where appropriate, the mechanism or mechanisms that are responsible for the observed results. Brief reports should be 2000 words or less, should contain no more than 3 figures or tables, and should contain no more than 20 references. Brief reports should begin with an abstract of no more than 75 words.

Letters provide an opportunity for authors to describe an important piece of work that is a stand-alone observation that shifts the paradigm or will open a larger and longer series of experiments that might be undertaken by multiple laboratories or groups. For example, a Letter may report the results of a proof of concept study in a large animal subsequent to fuller reports in small animals or the association of a biomarker with a new phenotype. Letters must be no longer than 750 words, include no more than 1 figure or table and no more than 10 references. A Deputy Editor or Senior Editor will review letters in most cases and decisions regarding acceptability for publication will be made within 14 days in most cases. No abstract should accompany a letter.

Special Communications describe and discuss programs that are designed to enhance Clinical and Translational Science at a single site or in a larger consortium. For example, a description of a novel mentoring program, a discussion of alternative methodologies for enhancing the number of K scholars who attain independent funding, or an initiative designed to enhance enrollment into investigational cohorts would be applicable for submission as a Special Communication. Wherever possible, quantitative analysis rather than qualitative analysis of the innovation or program should be provided. Authors are urged to discuss a Special Communication with the Editor or a Deputy Editor prior to the submission, although manuscripts will be reviewed as described if they are submitted without a previous discussion. They should be less than 5,000 words, include no more than 4 figures and/or tables, and should include no more than 30 references. Special Communications should be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 200 words.

Comments are brief discussions of articles that are published in JCTS. They must be no longer than 500 words and may include a single figure or table and 5 references. Comments must be submitted within 3 weeks of the publication of the article about which the comments are directed. No original data may be included. The cited article should be included as a reference. The Editors will in most cases request a reply from the authors of the cited article. Authors of Comments will not receive a response from the Editors if their manuscript is not accepted for publication. Only a small number of Comments will be selected for publication. No abstract is required for Comments.

Review Articles that are timely, of high quality and that review a topic in the clinical and translational sciences are encouraged. Although in most cases the Editors will invite specific experts to submit review articles, authors wishing to submit a review article may contact the Editors by email in order to discuss the topic and the content of the manuscript. Review Articles should be no longer than 8,000 words (excluding tables, figure legends and references), include no more than 8 figures and/or tables, and no more than 125 references. An abstract of no more than 200 words should accompany each submission.

Editorials comment on specific articles published by JCTS. The Editors will invite all editorials. They should be no longer than 1800 words, may include no more than 2 figures or tables, and should include no more than 20 references. Editorials do not require an abstract but should include a summary of the discussion in the first two sentences of the text.


Copyright and Publication Charges

Articles will be published under a creative commons attribution (CC-BY) licence as standard, but authors may elect to publish under the following alternative licences:

  • CC BY 4.0 (Attribution)
  • CC-BY-NC-SA (Attribution - Non-Commercial - Share Alike)
  • CC-BY-NC-ND (Attribution - Non-Commercial - No Derivatives)

For information on what each licence allows, please visit creativecommons.org/licenses.

Authors must complete and return a licence to publish form once their article has been accepted for publication.

Open access publishing in JCTS is funded through levying an article processing charge (APC) on each individual author's institution or funding body.

An APC of £1,130 / $1,750 will apply to all accepted papers authored by non-ACTS members, while accepted papers authored by ACTS members (provided the lead author is a member of ACTS) will incur an APC of £802.30/ $1,242.50, with a waiver scheme for eligible countries. The decision whether to accept a paper for publication will rest solely with the Editors, and without reference to the funding situation of the authors.

Please note: APC collection is managed by RightsLink, who will contact authors following acceptance of their paper. Authors whose accepted papers are eligible for a waiver will be provided with a waiver code, but will still need to register with RightsLink.

General Guidelines and Policies

Originality: Manuscripts should represent original research or ideas. The authors should note in their cover letter that the manuscript has not been published previously, is not being considered for publication elsewhere. The editors, editorial board and referees will make every attempt to ensure that the published results are valid; however the final responsibility rests with the authors and not with JCTS, its editors, or Cambridge University Press.

Publication Ethics: The Journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the Editors adhere to the Codes of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines published by COPE.

Conflicts of Interest: Authors must disclose in the cover letter and on the title page of the manuscript all financial interests and non-financial interests with industry or financial agencies within 3 years of submitting a manuscript for consideration that might be perceived by a scientific reader or a member of the general public to be a potential conflict of interest. Potential sources of conflict include corporate appointments, consultant fees, research funding, stock ownership or other equity interests, or patent-licensing arrangements. If no conflict of interest exists with industry or other entities this should be stated explicitly in the cover letter and on the title page. Potential conflicts of interest must be disclosed for all types of manuscripts including Original Research, Expedited Reports, Brief Reports, Letters, Special Communications, Review Articles, Comments, and Editorials.

Financial Disclosure and Conflicts of Interest: Once a manuscript is accepted for publication, each author will be expected to complete and sign a Copyright Assignment Form on which all associations with industry or financial institutions must be detailed.

Informed Consent: Research projects involving human subjects must be reviewed and approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) or an equivalent ethics committee. The authors must indicate in the manuscript whether the appropriate IRB or ethics committee reviewed the study prior to enrollment of patients. The authors should also note whether the study received a waiver from the IRB and describe the reason for that waiver in the text. In studies in which consent has been obtained as part of a general consent form the authors should denote whether an "opt in" or "opt out" consent construct was used for the study. The authors should describe the procedure used for obtaining consent if relevant to understanding how the study subjects were enrolled. Any study in which either the Editors or the reviewers believe that appropriate informed consent was not obtained prior to patient enrollment will be returned to the authors. If radiation is used in a procedure, the radiation exposure must be defined in the Methods and Materials. Patients have a right to privacy; therefore, images, photographs and pedigrees must be free of all identifying information. If identifiers are required for scientific clarity, authors must include a statement indicating informed consent was obtained from each patient that specifically approves the use of the identifier.

Animal Rights: Experiments using animals must conform with guidelines provided by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or equivalent animal protection committee of the institution at which the work was undertaken. All experiments must be performed in accord with the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and under the supervision of qualified veterinarians and animals should be used only when alternative methods of addressing the question have been shown to be insufficient. All surgical procedures must be performed under anesthesia to obviate any suffering and animal facilities must meet all of the standards set forth by the American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal care (AAALAC).

Clinical Research: All industry-sponsored clinical research studies submitted to JCTS that evaluate the efficacy of new drugs or devices must be registered in the public trials registry www.clinicaltrials.gov. Studies that assess pharmacokinetics, safety, tolerability of new drugs or that assess the safety of a new device or its ability to perform a given function in a first in man study are exempt from having to register with www.clinicaltrials.gov. The authors should carefully review the Federal requirements governing public registration of clinical trials. Alternative registries or foreign registries may suffice if they are publicly accessible, searchable, free to sponsors, provide trial identifiers and include information on the study design, investigators, inclusion and exclusion criteria, study groups, eligibility criteria and primary and secondary endpoints.

Format of Manuscripts:

Cover Letter: All manuscripts should include a cover letter from the corresponding author stating that: 1) all authors have reviewed the manuscript and approved its submission; 2) the manuscript has not been published previously either in whole or in part with the exception of an abstract or abstracts; and 3) the manuscript is not under consideration by any other journal or other form of information dissemination. The authors should disclose any conflicts of interest and should provide the address (email) for correspondence regarding the manuscript.

General requirements: Manuscripts must be in English and should conform to the American Medical Association Manual of Style (9th edition). Stedman's Medical Dictionary (27th edition) and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th edition) should be used as references for spelling and usage. All pharmacologic agents should be referred to by their generic or chemical names although the commercial name may be provided in parenthesis after its first use in the text. Trade names may not be used in any form in the title of the manuscript. When a generic name is not yet available, the common letter-number combination used to identify the drug should be used. A figure detailing the chemical structure of the compound should be included if it has not been published previously. Trade names should not be used for devices with the exception of the first description of the device wherein the trade name should appear in parenthesis and should be capitalized.

Manuscripts must be double-spaced, margins should be no less than 0.8 inches throughout. The preferred fonts are 12 pt Arial, Cambria or Helvetica. References should be numbered in order of appearance in the text.

Keywords: Authors are required to include 5 keywords for their paper at the time of submission.

Title Page: This should include the complete title of the manuscript (not to exceed 170 characters); the names and affiliations of all authors including their highest degrees; the name and address of the corresponding author, including telephone number and email address; and a word count. The affiliations of the authors should be noted by superscript numerals. Any conflicts of interest should appear on the title page or it should be noted that there are no conflicts.

Abstract: The abstract should be placed on a separate page and should be structured to include: 1) an Introduction that provides enough background information for the reader to understand the rationale for the research; 2) a brief discussion of the Methods used to undertake the work; 3) a succinct description of the principal results; and 4) the Conclusions that can be drawn from the results. The Abstract will often appear independent of the complete manuscript and should therefore provide a succinct presentation of the most important aspects of the study. It should also serve to encourage the reader to review the complete text in order to fully understand the work.

Introduction: This section should provide the requisite background information to enable a reader to understand the rationale for the work and to appreciate the significance of the findings. For example, the introduction should allow the general reader to understand how the findings shift the existing paradigm of a field.

Materials and Methods: This section should provide sufficient information and detail to allow other investigators to replicate the experiments in their fullest detail. When experimental conditions were used that had been detailed in previous publications by the same authors, these methods can be referenced without a detailed description. If methods were used that were described by others, the authors should take care to insure that any changes in the protocols are duly noted. Routine laboratory measures or those described in purchased kits may simply be referenced and the authors should note that manufacturer's instructions were followed as appropriate. For clinical studies, this section should include a careful description of how the study population was identified/recruited, as well as the methodology used for obtaining informed consent. A complete discussion of the software and methods used for statistical analysis should be included. If animals were used in the studies being reported, the authors should note their adherence to the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals or their equivalent, and the approval of the individual Institutional Animal Use and Care Committee.

Results: This section should succinctly report the observation of the studies conducted. In general, studies performed in animals should to the extent possible, include data on animals of both sexes, include randomized assignment, and incorporate blinding of the personnel evaluating the animals' responses to interventions.

Randomized Clinical Trials: The methods and results section for randomized controlled trials should conform to the recommendations of the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) Group. CONSORT provides a standard way for reporting trial design, analysis and interpretation and includes a 25-item checklist of items that should be included, as well as a flow diagram that describes patient allocations and helps both in evaluation and interpretation of trial results. JCTS urges investigators to use both the checklist and the flow diagram in preparing manuscripts for submission – both can be obtained from www.consort-statement.org.

Discussion: The Discussion section should place the results in the context of what is already known and should describe the specific conclusions that can be drawn from the results. It should include a section that explicitly discusses any potential limitations of the experimental design. The Discussion section should also detail how the results may impact the field in the future. The Discussion should not be a place to review in detail everything that is known already about the specific field nor should it repeat in detail the findings already described in Results.

Acknowledgments: The authors should thank individuals who provided editorial help, critical comments, or materials used in the experiments. The acknowledgment should clearly state the contribution of each individual who is mentioned. It should also include complete funding information, including identifiers. Each grant should be followed by a parenthesis identifying the individual author funded by that grant by their initials.

Disclosures: Information related to detailed conflicts of interest should be included in this section. For example, authors should acknowledge the specific relationship that results in a conflict (e.g., equity, consulting agreement, travel expenses, etc.) and the sponsoring organization.

Figure Legends: Figures should be numbered as they appear in the text of the manuscript. Figure legends should be double-spaced and begin with a brief title. Nomenclature and symbols used in the figures should match those used in the text.

References: References should be numbered in the order in which they appear in the text and should be double-spaced. Abstracts should not be included as references. Unpublished data should not be included in the reference section, but may be noted in the text in parenthesis (unpublished data); however, authors are strongly discouraged from discussing unpublished data unless absolutely necessary to the interpretation of their results. Manuscripts that are in press or personal communications may be included as references in the text and should be given a number and placed in the reference section in order of appearance with the other references. Personal communications, however, should be used sparingly if at all and should not be used alone to support an important conclusion. References to journal articles should include all authors, the full titles and inclusive pagination (when applicable). As an example:

B.A. Miller, N.E. Hoffman, S. Merali, X.Q. Zhang, J. Wang, S. Rajan, S. Shanmughapriya, E. Gao, C.A. Barrero, K. Mallilankaraman, J. Song, T. Gu, I. Hirschler-Laszkiewicz, W.J. Koch, A.M. Feldman, M. Madesh, J.Y. Cheung, TRPM2 channels protect against cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury: role of mitochondria. J Biol Chem. 289, 7615-29 (2014).:
H.N. Eisen, Immunology: An Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Principles of the Immune Response 5th edn. (Harper & Row, New York, 1974).

Tables: Each table should have a table legend that is brief and descriptive. All abbreviations and symbols should be defined in the table legend.

Figures and Micrographs: Figures should be constructed to insure that labeling is clear and correct. For micrographs, scale bars should be used rather than providing magnification. The figure legend should clearly indicate the number of images that were obtained when a representative micrograph is provided. Photomicrographs of gels must indicate when two or more separate gels are shown by a line or space to indicate the borders of each original image. There should be no enhancement of images. Molecular weights of proteins should be indicated on all images of gels and it should be clearly indicated when horizontally aligned images are derived from the same gel. Units of measure should be given in SI units. If measurements were made in English units, give metric equivalents.

Supplementary material: Supplemental material should be information that enhances the manuscript but is critical to its understanding or interpretation. This may include more detailed methodology, or additional tables, graphs, movies, or audio files. Please contact the editorial office regarding submission of videos and audio files.