Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Weekly
Instructions for Authors
(Updated January 29, 2019)
I. Criteria for Publication
II. Types of Reports
A. Full Reports
B. Outbreak Reports
C. Policy Notes
D. Notes from the Field
E. Vital Signs
F. Announcements/Notices to Readers
III. Author Submission Checklist and Submission Formats
V. Submission, Acceptance, and Scheduling
VI. Guidance for Correcting Errors
VII. Contact Information
Criteria for Publication
- Appropriateness. MMWR Weekly publishes information useful to readers in the public health community, private clinicians, researchers, teachers and students, and the news media. Reports are based on science (especially epidemiology) or on public health policy or practice. Recommendations contained within reports must be acceptable to CDC.
- Originality. Reports should not contain previously published information or guidelines/recommendations.
- Quality. Reports should be based on analyses using accepted scientific methods and should include sufficient data to adequately address the public health topic.
Timeliness. Reports should contain the most current data from surveys, surveillance systems, or studies. Reports on investigations in progress or completed recently have the highest priority for publication.
Note: Data from outbreaks should not be older than ten months at time of submission, and surveillance data and other data should not be older than three years (e.g., for publication in 2018, data should be from 2015−2018).
- Clarity. Reports should adhere to principles of plain language (www.plainlanguage.gov/External), including succinctness, logical organization with the reader in mind, language appropriate for MMWR audiences, and minimal use of acronyms and initialisms.
Types of Reports
The following types of reports are published in MMWR Weekly: A) Full Reports, B) Outbreak Reports, C) Policy Notes, D) Notes from the Field, E) Vital Signs, F) CDC Grand Rounds, and G) Announcements/Notices to Readers.
Full Reports. A report of a completed investigation or study that answers a question of public health importance. Ideally, the answer should be one that can guide future public health practice. Contributors should check previously published MMWR reports similar to their submissions to determine their own optimal format and structure. Full Reports should be no longer than 1,400 words and include no more than 10 references and a total of no more than three tables, figures, and/or boxes. Reports exceeding these limits might be considered if, in the opinion of the editor of the Weekly , the exception is justified.
(TIPS: A hallmark of MMWR reports is simplicity. These reports are intended only to summarize the analysis and recommendations, not to provide every detail. The strict 10-reference rule is intended to limit the scope of the report. A good test for simplicity is whether, in a sentence or two, you can tell a casual reader what the report is about and what should be done.)
Introductory paragraph. The first paragraph of a Full Report is similar to both a newspaper lead paragraph (i.e., who, what, when, where, why, and how?) and the abstract of a report in a typical medical journal and is limited to 150–200 words. The introductory paragraph should contain the following components: 1) background (what is the problem? why is this worth writing about?), 2) method of analysis (who did what, using what data, and why?), 3) key findings (summarize 1 or 2 main results and any actions that resulted), and 4) public health message (what should be done by public health practitioners or, if relevant, by clinicians or the public?). All information regarding methods, data sources and results in the introductory paragraph is repeated elsewhere in the report.
Additional background (if needed). Each Full Report should be understandable by an informed medical or public health professional without special knowledge of the subject. If all essential background information will not fit in the Introductory paragraph, that background should be placed in a second introductory paragraph, before Methods.
- Methods. For most reports, the second section should be a concise summary (1 or 2 paragraphs) of the methods used to conduct the analysis. Important components of this section might include the sources of data, a statement of how the data were collected, case definitions or participant selection criteria, the period of study, types of specimens taken and tests performed (e.g., serology, culture, or toxicology), and statistical methods used. For survey and surveillance data, response rates should be specified. For statistical software, provide the version and manufacturer in parentheses after the software name, as shown in the following example: “SAS (version 9.4; SAS Institute)” was used to conduct all analyses.
- Results. The results section is a concise highlighting of the major results of the analysis. Examples might include elements of the descriptive (i.e., time, place, person) and epidemiologic results, disease trends and rates, treatments, and outcomes. Minor results from tables or figures should not be highlighted in results. Case reports and series should include details on exposure, signs and symptoms, initial diagnosis, laboratory and radiologic findings, treatment, clinical course, and outcome. Generally, data highlighted in the text also are presented in a table or figure.
- Actions taken. When appropriate, 1 or 2 sentences describing any control measures implemented.
Authorship. Criteria for MMWR authors are as follows:
MMWR attribution policy follows CDC authorship policy (https://www.cdc.gov/maso/policy/authorship.pdf ) and guidance from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors
Authorship credit should be based on three conditions, all of which must be met:: 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the report or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published.
- All authors must assume responsibility for the published version of the manuscript. Authors should be able to defend their contribution independently. Collectively, authors should be able to defend the design, execution, and conclusions of the report.
- Persons will not be listed as authors merely by virtue of their position in an organization or by attendance at a meeting. Similarly, participation solely in the acquisition of funding, the collection of data, or general supervision of the research group is not sufficient for authorship.
- Persons or groups that reviewed a submission for a clearance process or who suggested revisions or limited changes to a submission will not be listed as authors.
- An acknowledgments section may be used to recognize the work of persons who made substantial contributions to the project but who do not meet the MMWR author criteria.
- The list of authors follows the title. First and last names and middle initials (optional) should be used and the single highest academic degree (masters or above) should follow the names. The organizational affiliation will be footnoted as in the example. Contact information should be provided for the corresponding author.
- The order of authorship should be a joint decision of the coauthors. MMWR recognizes that scientific work is a collaboration and collaborators have a responsibility to define, accept, and fulfill their roles. MMWR recommends that author order be discussed early during a collaboration and revised as needed as the work progresses. Authorship order, including choice of first author, should be based on the level of contribution to the report and the work underlying it. The first author will have responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole from inception to publication. First authors also are responsible for providing leadership in determining order of the other coauthors, establishing writing assignments, providing direction for reviews and revisions, and compiling drafts. The first author should ensure an open forum for coauthors to share their concerns and suggestions and should ensure that all ethical considerations (e.g., IRB review, disclosure of conflicts of interest) have been addressed.
- An example of the new author format is as follows:Lung Cancer Incidence Trends Among Men and Women — United States, 2005–2009(Under title)
S. Jane Henley, MSPH1, Thomas B. Richards, MD1, J. Michael Underwood, PhD1, Christie R. Eheman, PhD1, Marcus Plescia, MD,1 Timothy A. McAfee MD2 (Author affiliations at end of text)(At end of text)
1Div of Cancer Prevention and Control; 2Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC. (Corresponding author: S. Jane Henley, firstname.lastname@example.org, 770-488-4157.)
- MMWR attribution policy follows CDC authorship policy (https://www.cdc.gov/maso/policy/authorship.pdf ) and guidance from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors
- Discussion. The Discussion should begin by stating the conclusions of the report, interpreting the results, conveying their public health meaning, and placing the results into context by citing comparative or corroborative studies. With the exception of Outbreak Reports, Full Reports should include a Limitations paragraph, typically placed near the end of the Discussion. The Discussion should conclude by stating the implications of the findings to public health practice and any recommendations for prevention and control. When appropriate, specific examples of successful public health interventions should be included. A common fault is the inclusion of recommendations that, although sound, do not follow from the analysis presented in the report.
- Acknowledgments. May be used to recognize the work of persons involved in the project but who do not meet MMWR contributor criteria. The corresponding author should ensure that all named individuals have consented to being listed under Acknowledgments.
- References. Must be limited to 10.
Summary box. In 1 or 2 sentences for each, contributors should answer the following: What is already known on this topic? What is added by this report? and What are the implications for public health practice? These answers contain the key public health message, as well as the justification for the publication. Total word limit should be no more than 75‒100 words (see examples below). Answers longer than 100 words will be edited to meet the word limit.
What is already known about this topic?
Eight states, including Colorado, have legalized recreational marijuana use among persons aged ≥21 years. The association between marijuana use and occupational injury is of public health concern.
What is added by this report?
During 2014–2015, 14.6% of 10,169 Colorado adult workers reported using marijuana in the past 30 days. The highest prevalences of current use were among young adults and men, and among adults working in the Accommodation and Food Services industry (30.1%) and Food Preparation and Serving occupation (32.2%).
What are the implications for public health practice?
By understanding the occupations and industries of workers who report recreational marijuana use, employers can develop appropriately targeted workplace marijuana policies and safety awareness campaigns.
What is already known about this topic?
Surveillance is the cornerstone of polio eradication efforts.
What is added by this report?
In 2017, 22 wild poliovirus cases were reported from two countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan), the fewest number ever reported globally. Polio cases caused by circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses increased from four in 2016 to 96 in 2017 because of large outbreaks in Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although surveillance performance indicators are improving at the national level, gaps remain, including at subnational levels.
What are the implications for public health practice?
As polio cases decline, sensitive and timely surveillance becomes even more important. As long as polioviruses circulate in any country, all countries remain at risk.
- Introductory paragraph. The first paragraph of a Full Report is similar to both a newspaper lead paragraph (i.e., who, what, when, where, why, and how?) and the abstract of a report in a typical medical journal and is limited to 150–200 words. The introductory paragraph should contain the following components: 1) background (what is the problem? why is this worth writing about?), 2) method of analysis (who did what, using what data, and why?), 3) key findings (summarize 1 or 2 main results and any actions that resulted), and 4) public health message (what should be done by public health practitioners or, if relevant, by clinicians or the public?). All information regarding methods, data sources and results in the introductory paragraph is repeated elsewhere in the report.
These should generally follow the format of Full Reports, with some elements specific to outbreak reporting. (TIP: As much as possible, an Outbreak Report should read like a chronologic narrative; it should tell the story.)
- Introductory paragraph. Generally, the introductory paragraph should begin with 1 to 3 sentences establishing the existence of the outbreak or underlying public health problem (e.g., “On January 2, 2008, the Nevada State Health Division contacted CDC concerning surveillance reports received regarding two persons recently diagnosed with acute hepatitis C.”) The introductory paragraph also usually contains: 1) a statement that an investigation was conducted, when and by whom; 2) the most important finding(s); 3) the actions taken to stem the outbreak; and 4) a statement of the public health implications and actions that should be taken in response to the investigation.
Investigation and results.
- First, present the initial investigation and its findings. This might include: 1) a description of the setting and a statement of how the outbreak came to the attention of health authorities; 2) a clinical description of the index case or initial cases; 3) initial key test results; and 4) hypothesis generation activities and results.
- Next, summarize the full investigation, including: case definition, case-finding activities, method of investigation, and results. Cases should be counted and described by clinical characteristics, treatment, and outcome, as well as time, place, and person descriptive results.
- Next, present the methods and results of any analytic epidemiologic studies (e.g., cohort or case-control studies).
- Finally, provide the results of any relevant microbiologic, genetic, or toxicologic results, followed by the results of any testing of environmental samples.
- Public health response. When appropriate, a brief description summarizing any public health interventions taken and the results of the interventions follows.
- Discussion. Same as for a Full Report, except that a Limitations paragraph might not be required for an Outbreak Report.
- Acknowledgments. See Full Reports.
- References. See Full Reports.
- Summary box. See Full Reports.
Policy Notes are intended to announce new official policies or recommendations (e.g., from ACIP or CDC). These reports can be thought of as briefer, more immediate versions of the MMWR series, Recommendations and Reports. Maximum word count at submission is 1,400 words. Up to three tables, figures, or boxes may be included. Policy Notes contain no Discussion or Limitations, and a summary box is not required. Contributors should check published MMWR reports similar to their submissions, then determine the optimal format and structure for their reports. Policy Notes can vary considerably. Following is a rough guide.
- Introductory paragraph. The introductory paragraph should be limited to 150–200 words. It might contain all or some of the following components: a brief introductory statement orienting the reader to the topic and placing it in context, a brief description of the public health problem, a brief statement of the rationale for the policy or recommendation, mention of the most important parts of the policy or recommendations, and one or two sentences stating the conclusions and the public health implications of the new policy or recommendations.
- Background. The Policy Note should include a paragraph after the introduction that summarizes background information relevant to the policy or recommendation that can help the reader understand the context and need for the policy or recommendation.
Methods. Should include a summary of the methods used to establish the policy or recommendation, including answers to some or all of these questions:
- Who was involved in the production of the guidelines or recommendations, and how?
- What evidence base was considered?
- What was the rationale for considering this evidence base? Was other evidence excluded from consideration and, if so, why?
- Rationale and evidence. The Policy Note should provide a concise review of the rationale for the policy or recommendation and a descriptive review of the scientific evidence used to establish it. It should include an explanation of how the policy or recommendation adds to, or differs from, relevant policies or recommendations established previously.
- Presentation of the policy or recommendation. The policy or recommendation should state clearly when it takes effect and to whom and under what circumstances it applies.
- Discussion or comment. The Policy Note should comment on the likely impact of the new policy or recommendation and plans for assessment of the policy or recommendation.
- References. See Full Reports.
- Summary box. A summary box is not needed for a Policy Note.
Notes from the Field
Notes from the Field are abbreviated reports intended to advise MMWR readers of ongoing or recent events of concern to the public health community, without waiting for development of a Full Report. Events of concern include epidemics/outbreaks, unusual disease clusters, poisonings, exposures to disease or disease agents (including environmental and toxic), and notable public health-related case reports. These reports may contain early unconfirmed information, preliminary results, hypotheses regarding risk factors and exposures, and other similarly incomplete information. No definitive conclusions need be presented in Notes from the Field.
- Format. The ideal length of the text is 500 words. Longer submission might be accepted but the justification for exceeding the 500 word limit should be discussed with the editor of the Weekly before submission. One table, one figure, or one box will be considered, especially if its inclusion makes it possible to shorten the text. References should be kept to an absolute minimum. Notes from the Field should contain a brief introduction describing the onset of the event and when and how it came to light, followed by descriptions of the investigation, magnitude and extent of the event (e.g., number of known cases or geographical occurrence), outcomes (e.g., hospitalizations or deaths), and any preliminary conclusions and actions that were, are being, or should be taken based on the findings in the report. Contributors should check previously published MMWR reports similar to their proposed submission to determine its optimal format and structure. When uncertain, consultation with the editor of the Weekly is advised.
- Criteria for authors. Because these reports are abbreviated, attribution should be strictly limited to those persons or organizations responsible for writing the report or to whom public inquiries should be directed.
Vital Signs reports are a special feature of MMWR with an established format, schedule of topics, and dates of publication. Contributors assigned to write a Vital Signs report should check previously published Vital Signs and adhere to the format of those reports, while also adhering to the general principles of Full Reports.
- Structured abstract (≤250 words):
- Introduction: Background and purpose
- Methods: Database, years, respondents, weighting
- Results: Only new findings
- Conclusions and Implications for Public Health Practice: Self-explanatory
- Text (≤1,800 words):
- Information already available in print or electronically should generally be described in the Introduction or Conclusions, whichever is more appropriate.
- Methods should focus briefly on the nature of the database, respondents, response rate, analytic approach, and statistical methods used. Because methods involved in the analysis of national databases have generally been previously published, only limited text should be devoted to information available elsewhere, with methods references provided.
- Results should include only new findings. This includes new analyses that have not yet been published that use unpublished or published databases or summaries. The latter two categories include, for example, public use data tapes and annual or interim surveillance summaries. However, the results should not simply include already published analyses, but rather, new findings made evident by original analyses conducted by the authors.
- Conclusions and Comment should highlight the one or two main findings of the results and put them into context. Such context would include previously published comparative studies and limitations. This section must include the implications of these findings for public health: need for new or reinforced local/state/national programs, state/federal legislation or regulation, activities appropriate to a variety of different groups, and special attention needed for high-risk groups.
- References should be limited to 15.
- Tables and figures should be limited to a total of four.
- Structured abstract (≤250 words):
Announcements and Notices to Readers
- Announcements are limited to public health events (e.g., World AIDS Day or Great American Smokeout) that are topically related to Full Reports. Both the Announcement and Full Report will appear on the cover of the issue.
- Notices to Readers are used generally to inform MMWR readers about changes in MMWR content, policies, and features, but also may be used to update certain information in previous MMWR reports.
- Full Reports. A report of a completed investigation or study that answers a question of public health importance. Ideally, the answer should be one that can guide future public health practice. Contributors should check previously published MMWR reports similar to their submissions to determine their own optimal format and structure. Full Reports should be no longer than 1,400 words and include no more than 10 references and a total of no more than three tables, figures, and/or boxes. Reports exceeding these limits might be considered if, in the opinion of the editor of the Weekly , the exception is justified.
Author Submission Checklist and Submission Formats
- Text. Open a new Microsoft Word document to create your text. Do not use a previously created Word document as the basis (i.e., a template) for your report. All previous reports have underlying (often unremovable) coding that interferes with MMWR processing. Use of a previous document will make your report unusable. Maximum length of reports varies by report type and does not include title, reported by, footnotes, references, and acknowledgments. Note: Because CDC is the corporate author and stands behind every report, use of first person (I, we, our) is not permitted in MMWR publications.
- References. Follow the style of Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals (available at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/uniform_requirements.htmlExternal ). In text, place reference number “callouts” in parentheses and italicize the numeral only “(1).” Number references within the text in order of appearance, then list in numeric order at end of report. Do not submit with Reference Manager engaged.
- Tables and Figures. Tables should be created in Word table function or in Excel. Contributors should study tables in previous reports for style. Tables cannot have tabs or extra spaces within the cells. Tables should be sent in separate files and not embedded in text. For tables listing epidemiologic data by geographic division (e.g., state, locality, city), MMWR prefers to publish table data sorted by performance. Figures should be created in (not pasted into) Adobe Illustrator, PowerPoint, Excel or (in the case of maps) vector format files (such as .ai, .eps, and .wmf). Bar graphs or line graphs should have underlying data tables. Figures should be sent in separate files and not embedded in text. Place keys/legends within the Figure.
- Footnotes. For footnotes, do not submit with the endnotes function of MS Word engaged. Use the following footnote symbols in order of appearance: *, †, §, ¶, **,††, §§, ¶¶, etc. The * symbol is not superscripted. All others are superscripted.
- Author Submission Checklist. Authors must adhere to guidance outlined in the Author Submission Checklist.Cdc-pdf
MMWR publishes only reports that have been cleared according to CDC and MMWR clearance policies. The MMWR clearance policy applies to both reports submitted by CDC authors and reports submitted from outside the agency. Before submitting reports to MMWR for publication, contributors should ensure that reports have received clearance from the following:
- All entities that are required to clear the report in accordance with the current CDC Clearance Policy.
- Local and state health departments involved in the investigation or analysis (for states, usually the state epidemiologist).
- CDC branches, divisions, and national centers (or CDC offices) that have a programmatic interest in the report’s topic.
- Other federal agencies named in the report or that have a programmatic or regulatory interest in matters mentioned in the report.
- Private-sector organizations, international health agencies, ministries of health, and other organizations at which any named contributor is employed, according to the clearance policies for that organization, agency, or ministry.
- Outside authors are not required to have a CDC coauthor to submit their reports. Outside authors who do have a CDC coauthor (including CDC contractors and state-based EISOs) should have their report submitted for clearance and cross-clearance through the CDC coauthor’s center. Outside authors who do not have a CDC coauthor should submit their reports through MMWR ScholarOne ManuscriptsExternal. These outside reports will be submitted for clearance and cross-clearance through the Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (CSELS, the center in which MMWR is housed).
Submission, Acceptance, and Scheduling
- Unless MMWR has agreed to expedite publication, cleared full reports should be submitted at least 5 weeks (35 calendar days) before the Friday issue date. Generally, Announcements/Notices to Readers should be submitted 14 calendar days before the Friday issue date. Submission deadlines for reports that MMWR has agreed to expedite are established on an individual basis.
- NOTE: If requesting expedited publication, the Center Director from which the report originates must submit a request to the Acting Editor-in-Chief at email@example.com with copy to the Lead Technical Writer-Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. The request must include the rationale for expedited publication. If approved for expedited publication, the Editor-in-Chief will notify CDC’s Office of the Director (i.e., CDC Director and Principal Deputy Director), Office of the Associate Director of Science, and the Office of the Associate Director of Communications.
- All reports must be accepted for publication by the Editor. MMWR determines acceptance for publication after reviewing the final, cleared report.
- After a report has been accepted for publication, MMWR will assign a publication date, subject to contributor availability. To assist programs and MMWR in planning and scheduling (e.g., in conjunction with health observances like World AIDS Day), MMWR will, at times, issue tentative publication dates for reports that have not yet been accepted for publication.
- Contributors should submit their final, cleared report through MMWR ScholarOne ManuscriptsExternal. In separate attachments, contributors should send Evidence of CDC ClearanceCdc-pdf and the text, tables, and figures.
Guidance for Correcting Errors
Corrections of errors preserve the integrity of the scientific and public health literature. They also protect the reputations of authors, the MMWR Series, and CDC by demonstrating the commitment to ensuring accurate science in MMWR.
- Errors Related to Small Portions of Text, Figures, or Tables
Requests to publish corrections should be sent to your report editor. An Erratum will be published in the Weekly as soon as possible following notification about the error.
- Pervasive Errors Throughout the Text, Figures, or Tables
If pervasive errors are brought to the attention of authors or MMWR editors, it’s our obligation to transparently correct the literature. After reviewing the nature and source of the errors for each case, MMWR will assess the report in collaboration with the CDC Office of Science and other CDC leadership, as indicated. In cases with suspected scientific misconduct, the Office of Science will determine the appropriate corrective action. In cases of inadvertent, pervasive errors, the MMWR Editor-in-Chief will determine the appropriate method for correcting the report based on current scientific publication guidance. Below are the most likely paths for correcting inadvertent, pervasive errors.
- For reports that have pervasive errors but the corrections do not change the conclusions or interpretation of the report, MMWR will correct the literature through the mechanism of “Correct and Republish.” MMWR will follow National Library of Medicine guidance to ensure transparency and clarity for readers. (https://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/policy/errata.htmlExternal)
- For reports that have pervasive errors that change the interpretation or the conclusions when corrected, MMWR will correct the literature through the mechanism of “Retraction.” In collaboration with authors, MMWR will determine whether it is appropriate to also republish the report at the time of retraction. MMWR will follow National Library of Medicine guidance to ensure transparency and clarity for readers.
NOTE: If pervasive errors have been identified, contact the Editor-in-Chief (acting) at email@example.com and the Editor (weekly) at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
- Errors Related to Small Portions of Text, Figures, or Tables
- Mailing address: Editor-in-Chief; Executive Editor; Editor (weekly); Editor (serial publications);or Managing Editor, MMWR Office, Mailstop E-90, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30333.
- Acting Editor-in-Chief, Executive Editor, Charlotte K. Kent, e-mail: email@example.com; telephone: 404-498-0576.
- Editor (weekly), Jacqueline Gindler, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone: 404-498-6445.
- Managing Editor, Teresa Rutledge; e-mail: email@example.com; telephone: 404-498-2371.
- Lead Technical Writer-Editor, MMWR Weekly, Doug Weatherwax; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone: 404-498-2365.
- MMWR office fax: 404-498-2389.