Instructions to Authors and Guidelines for Manuscript Submission



1.1 Objectives and readership

The Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública/Pan American Journal of Public Health (RPSP/PAJPH) is an open-access, peer-reviewed monthly journal, published as the flagship scientific and technical periodical publication by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), headquartered in Washington, D.C., the United States of America.

Its mission is to serve as an important vehicle for disseminating scientific public health information of international significance, mainly in areas related to PAHO's essential mission to strengthen national and local health systems, improve the health of the peoples of the Americas.

It aims to bridge the gap between policy-makers, researchers, health professionals, and practitioners.

1.2 Subject coverage

The RPSP/PAJPH publishes materials related to public health in the Region of the Americas that reflect PAHO's main strategic objectives and programmatic areas: health and human development, health promotion and protection, prevention and control of communicable and chronic diseases, maternal and child health, gender and women's health, mental health, violence, nutrition, environmental health, disaster management, development of health systems and services, social determinants of health, and health equity.

1.3 Indexing

The RPSP/PAJPH is selected and indexed in the following databases and directories: PubMed/MEDLINE; Web of Science; Social Sciences Citation Index; Journal Citation Reports/Social Sciences Edition; Current Contents/Social & Behavioral Sciences; Scopus; SciELO Public Health; LILACS; EMBASE; Global Health; Tropical Diseases Bulletin; Nutrition Abstracts and Reviews, Series A: Human and Experimental; Abstracts on Hygiene and Communicable Diseases; Review of Medical and Veterinary Entomology; Directory of Open Access Journals; Latindex; and Redalyc.

1.4 Contents

The RPSP/PAJPH will accept contributions for the following sections of the journal: Editorials, Original research articles, Reviews, Special reports, Opinion and analysis, Short communications, Current topics, and Letters. A description of the specific features for each type of contribution will be outlined below.

In general, the following contributions will not be accepted for publication: clinical case reports, anecdotal accounts of specific interventions, reports of a single study intended for publication as a series, noncritical and descriptive literature reviews, manuscripts with substantial overlap or with only minor differences from previous research results, and reprints or translations of articles already published, whether in print or electronically. Exceptions to this general rule will be judged and a determination made on a case-by-case basis.

1.4.1 Editorials

Authoritative expert views, analysis of relevant public health subjects, and/or commentary on specific articles previously published in the journal. From time to time, editorials may also present viewpoints offered by the journal's own editorial staff.

Editorials are commissioned by the Editorial Team and should always bear the author's name and institutional affiliation.

1.4.2 Original research articles

Original research reports on public health subjects of interest to the Region of the Americas.

Experimental or observational research must follow the IMRAD format (Introduction, Materials and methods, Results, and Discussion). Conclusions must be included at the end of the Discussion section and may be identified as a subheading.

1.4.3 Reviews

Systematic reviews about relevant public health matters, priorities, and interventions.

Reviews prepared by experts in the field presenting critical and authoritative analysis will also be considered.

Guidelines for systematic reviews and research protocols should be followed by authors and mentioned in Materials and methods section. See section 1.6 for more information.

Review articles are usually structured the same as original research articles and should include a section describing the methods used for selecting, extracting, and synthesizing data.

1.4.4 Special reports

Research reports of studies or projects relevant to the Region of the Americas.

1.4.5 Opinion and analysis

Authoritative opinion papers, reflections, and analyses on topics of interest in the field of public health.

1.4.6 Short communications

Short communications describing innovative or promising techniques or methodologies, or preliminary research results of special interest to the field of public health.

1.4.7 Current topics

Descriptions of current national and regional health initiatives, interventions, and/or epidemiological trends related to diseases and major health problems in the Americas.

1.4.8 Letters

Letters to the editor clarifying, discussing, or commenting on content presented in the RPSP/PAJPH are welcomed. Letters commenting on specific public health topics may also be accepted. Texts may be accompanied by references, if applicable.

Letters must be signed by the author, specifying institutional affiliation and mailing address.

1.5 Language

Manuscripts are accepted in three of the official languages of PAHO (English, Portuguese, and Spanish). Authors are strongly urged to write in their native language, since the inadequate command of a second language can blur the meaning of the text and is at odds with scientific precision.

Formal names of institutions, either in texts or in the author affiliation data, should not be translated unless an officially accepted translation exists. Also, titles in references should be left in their original language.

1.6 Guidelines and research protocols

The RPSP/PAJPH follows the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, which was developed and is maintained by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), and it is listed among the journals that follow these requirements. These guidelines, also known as the "Vancouver Style," apply to the entire journal, including ethical considerations, such as authorship and contributorship, peer review, conflicts of interest, privacy and confidentiality, protection of human subjects and animals in research, as well as editorial and publishing issues such as advertising, overlapping publications, references, and registering clinical trials.

The RPSP/PAJPH strongly recommends that authors follow the best research protocols available. Research protocols are described in the EQUATOR Network Resource Centre. Also, a complete list of the major biomedical research reporting guidelines is maintained and published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The most frequently used in the public health field are: CONSORT (for randomized controlled clinical trials), TREND (for nonrandomized evaluations of behavioral and public health interventions), STROBE (for observational studies in epidemiology), MOOSE (for meta-analyses of observational studies), QUOROM (for systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized trials), as well as the COCHRANE handbook (for systematic reviews of interventions).

Following WHO and ICMJE recommendations, the RPSP/PAJPH will require registration of clinical trials in a public trials registry as a condition of consideration for publication. The RPSP/PAJPH does not advocate one particular registry, but recommends that authors register clinical trials in one of the registries certified by WHO and the ICMJE that are available at the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform. The clinical trial registration number will be published at the end of the abstract and will have a link to the corresponding registry.

When reporting experiments on human subjects, authors should indicate whether the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Declaration of Helsinki (first revision of 1975 and sixth revision of 2008). When reporting experiments on animals, authors should indicate whether the institutional and national guide for the care and use of laboratory animals was followed.

1.7 Conflict of interests

Authors are requested to provide full information about any grant or subsidy to cover research costs received from a commercial or private entity, national or international organization, or research support agency.

The RPSP/PAJPH adheres to the ICMJE recommendations for disclosure of competing interests. The ICMJE asks authors to disclose four types of information: associations with commercial entities that provided support for the work reported in the submitted manuscript, associations with commercial entities that could have an interest in the submitted manuscript, financial associations involving family, and other relevant nonfinancial associations. The information provided through these disclosures helps the reader to better understand the relationship between the authors and various commercial entities that may have an interest in the information reported in the published article.

1.8 Copyright

The RPSP/PAJPH endorses the principles of the open access model to maximize the access and benefit to scientists, scholars, and the general public throughout the world. Therefore, the Pan American Health Organization (as copyright holder) and the authors agree to grant to all users a free, worldwide, perpetual right of access in order to copy, use, distribute, transmit, and display the work publicly, in any digital medium, for any responsible purpose, provided that proper attribution of authorship is made.

The RPSP/PAJPH will deposit a complete version of the accepted manuscript in electronic format in SciELO Public Health, which will enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving of all published issues.

As a condition for publication, the RPSP/PAJPH requires authors to provide information indicating that the text, or a similar one, has not been previously published in print or electronic format and that the manuscript will not be submitted to any other journal until the RPSP/PAJPH reaches a decision regarding its publication. Any instance of possible prior publication in any form must be disclosed at the time the manuscript is submitted and a copy or link to the publication must be provided. Submitting authors must also consent that if the manuscript is accepted for publication in the RPSP/PAJPH, the copyright will be held by PAHO.

Authors are solely responsible for obtaining permission to reproduce any copyrighted material contained in the manuscript as submitted. The manuscript must be accompanied by an original letter explicitly granting such permission in each case. The letter(s) should specify the exact table(s), figure(s), or text being cited and how it/they is/are being used, together with a complete bibliographic reference to the original source.

In the case of papers containing translations of quoted material, a link or copy of that text in the original language must be clearly identified and included as part of the manuscript's submission.

1.9 Peer review process

All manuscripts undergo selection through a formal peer review process. After determining whether or not received manuscripts meet the general requirements for submission and comply with the subject scope of the RPSP/PAJPH, the manuscripts are then sent to the journal's Associate Editors for review.

The Associate Editors consider the text's scientific merit and the relevance of its publication, and, if applicable, it will be sent for blind peer review to at least three different reviewers. Upon receipt of all requested reviews, the Associate Editors will prepare a recommendation to the Editor-in-Chief to: (a) reject the manuscript; (b) conditionally accept the manuscript (with either minor or major revisions); or (c) accept the manuscript.

In the case of a conditional acceptance, authors will be required to return the revised manuscript with a detailed explanation of the changes that have been incorporated to address the concerns and recommendations emanating from the peer review process, or, alternatively, to provide a detailed justification of the reasons for disagreeing with the observations made. The manuscript is again revised by the Associate Editors, as well as by peer reviewers in some cases, and the text may undergo as many reviews as may be needed to ensure that authors have provided an adequate response to all issues raised by reviewers.

The final decision on acceptance of manuscripts is made by the Editor-in-Chief.

All decisions are communicated in writing to the corresponding author(s). Authors who disagree with the editorial decision have the right to appeal by presenting a detailed written justification of the reasons why they believe the manuscript should have been accepted. Editorial meetings to discuss specific manuscript issues are scheduled periodically.

The time needed to process a manuscript varies depending on the complexity of the subject matter and the availability of appropriate peer reviewers.

Accepted papers are submitted to editorial revision and may be changed if appropriate. See section 2.16, "Editing the manuscript" for additional information.

1.10 Dissemination

The RPSP/PAJPH is published in electronic format and is available at SciELO Public Health and also at the journal portal of the PAHO Web site.

Users may register at the journal's portal to receive the table of contents and press releases of published articles, and also in SciELO to have access to other personalized tools. These include the definition of profiles for receiving new article alerts, follow-up on the usage and citation statistics for their own articles, and the creation of a personalized SciELO library of selected articles.

Articles will be published online immediately upon final editing (Ahead of Print), and links in databases will go directly to full-text versions of all published articles.


2.1 General criteria for manuscript acceptance

The selection of material for publication in the RPSP/PAJPH is based on the following criteria:

  • suitability for the journal's subject scope;
  • scientific soundness, originality, currency, and timeliness of the information;
  • applicability beyond its place of origin and across the Region of the Americas;
  • compliance with the standards of medical ethics governing experimentation with human and animal subjects;
  • compliance with specific research reporting protocols;
  • coherence of the research design and methodology;
  • the need to strike a balance in topical and geographical coverage.

Manuscripts must comply with the specifications outlined in these Instructions and Guidelines in order to be accepted. Authors should carefully read all sections and complete the checklist available in the online submission system. Manuscripts not following the standard format of RPSP/PAJPH will immediately be returned to authors. The journal may also refuse to publish any manuscript whose authors fail to answer editorial queries satisfactorily.

Final acceptance or rejection of a manuscript is decided by the Editor-in-Chief, based on recommendations resulting from the peer review process described in section 1.9.

Manuscripts are accepted with the understanding that they have not been submitted elsewhere for publication, in part or in whole, and that in the future they will not be published or submitted elsewhere without express authorization from PAHO as the copyright holder.

Any instance of possible prior publication in print or electronic format (e.g., the Internet), in the same or in a different language or form, must be disclosed at the time the manuscript is submitted, and authors must provide a copy of the published text.

Authors hold sole responsibility for the views expressed in their texts, which may not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of the RPSP/PAJPH. The mention of specific companies or certain manufacturers' products does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended in preference to other ones of a similar nature.

2.2 Manuscript specifications

Manuscripts must be prepared using Microsoft Word or similar Open Office software, in double-space, single column, using 12-pt. characters in Times New Roman or Arial script.

For figures and tables, Excel, Power Point, or other graphics software must be used. Figures may be in color or black and white.

Once articles are accepted for publication, authors may be asked to send figures and tables in a more clear and readable format.

2.3 Length and form

The general format for the RPSP/PAJPH's various sections is presented as follows:

Section Words* References Tables, figures
Editorials 1,000 Up to 5, if any none
Original research articles 3,500 Up to 35 Up to 5
Reviews 3,500 Up to 50 Up to 5
Special reports 3,500 Up to 35 Up to 5
Short communications 2,500 Up to 10 1-2
Opinion and analysis 2,500 Up to 20 1-2
Current topics 2,000 Up to 20 1-2
Letters 800 Up to 5, if any none
* excluding abstract, tables, figures, and references.

Exceptions to these standards will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.

2.4 Title

The manuscript's title should be clear, precise, and concise and include all the necessary information to identify the scope of the article. A good title is the first entry point to the article's content and facilitates its retrieval in databases and search engines.

If possible, titles should not exceed 15 words. Ambiguous words, jargon, and abbreviations should be avoided. Titles separated by periods or divided into parts should also be avoided.

2.5 Authors

When submitting a manuscript, all authors must register their full name, institutional affiliations, city and country, and contact information. This information will be omitted during peer review in order to maintain the authors' confidentiality. Corresponding authors must send a complete mailing and e-mail address and telephone number to facilitate contact during the review process. Only the affiliation and e-mail address of the corresponding author will be published.

Names of institutions should not be translated unless an official translation exists.

Only those who participated directly in the research or drafting of the article, and are therefore in a position to assume public responsibility for its contents, may be listed as authors. Inclusion of other persons as authors, out of friendship, acknowledgment, or other nonscientific motivation, is a breach of research ethics.

According to the ICMJE's Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, "Authorship credit should be based on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published." Authors must declare in the cover letter the contribution of every author.

When a large, multicenter group has conducted the work, the group should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript.

Please refer to the Authorship and Contributorship section of the ICMJE's Uniform Requirements for additional information.

2.6 Abstract

The abstract is the second point of entry for an article and must enable readers to determine the article's relevance and decide whether or not they are interested in reading the entire text. Abstract words are normally included in text word indexes and can facilitate retrieval in databases and search engines.

Original research articles or systematic reviews must be accompanied by a structured abstract of up to 250 words, divided into the following sections: (a) Objectives, (b) Methods, (c) Results, and (d) Conclusions. Other types of contributions must be accompanied by an informative abstract of up to 250 words.

The abstract should not include any information or conclusions that do not appear in the main text. It should be written in the third person and should not contain footnotes, unknown abbreviations, or bibliographic citations.

2.7 Keywords

Keywords represent the main subjects discussed in the articles and may be identified by the authors or by the Editorial Team of the RPSP/PAJPH.

Keywords are extracted from the DeCS (Health Sciences Descriptors) vocabulary, which includes the translation into Portuguese and Spanish of MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), produced by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, with the addition of new subject categories for Public Health, Health Surveillance, Homeopathy, and Health Research.

2.8 Body of the article

Original research articles and systematic reviews are usually organized according to the IMRAD (Introduction, Materials and methods, Results, and Discussion) format. The Results and Discussion sections may require subheadings. Conclusions must be included at the end of the Discussion session and may be identified as a subheading.

Other types of contributions have no predefined structure and may use other subdivisions, depending on their content.

Short communications follow the same sequence of original articles, but usually omit subdivision headings.

2.9 Footnotes

Footnotes are clarifications or marginal explanations that would interrupt the natural flow of the text. They are numbered consecutively and appear at the end of the article in the electronic version and in a smaller type size at the bottom of the page on which they are cited in the pdf format.

Their use should be kept to a minimum. Links or references to cited documents must be included in the references list.

2.10 Bibliographic references

Citations are essential to identify the original sources of concepts, methods, and techniques referred to in the text and that come from earlier research, studies, and experiences; to support facts and opinions stated by the author; and to provide the reader with the bibliographic information needed to consult the primary sources.

References must be relevant and current.

The RPSP/PAJPH follows the ICMJE Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals style for references (better known as "Vancouver Style"), which is based largely on an American National Standards Institute style adapted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine for its databases. Recommended formats for a variety of document types and examples are available in the publication Citing Medicine: the NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 2nd Edition, produced by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

References should be numbered consecutively in the order in which they are first mentioned in the text, and identified by Arabic numerals in parentheses in text, tables, and legends. Examples:

"It has been observed (3, 4) that..."


"Several authors (1-5) have said that ..."

References cited only in table or figure legends should be numbered in accordance with the sequence established by the first identification in the running text of the particular table or figure.

The titles of journals should be abbreviated according to the style used in the Journals database, created and maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The list of references must be numbered consecutively and should begin on a separate sheet placed at the end of the manuscript.

2.11 Tables

Tables present information-usually numerical-in an ordered, systematic arrangement of values in rows and columns. The presentation should be easy for the reader to grasp. The data should be self-explanatory and should supplement, not duplicate, the information in the text. Tables with too much statistical information are confusing and hard to understand. Tables should not be used when data can be described in few text lines.

Tables must be inserted in the text to allow editing and not as objects extracted from other files.

Each table should have a brief but complete title, including place, date, and source of the information. The column heads should be as brief as possible and indicate the unit of measure or the relative base (percentage, rate, index), if any.

If information is missing because no observations were made, this should be indicated by ellipsis points (...). If the data do not apply, the cell should be marked "NA" (not applicable). If either or both of these devices are used, their meaning should be indicated with a footnote to the table.

Vertical rules (lines) should not be used in tables. There should only be three full horizontal rules: one under the title, a second under the column heads, and a third at the end of the table, above any footnotes.

Footnotes to a table should be indicated with superscript lowercase letters, in alphabetical order, in this way: a, b, c, etc. The superscript letters in the body of the table should be in sequence from top to bottom and left to right.

Authors must be sure to include call-outs for all tables in the text.

Tables or data from another published or unpublished source must be acknowledged and authors must obtain prior permission to include them in the manuscript. See "Copyright" section 1.8 for further details.

2.12 Figures

Figures include graphs, diagrams, line drawings, maps, and photographs. They should be used to highlight trends and to illustrate comparisons clearly and exactly. Figures should be easy to understand and should add information, not repeat what has been previously stated in the text or the tables. Legends should be as brief as possible but complete, and include place, date, and source of the information.

Figures should be sent in a separate file, in their original format, following standards of the most common software programs (Excel, Power Point, or Open Office), or in an eps (encapsulated postcript) file.

The legend of a graph or map should be included as part of the figure itself if there is sufficient space. If not, it should be included in the figure's title. Maps and diagrams should have a scale in SI units (see "Units of measure" section 2.14).

If the figure is taken from another publication, the source must be identified and permission to reproduce it must be obtained in writing from the copyright holder of the original publication. See "Copyright" section 1.8 for more information.

2.13 Abbreviations

The first time an abbreviation or acronym is mentioned in the text, the full term should be given, followed by the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses, as with: Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). As much as possible, abbreviations should be avoided.

In general, abbreviations should reflect the expanded form in the same language as that of the manuscript. Exceptions to this rule include abbreviations known internationally in another language (e.g., CELADE, ILPES, ISO).

2.14 Units of measure

Authors must use the International System of Units (SI), organized by the International Committee for Weights and Measures (Bureau international des poids et mesures). The English brochure is available at:

The system is based on the metric system. Abbreviations of units are not pluralized (for example, use 5 km, not 5 kms), nor are they followed by a period (write 10 mL, not 10mL.), except at the end of a sentence. Numbers should be grouped in sets of three to the left and to the right of the decimal point, with each set separated by a blank space.

Correct style:
12 500 350 (twelve million five hundred thousand three hundred fifty)
1 900.05 (one thousand nine hundred and five hundredths)

Incorrect style:
12,500.350 / 1.900,05 / 1,900.05

2.15 Submitting the manuscript

Manuscripts should be submitted through Manuscript Central (ScholarOne, Inc.), which is the online manuscript submission and peer review system employed now by the RPSP/PAJPH. The system may be accessed via the journal portal or directly at Manuscript Central.

Authors who have difficulty using the online submission system should send a message to the journal using the contact e-mail available at the journal portal.

Authors will be notified by e-mail that their manuscript has been received. Authors can view the status of their manuscripts at any time by entering Manuscript Central's "Author Center."

Manuscripts must be accompanied by a cover letter, which should include the information about all previous reports and submissions, possible conflicts of interest, permission to reproduce previously published material and any additional information that may be helpful to the Associate editors and the Editor-in-Chief. Authors should also declare in the cover letter that the manuscript has been read and approved by all the authors, and indicate the contribution of each author (see section 2.5).

2.16 Editing the manuscript

Manuscripts are accepted with the understanding that the publisher reserves the right to make revisions necessary for consistency, clarity, and conformity with the style of the RPSP/PAJPH.

Manuscripts accepted for publication will be edited and then sent to the corresponding author to respond to the editors queries and to approve any revisions. If during this stage the author does not satisfactorily respond to the editors queries, the journal reserves the right to not publish the manuscript. To avoid delay in the publication of the corresponding issue, authors are urged to return the edited manuscript, with their approval, by the date indicated in the accompanying message.

After peer review and author revisions, if any, articles will undergo an editorial process that may include, as needed, condensation of the text and deletion or addition of tables, figures, or annexes.

The edited version will be sent to the author for responses to any additional queries from the editors.

The final version will be sent to the corresponding author for approval before publishing on the Web. Articles will be published in html and pdf formats.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 November 2014 10:20