Author information pack
Your Paper Your Way
We now differentiate between the requirements for new and revised submissions. You may choose to submit your manuscript as a single Word or PDF file to be used in the refereeing process. Only when your paper is at the revision stage, will you be requested to put your paper in to a 'correct format' for acceptance and provide the items required for the publication of your article.
To find out more, please visit the Preparation section below.
Authors thinking of submitting an article or a research note to Research Policy should first consider carefully whether the paper falls within the 'Aims and Scope' of RP as described on the journal homepage http://www.elsevier.com/locate/respol, i.e. that it falls broadly within the field of innovation studies or science policy. In particular, the paper should focus on innovation (in its various forms), technology, research and development (R&D) or science (see 'Editorial Strategy' below). The RP homepage also includes a list of 'Main subjects covered' which may provide further guidance as to whether the paper is likely to be of interest to RP.
In addition, authors need to bear in mind that RP readers include not only academics but also a range of consultants, industrialists, government officials, scientific administrators and others interested in these issues. Moreover, its academic readers come not only from the field of innovation studies, but also from a number of neighbouring disciplines. Therefore, authors need to approach the topic in a manner that is likely to be of interest to a large proportion of RP readers (i.e. the paper should be neither too narrow nor too technical). Amongst other things, this includes engaging substantially with the body of literature familiar to the journal's readership as well as focusing on research that yields potential policy or management implications (see 'Editorial Strategy' below).First-time authors and authors who are new to Elsevier may be interested in additional information about the process for submitting a manuscript or the process for publishing in scholarly journals, in general, please visit http://www.publishingcampus.elsevier.com
Research Policy (RP) publishes original research contributions in the field of 'innovation studies'. RP Editors look for papers that deal with core RP issues such as innovation, technological change, R&D, science, and the management of research and knowledge, issues that are likely to be of interest to the broad RP readership that includes 'practitioners' (e.g. managers, consultants, policy-makers) as well as academic scholars. (See the list of 'Main subjects covered' for a more comprehensive list of the main issues http://www.elsevier.com/locate/respol).
Authors considering whether to submit a paper to RP need to ensure not only that the main focus of the paper relates to one or more of the core subjects listed in 'Main subjects covered' but also that they approach the topic in a manner that is likely to be of interest to a large proportion of RP's wide-ranging readership (i.e. the paper should be neither too narrow nor too technical). Amongst other things, this includes engaging substantially with the body of literature familiar to the journal's readership as well as focusing on research with potentially significant policy or management implications.Submitted papers that have little direct relationship to the core RP issues, even if such papers are good, are likely to be rejected as 'out of scope'. In addition, some submitted papers, while they address an RP issue, may do so in a manner that is more appropriate to publication in a mainstream economics, management or other disciplinary journal, and they too are likely to be desk-rejected.
Types of Paper
• Research Articles - full-length papers of up to 8-10,000 words
• Special Issues and Special Sections (see below)
• Research Notes - typically of 3-5,000 words, this category is a vehicle for specific types of material that merit publication, but do not require all the 'normal' components of a full research article. This might cover, for example, specific aspects of methodology that have broad relevance for RP readers, or short reports about specific sets or types of data (and their access and use) that merit publication without the full set of requirements for a normal article. It might also be relevant, for example, for updating an earlier RP paper, where it is not necessary to repeat the literature review, methodology etc.
• Discussion Papers - occasionally published on important topical issues where views differ; where such a paper has been accepted in principle, an RP Editor will commission perhaps two responses from those holding different views to appear alongside the discussion paper.
• Book Reviews - commissioned by RP Book Review Editor. (However, RP does not attempt to cover all new books in the field, only a selected few that are felt likely to be of wide-ranging importance for the field of innovation studies.)
Approximately twice a year, RP may publish a Special Issue (or a somewhat shorter Special Section) on a particular theme, where an integrated collection of articles has been put together and edited by two or three Guest Editors. Special Issues/Sections can fulfil a number of important functions:
• bringing together and integrating work on a specific theme (for instance, bringing together theoretical and empirical work, or work based on different methodological approaches);• opening up a previously under-researched area (or one that has perhaps struggled with a rather conservative peer review process in its efforts to achieve recognition);
• constructing a bridge between formerly rather separate research communities, who have been focusing on similar or related topics.Those thinking of proposing a Special Issue/Section should first consult or download the 'Notes for Proposers and Guest Editors'which can be found at Notes . These notes provide guidance on the nature and content of the 2-4 page proposal required. Proposals should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org at or before the start of March or September each year. These proposals are then reviewed by the RP Editors on the basis of certain criteria that include: the novelty, importance and topicality of the theme; whether the papers will form an integrated whole; the standing of the authors; the experience of the Guest Editors in handling a task of this magnitude; and the overall 'added value' of a Special Issue or Section (as compared with publishing these papers separately in 'normal' issues). Those thinking of submitting a proposal, however, should bear in mind that, out of the half a dozen or so proposals considered every six months, only one on average will be allocated a Special Issue 'slot', so the competition is intense. A group of loosely connected papers from a conference on a fairly standard subject is unlikely to be accepted.
All RP papers are reviewed using a 'double-blind' process in which reviewers are not informed who are the authors of the paper, as well as the authors not knowing who are the reviewers. To make this possible, authors need to submit two versions of their papers, a 'full' one which will be seen only by the handling Editor, and a 'blinded' version in which the names and addresses of authors have been removed and any identifying references have been suitably anonymised (the version sent to referees).
Papers passing through this initial editorial scrutiny are then typically sent out to three referees. If one or more of these turns down the invitation to provide a review, other referees will subsequently be appointed. Normally, at least two authoritative reviews are needed before the handling Editor can make a decision as to whether to accept, reject, or ask for a 'revise and resubmit' of the submitted paper.Currently, approximately one third of the papers submitted to RP are desk-rejected, about one third are rejected after peer review, and one third are eventually accepted (most after being revised once if not twice).
Contact details for submission
Submission to Research Policy now proceeds totally online via the EES system http://ees.elsevier.com/respol/ (see below). EES provides detailed guidance to authors submitting papers as well as to referees invited to submit a review.
Authors in need of assistance should contact: The Editorial Assistant, Research Policy Editorial Office at SPRU, SPRU-Science Policy Research Unit, Freeman Centre, School of Business, Management & Economics, Jubilee Building, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9SL. Tel: +44 (0) 1273 678173. E-mail: R.Ganesan@elsevier.com
You can use this list to carry out a final check of your submission before you send it to the journal for review. Please check the relevant section in this Guide for Authors for more details.
Ensure that the following items are present:One author has been designated as the corresponding author with contact details:
• E-mail address
• Full postal address
All necessary files have been uploaded:
• Include keywords
• All figures (include relevant captions)
• All tables (including titles, description, footnotes)
• Ensure all figure and table citations in the text match the files provided
• Indicate clearly if color should be used for any figures in print
Graphical Abstracts / Highlights files (where applicable)
Supplemental files (where applicable)
• Manuscript has been 'spell checked' and 'grammar checked'
• All references mentioned in the Reference List are cited in the text, and vice versa
• Permission has been obtained for use of copyrighted material from other sources (including the Internet)
• A competing interests statement is provided, even if the authors have no competing interests to declare
• Journal policies detailed in this guide have been reviewed
• Referee suggestions and contact details provided, based on journal requirements
For further information, visit our Support Center.
Ethics in Publishing
Research Policy and Elsevier adhere to the highest standards with regard to research integrity and in particular the avoidance of plagiarism, including self-plagiarism. It is therefore essential that authors, before they submit a paper, carefully read the Ethical guidelines for journal publication. Particular attention should be paid to the sections under 'Duties of Authors' on 'Originality and Plagiarism' and 'Multiple, Redundant or Concurrent Publication'.
When submitting a paper on EES, authors will be prompted as to whether they have read and agree to these guidelines before proceeding further with their submission. They will be asked specifically for an assurance that the paper contains no element of data fabrication, data falsification or plagiarism (including unacknowledged self-plagiarism). Authors are reminded that, where they draw upon material from another source, they must EITHER put that material in the form of a quote, OR write it entirely in their own words (i.e. there is no 'middle way'). In both cases, they must explicitly cite the source, including the specific page number in the case of a quote or a particular point.
When submitting a paper to RP, authors need to select a specific Editor. They should choose the Editor who is best suited in the light of the content of the paper, please see list of relevant keywords for each editor here However, authors should not submit to an Editor working in same institution (or one who has worked in the same institution over the previous five years). Nor should they submit to an Editor with whom they have co-authored, collaborated or had some professional or personal relationship over the last five years. If in any doubt, authors should explicitly mention the nature of their relationship and any possible conflict of interest in a covering letter to the Editor when they submit the paper so that the Editor can take a view and, if necessary, allocate the paper to be handled by another RP Editor.
Submission declaration and verification
Submission of an article implies that the work described has not been published previously (except in the form of an abstract or as part of a published lecture or academic thesis or as an electronic preprint, see 'Multiple, redundant or concurrent publication' section of our ethics policy for more information), that it is not under consideration for publication elsewhere, that its publication is approved by all authors and tacitly or explicitly by the responsible authorities where the work was carried out, and that, if accepted, it will not be published elsewhere in the same form, in English or in any other language, including electronically without the written consent of the copyright-holder. To verify originality, your article may be checked by the originality detection service Crossref Similarity Check.
Authors are expected to consider carefully the list and order of authors before submitting their manuscript and provide the definitive list of authors at the time of the original submission. Any addition, deletion or rearrangement of author names in the authorship list should be made only before the manuscript has been accepted and only if approved by the journal Editor. To request such a change, the Editor must receive the following from the corresponding author: (a) the reason for the change in author list and (b) written confirmation (e-mail, letter) from all authors that they agree with the addition, removal or rearrangement. In the case of addition or removal of authors, this includes confirmation from the author being added or removed.
Only in exceptional circumstances will the Editor consider the addition, deletion or rearrangement of authors after the manuscript has been accepted. While the Editor considers the request, publication of the manuscript will be suspended. If the manuscript has already been published in an online issue, any requests approved by the Editor will result in a corrigendum.
Article transfer service
This journal is part of our Article Transfer Service. This means that if the Editor feels your article is more suitable in one of our other participating journals, then you may be asked to consider transferring the article to one of those. If you agree, your article will be transferred automatically on your behalf with no need to reformat. Please note that your article will be reviewed again by the new journal. More information.
Upon acceptance of an article, authors will be asked to complete a 'Journal Publishing Agreement' (see more information on this). An e-mail will be sent to the corresponding author confirming receipt of the manuscript together with a 'Journal Publishing Agreement' form or a link to the online version of this agreement.
Subscribers may reproduce tables of contents or prepare lists of articles including abstracts for internal circulation within their institutions. Permission of the Publisher is required for resale or distribution outside the institution and for all other derivative works, including compilations and translations. If excerpts from other copyrighted works are included, the author(s) must obtain written permission from the copyright owners and credit the source(s) in the article. Elsevier has preprinted forms for use by authors in these cases.For open access articles: Upon acceptance of an article, authors will be asked to complete an 'Exclusive License Agreement' (more information). Permitted third party reuse of open access articles is determined by the author's choice of user license.
As an author you (or your employer or institution) have certain rights to reuse your work. More information.
Find out how you can share your research published in Elsevier journals.
Role of the funding source
You are requested to identify who provided financial support for the conduct of the research and/or preparation of the article and to briefly describe the role of the sponsor(s), if any, in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication. If the funding source(s) had no such involvement then this should be stated.
Please note that such information should appear in the 'Acknowledgements' section.
Elsevier has established a number of agreements with funding bodies which allow authors to comply with their funder's open access policies. Some funding bodies will reimburse the author for the Open Access Publication Fee. Details of existing agreements are available online.
This journal offers authors a choice in publishing their research:
• Articles are made available to subscribers as well as developing countries and patient groups through our universal access programs.
• No open access publication fee payable by authors.
• Articles are freely available to both subscribers and the wider public with permitted reuse.
• An open access publication fee is payable by authors or on their behalf, e.g. by their research funder or institution.
Regardless of how you choose to publish your article, the journal will apply the same peer review criteria and acceptance standards.For open access articles, permitted third party (re)use is defined by the following Creative Commons user licenses:
Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)
Lets others distribute and copy the article, create extracts, abstracts, and other revised versions, adaptations or derivative works of or from an article (such as a translation), include in a collective work (such as an anthology), text or data mine the article, even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit the author(s), do not represent the author as endorsing their adaptation of the article, and do not modify the article in such a way as to damage the author's honor or reputation.
For non-commercial purposes, lets others distribute and copy the article, and to include in a collective work (such as an anthology), as long as they credit the author(s) and provided they do not alter or modify the article.
The open access publication fee for this journal is USD 2400, excluding taxes. Learn more about Elsevier's pricing policy: https://www.elsevier.com/openaccesspricing.
Green open access
Authors can share their research in a variety of different ways and Elsevier has a number of green open access options available. We recommend authors see our green open access page for further information. Authors can also self-archive their manuscripts immediately and enable public access from their institution's repository after an embargo period. This is the version that has been accepted for publication and which typically includes author-incorporated changes suggested during submission, peer review and in editor-author communications. Embargo period: For subscription articles, an appropriate amount of time is needed for journals to deliver value to subscribing customers before an article becomes freely available to the public. This is the embargo period and it begins from the date the article is formally published online in its final and fully citable form. Find out more.
This journal has an embargo period of 36 months.
Researcher Academy is a free e-learning platform designed to support early and mid-career researchers throughout their research journey. The "Learn" environment at Researcher Academy offers several interactive modules, webinars, downloadable guides and resources to guide you through the process of writing for research and going through peer review. Feel free to use these free resources to improve your submission and navigate the publication process with ease.
Language (usage and editing services)
Please write your text in good English (American or British usage is accepted, but not a mixture of these). Authors who feel their English language manuscript may require editing to eliminate possible grammatical or spelling errors and to conform to correct scientific English may wish to use the English Language Editing service available from Elsevier's WebShop.
Please note that Elsevier neither endorses nor takes responsibility for any products, goods or services offered by outside vendors through our services or in any advertising. For more information please refer to our Terms & Conditions: http://www.elsevier.com/termsandconditions.
Studies on patients or volunteers require ethics committee approval and informed consent, which should be documented in the paper. Appropriate consents, permissions and releases must be obtained where an author wishes to include case details or other personal information or images of patients and any other individuals in an Elsevier publication. Written consents must be retained by the author and copies of the consents or evidence that such consents have been obtained must be provided to Elsevier on request. For more information, please review the Elsevier Policy on the Use of Images or Personal Information of Patients or other Individuals. Unless you have written permission from the patient (or, where applicable, the next of kin), the personal details of any patient included in any part of the article and in any supplementary materials (including all illustrations and videos) must be removed before submission.
Our online submission system guides you stepwise through the process of entering your article details and uploading your files. The system converts your article files to a single PDF file used in the peer-review process. Editable files (e.g., Word, LaTeX) are required to typeset your article for final publication. All correspondence, including notification of the Editor's decision and requests for revision, is sent by e-mail.
You will be asked to submit both a full version of your paper and also a 'blinded' version in which all the authors' names and affiliations have been removed and any identifying references have been suitably anonymised. You may also want to submit a covering letter to the Editor, bringing to his/her attention any pertinent facts with regard to the changes made in the 'blinded' version.
Submission to this journal proceeds totally online and you will be guided stepwise through the creation and uploading of your files. The system automatically converts your files to a single PDF file, which is used in the peer-review process.
As part of the Your Paper Your Way service, you may choose to submit your manuscript as a single file to be used in the refereeing process. This can be a PDF file or a Word document, in any format or lay-out that can be used by referees to evaluate your manuscript. It should contain high enough quality figures for refereeing. If you prefer to do so, you may still provide all or some of the source files at the initial submission. Please note that individual figure files larger than 10 MB must be uploaded separately.
There are no strict requirements on reference formatting at submission. References can be in any style or format as long as the style is consistent. Where applicable, author(s) name(s), journal title/book title, chapter title/article title, year of publication, volume number/book chapter and the pagination must be present. Use of DOI is highly encouraged. The reference style used by the journal will be applied to the accepted article by Elsevier at the proof stage. Note that missing data will be highlighted at proof stage for the author to correct.
There are no strict formatting requirements but all manuscripts must contain the essential elements needed to convey your manuscript, for example Abstract, Keywords, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Conclusions, Artwork and Tables with Captions.
If your article includes any Videos and/or other Supplementary material, this should be included in your initial submission for peer review purposes.
Divide the article into clearly defined sections.
Figures and tables embedded in text
Please ensure the figures are tables included in the single file are placed either next to the relevant text in the article or on separate pages(s) at the end (not a mixture of both).
This journal operates a double blind review process. All contributions will be initially assessed by the editor for suitability for the journal. Papers deemed suitable are then typically sent to a minimum of two independent expert reviewers to assess the scientific quality of the paper. The Editor is responsible for the final decision regarding acceptance or rejection of articles. The Editor's decision is final. More information on types of peer review.
The Editors request that text should be left-aligned and double-spaced (or at least 1.5 spacing), with margins of 1 inch or 2.5 cm all round.
In addition, make sure that you have first 'accepted' all changes previously listed in earlier versions under 'track changes', and that all embedded comments or highlighting of the text has likewise been removed.
To avoid unnecessary errors you are strongly advised to use the "spell-check" and "grammar-check" functions of your word-processor. Authors for whom English is not their first language should also seek help from colleagues or professional editors if this is necessary to bring the standard of the written English up to an acceptable standard.
Regardless of the file format of the original submission, at revision you must provide us with an editable file of the entire article. Keep the layout of the text as simple as possible. Most formatting codes will be removed and replaced on processing the article. The electronic text should be prepared in a way very similar to that of conventional manuscripts (see also the Guide to Publishing with Elsevier). See also the section on Electronic artwork.
To avoid unnecessary errors you are strongly advised to use the 'spell-check' and 'grammar-check' functions of your word processor.
Article structureSubdivision - numbered sections
Divide your article into clearly defined and numbered sections. Subsections should be numbered 1.1 (then 1.1.1, 1.1.2, ...), 1.2, etc. (the abstract is not included in section numbering). Use this numbering also for internal cross-referencing: do not just refer to 'the text'. Any subsection may be given a brief heading. Each heading should appear on its own separate line.
Please note that the 'acknowledgements' section at the end should not be included in the section number either.
A typical article might include the following main sections.
State the objectives of the work and provide an adequate background, avoiding a detailed literature survey or a summary of the results.
The introduction should also justify why the topic of the paper is important and that the content is original . The summary of results should have been dealt with in the abstract.
This section should extend (but not repeat) the background to the article already dealt with in the Introduction and lay the foundation for the work being reported. It should identify the most relevant previous literature on the topic (but not in excessive detail) in order to position the paper and demonstrate how it will make a significant contribution. It (or a separate section) should set out (and justify) the theoretical or conceptual framework adopted in the paper. It may identify a number of hypotheses to be tested or research questions to be explored. In short, this section (or sections) should explain what is the motivation for the paper and why its contribution is original and significant.
Material and methods
Provide sufficient details to allow the work to be reproduced by an independent researcher. Methods that are already published should be summarized, and indicated by a reference. If quoting directly from a previously published method, use quotation marks and also cite the source. Any modifications to existing methods should also be described.
The reader needs to know that the empirical data and/or other material are relevant, reliable and capable of supporting robust conclusions, and that the methodology is appropriate, systematic and rigorous.
Results should be clear and concise.
This should explore the significance of the results of the work, not repeat them. A combined Results and Discussion section is often appropriate. Avoid extensive citations and discussion of published literature.
The main conclusions of the study may be presented in a short Conclusions section, which may stand alone or form a subsection of a Discussion or Results and Discussion section.
This section should also may make clear what is the original contribution of the paper, discuss the policy or management implications of the findings, provide a critical assessment of the limitations of study, and outline possible fruitful lines for further research.
If there is more than one appendix, they should be identified as A, B, etc. Formulae and equations in appendices should be given separate numbering: Eq. (A.1), Eq. (A.2), etc.; in a subsequent appendix, Eq. (B.1) and so on. Similarly for tables and figures: Table A.1; Fig. A.1, etc.
RP has a strong preference for articles to be no more than 8-10,000 words. In exceptional circumstances, however, the RP Editor handling the paper may be willing to agree some latitude here with the author.
Essential title page information
• Title. Concise and informative. Titles are often used in information-retrieval systems. Avoid abbreviations and formulae where possible.
• Author names and affiliations. Please clearly indicate the given name(s) and family name(s) of each author and check that all names are accurately spelled. You can add your name between parentheses in your own script behind the English transliteration. Present the authors' affiliation addresses (where the actual work was done) below the names. Indicate all affiliations with a lower-case superscript letter immediately after the author's name and in front of the appropriate address. Provide the full postal address of each affiliation, including the country name and, if available, the e-mail address of each author.
• Corresponding author. Clearly indicate who will handle correspondence at all stages of refereeing and publication, also post-publication. This responsibility includes answering any future queries about Methodology and Materials. Ensure that the e-mail address is given and that contact details are kept up to date by the corresponding author.
• Present/permanent address. If an author has moved since the work described in the article was done, or was visiting at the time, a 'Present address' (or 'Permanent address') may be indicated as a footnote to that author's name. The address at which the author actually did the work must be retained as the main, affiliation address. Superscript Arabic numerals are used for such footnotes.
Often, it may be helpful to split this into a short main title, followed (after a colon or a 'dash') by a subtitle: for example, 'Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy'.
A concise and factual abstract is required. The abstract should state briefly the purpose of the research, the principal results and major conclusions. An abstract is often presented separately from the article, so it must be able to stand alone. For this reason, References should be avoided, but if essential, then cite the author(s) and year(s). Also, non-standard or uncommon abbreviations should be avoided, but if essential they must be defined at their first mention in the abstract itself.
Although a graphical abstract is optional, its use is encouraged as it draws more attention to the online article. The graphical abstract should summarize the contents of the article in a concise, pictorial form designed to capture the attention of a wide readership. Graphical abstracts should be submitted as a separate file in the online submission system. Image size: Please provide an image with a minimum of 531 × 1328 pixels (h × w) or proportionally more. The image should be readable at a size of 5 × 13 cm using a regular screen resolution of 96 dpi. Preferred file types: TIFF, EPS, PDF or MS Office files. You can view Example Graphical Abstracts on our information site.
Authors can make use of Elsevier's Illustration Services to ensure the best presentation of their images and in accordance with all technical requirements.
Highlights are mandatory for this journal. They consist of a short collection of bullet points that convey the core findings of the article and should be submitted in a separate editable file in the online submission system. Please use 'Highlights' in the file name and include 3 to 5 bullet points (maximum 85 characters, including spaces, per bullet point). You can view example Highlights on our information site.
Immediately after the abstract, provide a maximum of 6 keywords, using American spelling and avoiding general and plural terms and multiple concepts (avoid, for example, 'and', 'of'). Be sparing with abbreviations: only abbreviations firmly established in the field may be eligible. These keywords will be used for indexing purposes.
Please provide up to 6 standard JEL codes. The available codes may be accessed at JEL.
Collate acknowledgements in a separate section at the end of the article before the references and do not, therefore, include them on the title page, as a footnote to the title or otherwise. List here those individuals who provided help during the research (e.g., providing language help, writing assistance or proof reading the article, etc.).
This section must identify the source(s) of funding for the research. It should acknowledge any research assistants or others who provided help during the research (e.g., carrying out the literature review; producing, computerizing and analyzing the data; or providing language help, writing assistance or proof-reading the article, etc.) but who are not included among the authors. It should state where and when any earlier versions of the paper were presented (e.g. at a seminar or conference). Lastly, it should acknowledge the help of all individuals who have made a significant contribution to improving the paper (e.g. by offering comments or suggestions).
Formatting of funding sources
List funding sources in this standard way to facilitate compliance to funder's requirements:
It is not necessary to include detailed descriptions on the program or type of grants and awards. When funding is from a block grant or other resources available to a university, college, or other research institution, submit the name of the institute or organization that provided the funding.If no funding has been provided for the research, please include the following sentence:
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.Math formulae
Please submit math equations as editable text and not as images. Present simple formulae in line with normal text where possible and use the solidus (/) instead of a horizontal line for small fractional terms, e.g., X/Y. In principle, variables are to be presented in italics. Powers of e are often more conveniently denoted by exp. Number consecutively any equations that have to be displayed separately from the text (if referred to explicitly in the text).
Footnotes should be used sparingly. Number them consecutively throughout the article. Many word processors build footnotes into the text, and this feature may be used. Should this not be the case, indicate the position of footnotes in the text and present the footnotes themselves separately at the end of the article.
• Make sure you use uniform lettering and sizing of your original artwork.
• Preferred fonts: Arial (or Helvetica), Times New Roman (or Times), Symbol, Courier.
• Number the illustrations according to their sequence in the text.
• Use a logical naming convention for your artwork files.
• Indicate per figure if it is a single, 1.5 or 2-column fitting image.
• For Word submissions only, you may still provide figures and their captions, and tables within a single file at the revision stage.
• Please note that individual figure files larger than 10 MB must be provided in separate source files.
A detailed guide on electronic artwork is available.
You are urged to visit this site; some excerpts from the detailed information are given here.
Regardless of the application used, when your electronic artwork is finalized, please 'save as' or convert the images to one of the following formats (note the resolution requirements for line drawings, halftones, and line/halftone combinations given below):
EPS (or PDF): Vector drawings. Embed the font or save the text as 'graphics'.
TIFF (or JPG): Color or grayscale photographs (halftones): always use a minimum of 300 dpi.
TIFF (or JPG): Bitmapped line drawings: use a minimum of 1000 dpi.
TIFF (or JPG): Combinations bitmapped line/half-tone (color or grayscale): a minimum of 500 dpi is required.
Please do not:
• Supply files that are optimized for screen use (e.g., GIF, BMP, PICT, WPG); the resolution is too low.
• Supply files that are too low in resolution.
• Submit graphics that are disproportionately large for the content.
Please make sure that artwork files are in an acceptable format (TIFF (or JPEG), EPS (or PDF), or MS Office files) and with the correct resolution. If, together with your accepted article, you submit usable color figures then Elsevier will ensure, at no additional charge, that these figures will appear in color online (e.g., ScienceDirect and other sites) regardless of whether or not these illustrations are reproduced in color in the printed version. For color reproduction in print, you will receive information regarding the costs from Elsevier after receipt of your accepted article. Please indicate your preference for color: in print or online only. Further information on the preparation of electronic artwork.
Ensure that each illustration has a caption. A caption should comprise a brief title (not on the figure itself) and a description of the illustration. Keep text in the illustrations themselves to a minimum but explain all symbols and abbreviations used.
Please submit tables as editable text and not as images. Tables can be placed either next to the relevant text in the article, or on separate page(s) at the end (not a mixture of both).
ReferencesCitation in text
Please ensure that every reference cited in the text is also present in the reference list (and vice versa). Any references cited in the abstract must be given in full. Unpublished results and personal communications are not recommended in the reference list, but may be mentioned in the text. If these references are included in the reference list they should follow the standard reference style of the journal and should include a substitution of the publication date with either 'Unpublished results' or 'Personal communication'. Citation of a reference as 'in press' implies that the item has been accepted for publication.
Increased discoverability of research and high quality peer review are ensured by online links to the sources cited. In order to allow us to create links to abstracting and indexing services, such as Scopus, CrossRef and PubMed, please ensure that data provided in the references are correct. Please note that incorrect surnames, journal/book titles, publication year and pagination may prevent link creation. When copying references, please be careful as they may already contain errors. Use of the DOI is encouraged.
As a minimum, the full URL should be given and the date when the reference was last accessed. Any further information, if known (DOI, author names, dates, reference to a source publication, etc.), should also be given. Web references can be listed separately (e.g., after the reference list) under a different heading if desired, or can be included in the reference list.
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Improving the Clarity of Journal Abstracts in Psychology: The Case for Structure
Keele University, UK
Background. Previous research with structured abstracts has taken place in mainly medical contexts. This research indicated that such abstracts are more informative, more readable, and more appreciated by readers than are traditional abstracts.
Aim. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that structured abstracts might also be appropriate for a particular psychology journal.
Method. 24 traditional abstracts from the Journal of Educational Psychology were re-written in a structured form. Measures of word length, information content and readability were made for both sets of abstracts, and 48 authors rated their clarity.
Results. The structured abstracts were significantly longer than the original ones, but they were also significantly more informative and readable, and judged significantly clearer by these academic authors.
Conclusions. These findings support the notion that structured abstracts could be profitably introduced into psychology journals.
Keywords: abstracts; structured writing; information clarity; readability
Readers of this article will have already noted that the abstract that precedes it is set in a different way from that normally used in Science Communication (and, indeed, in many other journals in the social sciences). The abstract for this article is written in what is called a structured format. Such structured abstracts typically contain sub-headings - such as background, aim(s), method(s), results and conclusions - and provide more detail than traditional ones. It is the contention of this paper that structured abstracts represent an improvement over traditional abstracts because not only is there more information presented but also their format requires their authors to organise and present their information in a systematic way - one which aids rapid search and information retrieval when looking through abstract databases ( Hartley, Sydes and Blurton, 1996).
The growth of structured abstracts in the medical sciences has been phenomenal (Harbourt, Knecht and Humphries, 1995) and they are now commonplace in almost all medical research journals. Furthermore, their use is growing in other scientific areas, and indeed, in psychology itself. In January 1997, for instance, the British Psychological Society (BPS) introduced structured abstracts into four of their eight journals (the British Journal of Clinical Psychology, the British Journal of Educational Psychology, the British Journal of Health Psychology, and Legal and Criminological Psychology). In addition, since January 2000, the BPS has required authors to send conference submissions in this structured format, and it has dispensed with the need for the three-four page summaries previously required. These structured abstracts are published in the Conference Proceedings (e.g., see BPS 2001, 2002).
The case for using structured abstracts in scientific journals has been bolstered by research, most of which has taken place in a medical or a psychological context. The main findings suggest that, compared with traditional ones, structured abstracts:
- contain more information (Hartley, 1999a; Hartley and Benjamin, 1998; Haynes, 1993; McIntosh, 1995; McIntosh, Duc and Sedin, 1999; Mulrow, Thacker and Pugh, 1988; Taddio, Pain, Fassos, Boon, Ilersich and Einarson, 1994; Trakas, Addis, Kruk, Buczek, Iskedjian and Einarson, 1997);
- are easier to read (Hartley and Benjamin, 1998; Hartley and Sydes, 1997) and to search (Hartley, Sydes and Blurton, 1996) - although some authors have queried this (Booth and O'Rourke, 1997; O'Rourke, 1997);
- are possibly easier to recall (Hartley and Sydes, 1995);
- facilitate peer-review for conference proceedings (Haynes, Mulrow, Huth, Altman and Gardner, 1990; McIntosh, 1995; McIntosh et al., 1999); and
- are generally welcomed by readers and by authors (Hartley and Benjamin, 1998; Haynes et al., 1990; Haynes, 1993; Taddio et al., 1994).
However, there have been some qualifications. Structured abstracts:
- take up more space (Harbourt et al., 1995; Hartley, 2002);
- sometimes have confusing typographic layouts (Hartley, 2000a); and
- may be prone to the same sorts of omission and distortion as are traditional abstracts (Froom and Froom, 1993; Hartley, 2000b; Pitkin and Branagan, 1998; Pitkin, Branagan and Burmeister, 1999; Siebers, 2000, 2001).
Some authors - and editors too - complain that the formats for structured abstracts are too rigid and that they present them with a straightjacket that is inappropriate for all journal articles. Undoubtedly this may be true in some circumstances but it is in fact remarkable how the sub-headings used in the abstract for this article can cover a variety of research styles. Most articles - even theoretical and review ones - can be summarised under these five sub-headings. Furthermore, if readers care to examine current practice in the BPS journals and in their Conference Proceedings, and elsewhere, they will find that although the sub-headings used in this present paper are typical, they are not rigidly adhered to. Editors normally allow their authors some leeway in the headings that they wish to use.
In this paper I report the results of a study designed to see whether or not it might be helpful to use structured abstracts in one particular social science journal, namely the Journal of Educational Psychology (JEP). Here the abstracts are typically longer and more informative than those presented in Science Communication, and the authors are told that the abstracts for empirical articles should describe the problem under investigation; the participants or subjects, specifying pertinent characteristics such as number, type, and age; the experimental method, including the data gathering procedures and test names; the findings, including statistical significance levels; and the conclusions and implications or applications. (APA, 2001, p14.) And all of this is to be done in 120 words!
Choosing and creating the abstracts
24 traditional abstracts were chosen (with permission of the authors) from Volume 92 (2000) of the JEP by selecting every fourth one available. 22 of these abstracts reported the results from typical empirical studies, and two reported the findings from research reviews. Three of the empirical abstracts contained the results from two or more separate studies.
Structured versions of these 24 abstracts were then prepared by the present author. This entailed re-formatting the originals, and including the necessary additional information obtained from the article to complete the text for five sub-headings (background, aim(s), method(s), results and conclusions). And, because structured abstracts are typically longer than traditional ones, a word limit of 200 words was imposed (as opposed to the 120 words specified by the APA's Publication Manual, 5th edition). Figure 1 provides an example of the effects of applying these procedures to the abstract of a review paper.
Two sets of objective computer-based measures, and two different subjective reader-based measures were then made using these two sets of abstracts. The two sets of computer-based measures were derived from (i) MicroSoft's package, Office 97, and (ii) Pennebaker's Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) (Pennebaker, Francis and Booth, 2001). Office 97 provides a number of statistics on various aspects of written text. LIWC counts the percentage of words in 71 different categories (e.g., cognitive, social, personal, etc). (Note: when making these computer-based measures the sub-headings were removed from structured versions of the abstracts.)
The two reader-based measures were (i) the average scores on ratings of the presence or absence of information in the abstracts; and (ii) the average scores on ratings of the clarity of the abstracts given by authors of other articles in the JEP. The items used for rating the information content are shown in Appendix 1. It can be seen that respondents have to record a 'Yes' response (or not) to each of 14 questions. Each abstract was awarded a total score based on the number of 'Yes' decisions recorded. In this study two raters independently made these ratings for the traditional abstracts, and then met to agree their scores. The ratings for the structured abstracts were then made by adding in points for the extra information used in their creation.
The ratings of abstract clarity were made independently by 46 authors of articles in the JEP from the year 2000 (and by 2 more authors of articles in other educational journals). Each author was asked (by letter or e-mail) to rate one traditional and one structured abstract for clarity (on a scale of 0-10, where 10 was the highest score possible). To avoid bias, none of these authors were personally known to the investigator, and none were the authors of the abstracts used in this enquiry.
48 separate pairs of abstracts were created, each with a traditional version of one abstract, and a structured version of a different one. 24 of these pairs had the traditional abstracts first, and 24 the structured ones. The fact that the abstracts in each pair were on different topics was deliberate. This was done to ensure that no order effects would arise from reading different versions of the same abstract (as has been reported in previous studies, e.g., Hartley and Ganier, 2000). The 48 pairs of abstracts were created by pairing each one in turn with the next one in the list, with the exception of the ones for the two research reviews that were paired together.
Table 1 shows the main results of this enquiry. It can be seen, except for the average number of passives used, that the structured abstracts were significantly different from the traditional ones on all of the measures reported here.
N = 24
N = 24
|Data from MicroSoft's Office 97|
|Percentage of passives||M 32.7|
|Flesch Reading||M 21.1|
|Data from Pennebaker's Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC)|
|Use of longer words||M 40.0|
|Use of common words||M 57.7|
|Use of present tense||M 2.7|
|Information checklist score||M 5.5|
|Clarity ratings||M 6.2|
To some extent these results speak for themselves and, in terms of this paper, provide strong support for structured abstracts. But there are some qualifications to consider.
The structured abstracts were, as expected, longer than the traditional ones. Indeed, they were approximately 30% longer, which is 10% more than the average 20% increase in length reported by Hartley (2002) for nine studies. It is interesting to note, however, that the average length of the traditional abstracts was also longer than the 120 words specified by the APA. Eighteen (i.e., 75%) of the 24 authors of the traditional abstracts exceeded the stipulated length.
Hartley (2002) argued that the extra space required by introducing structured abstracts was a trivial amount for most journals, amounting at the most to three or four lines of text. In many journals new articles begin on right-hand pages, and few articles finish exactly at the bottom of the previous left-hand one. In other journals, such as Science Communication, new articles begin on the first left- or right-hand page available, but even here articles rarely finish at the bottom of the previous page. (Indeed, inspecting the pages in this issue of this journal will probably show that the few extra lines required by structured abstracts can be easily accommodated). Such concerns, of course, do not arise for electronic journals and databases.
More importantly, in this section, we need to consider cost-effectiveness, rather than just cost. With the extra lines comes extra information. It may be that more informative abstracts might encourage wider readership, greater citation rates and higher journal impact factors - all of which authors and editors might think desirable. Interestingly enough, McIntosh et al. ( 1999) suggest that both the information content and the clarity of structured abstracts can still be higher than that obtained in traditional abstracts even if they are restricted to the length of traditional ones.
Table 1 shows the Flesch Reading Ease scores for the traditional and the structured abstracts obtained in this enquiry. Readers unfamiliar with Flesch scores might like to note that they range from 0-100, and are sub-divided as follows: 0-29 college graduate level; 30-49 13-16th grade (i.e., 18 years +); 50-59 10-12th grade (i.e., 15-17 years) etc., and that they are based on a formula that combines with a constant measures of sentence lengths and numbers of syllables per word (Flesch, 1948; Klare, 1963). Of course it is possible that the finding of a significant difference in favour of the Flesch scores for the structured abstracts in this study reflects the fact that fact that the present author wrote all of the structured abstracts. However, since this finding has also occurred in other studies where the abstracts have been written by different authors (e.g., see Hartley and Sydes, 1997, Hartley and Benjamin, 1998) this finding is a relatively stable one.
The Flesch Reading Ease score is of course a crude - as well as dated - measure, and it ignores factors affecting readability such as type-size, type-face, line-length, and the effects of sub-headings and paragraphs, as well as readers' prior knowledge. Nonetheless, it is a useful measure for comparing different versions of the same texts, and Flesch scores have been quite widely used - along with other measures - for assessing the readability of journal abstracts (e.g., see Dronberger and Kowitz, 1975, Hartley, 1994, Hartley and Benjamin, 1998; Roberts, Fletcher and Fletcher, 1994; Tenopir and Jacso, 1993).
The gain in readability scores found for the structured abstracts in this study came, no doubt, from the fact that the abstracts had significantly shorter sentences and, as the LIWC data showed, made a greater use of shorter words. The LIWC data also showed that the structured abstracts contained significantly more common words and made a significantly greater use of the present tense. These findings seem to suggest that it is easier to provide information when writing under sub-headings than it is when writing in a continuous paragraph. Such gains in readability should not be dismissed lightly, for a number of studies have shown that traditional abstracts are difficult to read. Tenopir and Jacso (1993) for instance reported a mean Flesch score of 19 for over 300 abstracts published in APA journals. (The abstract to this article has a Flesch score of 26 when the sub-headings are excluded.)
Interestingly enough, there were no significant differences in the percentage of passives used in the two forms of abstracts studied in this paper. This finding is similar to one that we found when looking at the readability of well-known and less well-known articles in psychology (Hartley, Sotto and Pennebaker, 2002). The view that scientific writing involves a greater use of passives, the third person and the past tense is perhaps more of a myth than many people suspect (see, e.g., Kirkman, 2001; Riggle, 1998; Swales and Feak, 1994). Indeed the APA Publication Manual (2001) states, "Verbs are vigorous, direct communicators. Use the active rather than the passive voice, and select tense or mood carefully". (5th edition, p.41.)
The scores on the information checklist showed that the structured abstracts contained significantly more information than did the traditional ones. This is hardly surprising, given the nature of structured abstracts, but it is important. Analyses of the information gains showed that most of the increases occurred on questions 1 (50%), 3 (83%), 5 (63%) and 12 (63%). Thus it appears that in these abstracts more information was given on the reasons for making the study, where the participants came from, the sex distributions of these participants, and on the final conclusions drawn.
These findings reflect the fact that few authors in American journals seem to realise that not all of their readers will be American, and that all readers need to know the general context in which a study takes place in order to assess its relevance for their needs. Stating the actual age group of participants is also helpful because different countries use different conventions for describing people of different ages. The word 'student', for instance, usually refers to someone studying in tertiary education in the UK, whereas the same word is used for very young children in the USA. Although the checklist is a simple measure (giving equal weight to each item, and is inappropriate for review papers), it is nonetheless clear from the results that the structured abstracts contained significantly more information than the original ones and that this can be regarded as an advantage for such abstracts. Advances in 'text mining', 'research profiling' and computer-based document retrieval will be assisted by the use of such more informative abstracts (Blair and Kimbrough, 2002; Pinto and Lancaster, 1999; Porter, Kongthon and Lu, 2002; Wilczynski, Walker, McKibbon and Haynes, 1995).
In previous studies of the clarity of abstracts (e.g., Hartley 1999a; Hartley and Ganier, 2000) the word 'clarity' was not defined and respondents were allowed to respond as they thought fit. In this present study the participants were asked to 'rate each of these of abstracts out of 10 for clarity (with a higher score meaning greater clarity)'. This was followed by the explanation: 'If you have difficulty with what I mean by 'clarity', the kinds of words I have in mind are: 'readable', 'well-organized', 'clear', and 'informative'. (This phraseology was based on wording used by a respondent in a previous study who had explained what she had meant by 'clarity' in her ratings.) Also in this present study - as noted above - the participants were asked to rate different abstracts rather than the same abstract in the different formats. However, the mean ratings obtained here of 6.2 and 7.4 for the traditional abstracts and the structured ones respectively closely match the results of 6.0 and 8.0 obtained in the previous studies. Nonetheless, because the current results are based on abstracts in general rather than on different versions of the same abstract, these findings offer more convincing evidence for the superiority of structured abstracts in this respect.
Finally, in this section, we should note that several of the respondents took the opportunity to comment on the abstracts that they were asked to judge. Table 2 contains a selection from these remarks.
|Preferences for the traditional abstracts|
My ratings are 2 for the structured abstract and 1 for the traditional one. Very poor abstracts.
I have read the two abstracts that you sent for my judgement. I found the first one (traditional) clearer than the second (structured) one. I would give the first about 9 and the second about 8. Please note, however, that I believe that my response is affected more by the writing style and content of the abstracts than by their organization. I would have felt more comfortable comparing the two abstracts if they were on the same topic.
The first (structured) one was well organized, and the reader can go to the section of interest, but the meaning of the abstract is broken up (I give it 8). The second (traditional) abstract flowed more clearly and was more conceptual (I give it 10).
I rate the first (structured) abstract as a 7 and the second (traditional) one as an 8. I prefer the second as it flows better and entices the reader to read the article more than the first, although I understand the purpose of the first to 'mimic' the structure of an article, and hence this should add to clarity.
No clear preference for either format Both abstracts were clear and well organized. The format was different but both told me the information I wanted to know. I gave them both 8.
I found each of the abstracts in this pair to be very clear and without ambiguity. The structured abstract gives the explicit purposes and conclusions, whereas the traditional one does not, but I believe that those are unrelated to 'clarity' as you are defining and intending it - for me they represent a different dimension. I would give both abstracts a rating of 9.
I did what you wanted me to do, and I did not come up with a clear preference. My rating for the structured abstract was 9 compared to a rating of 8 for the traditional one.
Preferences for the structured abstracts Overall I thought that the structured abstract was more explicit and clearer than the traditional one. I would give 7 to the structured one and 5 to the traditional one.
I would rate the second (structured) abstract with a higher clarity (perhaps 9) and the first (traditional) one with a lower score (perhaps 4), but not necessarily due to the structured/unstructured nature of the two paragraphs. The structured abstract was longer, and more detailed (with information on sample size, etc.). If the unstructured abstract were of equal length and had sample information to the same degree as the structured abstract, they may have been equally clear.
My preference for the structured abstract (10) is strongly influenced by the fact that I could easily reproduce the content of the abstract with a high degree of accuracy, compared to the traditional abstract (which I give 6). I was actually quite impressed by the different 'feel' of the two formats.
I would give the traditional one 4 and the structured one 8. You inspired me to look up my own recent JEP article's abstract. I would give it 5 - of course an unbiased opinion!
I rated the traditional abstract 3 for clarity, and the structured abstract 7. In general the traditional abstract sacrificed clarity for brevity and the structured one was a touch verbose. Both abstracts were too general.
In general I prefer the structured layout. I have read many articles in health journals that use this type of format and I find the insertion of the organizer words a very simple, yet powerful way to organize the information.
The bold-faced headings for the structured abstract do serve an organizational function, and would probably be appreciated by students.
Overall I think that the structured format is good and I hope that the JEP will seriously consider adopting it.
Abstracts in journal articles are an intriguing genre. They encapsulate, in a brief text, the essence of the article that follows. And, according to the APA Publication Manual (2001), "A well-prepared abstract can be the most important paragraph in your article… The abstract needs to be dense with information but also readable, well organized, brief and self-contained". (p.12.)
In point of fact the nature of abstracts in scientific journals has been changing over the years as more and more research articles compete for their readers' attention. Berkenkotter and Huckin (1995) have described how the physical format of journal papers has altered in order to facilitate searching and reading, and how abstracts in scientific journal articles have been getting both longer and more informative (p. 34-35).
The current move towards adopting structured abstracts might thus be seen as part of a more general move towards the use of more clearly defined structures in academic writing. Indeed, whilst preparing this paper, I have come across references to structured content pages (as in Contemporary Psychology and the Journal of Social Psychology and Personality), structured literature reviews (Ottenbacher, 1983; Sugarman, McCrory, and Hubal, 1998), structured articles (Goldmann, 1997; Hartley, 1999b; Kircz, 1998) and even structured book reviews (in the Medical Education Review).
These wider issues, however, are beyond the scope of this particular paper. Here I have merely reported the findings from comparing traditional abstracts with their equivalent structured versions in one particular context. My aim, however, has been to illustrate in general how structured abstracts might make a positive contribution to scientific communication.
James Hartley is Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Keele in Staffordshire, England. His main interests lie in written communication and in teaching and learning in higher education. He is the author of Designing Instructional Text (3rd ed., 1994) and Learning and Studying: A Research Perspective (1998).
Originally published in Science Communication, 2003, Vol 24, 3, 366-379, copyright: Sage Publications.
I am grateful to Geoff Luck for scoring the abstract checklist, James Pennebaker for the LIWC data, and colleagues from the Journal of Educational Psychology who either gave permission for me to use their abstracts, or took part in this enquiry.
Professor James Hartley. Department of Psychology, Keele University, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK; phone: 011 44 1782 583383; fax: 011 44 1782 583387; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.keele.ac.uk/depts/ps/jhabiog.htm
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The abstract evaluation checklist used in the present study
Abstract No. ________
1. _____Is anything said about previous research or research findings on the topic?
2. _____Is there an indication of what the aims/purposes of this study were?
3. _____Is there information on where the participants came from?
4. _____Is there information on the numbers of participants?
5. _____Is there information on the sex distribution of the participants?
6. _____Is there information on the ages of the participants?
7. _____Is there information on how the participants were placed in different groups (if appropriate)?
8. _____Is there information on the measures used in the study?
9. _____Are the main results presented in prose in the abstract?
10______Are the results said to be (or not to be) statistically significant, or is a p value given?
11._____ Are actual numbers (e.g. means/correlation coefficients/t values) given in the abstract?
12 _____Are any conclusions/implications drawn?
13 _____Are any limitations of the study mentioned?
14 _____Are suggestions for further research mentioned?
Note: this checklist is not suitable for theoretical or review papers but can be adapted to make it so. It would also be interesting to ask for an overall evaluation score (say out of 10) which could be related to the individual items.