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Instructions for contributors

Primary Health Care Research & Development (PHCR&D) welcomes papers that present primary research or disseminate evidence, including systematic reviews and meta-analysis. All papers should make clear the relevance of their research to an international primary health care audience and implications for policy and practice.


Submission is exclusively via Editorial Manager. Guidelines for submitting your manuscript can be found below. 


Primary Health Care Research & Development is aimed specifically at both researchers and practitioners in primary health care, bridging the gap between academic primary care and practice. It provides a forum for the publication of international, interdisciplinary research and development in primary health care. It is essential reading for all involved in primary care and we welcome manuscripts from all disciplines: nurses, GPs, health service managers; professional and local groups in community health; researchers and academics; commissioners of primary health care services; allied health professionals including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, clinical psychology, counselling and health-related consumer groups. PHCR&D welcomes papers across the full range of research and evaluation methodologies. In addition to typically clinical research papers we also wish to include research and evaluation of innovations in education for primary care and also studies that address the workforce issues that face the primary care environment in the context of population health needs and economic change. Implementation of research and evaluation into primary health care practice is also an area of significance to the journal and studies that directly address the challenges and successes of implementation are welcomed by the editors. In all papers, authors should demonstrate how their research or development study relates to primary care both in the context of their own country and internationally.

Review process

PHCR&D uses a single blind review process. All papers are independently peer reviewed by a minimum of two referees. All material prepared for publication is assumed to be your own original work, and should not have been published nor should be under review elsewhere. All listed authors should know of and agree to the manuscript being submitted to the journal.

PHCR&D adheres to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines on research and publications ethics and is a member of COPE. For more information on ethics in publishing, please visit this page.

All authors are required to sign a licence to publish form, which must be uploaded at revised submission stage. If the article is not accepted the form will be destroyed.

The Editors retain the right to edit, if necessary, any material accepted for publication. UK spelling will be used.

Article types

The Editors invite papers in one of three categories: Research Papers, Development Papers, and Short Reports.

Research papers

PHCR&D welcomes papers that present primary research or disseminate evidence, including systematic reviews and meta-analysis. All papers should make clear the relevance of their research to an international PHC audience and implications for policy and practice.

Please supply a structured abstract (maximum 300 words) for your article; to include the following 4 headings: aim, background, methods, and findings.

Articles should normally be up to 5000 words long. We will consider linked papers.

Development papers

Please note that Development Papers are not subject to payment of an APC for publication.

The Editors are keen to encourage papers from all areas of PHC which address the developmental aspects of work which is informing both practice and the research agenda. This is seen as an area which is often overlooked in peer-reviewed journals, partly because development is not recognised as ‘real research’, and partly because we have been limited by the criteria which are usually used to judge research but are not appropriate for development.

To ensure that we can publish high-quality Development Papers, we have drawn upon notions of validity which have been adopted widely for qualitative research. For example, the concept of trustworthiness of information and the need to provide an ‘audit trail’ may be used rather than the concept of validity. Additionally, the concept of ‘transferability’ needs to be considered rather than 'generalisability'.

Development Papers need to be defined as such by the authors, but the Editors will also make a decision about the status of a paper including criteria such as whether it:

  • discusses a local issue;
  • discusses the introduction of an innovation;
  • discusses matters relating to reflective practice or developing practice;
  • relates to issues of learning and dissemination in PHC;
  • informs a new area for research;
  • addresses issues of evaluation.

Authors should note that when reviewing such a paper we ask reviewers to consider the following questions:

  1. 1. How has the author drawn on existing evidence to inform the discussion of the development? It is expected that Development Papers should make sufficient use of the literature and background theory to inform their thinking, as well as evidence from other sources such as expert advice.
  2. 2. What was the rationale for the development? Is this clearly argued?
  3. 3. How sufficient is the description of the development? The context should be discussed in some detail, including any policy context in which it might be embedded.
  4. 4. Where case study examples or scenarios are used, how are these documented? Is there enough information to make a trustworthy judgement of the development work? Are examples appended? In other words, the reader should be convinced that this is not just evangelism.
  5. 5. Is the discussion of the development conducted in light of the existing evidence?
  6. 6. How are conclusions drawn from the development? What message is the author trying to convey? Is this achieved? Are there key points for further research or practice development to be undertaken?
  7. 7. Does the author offer a critical analysis of the development which recognises limitations as well as strengths?
  8. 8. Has the development been evaluated? If so, are the methods appropriately discussed? If not, is a rationale provided or plans for future evaluation?
  9. 9. Referencing is as important in a Development Paper as in research (see guidelines below).
Short Reports

PHCR&D welcomes Short Reports. These are invited from all areas of primary healthcare research and development. Short Reports will typically report primary research that the authors feel in insufficient in scope for a full paper. For example Short Reports may describe pilot studies, exploratory studies, scoping studies, brief narrative reviews or smaller research projects conducted with fewer resources and in less time than those normally reported in full papers. PHCR&D wish to receive Short Reports from all members of the primary health care community but are particularly keen to attract Short Reports from relatively inexperienced members of the research community, including medical students conducting intercalated degrees, masters students, and professionals conducting research placements.

Brief reports should be between 1500 and 2000 words in length. They need not include a structured abstract, but a summary of the paper in approximately 150 words will facilitate the editorial and review process. Normally, brief reports will comprise an introduction and/or background to the work, a brief explanation of any methods employed, results (tables or figures are preferred) and a discussion of the implications of the work. Prospective contributors are directed to the ‘Detailed Manuscript Preparation Guidelines section for details on how to prepare their manuscript. 

Detailed manuscript preparation guidelines

Authors whose first language is not English are requested to have their manuscript checked carefully for linguistic corrections before submission. We list a number of third-party services specialising in language editing and/or translation, and suggest that authors contact as appropriate. Use of any of these services is voluntary, and at the author's own expense.

Microsoft Word is the preferred software. When preparing your paper:

  • Use the minimum formatting;
  • Roman, bold and italic type can be used, but only one typeface and font;
  • Capitals should be used only where they are to appear in the finished text;
  • The text should be ranged left and unjustified, with hyphenation cancellation;
  • Indents, underlining and tabs should be avoided unless absolutely necessary;
  • Heading and paragraphs should be separated by two carriage returns;
  • There should only be one space between words and only one space after punctuation;
  • Avoid using more than three levels of heading;
  • Avoid excessive capitalization;
  • Use italics for emphasis sparingly.

Give the title of the paper and a running title if the main title is longer than 12 words or 50 characters. On the separate Title Page authors should include: their first and family name; their post at the time they did the work; their current appointments and qualifications; the name and address of the author to whom correspondence and proof should be sent, together with email and telephone numbers.

Please ensure that your files are uploaded in the following order:

For Original Submissions:
  1. 1. Author covering letter (this should be anonymous with no identifying information)
  2. 2. Title Page containing all author contact information and funding information
  3. 3. Manuscript file (anonymised) containing the title of the work, Structured Abstract and Keywords followed by the main body of the paper prepared as per the instructions below
  4. 4. Figure captions (mandatory if figures are included)
  5. 5. Figures (one file per figure)
  6. 6. Tables as a single word document
  7. 7. Any Supplementary Material 
For Revised Submissions
  1. 1. Authors response to reviewers comments (this should be anonymous)
  2. 2. Title Page containing all author contact information and funding information.
  3. 3. Tracked Changes Manuscript file (anonymised) containing the title of the work, Structured Abstract and Keywords followed by the main body of the paper showing all additions and omissions.
  4. 4. Figure captions (mandatory if figures are included)
  5. 5. Figures (one file per figure)
  6. 6. Tables as a single word document
  7. 7, Any Supplementary Material 
  8. 8. A blank separator page which can be downloaded here
  9. 9. Clean Manuscript file (anonymised) where all changes have been incorporated into the file and tracking has been turned off.
  10. 10. The License to Publish Form available here.

All pages must be numbered.

Abbreviations and measurements

Abbreviations should be kept to a minimum and must be clearly defined when used first time. Abbreviations should be typed with no full point.

For numbers, adopt a rule that all numbers under 10 should be written as words except when attached to a unit of quantity (e.g.1 mm or 3 kg), and that numbers of over 10 should be written as digits except at the beginning of a sentence.

Scientific measurements should be given in SI units, but blood pressure should be expressed as mmHg and haemoglobin as g/dl.

Generic names should be used for drugs. Authors should be aware of different names and availability in the UK, North America and Australia, and give alternative names of drugs in the text.

Tables and figures

No artwork should be included in text files. Any artwork should be in either TIFF or EPS format, and saved as individual files per Figure. Tables and Figures should be submitted separately from the text and legendary illustrations should also be separate.

Care should be taken that all statistical methods are relevant and that it is clear which methods were used. Any statistical tests should be reported as well as the p value.

Authors must obtain permission from the publishers to reproduce all Tables and Figures that have been previously published. As a rule it is also necessary to obtain permission for single passages of prose exceeding 250 words, or scattered passages totalling 400 words from any one work. Please supply the Editor with full information for any cited work, including author name, date published, publisher, and page references. EU copyright extends to 70 years after the death of an author, or 70 years after publication of scholarly edition, whichever is longer. Special considerations apply for clinical photographs of patients. Please contact the Editor if you wish to include them in your paper.

Please include the following sections at the end of your paper, before the References:

Acknowledgements You may acknowledge individuals or organisations that provided advice, support (non- financial). Formal financial support and funding should be listed in the following section.

Financial Support Please provide details of the sources of financial support for all authors, including grant numbers. For example, ‘‘This work was supported by the Medical research Council (grant number XXXXXXX)’’. Multiple grant numbers should be separated by a comma and space, and where research was funded by more than one agency the different agencies should be separated by a semi-colon, with ‘‘and’’ before the final funder. Grants held by different authors should be identified as belonging to individual authors by the authors’ initials. For example, ‘‘This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust (A.B., grant numbers XXXX, YYYY), (C.D., grant number ZZZZ); the Natural Environment Research Council (E.F., grant number FFFF); and the National Institutes of Health (A.B., grant number GGGG), (E.F., grant number HHHH)’’. Where no specific funding has been provided for research, please provide the following statement: ‘‘This research received no specific grant from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.’’

Conflict(s) of Interest Please provide details of all known financial, professional and personal relationships with the potential to bias the work. Where no known conflicts of interest exist, please include the following statement: ‘‘None.’’

Ethical Standards Where research involves human and/or animal experimentation, the following statements should be included (as applicable): ‘‘The authors assert that all procedures contributing to this work comply with the ethical standards of the relevant national and institutional guidelines on human experimentation (please name) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008.’’ and ‘‘The authors assert that all procedures contributing to this work comply with the ethical standards of the relevant national and institutional guides on the care and use of laboratory animals (please name).’’

A statement should also be included regarding informed consent e.g. “Written (or Verbal) informed consent was obtained from all subjects/patients.” Where verbal consent was obtained this must be followed by a statement such as: “Verbal consent was witnessed and formally recorded”. Where results were obtained from sources such as staff surveys where is it not deemed essential to receive informed consent, this should be qualified.

For more information on the ethical standards and procedures of Cambridge Core, please visit


Papers should be prepared in accordance to the Harvard system arranged in alphabetical order by the first letter of the surname of the author. Journal articles and titles should be referred to in full. For example:

Kendall, S. and Bloomfield, L. 2005: Developing and validating a tool to measure parenting self-efficacy. Journal of Advanced Nursing 51, (2), 174-181.

Silverman, D. 1993: Interpreting Qualitative Data. Methods for Analysing Talk, Text and Interaction. London: SAGE Publications.

Slater, J. 1996: Measuring Occupational Stress in Primary Health Care Teams. Ch 20: 192-99. IN: Bryar, R. and Bytheway, B. (Eds) Changing Primary Health Care. The Teamcare Valleys Experience. Oxford: Blackwell Science.

In the text when referring to more than one source please list these in the order of oldest source first e.g. (Silverman, 1993; Slater, 1996; Kendall and Bloomfield, 2005)

When using quotations please include the page number of the quotation e.g. (Silverman, 1993:15)

Publication charges

From January 2019, PHCR&D will be moving to an Open Access model. This means that all articles submitted after October 1st 2018 (that are subsequently accepted) will be published under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY), which permits use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. This means that all articles in the journal will be freely available to view, download and share, ensuring that anyone can benefit from and build upon the work.  For articles submitted after October 1st, an Article Processing Charge (APC) will be payable by authors or their funder on article acceptance. The APC for PHCR&D is £1,870/ $2,980. Please note that submissions to the journal before 1st October 2018 will not be subject to an APC.

Certain article types will be published Open Access without charge to the authors: please see the ‘APC Waiver policy’ section below.

APC waiver policy

The following article types are exempt from payment of an Open Access article processing charge (APC):

  • All original submissions to the journal made before 1st October 2018
  • Development Papers
  • Alma Ata Special Issue papers
  • Perinatal Mental Health Special Issue papers
  • Editorials

A full waiver of the APC will be granted automatically where the corresponding author is based in a Research4Life Group A country, and a 50% waiver will be granted where the corresponding author is based in a Research4Life Group B country.

The Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) and the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW) have made an agreement with Cambridge University Press, to establish open access publishing in Cambridge journals for publicly financed research articles from the Netherlands. Authors based at an institution included in the Dutch institution list will automatically receive a waiver. For more information regarding the agreement and which universities or institutes are covered please visit this page.

The APC charge will be waived for certain commissioned articles and in rare cases when authors and their institutes can clearly demonstrate inability to pay. To ensure availability of funding has no bearing on editorial decisions, the Editors of PHCR&D are never involved in correspondence with authors on payment of publication charges. All APC waiver requests must be submitted directly to the publisher prior to submission.

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.

Information for peer reviewers

For resources about peer review, including guides on how to peer review journal articles and book proposals, in addition to information on ethics in peer review, OPRS blinding, and Publons, please visit our ‘Information for Peer Reviewers’ page.

Peer reviewers that complete reviews of 3 original submissions in a 12 month timeframe (starting from 1st October 2018) will be granted a 25% APC discount on their next submission, providing that they are the corresponding author on their submitted paper. Upon submission, you will be asked to provide details of the dates that you reviewed so that these can be verified.

Article proofs

PDF proofs are sent to authors in order that they make sure that the paper has been correctly set up in type. Only changes to errors introduced by typesetting/copy-editing or typographical errors will be accepted.

Please refer to your proofing instructions within the PDF proof to check where your proof corrections must be returned.

A PDF offprint of the published article will be supplied to the corresponding author upon publication.