PHIRN: Population Health Improvement Research Network

Working Paper Submission Guidelines

smaller text tool iconmedium text tool iconlarger text tool icon


The working papers series is designed to facilitate exchange of results and to encourage discussion of concepts, practices, and policies in applied health. This series provides a way to disseminate well-written, but not yet published, reports of research. It is also a way to make research conducted by affiliated community members accessible to a wider audience.


Members, affiliates, and staff from the co-sponsoring networks are eligible to submit a working paper for review. Teams from research projects receiving funding from any of the co-sponsoring networks are also asked to submit a working paper (This does not apply to non-research projects such as workshops, etc).


Papers are accepted in either English or French.


É/Exchange is now requesting a standard format for working paper submissions. We have wrestled with the variety of formats sent to us by contributors and have come to a decision to set uniform requirements. This does not mean we are inflexible. If you have a strong need to submit in a different format than what is requested here, please contact the editor in advance of submission, tell us what you are considering and why, and we’ll see what we can work out.

Provide us with:

  • An abstract (150-300 words, 1 page maximum)
  • Author names and affiliations
  • Corresponding Author contact information
  • Acknowledgements/Disclaimers as necessary
  • Reference list
  • Optional: A page of take-home messages for our Knowledge Broker to consult when she creates the Knowledge Exchange Summaries. These would be bullets or a brief note describing why this work is important, and what key messages should be disseminated to practitioners/ policy makers or other target audiences. The Knowledge Broker will work without it, but it does help ensure that the summaries will disseminate the message you intend.

Please use regular Word formatting (either doc or docx is fine). Do not apply any special formatting, borders or templates. This makes it difficult for us to reformat into our own template. Please double space your submission.

Please make your writing reader-friendly and use plain language principles whenever possible. We are a multi-disciplinary information hub, with decision maker, community partner and academic readers. Limit both jargon and acronyms. Enhanced readability will make your work more publishable in other venues as well.

Have someone else proof read your paper
before submission. We all miss our own writing errors after looking at a document over and over again. Try to find someone known for their knowledge of spelling and grammar in the language in which you are submitting. Use of word processor spell check and grammar functions is not sufficient. If there are too many spelling and grammar mistakes, the paper will be returned to the author for fixing before being sent out to a reviewer.


  • Minimum: 1,600 words, not including abstract and references.
  • Maximum: 16,000 words, not including abstract and references.
  • 5,000-10,000 words are ideal.

Short commentary pieces and research briefs need to be tightly focused. Research briefs should not just be a summary of research, but highlight something important about it. Commentary pieces on important issues should contain new insight or opinion, and need to be well-argued, showing opposing positions as well as those of the writer(s).

Standard formatting requirements for all kinds of papers except technical funder/government reports are those of American Psychological Association (APA) style and can be found in The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition, American Psychological Association. (making sure you are not using the uncorrected version). Other links for pdfs of the main components of citations within text and reference lists are and . However, for information on captions for tables and figures, please check the actual style manual. Specific headings can be modified to meet your needs (e.g., if you will be aiming a version of this paper towards a specific journal in the future that requires different headings than APA requests, if you are writing a literature-based discussion paper, etc.). Use of footnotes is strongly discouraged as per APA guidelines. Footnotes are distracting and break up the flow of an article. If something is important enough to mention, put it in the text or, in the case of references, in the reference list. Otherwise, consider leaving it out.

Technical funder/government reports
are requested to follow the 1:3:25 CHSRF reader-friendly report writing guidelines, particularly in terms of length and general organization. Specific headings within these sections can be modified to the needs of your report. Appendices are allowable, using a restrained, judicious eye. Again, use of footnotes is strongly discouraged.This common format is the one already required by many funders, including CIHR and various government partners.

Authors must also be willing to liaise with the PHIRN Knowledge Broker who will develop a two-page, glossy, plain language summary of the paper with the intent of increasing knowledge exchange of Ontario applied health research. Authors are given final approval of the summary document plus electronic copies of these documents for their own dissemination purposes.


Peer Review: Working papers are peer reviewed by two readers: the series editor and an anonymous reviewer who is a member of one of the co-sponsoring AHRNI networks. The latter reviewer is matched to the paper in terms of language, content area and/or methods expertise. The editor will request changes to be made prior to publication. This level of review is primarily for quality assurance/control purposes.

Time Lines: Working papers may be submitted at any time.

Access: The working papers are accessible from the PHIRN website, as downloadable pdfs. The project abstracts and summary document will also be posted and interlinked. Both will be available in French and English.

Journal Publication: Usually a working paper is somewhat different than a subsequent publication in a peer reviewed journal as it is modified, shortened, or uses less preliminary data. However, authors planning to publish the exact same manuscript later in a peer-reviewed journal should check with the journal(s) of interest. Many journals do not mind if a manuscript has been previously been published as a working paper, but some do.

Simultaneous Submission: We will not accept papers currently under review with another journal or series. We will not accept papers that will be submitted simultaneously to us and another journal or series. If you submit something to us, you must be willing to have it published by us. Otherwise, it is unfair to our reviewers and staff if a work already in progress is pulled from production because a different market accepts it first.

Copyright: The copyright of the working paper documents rests with the authors.

Editor (s): Dr. Lynne M MacLean, University of Ottawa.

For further information

Please contact Lynne M MacLean, PhD., Editor, É/Exchange Working Paper Series, and Research Specialist, Réseau de recherches d'amélioration de la santé des population/ Population Health Improvement Research Network RRASP|PHIRN, University of Ottawa, 1118C, 451 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8M5.

Tel: (613) 562-5800, ext. 8024
Fax: (613) 562-5658
email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 November 2012 08:47 )