Guidelines for Authors on Preparing Manuscripts

General Policies

The requirements stated below are in accordance with the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. See “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” at icmje.org.

Manuscripts are accepted for consideration by FOCUS: The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry with the understanding that they have not been published previously and are not being considered for publication elsewhere. Any form of publication other than an abstract of no more than 400 words constitutes prior publication.

All persons designated as authors take public responsibility for the content. All authors warrant that they have reviewed and approved of the manuscript prior to submission.

Only those with key responsibility for the material in the article should be listed as authors; others contributing to the work should be recognized in an Acknowledgment.

FOCUS requires written transfer of copyright to the publisher. In addition, authors must obtain letters of permission from publishers for use of extensive quotations (more than 500 words) or figures that have been previously published or submitted elsewhere.

Broad access to the research literature and the rights of our authors are important to American Psychiatric Publishing, the publisher of FOCUS. Read our public access policy for guidelines on deposit mandates for research funded by NIH and others and institutional repositories.

All forms of support, including drug company support, must be acknowledged in the author’s footnote (see Acknowledgments). Also, authors must disclose any commercial or financial involvements that might present an appearance of a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article, including but not limited to institutional or corporate affiliations not already specified in the author’s footnote, paid consultancies, stock ownership or other equity interests, and patent ownership. As for all American Psychiatric Association CME activities, this information will be printed in the journal as statement of disclosure.

Ethical and legal considerations require careful attention to the protection of a patient’s anonymity. Identifying information such as names, initials, hospital numbers, and dates should be disguised.

All papers are reviewed by impartial experts to determine the originality, validity, and importance of content and conclusions.


Submission of Manuscripts

Manuscripts may be submitted via e-mail attachment to kmoeller@psych.org. Please indicate that the attachment is a manuscript intended for publication in FOCUS. For manuscripts submitted by regular mail, three copies of the manuscript and a computer disk containing the manuscript should be submitted to Deborah J. Hales, M.D., Co-Editor, FOCUS: Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry, 1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825, Arlington, Va. 22209-3901; (703) 907-7300. A notation on the disk should specify the file name, word processing software, and the type of computer used. Papers should be accompanied by a cover letter indicating that the paper is intended for publication.

Types of Articles

Reviews are comprehensive, scholarly articles that bring together existing knowledge on a clinical topic important to practicing general psychiatrists. A key (but not exclusive) objective is to review developments from the past 5 years and discuss how they integrate into the existing body of knowledge. The following sections should be included in Clinical Review articles: Abstract, Definition, Epidemiology and Natural History, Biopsychosocial Underpinnings, Assessment and Differential Diagnosis, Treatment and Outcomes, Future Directions, and four multiple-choice CME questions. Authors are encouraged to employ tables, graphics, and pithy sidebars to emphasis important points in their works. Reviews should be approximately 10,000 words.

Clinical Synthesis articles attempt to merge expert opinion with evidence-based review of current clinical practice, including diagnosis, treatment, and new developments. The intention of this section is to learn how an acknowledged expert thinks about diagnosis and treatment. Topics are based on the ABPN recertification exam topic outline, which covers general psychiatry practice. Clinical Synthesis articles should be approximately 2,500 words, including an abstract of 150 words, and should include the following sections: Clinical Context, Treatment Strategies and Evidence, Questions and Controversy, and Recommendations from the Author(s). Authors must also submit four multiple-choice CME questions based on the content of the article.

The Guest Editor and senior authors contributing to each issue will be asked to identify 4–7 recent and important evidence-based papers published on that topic. These are to be scientific papers, practice guidelines, or books and reviews that have influenced clinical practice. These articles, reprinted in FOCUS, will serve as the basis of the annual self-assessment exam which is mailed as a supplement with the fourth issue each year.

Manuscript Organization and Format

All parts of the manuscript, including quotations, references, and tables, must be double-spaced throughout. A high-quality type font is preferred. All four margins must be 1.5 inches. The manuscript should be arranged in the following order, with each item beginning a new page: 1) title page, 2) abstract, 3) text, 4) references, and 5) tables and/or figures. All pages must be numbered.


Style Specifications


Word count. The number of words in the manuscript (including abstract, text, references, tables, and figures) and the number of tables and figures should be noted in the upper right-hand corner of the title page. (To determine word equivalence for tables and figures, see Tables and Figures.)

Title. The title should be informative, declarative, and as brief as possible.

Byline. See Authorship instructions. Authors’ first names are preferred over initials. Degrees should be included after each author’s name.

Previous presentation. If the paper has been presented at a meeting, give the name of the meeting, the location, and the inclusive dates.

Location of work and address for reprints. Provide the department, institution, city, and state where the work was done. Include a full address for the author who is to receive reprint requests.

Acknowledgments. Grant support should be acknowledged in a separate paragraph and should include the full name of the granting agency and grant number. See Disclosure of Competing Interests and Financial Support. Acknowledgment of individuals should not exceed four typed lines. Drug company support of any kind must be acknowledged.

The abstract is a single paragraph of 250 words for Reviews and of 150 words for Clinical Synthesis.

Use the active voice and third person; headings and subheadings should be inserted at reasonable intervals. Footnotes to text may not be used, and summaries are usually unnecessary.

Abbreviations. Spell out all abbreviations (other than those for units of measure) the first time they are used. Idiosyncratic abbreviations should not be used.

Drugs. Generic rather than trade names of drugs should be used.

References are numbered and listed by their order of appearance in text; the text citation is followed by the appropriate reference number in parentheses. Do not arrange the list alphabetically. References in tables and figures are numbered as though the tables and figures were part of the text.

Accuracy of citation is the author’s responsibility. References should conform exactly to the original spelling, accents, punctuation, etc. Authors should be sure that all references listed have been cited in text.

Type references in the Vancouver style shown below, double-spaced throughout. List all authors; do not use “et al.” Abbreviations of journal names should conform to the style used in Index Medicus; journals not indexed there should not be abbreviated.

  • Zinbarg RE, Barlow DH, Liebowitz M, Street L, Broadhead E, Katon W, Roy-Byrne P, Lepine J-P, Teherani M, Richards J, Brantley PJ, Kraemer H: The DSM-IV field trial for mixed anxiety-depression. Am J Psychiatry 1994; 151:1153–1162

  • Beahrs JO: The cultural impact of psychiatry: the question of regressive effects, in American Psychiatry After World War II: 1944–1994. Edited by Menninger RW, Nemiah JC. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Publishing, 2000, pp 321–342

  • Burrows GD, Norman TR, Judd FK, Marriott PF: Short-acting versus long-acting benzodiazepines: discontinuation effects in panic disorders. J Psychiatr Res 1990; 24(suppl 2):65–72

Authors are encouraged to supplement the article with tables. A double-spaced table equals 100 words of text; one that fills one-half of a horizontal page equals 150 words. A copy of each table must be attached to each copy of the manuscript. Copies of tables should also be provided on the computer disk submitted.

Tables should be double-spaced, no wider than 120 typewriter characters (including spaces), and no longer than 70 lines. Values expressed in the same unit of measurement should read down, not across; when percentages are presented, the appropriate numbers must also be given.

FOCUS encourages the submission of high-quality figures. They should be made as visually appealing as possible. Multiple figures for the same article should be prepared as a set, consistent across all figures. The cost of publishing all illustrations is borne by FOCUS.

A figure that fills one-half of a vertical manuscript page equals 100 words of text; one that fills one-half of a horizontal page equals 150 words. A copy of each figure, and an original of each photograph, must be attached to each copy of the manuscript. If possible, figures in accepted manuscripts should be sent as high-resolution .eps or .tif files.


Processing of Accepted Manuscripts

Manuscripts are accepted with the understanding that the Editors and the editorial staff have the right to make revisions aimed at greater conciseness, clarity, and conformity with FOCUS style. Papers will be edited and sent to the corresponding author for corrections and answers to editorial queries. Authors who will be away from their offices for a long period or who change address should inform FOCUS staff.

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