Submit an Article Guidelines updatedJanuary 2019

Authors wishing to submit a manuscript to HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice should refer to the following:

Information for Authors

Journal Description and Mission

HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice is a forum for the dissemination of high-quality behavioral and clinical research that will bridge research with best practices. Its aim is to attract a full range of investigators and practitioners engaged in health literacy research and practice, including those involved in a broad array of public health, health services, epidemiology, translational, educational, and interventional research and implementation activities.

HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice is an interdisciplinary and international publication dedicated to promoting excellence in research and practice to advance the field of health literacy, promote health equity, and reduce health disparities. The journal publishes original research, reviews, brief reports, reports on best practices, interviews, and commentaries. Articles are open access and published online only. The journal features "rolling publication" (i.e., articles are published online as soon as the editing/production process is complete), organized into four quarterly issues (January, April, July, October).

The Journal offers an author-friendly approach from submission through publication. HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice adheres to the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (2013) of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.

Authorship Criteria and Responsibilities

Criteria for authorship include contribution to:

  • Conception and design, or
  • Data collection, or
  • Analysis and interpretation


  • Writing the manuscript, or
  • Critical revision of the manuscript

All individuals identified as authors should meet the necessary criteria for authorship listed above, and all individuals who meet the criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet the necessary criteria should be acknowledged (see Acknowledgments). Any issues related to authorship must be resolved before the manuscript is submitted to the Journal.

Authors should be accountable for the portions of the manuscript to which they have contributed. They should also have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of all other authors. All authors should have read the final manuscript prior to submission and be aware of its submission to the Journal.

One author must be identified as the corresponding author, who is responsible for (1) ensuring all authors meet the authorship criteria; (2) submitting the manuscript to the Journal and serving as the main contact during the review process; and (3) performing any related activities if the manuscript is accepted, such as reviewing proofs of the edited manuscript and answering editorial queries. The corresponding author will be identified as the primary contact in the published article.

Order of authorship must be determined and agreed upon by all authors before manuscript submission. Any disagreements should be resolved before submitting the manuscript. Requests for changes in authorship after initial manuscript submission and before publication are required in writing (email preferred) signed by all authors.


Any individuals who contributed to the manuscript but do not meet the necessary criteria for authorship should be acknowledged. Acknowledgments should be limited to those who helped extensively, such as providing statistical help or translating references.

Copyright and Licensing

Copyright of articles published in the HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice is retained by the author(s). Authors grant SLACK Incorporated a license to publish the article and identify itself as the original publisher. SLACK Incorporated offers two Creative Commons license options for this open access publication:

  • Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). This license allows users to copy and distribute, to remix, transform, and build upon the article, for any purpose, even commercially, provided the author is attributed and is not represented as endorsing the use made of the work. Full details of this license are available here.
  • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). This license allows users to copy and distribute, to remix, transform, and build upon the article non-commercially, provided the author is attributed and the new work be non-commercial. Full details of this license are available here.

Authors cannot use copyrighted material within their article unless that material has also been made available under a similarly liberal license. Articles that are published open access in the journal may be shared at any time as long as the applicable Creative Commons license is observed and remains in place.

Article Processing Charge

Article processing charges typically are $2,000. However, this fee is currently being waived.

Competing/Conflicting Interests and Sponsorship

If any author has a competing or conflicting interest relating to the manuscript, this must be indicated. If the manuscript discusses in any way a drug, a device, equipment, or an instrument, the authors must state whether or not they have any commercial or proprietary interest in the product or company. All reported competing interests are clearly indicated on all published articles.

If applicable, authors should describe the role of the study sponsor, if any, in study design; collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing the report; and the decision to submit the report for publication. If the supporting source had no such involvement, this should be specified. If applicable, authors must declare whether they had assistance with study design, data collection, data analysis, or manuscript preparation. All funding sources must also be disclosed.

Human Subjects Protection and Protection of Identifiable Subjects

Reports of studies involving human subjects must indicate procedures for the protection of their rights, as well as Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. If subjects’ personal details are provided, measures should be taken to protect subjects’ identity. If photographs are submitted with a manuscript, permission to publish must be obtained in writing from all individuals pictured. Fulfillment of this requirement should be noted in the cover letter accompanying the manuscript submission. Measures to conceal the identity of an individual in a photograph, such as placing black bars over the person’s eyes, should not be used.

Manuscript Preparation

Cover Letter

All submissions should include a cover letter. The cover letter must include the manuscript title, type, design, and major findings. The importance and relevance of the submission for HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice should be indicated, as well as the corresponding author’s contact information with email address. The cover letter should include a statement that the work has not been published in any peer-reviewed media (other than in abstract form). A statement that all authors listed on the manuscript have contributed sufficiently to the project to be included as authors and that all authors have approved the final draft for submission is required. If all or part of the manuscript information has been published previously or is under review by another journal, or related work has been previously published or is under review by another journal, the cover letter should indicate where and the extent of overlap with the current submission. The articles (or manuscripts) in question should be attached with the manuscript submission. Any conflicts of interest, or a statement that there are none, must be included. Where relevant, the clinical trials registry number should be indicated. Where relevant, a statement regarding permission to publish subjects’ identifiable information must be included.

Style Manual

Manuscripts should be prepared following the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, sixth edition (2010), and spelling should reflect Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. Manuscripts must be double-spaced, with 1-inch margins.

IMPORTANT! Manuscript files uploaded for review MUST include continuous page and line numbers.


Manuscript titles should be concise, specific, and informative; should contain the key points of the work; and should be limited to 69 characters. Overly general titles, as well as questions and declarative sentences, should be avoided. It is acceptable for the manuscript title to reveal the results of the study or project.


Use of abbreviations should be limited to those that are commonly understood without explanation. All abbreviations must be spelled out at first mention in the text. Pharmaceuticals should be referred to by their generic names. Device manufacturers and other products or services corporations and their locations should appear in parentheses following the mention of the proprietary device, product, or service.

Manuscript Organization

All submissions should start with a Title Page, followed by Acknowledgments. As required according to submission type, the manuscript should then include an Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, References, Tables, Figures, Images, and Illustrations, with associated Legends.

Title Page: Each manuscript should be submitted with a title page, which should include the title of the manuscript; each author’s name, academic degree, and academic affiliation; and the address to be used for correspondence. One author should be designated as the corresponding author. When relevant for the submission type, the title page should also include the Abstract word count, the word count for the main text (excluding references, tables, figures, images, or illustrations), and three to five key words.

Acknowledgments: If applicable, authors must declare whether they had assistance with study design, data collection, data analysis, or manuscript preparation.

Plain Language Summary: All Original Research, Best Practice, and Review submissions should include a brief plain language summary of no more than 60 words. The summary should concisely describe the study and detail how the research advances the knowledge base related to health literacy. For additional information on plain language summaries, click here.

Abstract: Requirements for the organization and word limits of abstracts are specified below for each type of submission. All results and conclusions in the abstract must also be reported in the main body of the text, figures, or tables of the manuscript.

Text: When appropriate for the type of submission, the text should include the Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. No summary section is necessary.

References: References must adhere to the style specified in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, sixth edition (2010). Authors are responsible for the accuracy of references, particularly author names and page numbers. Unpublished data and personal communications should not be listed as references, but rather mentioned parenthetically in the text. Names of journals should conform to PubMed/MEDLINE. The titles of those journals that are not listed in PubMed/MEDLINE must be provided in full. Journal titles should be cited as they existed at the time of publication.

Figures, Photos, Illustrations: Each figure, image, or illustration must be numbered and cited consecutively in the text. If applicable, arrows or asterisks can be present on figures for identification of specified areas that are discussed in the legend.

  • Legend. The legend should be a brief description that allows the figure, image, or illustration to be fully understood. Legends, headings, or captions should not be included within the image files, and instead should be provided in the manuscript files.
  • Digital Requirements. Digital images should be high resolution (at least 300 dpi) and saved in JPEG or TIFF format. Image files should be uploaded separately from manuscript text files. Images embedded in Word files and PowerPoint® slides are not acceptable.

Tables: Each table must be numbered and cited consecutively in the text and should have a short descriptive title. Abbreviations used in tables that are not commonly understood terms should be explained in a legend. Material that is in the tables should not be repeated in the text. All tables should be single spaced, begin on a new page, and kept to one page unless the material is too large for a single page.

Types of Submissions



Text Words







  Original Research









  Original Research-Qualitative









  Best Practice


















  Brief Report


















  Mission and Motivation









  Editorial (by invitation)









  Letter to the editor









Length parameters do not pertain to Appendices, which may be included with any submission type at the Editor’s discretion.

Word count guidance does not include Title Page, Abstract, References, Tables, Figures, Images, Illustrations, Legends, or Appendices.

Authors may be asked to delete or combine tables, figures, images, or illustrations believed to be excessive or to have some material published as an appendix. NOTE: Authors are encouraged to use appendices. These can include text, tables, and audiovisual materials that will augment the paper for the readership.

Original Research

These articles represent empirical original research relevant to health literacy. The manuscript should be organized to follow the Abstract headings. To assure that studies with various methods are appropriately presented, the Journal strongly suggests authors use standard formats as described by the Equator Network (e.g., CONSORT for randomized trials, STROBE for observational studies, SQUIRE for quality improvement studies). Authors are strongly encouraged to use the checklists offered for these guidelines. NOTE: Checklists may be requested during manuscript review.

Clinical Trials Registration: The Journal ascribes to the registration policies of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) that can be found here. Appropriate registries (such as must be accessible to the public at no charge and must be open to all prospective registrants and managed by a not-for-profit organization. There must be a mechanism to ensure the validity of the registration data, and the registry should be electronically searchable. The appropriate Trial Registration Number must be included in the cover letter of the submitted manuscript.

Original research articles should have a detailed description of the study’s design and analysis. They should not exceed 3,000 words of text, except for reports of qualitative research, which may be as long as 4,000 words, including text, quotes, and tables containing quotes.

Original Research abstracts should include the following headings: Background, Objective, Methods, Key Results, and Conclusions.

Best Practices

Best Practice articles should be written in a way that they share lessons learned and help readers decide if the policy, program, or activity might work in their organization or setting/situation. Results can be positive or negative, as long as authors include what they learned from the implementation. Articles can be up to 4,000 words with a 350-word abstract. The abstract should include: Background, Brief description of activity, Implementation, Results, and Lessons learned. The following structure should be used to write the abstract and article.


  • Key question or problem and its significance
  • Brief discussion of prior research on policy, program, or activity or its status as a Best Practice

Brief description of policy, program, or activity

  • Elements
  • Setting or situation
  • Participants/people or groups reached (description and number)
  • Facilitators and barriers


  • What you tried, introduced, or delivered
  • Methods used
  • What had to be adapted or adjusted
  • Length of time for implementation


  • What happened and possible reasons why

Lessons learned/implications/recommendations to others

  • Will the policy, program, or activity be sustained?
  • Do you recommend other people do the same and why?

Authors can refer to the RE-AIM (Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance) framework for interventions if they need help with the abstract/article sections. The RE-AIM checklist can be found here.

Reviewers will evaluate the potential for readers to use the Best Practice and the significance of the lessons learned. The journal will use reviewers who know about the implementation and organizational change challenges.


Systematic reviews or meta-analyses should follow the guidelines in the PRISMA Statement. PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) provides an evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses, and is an update and expansion of the QUOROM Statement. The PRISMA Statement consists of a 27-item checklist and a four-phase flow diagram. Authors will be required to submit the PRISMA checklist and flow diagram along with their manuscript. Although PRISMA focuses on randomized trials, the PRISMA Statement can also be used as a basis for reporting systematic reviews of other types of research, particularly evaluations of interventions. Systematic reviews or meta-analyses should, in accordance with PRISMA Guidelines, include a structured abstract with the following headings: Background, Methods, Key Results, and Discussion. The Background section should describe study objectives. Methods should include eligibility criteria, information sources, and methods of assessing risk of bias. The Results section should report included studies, synthesis of results, and description of the effect. Finally, the Discussion should include strengths and limitations of the evidence. The systematic review registration number and funding source should also be indicated.

Narrative (non-systematic) reviews should address a clinical, educational, or methodological problem by melding expert opinion with a thorough and balanced review of available evidence. Narrative reviews are appropriate when the question of interest is too broad, the body of evidence too sparse, or the topic too new or controversial for a systematic review. Otherwise, systematic reviews are preferred. Structurally, authors should consider beginning narrative reviews with an illustrative case or example. The review should put the topic into the context of the literature and interpret the evidence to help solve the problem for the reader. Narrative reviews should include an unstructured abstract of 300 or fewer words.

Brief Reports

Brief reports are a format for pilot studies, small-scale studies, and reports on research that do not need a full-length presentation. Manuscripts for Brief Reports require an unstructured abstract of 200 or fewer words and should contain approximately 1,500 words, no more than 2 tables, figures, images, or illustrations, and no more than 20 references. In other respects, the Brief Reports should conform to the general requirements for Original Research submissions.


Perspectives are opinion-based essays supported by evidence that challenge the health literacy community to consider or focus on important or controversial phenomena in health literacy, health equity, or health disparities.

Mission and Motivation

These submissions feature true stories of powerful experiences that have influenced the author’s work in health literacy research, education, advocacy, or policy. In 750 or fewer words, the author(s) may relate a story that explains, for example, why the author is dedicated to the field of health literacy.


Editorials are considered by invitation only.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor are correspondence regarding articles that have been published in HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice. Letters regarding a previously published article must be submitted within 12 weeks of the article’s publication to be considered for possible publication, and the author of that article will be given the opportunity to respond. Letters should be no more than 500 words, with no more than 5 references, one of which should be the HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice article. The full name, academic degrees, a single institutional affiliation should be provided for each author, as well as the email address of the corresponding author. Letters may be edited for clarity or length, and letter authors must disclose any competing or conflicting interests. All letters are published at the Editor’s discretion. Letters should be submitted to the editorial office.

Manuscript Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted via Editorial Manager. Authors should contact the editorial office with questions regarding the submission process.

Review Process

All manuscripts undergo pre-publication double-blind peer review by the Editorial Board and reviewers. Final decisions regarding manuscript disposition are made by the Editor, and the Editor mediates all interactions between reviewers and authors. Authors are notified by e-mail as soon as possible about the acceptability of their manuscript. It is recommended that novice authors have their manuscripts reviewed by their well-published peers, instructors, or mentors prior to submission.

Manuscripts are evaluated based on their scientific rigor, novelty, and importance to the area of health literacy, using the following criteria: topic is of interest, material is original and timely, writing and organization are clear, design and methods are appropriate, data are valid, and conclusions are supported by the data.

Peer reviewers are required to declare all potential competing, or conflicting, interests related to manuscripts they are invited to review. A competing or conflicting interest is anything that interferes with, or could reasonably be perceived as interfering with, the full and objective presentation, peer review, editorial decision making, or publication of manuscripts submitted to the journal. Competing interests may be personal, financial, nonfinancial, intellectual, professional, political or religious in nature. They can be related to an organization or a person.

If a reviewer realizes a competing or conflicting interest during their review of a manuscript, either related to themselves or to the manuscript authors, they should contact the editorial office for additional guidance. If a reviewer suspects the identity of the author(s), they should notify the editorial office if this knowledge raises any potential competing or conflicting interests.

If the Editor of the journal authors or co-authors a manuscript, the Editor will not be involved in the peer review or decision-making process for the paper. Another Editor will assume those duties. If an Editorial Board member of or reviewer for the journal authors or co-authors a manuscript, that person will not be involved in the peer review or decision-making process for the paper.

Reviews completed for the journal are owned by the journal and are not published. Peer reviewers are required to maintain confidentiality about the manuscripts they review and must not divulge any information about a specific manuscript or its contents without prior permission.

NOTE: The quality of reviews will be rated. The Journal highly appreciates the work of its reviewers and understands that this effort is an uncompensated service to the research community. If you have not already registered with the Journal as a reviewer, authors are invited to participate. The Journal would be grateful if authors could support it in this manner.

Supplemental Material or Data

Supplemental material or data (appendices) submitted with a manuscript will undergo peer review with the main manuscript. If the manuscript is accepted for publication and if the supplemental material is deemed appropriate for publication, the material or data will be posted online as an appendix with the article at the time of publication. Supplemental material will not be copyedited or formatted; therefore, the authors are responsible for the accuracy and presentation of the material.

Policy on Research Misconduct

The publisher and editor will take reasonable steps to identify and prevent the publication of papers where research misconduct has occurred, including but not limited to plagiarism, citation manipulation, and data falsification/fabrication. Before any manuscript is accepted for publication in HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice, it will be screened for potential plagiarism with specialized software, and the Journal will contact the authors if there are any questions or concerns. If an allegation of research misconduct is made related to an article published in the Journal, the publisher and editor will follow the guidelines provided by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) to address such allegations.

Copyediting and Author Proofs

All accepted manuscripts are professionally copyedited to adhere to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, sixth edition (2010), and journal style. This service pertains to the light copyediting performed as part of final manuscript preparation. Major rewriting can be supported, but fees may be charged for these services. Please contact the editorial office if you would like to learn more about this option.

Proofs of the edited article are provided to the corresponding author for review and approval. Rewriting the manuscript or making changes in content beyond simple correction or clarification at the proof stage is unacceptable. Authors are responsible for all statements made in their work, including changes made during copyediting and production that are approved by the corresponding author.

Corrections and Errata

Requests to publish corrections should be emailed to the editorial office. Corrections and errata are reviewed by the Editor, published promptly, and linked online to the original article.


The publisher works with Portico to ensure electronic backup and preservation of access to HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice content.

Editorial Office

Questions regarding the Journal should be directed to the editorial office.

License Agreement and Conflict of Interest Disclosure

Copyright of articles published in the HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice is retained by the author(s). By completing a License Agreement (one per article), authors grant SLACK Incorporated a license to publish the article and identify itself as the original publisher. SLACK Incorporated offers two Creative Commons license options for this open access publication: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) and Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). Authors should complete the License Agreement that corresponds to the Creative Commons license they have selected:

In addition, EACH author must complete an ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest, which addresses any relevant disclosures.

Interactive ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest (interactive PDF - preferred)

  1. Download the form to your computer.
  2. Open the form in Adobe Acrobat Reader, fill it out, and then save it to your computer.
  3. Upload the form with your manuscript submission in Editorial Manager.

Both the License Agreement and all ICMJE Forms for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest should be uploaded into Editorial Manager with the manuscript submission.

Note. Mac/Safari and Chrome users may have difficulty using the interactive ICMJE form. These authors should use the Noninteractive Form, which must be printed, completed/signed, and then scanned and uploaded with your manuscript submission in Editorial Manager.

SLACK Author Services

Authors interested in services that include English language editing, translation into English, and research communication can click here to access SLACK Author Services. Fees apply to services selected, but a 10% discount is valid until September 30, 2018 (use coupon code SLACK10). Use of SLACK Author Services does not guarantee acceptance by any SLACK journal.

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