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Types of Articles

The following are brief descriptions of articles published by Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD). Prospective authors should review the manuscript checklists provided for each category. These checklists present the criteria by which peer reviewers judge whether to recommend publishing a paper.

Original Research

Subject to peer review


Manuscript button
These articles present research results to a broad audience of public health professionals. They explain the value of the research to public health and the relevance of the findings to chronic disease prevention.

We welcome articles from many disciplines as long as the research results are pertinent to preventing or reducing the effects of chronic disease. Below are some examples of suitable topics for articles:

  • A demonstration of an Internet-based worksite nutrition education program.
  • A randomized trial of a behavioral intervention to reduce the effects of diabetes.
  • An examination of a program to increase awareness of signs and symptoms of stroke.
  • A focus group analysis of older adult perspectives on physical activity.

Articles that report results of randomized controlled trials must conform to the standards of the CONSORT statement (www.consort-statement.org). In addition, all randomized controlled trials described in an original research article must be registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (http://clinicaltrials.gov/).

Tables, figures, and other graphics should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in tables, figures, and other graphics should not be duplicated in text but should be consistent with the information in the text. Numbers should add up correctly. Tables, figures, and other graphics should be able to stand independently without requiring explanation from the text. We encourage the use of photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, short video or audio files (up to 5 minutes), multimedia, or other information that complements the article and that can be delivered or linked to via the Web.

Use the following subheadings in the Abstract: Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusion. Use the following subheadings in the body of the paper: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion.

Introduction 
Explain the context of the study, the importance of the study question, and the precise objective of the study. If more than 1 objective is addressed, identify the main objective and note only key secondary objectives. Provide a brief literature review to identify gaps in knowledge on the study topic and show how the study will add substantially to what is already known. Define terms specific to the context of the manuscript. This section should be no longer than 300 words.

Methods
State and describe the type of study design used. Provide the dates of the study. If the study describes an intervention, describe the essential features of the intervention. Provide survey questions for a study that includes a survey. Describe the setting from which participants are drawn (eg, general community, school, hospital, worksite), including a description of key demographic features. Provide detailed inclusion and exclusion criteria for study participants. Describe recruitment of study participants and sampling procedures. If the manuscript describes research involving human subjects, include a statement that the research was approved by an appropriate institutional review board. Provide the participation rate in terms of a numerator and a denominator. Report the prestudy calculation of required sample size. Provide a section on statistical methods. Identify the statistical software that was used, and report the level at which significance was established. Use the active voice.

Results
Results should be specific and relevant to the research hypothesis. All results reported should have a corresponding section in the Methods section. Present characteristics of the study participants (eg, number, age distribution, sex, racial/ethnic characteristics). Provide the main outcomes of the study. For surveys, provide the response rate. Give measures of data distribution or precision (eg, standard deviation, 95% confidence intervals). Provide information on how study participants may compare with people not included in the study. Explain outcomes or measurements unfamiliar to a general public health readership. Describe validation measures if they are included as part of the study.

Discussion
Address the research question or hypothesis and objectively evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the study. Give equal emphasis to positive and negative findings of equal merit. Avoid a lengthy reiteration of the Results section. Compare and contrast study findings with findings of similar studies. Mention unexpected findings and suggest explanations. Discuss the limitations of the study. Discuss the generalizabilty of the results and the implications of the study for public health, but avoid speculation and overgeneralization. If appropriate, suggest future potential studies. End this section with a clear, concise conclusion that is directly supported by the study findings.

Number of words: text, no more than 3,000 words; abstract, no more than 250 words. 
References: no more than 30.

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Community Case Study

Subject to peer review

 

Manuscript buttonThese articles focus on the process of community engagement in the context of a community-based intervention or program. Community engagement refers to ways that public health practitioners involve community members in planning and implementing health initiatives, including promoting communication between researchers and community members in both directions. A community can be defined by geography (eg, region, municipality), by institution (eg, worksite, church), by similar characteristics (eg, sex, race, age), or other factors. The presentation of results must contain qualitative or quantitative data. Simple descriptions of events such as conferences or health fairs are not suitable for this type of article. The Acknowledgments should identify funding for the study.

Tables, figures, and other graphics should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in tables, figures, and other graphics should not be duplicated in text but should be consistent with the information in the text. Numbers should add up correctly. Tables, figures, and other graphics should be able to stand independently without requiring explanation from the text. We encourage the use of photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, short video or audio files (up to 5 minutes), multimedia, or other information that complements the article and that can be delivered or linked to via the Web.

Use the following subheadings in both the abstract and text of the manuscript: Background, Community Context, Methods, Outcome, and Interpretation.

Background
Introduce the disease and related problem (eg, low screening rates, lack of physical activity) addressed by the intervention or program. Outline scientific knowledge of the disease or problem, including a few references. Explain the importance of the health problem. Provide definitions of terms specific to the context of the manuscript. This section should be no more than 300 words.

Community Context
Describe the community in which the intervention or program takes place. Describe the sociodemographic characteristics of the community. Describe other aspects of the community relevant to the problem (eg, racial, ethnic, or cultural diversity; economic base; recreational facilities; common diet; support systems). Describe the health problem as it exists in the community. Provide 2 statements of objective: the first should state the objective of the intervention or program, and the second should state the objective of the community engagement efforts. State the precise outcomes of interest for the community engagement efforts. A Community Case Study should focus on the objective and outcomes related to community engagement efforts.

Methods
Describe the intervention or program briefly; then describe the plan for community engagement in detail. The Methods section should answer the following questions about the community engagement plan: How were community members identified as potential partners in the health initiative? How were partners recruited? How was adequate representation of diverse racial, ethnic, or cultural perspectives determined and achieved? How were community partners involved in identifying or modifying the intervention or program? How did you plan to engage partners in data analysis? How were intervention or program results communicated with partners and the general community? How was feedback from the community provided to the public health practitioners? What funding and other resources were required to implement the community engagement plan? How were promotional materials developed and distributed? What was the timeline for community engagement? Explain why you selected the particular elements of your approach (as opposed to other possible options). Describe the plan for assessing the success of the community engagement efforts; make sure that the plan is based on the stated objective and outcomes of interest. State whether the plan for assessing success is based on quantitative or qualitative data. If the manuscript describes research involving human subjects, include a statement that the research was approved by an appropriate institutional review board.

Outcome
Assess the success of the community engagement efforts. Focus the assessment on the extent to which the efforts met stated objectives and the plan outlined in the Methods section was followed. Which aspects of the plan worked, and which did not? Describe how the process of community participation changed in the community. What new partners became involved? What processes or activities promoted or impeded success? Which successes (or failures) were unexpected? Describe feedback to and from community partners: how effective were communication efforts? Describe changes either qualitatively or quantitatively, and provide data.

Interpretation
Address the objective and outcomes of the community engagement efforts. Discuss whether the activity was worthwhile and how you would do things differently next time. Offer advice to other communities interested in setting up a similar program. Avoid speculation and overgeneralization. End the section with a clear, concise conclusion that does not go beyond the scope of the study.

Number of words: text, no more than 3,000 words; abstract, no more than 250 words.
Number of references: no more than 20.

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Systematic Review

Subject to peer review

 

Manuscript buttonThese articles provide systematic assessments of literature and data sources pertaining to our Scope of Interests. Authors should describe their methods for performing the review, including the ways information was searched for, selected, and summarized. Meta-analyses also will be considered as reviews. Minireviews provide brief historical perspectives or summaries of developments in fast-moving areas (fewer than 2,000 words and 40 references).

Tables, figures, and other graphics should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in tables, figures, and other graphics should not be duplicated in text but should be consistent with the information in the text. Numbers should add up correctly. Tables, figures, and other graphics should be able to stand independently without requiring explanation from the text. We encourage the use of photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, short video or audio files (up to 5 minutes), multimedia, or other information that complements the article and that can be delivered or linked to via the Web.

Use the following subheadings in the abstract: Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusion. Use the following subheadings in the body of the paper: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion.

Introduction 
State the review question and explain its importance. State the precise primary objective. This section should be no more than 300 words.

Methods
The Methods section should include the following 3 subheadings: Data sources, Study selection, and Data extraction.

Data sources.
Describe the search strategy. Identify and succinctly summarize data sources. Identify the exact years. Use the most current information possible for your search. The search should be conducted no more than several months before the manuscript is submitted. Consider all potential data sources. State the exact search terms used to identify and retrieve articles. Cite search constraints.

Study selection.
Describe inclusion and exclusion criteria for selecting studies for detailed review. Highlight the specific disease, population, intervention, methodologic design, or outcome being studied. State the method used to identify and apply inclusion and exclusion criteria. State the proportion that met the selection criteria of the studies initially identified.

Data extraction.
Describe the guidelines used to extract data. Describe the guidelines used to assess data quality and validity. Provide information on how the guidelines were applied (eg, independent extraction by multiple observers). End this section with a description on how the data collected will be analyzed.

Results
State the main results of the review in the first paragraph. All results should be well described, specific, and relevant to the review question. All results reported should have a corresponding section in the Methods section. For numerical results, give measures of data distribution or precision (eg, standard deviation, 95% confidence intervals).

Discussion
Objectively evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the study. Give equal emphasis to positive and negative findings. Avoid a lengthy reiteration of the Results section. Compare and contrast study findings with findings of similar studies. Mention and explain unexpected findings. Discuss the limitations of the study and the generalizability of the results. Discuss implications for public health and, if appropriate, suggest potential future studies, but avoid speculation and overgeneralization. The section should end with a clear, concise conclusion that is directly supported by the study findings. The interpretation of the data should be limited to the domain of the review.

Number of words: text, no more than 3,500 words; abstract, no more than 300 words. 
References: no limit.

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Special Topic

Subject to peer review

 

Manuscript buttonThese articles include original material, similar to Original Research and Community Case Study articles, but vary widely in topic and format. Special Topic articles have included recommendations from the National Expert Panel on Community Health Promotion, a genomics perspective on the obesity epidemic, a theoretical interpretation of the population attributable fraction, and a practice-based evaluation of tobacco cessation interventions.

The article should serve PCD's mission to address the interface between applied prevention research and public health practice in chronic disease prevention and should clearly focus on a particular disease, a particular population, or some other particular aspect of reducing or preventing chronic disease. The article should be timely and should add substantially to what is already known about public health practice. Justify your reasoning with evidence and define technical terms. Describe any method presented or statistical or analytical methods. Any sample described should be large enough to produce meaningful results.  Explain any results presented. Conclusions should be concise and supported by evidence. Discuss implications for public health and future research directions. Identify funding sources in the Acknowledgments. Citations should be up to date and relevant.

Tables, figures, and other graphics should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in tables, figures, and other graphics should not be duplicated in text but should be consistent with the information in the text. Numbers should add up correctly. Tables, figures, and other graphics should be able to stand independently without requiring explanation from the text. We encourage the use of photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, short video or audio files (up to 5 minutes), multimedia, or other information that complements the article and that can be delivered or linked to via the Web.

Number of words: text, no more than 2,500 words; abstract, no more than 150 words. 
References: no more than 25.

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Brief

Subject to peer review

 

Manuscript buttonThese short articles present research results of interest to a broad audience of public health professionals. They explain the value of the research to public health and the relevance of the findings to reducing or preventing chronic disease. We welcome articles from many disciplines as long as the research results are pertinent to preventing or reducing the effects of chronic disease.

There should be no more than 2 figures or 2 tables or 1 of each. The tables and figures should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in the tables or figures should not be duplicated in the text but should be consistent with information in the text. Numbers should add up correctly. Tables and figures should stand independently without requiring explanation from the text. We encourage the use of photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, short video or audio files (up to 5 minutes), multimedia, or other information that complements the article and that can be delivered or linked to via the Web.

The unstructured abstract has no more than 4 sentences, each one corresponding to the subheadings in the body of the paper: Objective, Methods, Results, Discussion.

Objective 
This section should be no more than 100 words.
Describe clearly the main purpose of the research and the main hypothesis to be tested or the main question to be answered. Explain the context of the study and the importance of the study question. Provide definitions of terms specific to the context.

Methods
This section should be no more than 300 words.
State the type of study design used. Provide the dates of study. For a study that describes an intervention, note the essential features of the intervention. Describe briefly the setting from which the participants are drawn. Provide inclusion and exclusion criteria for participants. If the manuscript describes research involving human subjects, include a statement that the research was approved by an appropriate institutional review board. Provide the participation rate in terms of a numerator and a denominator. Describe any controls used. Report the prestudy calculation of required sample size. Provide brief information on statistical methods.

Results
This section should be no more than 300 words.
Report only the most relevant results and provide the main outcomes. Results should be specific and relevant to the research hypothesis. All results reported should have a corresponding section in the Methods section. Present key characteristics of study participants (eg, number, age distribution, sex, racial/ethnic characteristics). For surveys, provide the response rate. Give measures of data distribution or precision (eg, standard deviation, 95% confidence intervals). Provide information on how study participants may compare to people not included in the study. If validation measures are part of the study, describe them.

Discussion
This section should be no more than 300 words.
Address the research question or hypothesis and note strengths and weaknesses of the study. Give equal emphasis to positive and negative findings of equal scientific merit. Avoid a lengthy reiteration of the Results section. Mention unexpected findings and suggest explanations. Note limitations of the study and generalizability of the results. If appropriate, suggest future potential studies, but avoid speculation and overgeneralization. End the section with a clear, concise conclusion that is directly supported by the study findings.

Number of words: text, no more than 1,000 words; abstract, no more than 100 words. 
References: no more than 12.

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Tools and Techniques

Subject to peer review

 

Manuscript buttonThese are instructional materials for professional development that focus on the practical application of methods. They are written intentionally as how-to articles. Sample topics include how to develop a logic model as a tool for program planning and evaluation, how to design and implement legal frameworks that can broaden the range of effective public health strategies, and how to use geographic information systems to assess environmental supports for physical activity.

The article should be instructional, showing readers how to apply a particular method. It should explain the public health context of the "tool" or "technique" and provide definitions of terms specific to the context of the manuscript. The tool or technique should be described in a way that allows others with sufficient skills and interest to implement it on their own. The strengths and weaknesses of the tool or technique should be objectively evaluated. If appropriate, suggest areas of future research.

Tables, figures, and other graphics should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in tables, figures, and other graphics should not be duplicated in text but should be consistent with the information in the text. Numbers should add up correctly. Tables, figures, and other graphics should be able to stand independently without requiring explanation from the text. We encourage the use of photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, short video or audio files (up to 5 minutes), multimedia, or other information that complements the article and that can be delivered or linked to via the Web.

Number of words: text, no more than 3,000 words; abstract, no more than 250 words. 
Number of references: no more than 40.

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Letter

May be subject to peer review

 

Manuscript buttonLetters focus on the scientific, clinical, or ethical issues raised by an article previously published in PCD. Letters may be subject to peer review, and, as with other articles, they will be edited for clarity, sense, and style. Authors have the right to refuse publication after editorial revisions have been made. If warranted, journal editorial staff will solicit a reply from the author of the corresponding article; both letter and reply may appear in the same issue. Support your point of view with evidence and cite references to support your argument. Citations should be up to date and relevant. The letter should be written clearly and concisely and should be free of jargon. Letters require statements of authorship responsibility and disclosure of conflicts of interest. List authors and their affiliations at the end of the letter. Note that some indexing/abstracting services do not include letters in their databases.

Tables, figures, and other graphics should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in tables, figures, and other graphics should not be duplicated in text but should be consistent with the information in the text. Numbers should add up correctly. Tables, figures, and other graphics should be able to stand independently without requiring explanation from the text. We encourage the use of photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, short video or audio files (up to 5 minutes), multimedia, or other information that complements the article and that can be delivered or linked to via the Web.

Number of words: no more than 600 words. 
References: no more than 6.

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Essay

Not subject to peer review

 

Manuscript buttonEssays are opinion pieces that provide thoughtful discussion of contemporary issues in public health. They raise issues of interest to researchers and practitioners, initiate or focus discussion, or propose a position or consensus statement. Essays can report on unusual cases or personal experiences. Not suitable are reviews, methods, how-to papers, or responses to specific published articles.

Tables, figures, and other graphics should be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Information in tables, figures, and other graphics should not be duplicated in text but should be consistent with the information in the text. Numbers should add up correctly. Tables, figures, and other graphics should be able to stand independently without requiring explanation from the text. We encourage the use of photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, short video or audio files (up to 5 minutes), multimedia, or other information that complements the article and that can be delivered or linked to via the Web.

Number of words: text, no more than 1,500 words; no abstract required. 
References: no more than 10.

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Multimedia

Not subject to peer review

 

Manuscript buttonSubmissions to this category may include graphics, videos, interviews, audio files, PowerPoint slide sets, or other multimedia. Submissions should fit the mission of the journal to address the interface between applied prevention research and public health practice in chronic disease prevention. The multimedia should be relevant to a topic in public health and be well constructed, easy to comprehend, and visually appealing. Submissions should be accompanied by descriptive text of no more than 500 words. If the multimedia or description requires the support of evidence, provide evidence and cite references that are up to date and relevant. If the submission consists of digital images, such as photographs, indicate any changes or enhancements that have been made to the images. Videos must be captioned, and the captions must include descriptions of visual or auditory elements. Audio files must be accompanied by a transcript. Video and audio clips cannot be longer than 5 minutes. Multimedia files up to 350 MB may be uploaded to Manuscript Central. For files larger than 350 MB, please contact the journal office at pcdeditor@cdc.gov for submission instructions.

Number of words: explanatory text, no more than 500 words.
Number of references: no more than 3.

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Multimedia: GIS Snapshots

Subject to peer review

 

Manuscript buttonSubmissions to this Multimedia category may include one or more maps that address chronic disease outcomes, risk factors, and/or relevant community characteristics, policies, and programs. Submissions may include maps that document geographic patterns of the following:

  • chronic disease outcomes (eg, morbidity or mortality data)
  • chronic disease risk factors
  • access to preventive or curative health care
  • the built environment
  • the socioeconomic environment
  • health care and socioeconomic  policies
  • health care programs
  • other conditions relevant to chronic disease prevention and health promotion  

The map(s) may include a single layer of data or multiple layers of data. Submissions should fit the mission of the journal to address the interface between applied prevention research and public health practice in chronic disease prevention. International submissions are welcome.

The map(s) should be easy to comprehend and visually appealing. All maps should be submitted as vector-based files (extensions .ai, .eps, .svg, .drw) formatted to fit a standard 8.5 in x 11 in portrait layout. Any color scheme may be chosen; recommended color combinations can be found at the Color Brewer website: www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/c/a/cab38/ColorBrewer/ColorBrewer_intro.html

When using a monochromatic color scheme, use the following percentages to ensure distinction between screen tints:

  • 2 tints: 30%, 50%
  • 3 tints: 10%, 25%, 50%
  • 4 tints: 10%, 20%, 50%, 80%
  • 5 tints: 10%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 100%
  • 6 tints: 10%, 15%, 25%, 40%, 60%, 100%

The legend for each map should clearly and succinctly describe the data displayed on the map, including the date of data collection. Data sources should be documented on the map as footnotes. Each map should be able to stand independently without explanation from the text.

Map submissions should be accompanied by a title for the map and a brief text caption of 75 words or less summarizing the main messages of the map and their importance; for example, indicate how the information can be used or how the information adds to our understanding of the geographic distribution of the condition. This caption will appear underneath the map.

In addition to the map(s) and brief text caption, submissions should include the following 3 sections of text:

Background
Introduce the topic of the map(s) and discuss why it is important in the context of chronic disease prevention. Include references if appropriate. Provide definitions of terms specific to the context of the map(s).

Methods
This section provides the basic information needed to understand the data displayed on the map. Provide a brief overview of the methods, including data sources used to create the map, a short description of the data analyses performed, and the mapping techniques employed. 

Main Findings
Highlight the main findings on the map and their importance.

Action
Describe ways in which the map(s) can or will be used in the prevention of chronic disease (eg, informing decision making regarding specific policies and/or programs, facilitating partnerships with relevant organizations, educating the public) or adds to our understanding of the geographic distribution of the condition.

Number of words: explanatory text, no more than 750 words.
Number of references: no more than 6.

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Book Review

Not subject to peer review

 

We welcome short reviews (500 to 1,000 words) of soon-to-be-released and recently (within 6 months) published books on issues related to public health and the prevention of chronic disease. As part of the evaluation, answer these questions: Who is the intended audience (eg, physicians, scientists, public health practitioners, general public)? What is the author’s purpose for writing the book, and is his or her argument convincing? Is the factual evidence correct, and does it support the author’s argument? Does the author present an objective point of view? Provide an evaluation of the book’s overall quality relative to similar works, and support any negative or positive comments with evidence. Include the name of the book, name of the author, publisher's name and location, number of pages, price, and ISBN.

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The opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions.

 
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