Future Healthcare Journal instructions for authors

Types of article we publish

NEW: short QI reports: This concise format is specifically targeted at doctors in training and other professionals to help them report their learning and support others to do similar work. Please submit under the category of 'original article' and preface your title 'QI short report'.

Rapid reports relating to COVID-19: Both FHJ and Clinical Medicine and are prioritising the rapid peer review and publication of short reports that share innovative practice helping teams and trusts to meet the demands placed on them by the COVID-19 pandemic. The scopes of the two journals are distinct yet complementary.

For Clinical Medicine, with regard to COVID-19, we aim to publish content themed around:

  • clinical impact of the disease, both now and in future phases
  • new ways of working post-COVID-19: data-led pieces on how clinical behaviour/services are being shaped by the pandemic.

FHJ aims to publish content describing COVID-19-driven changes to service that are innovative, likely to be sustainable or inform long-term healthcare delivery.

If you have any queries about which journal your article is best suited to, please contact us on FHJ@rcplondon.ac.uk and we will respond swiftly. The journal editors may redirect articles between the journals if they find it appropriate, keeping the authors informed.

Article format is flexible (although you may like to consider a structure such as 'problem, potential solution, results so far, further evaluation, potential future'). Please select ‘Original article’ when uploading your paper to the submission system and preface your title ‘COVID-19 rapid report’.

Prospective authors are free to share any findings or data on COVID-19 (with colleagues, public health authorities, or on preprint servers) in advance of or during submission and this will not affect publication in the journal.

Original research: Papers reporting and analysing original data derived from systematised research methods with the aim of testing a hypothesis. Articles should not usually exceed 3,000 words (excluding tables, figure legends and references) and 40 references, with figures and tables as required. Please submit under the category of 'Original article'.

Research letters: Shorter pieces of original research, not of sufficient substance to be published as full papers, but which nonetheless have merit and are of interest and use to the readership. Articles should not usually exceed 1,500 words (excluding tables, figure legends and references) and 15 references, with figures and tables as required. Please submit under the category of 'Original article' with the prefix to your title of 'Research letter'.

Reviews: Papers synthesising the results and conclusions of previously published research. Articles should not usually exceed 3,000 words (excluding tables, figure legends and references) and 80 references, with figures and tables as required. 

Opinion: Papers in which a topic of interest is discussed from a particular viewpoint, or in which avenues for future research are suggested. Articles should not usually exceed 2,000 words (excluding tables, figure legends and references) and 10 references, with figures and tables as required.  

Case studies: Papers describing examples of innovative practice and their outcomes. Articles should not usually exceed 1,500 words (excluding tables, figure legends and references) and 15 references, with figures and tables as required. 

Letters to the editor: Readers who disagree with or would like to expand on published articles are encouraged to submit a letter to the editor. Letters should not usually exceed 350 words in length. 

If word count is likely to significantly exceed the guidelines given above, please contact the editorial office (FHJ@rcplondon.ac.uk) for advice prior to submission.

How should I prepare my article?

How to structure your article

Original research, meta-analysis, quality improvement and case studies: Future Healthcare Journal advises that you refer to the following standard reporting guidelines for different types of study design:
  • Randomised controlled trials: CONSORT
  • Observational studies (cohort/case control): STROBE
  • Qualitative research: COREQ
  • Quality improvement papers: SQUIRE 2.0
  • Economic evaluations: CHEERS
  • Systematic reviews and meta-analysis: PRISMA
Short QI reports should follow the following structure:
  • Summary/abstract (80 words)
  • Introduction (200 words)
  • Method (200 words)
  • Results (300 words)
  • Discussion (150 words)
  • Conclusion (50 words)
  • References (7-10 Max)
For detailed guidance on what should be covered in each section of a short QI report, and a preview of the format, refer here.
Case studies should follow the following structure:
  • Introduction (around 200 words): details of the context (eg hospital size and type, type of service, patient demographics) and the specific challenge faced.
  • Solution/methodology (around 300 words): a concise summary of the innovation being trialled, including staffing details, funding, partner organisations involved, and study design where relevant.
  • Outcome (around 300 words and up to two graphs/tables): where possible, this should include quantitative results.
  • Conclusion and next steps (around 300 words): a critical discussion of the success of the trial and next steps (such as further testing or extension).
Reviews and opinion articles
Please use subheadings to divide up the manuscript for the ease of the reader and ensure that these provide useful signposting for a reader scanning the article. Most articles should include a background/introduction section and a conclusions section. 

Patient and carer involvement

Appropropriate patient and carer involvement should be considered both when designing a study/project and when writing your article. You will be asked to outline how you have done this during the submission process.

Our draft patient involvement charter is available here.

How to format your article

General points
All submissions must be written in English (using British English spelling), submitted as MS Word files (.doc or .docx). All main manuscript files should be anonymised and contain no author information.
An abstract of no more than 150 words and at least three keywords must be included for all submissions.
Jargon should be avoided where possible, and all abbreviations (apart from universally recognised terms such as GP or NHS) should be defined at the first instance.
The author is responsible for obtaining written permission to reproduce figures previously published elsewhere; please contact the editorial office (FHJ@rcplondon.ac.uk) if you require assistance with this process.
The following figure formats are accepted: TIFF, PNG, JPEG. 
All figures must be referred to in the text and legends should be brief and listed at the bottom of the main text. Where necessary, figures should be labelled clearly using lowercase letters and separately described in the figure legend.
The author is responsible for obtaining written permission to reproduce tables and/or boxes previously published elsewhere; please contact the editorial office (FHJ@rcplondon.ac.uk) if you require assistance with this process.
Tables should include a short, one-line title in bold text.
Essential descriptive material should be briefly listed below the table/box, followed by the definition of all abbreviations used in the table in alphabetical order in the following format: 
      ADH = additional duty hours; BPT = best practice tariff; EQ-5D = EuroQol 5-dimensional outcomes questionnaire; FT = foundation trust; RMC = referral management centre.
Please refer to the article types listed above for restrictions on the number of references.
References should appear in the text as superscript numbers, set after the punctuation, and numbered in order of appearance. Do not duplicate references; if the same reference is used multiple times, the same reference number should be utilised. Please remove linked fields such as those produced by EndNote prior to submission. Only articles published or submitted to a named journal should be included; communications or papers in preparation should be referred to in the text only.
In the reference list, authors should be listed surname first, followed by the initials of given names. List the names of up to five authors; where there are more than five authors, list the first three only, followed by et al. Journal titles should be abbreviated to the style of Index Medicus. Some examples are given below:
  1. Walters L, Greenhill J, Richards J et al. Outcomes of longitudinal integrated clinical placements for students, clinicians and society. Med Educ 2012;46:1028–41.
  2. Horton R. Second Opinion: Doctors, diseases and decisions in modern medicine. London: Granta Books, 2003.
  3. Greenaway D (chair). Securing the future of excellent patient care: Final report of the independent review. London: GMC, 2013.
  4. McDonald J. Shared decision making. In: Wheeler D, Wong H, Shaley T (eds), Future patient care, 2nd edn. London: Springer, 2014:467–81.
The accuracy of the references is the responsibility of the author.
Future Healthcare Journal advises that authors publish lengthy tables and full datasets as supplementary material. The main article should still have coherence without the supplementary material.