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Author guidelines

Please consult these guidelines before submitting work to the journal.

1. General advice

Before you start to write, read some articles in respected magazines and journals. Look at the way facts are presented, arguments are made and the styles of the language used. Take a close look at the style of Community Practitioner (CP) and the way articles are written. When you begin to write, start with a single sheet of paper outlining the order of your ideas and arguments. 

As you begin to think about your writing, the key questions you should bear in mind are:

  • Who am I writing for? All of those professionals who refer to themselves as community practitioners, for example, health visitors (HVs), school nurses (SNs), community nursery nurses (CNNs), district nurses, students 
  • What question am I attempting to answer or angle am I wanting to take?
  • What is the relevance of my article or paper to community practitioners/the professions/Unite-CPHVA?
  • Is my piece HV and/or SN and/or CNN centred?

It is important that you write carefully and accurately; ruthlessly removing superfluous or ambiguous words including unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. Please check your spelling, particularly unusual or scientific terms or names.

The key points to consider when you write are: 

  • Have I written the article with a view to writing for the CP journal and its readership? 
  • Is the level of argument and language used appropriate to the readership?
  • Have I answered the question I set out to discuss accurately?
  • Have I explicitly differentiated between personal belief/opinion and evidence/research-based fact?
  • Could I improve the clarity of my article by rewriting sections, or providing more or better examples?
  • Have I defined or explained unusual or novel words, terms or concepts? You may wish to use separate boxes to highlight these items.
  • Are my references up to date and have I looked extensively at the field of sources to gain evidence for the issue being discussed? 

2. Types of article/paper

Research paper

(2000-3500 words for the full online version, with approximately 2000 words for the shortened journal version, depending on tables. This shortened version will need a 150-250 words summary in four to six bullet points summarising the key ‘take-home’ messages of the research – this is included in the word count, while references are not).

CP aims to promote the dissemination, implementation and evaluation of HV/SN/CNN evidence at local, national and international levels. Papers on qualitative research, quantitative research, philosophical research, action research, systematic reviews and meta-analyses of qualitative or quantitative data are welcome. All authors are encouraged to discuss their research paper with peers or editorial staff with regard to issues of importance to the local, national and international readership.

Research papers should be arranged in the following order: introduction, study aim/purpose, method including ethical approval, results, discussion, implications and recommendations, conclusion, references and acknowledgments.

All suitable papers submitted to CP are subject to double-blind peer review to assess their academic rigour, quality and relevance to the overall aim of the journal. Referees with relevant expertise in the subject area and or methodology will be asked to provide a structured critical review of papers and reviews will be forwarded to the authors along with comments from the editors. Where necessary, papers will also be sent to members of the advisory panel for expert opinion on matters to do with for example, statistical accuracy, professional relevance or legal ramifications.

Practice features

(500, 1000, 1500 or 2000 words)

These can be descriptive articles based around the development of practice, specific clinical issues, new innovations, research – any issues relating to health visiting, school nursing and community nursery nursing.

Personal perspectives/reflections

(500 or 1000 words)

Articles expressing a personal opinion are welcome. These should include references where appropriate. If you are describing case studies, it is vital that anonymity is preserved for clients.


(150-400 words)

We encourage readers to email the editor (for example about a piece you enjoyed in the journal), however, we reserve the right to edit your feedback. Please include your position, place of work, address and email and clearly specify if your name may be published or not.


If you have any potential news stories, please contact the editor Aviva Attias at 

The above are guidelines and not strict rules. Please talk to Aviva if you wish to write an article of significantly different length. If the subject area is covered in more depth, it may be necessary to divide your article into two or more parts and run a short series.

(Note about word counts: Rather than the word count being between 500 and 1000 words – the articles should be either one or the other. Staying within 50 words of these amounts will ensure that large sections of your article are not removed.)

3. How to submit your work

Ideally text should be typed in a clear font such as Arial – minimum point size 12. Also text should be one and a half, or double spaced as this makes for ease of reading for reviewers and editors.


Material must be submitted electronically via email as a word document attachment to Aviva at  

We are able to read text files from most programs. However, if your software permits, we prefer text files to be supplied in Word format. Also, please try to avoid giving files names such as ‘article’ or ‘CPHVA’ – try to use something representative of your particular article such as the title, subject matter or your name to avoid confusion, for example: vaccinations/Jo Bloggs. Also, if you are sending in an updated draft of an article, please ensure that the file name reflects this (for example: ‘teenagepregv2.doc’).
Please do not use any form of text formatting, such as italicisation, emboldening or underlining as they will be lost in our file conversion immediately and invariable conflict with our house style. In particular, please do not try and space out words or paragraphs with multiple spaces or tabs, it is very time-consuming and error prone to remove these. All layout decisions are made by the editorial team, your work will simply be undone as soon as it is edited. Providing the text is clearly legible, a time-consuming ‘beautiful’ layout really will make no difference at all to our decision as to whether or not we accept your article. The golden rule is to keep your text layout as simple as possible. It is easier to read and takes you (and us) less time. There is one exception to this rule – see the strict guidelines on laying out references. 

Tables, diagrams or illustrations should be displayed on separate pages. Please ensure that these are all appropriately numbered and that reference is made within the text to each one that you include.

Please ensure that all pages, including those for references and appendices are numbered.

All material should be submitted with a separate title page, this must include as much of the following as possible:

  • Authors name(s) – this is the only place where your name(s) should appear, clearly indicating the corresponding author (see Appendix 1 about authorship)
  • Current appointment(s), including department and institution details
  • Correspondence/contact address
  • Daytime, evening and mobile telephone number
  • Email address
  • Date of submission and indication of article version: original, first or second amendment, as applicable. 
  • Word count


  • Only include illustrations where necessary.
  • If using or adapting illustrations from another source, it is the author’s responsibility to obtain written permission to reproduce the material and to credit it accordingly. Ask us if you require help with this.
  • Tables: please check arithmetic for numbers and/or percentages given, and give explanations for data that is missing or incomplete. If tables include response rates then the full numbers should be given on each table. 

Graphs and charts

These must be clearly labelled, and the axes on graphs made clear.


  • As with illustrations, only include where necessary
  • We can use most forms of photograph, as long as the image is clear and the resolution is high enough (300dpi or about 1MB in size). Relevant details about the image should be clearly indicated.
  • We will often use images on a particular subject from a picture library or create infographics based on the article’s content.

Line drawings, schematics and medical illustrations

These are redrawn, so hand-drawn originals are acceptable to submit. This is only possible if all label and caption lettering is clearly legible, and all representations are drawn accurately. We do not expect authors to be expert artists, but we can only redraw your illustrations if you supply unambiguous originals.

All illustrations are submitted at the owner’s risk. While we make every effort to return all illustrations, the publisher accepts no liability for loss or damage while in possession of the material.

4. References

Correct referencing is an important cornerstone of professional writing. It protects you from the criticism of plagiarism. It shows that you have investigated other author’s opinions before coming to your own conclusions. Last, but not least, it provides readers with the opportunity to check your arguments and opinions against those of others. Authors should verify references against the original documents.

CP uses an adapted Harvard style of referencing, which are uploaded onto the CP website and do not appear alongside the printed article. The name of the author and the year of publication in brackets identifies references in the text. For example: It has been suggested by Braid (2018) that there are research opportunities for health visitors on the internet.

For references with more than two authors, the first author should be used, followed by ‘et al’ and then the year. For references with two authors, both authors should be used with ‘and’ in between, followed by the year, for example: Smith and Jones (2018). If a direct quote is made, then the year should be followed by a colon and the page number, for example: Braid (2018: 31) explains some of the ways of using resources on the internet: ‘Pictures are accessed by typing key words such as “health visitor”.’

Reference listing

References are listed in alphabetical order online. If there is more than one reference with the same author(s) then these should be ordered by year. If there are still duplications then list them as ‘1995a’ and ‘1995b’ in the order in which they appear in the article’s text, where they must also be referenced in the same way, i.e. Jones (1995a) and Jones (1995b). References appear in the following formats.

References to papers

In the reference list these must include (in the following order):

  • Author’s surname, followed by a space, followed by initials, followed by a full stop (no commas between surname and initial). If there is more than one author then simply repeat the style, thus: Jones P, Pitkin J. (2009). Full stops do not appear between author’s initials. Therefore, ‘Godfrey KM’ is correct and ‘Godfrey K.M. is incorrect. Commas are used to separate authors in the list. There is no ‘and’ between the penultimate and last author (as above).
  • The year of publication in brackets.
  • Full title of the article, followed by a full stop. Make sure you follow the style of the original, some journals capitalise all initial letters, some don’t.
  • Full title of the journal, not followed by a full stop. The title should be in full and italicised.
  • Volume number, immediately followed (no space) where appropriate by issue/supplement number in brackets, thus: 4(12). This should be in bold.
  • First and last page numbers – preceded by a colon and followed by a final full stop: 21-5.

Full example:

Campbell H, Edwards A, Letley L, Bedford H, Ramsay M, Yarwood J. (2017) Changing attitudes to childhood immunisation in English parents. Vaccine 35(22): 2979-85.

Again, note that the author’s initial(s), the article title whole reference are terminated with a full stop, but the year and journal title are not. The journal’s title is followed by the volume number and where appropriate the issue number.

References to books

In the reference list these must include (in the following order):

  • Author name(s), as per articles
  • The year of publication in brackets
  • Full title of the book, as per articles. The title should be italicised
  • The edition if appropriate, for example, ‘second edition’
  • The full name of the publisher, followed by a colon
  • The place of publication. Inside the UK just the town/city, for books published overseas also include the state. Next a final full stop, or a colon if you are including page numbers
  • First and last page numbers if appropriate, followed by a full stop.

For example:

Becher H, Husain F. (2003) Supporting minority ethnic families: South Asian Hindus and Muslims in Britain: developments in family support. National Family and Parenting Institute: London: 50-3.

Note the similarities to article referencing.

References to chapters or sections in books of multiple authorship

In the reference list these must include (in this order):

  • Chapter/section author(s) name, as per articles
  • The year of publication in brackets
  • Full title of the chapter/section, as per articles except it is not terminated with a full stop, but followed by a colon, the word ‘In’ and another colon. The title should be italicised
  • The name(s) of the book editor(s), as per articles
  • Followed by ‘(Ed.).’ or ‘(Eds.).’ (note the two full stops).
  • Full title of the book; as per articles. The title should be italicised
  • The full name of the publisher, place of publication and page numbers; as per books.

For example:

Robotham A, Sheldrake D. (2005) Reflective practice: In: Robotham A, Frost M. (Eds.). Health visiting: specialist community public health nursing. Elsevier Churchill Livingstone: London. 

Note the similarities to article referencing.

References to secondary sources

Although primary sources are preferred, if you are unable to consult the original work (primary source) citing a secondary source should be acknowledged in the text as the author cited by the author of the primary source. For example: Garrigues (1902) cited in Oakley and Hood (1990) suggested that…

In the reference list these must include:

  • The full primary source reference
  • The phrase ‘Cited in:’
  • The full secondary reference source.

For example:

Garrigues HJ. (1902) A textbook of the science and art of obstetrics. Lippincott: Philadelphia. Cited in: Oakley A, Houd S. (1990) Helpers in childbirth: midwifery today. Hemisphere Publisher Corporation: US.

References to websites

In the reference list, these must include:

  • Name of site, for example: Department of Health, followed by a full stop
  • The year of publication/put on web in brackets
  • Title of guideline/booklet/report followed by a full stop
  • The word ‘See’ followed by a colon
  • The website address – without the www. if the website works without it, which are most sites now – no full stop at the end
  • The word ‘accessed’ and date in brackets followed by a full stop.

For example:

NHS Digital. (2018) Nurse and health visitor leavers by Health Education England region September 2012 to 2017. See: (accessed 13 February 2018).

5. Basic house style tips

All publications adhere to an in-house style so content remains consistent. These are just a few basic points to remember:

  • Spelling should conform to UK versions of words as opposed to US. For example, where either ‘s’ or ‘z’ can be used, please use ‘s’, such as ‘organisation’. However, if it is a registered company name, for example World Health Organization, then this is an exception.
  • Numerals one to nine should be written as a word, 10 and over typed as figures. 
  • Percentages should be written using the symbol %.
  • Full stops should not be used to indicate abbreviations, such as Unite-CPHVA, DfES. Terms should be spelt out in full when first used followed by the abbreviation in brackets.
  • Quotation marks should be single, except for quotes within quotes.
  • Capitals should not be used for words like health visitor or school nurse. 
  • Tables and figures should be numbered sequentially and labelled. 

6. Review process

All material is acknowledged and it is reviewed by the professional editor and/or a Unite lead professional officer and/or members of the CP editorial advisory board or a member of our review team to assess its suitability for publication. This process takes up to four to six weeks for articles and up to 12 weeks for research papers. The editorial team reserve the right to revise material or send it back to the author for amendments before accepting it for publication. The author may be required to revise the article on more than one occasion. 

The editorial team also reserve the right to amend material during production in accordance with house style and demands for space and layout. However, all articles are sent to authors for checking before publication. This may be several weeks after you have been informed that the article has been accepted. Corrections at this proof-reading stage should be kept to a minimum and references and quotations should be checked carefully.

7. Copyright (important to note for all contributors)

All material is accepted for publication on the understanding that it has not been published before and it is not due for publication elsewhere, and that it is the authors’ own original work. The copyright of all material accepted for publication lies with Unite-CPHVA. 

8. Where to send your article and further help

  • Have any queries about presenting your article?
  • Would like to discuss an idea for a potential article?
  • Need help to start writing?
  • Need help to condense a longer piece of work into a suitable length for publication?

The editorial team will be delighted to answer any questions that you may have. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Aviva Attias, Editor – 

Appendix 1

Authorship (particularly for research papers)

All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content. One or more authors should take responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole, from inception to published article. Authorship credit should be based only on: 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or 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. Conditions 1, 2, and 3 must all be met.

Acquisition of funding, the collection of data, or general supervision of the research group, by themselves, do not justify authorship. All others who contributed to the work who are not authors should be named in the acknowledgments, and what they did should be described. Increasingly, authorship of multi-centre trials is attributed to a group. All members of the group who are named as authors should fully meet the above criteria for authorship. Group members who do not meet these criteria should be listed, with their permission, in the acknowledgments or in an appendix. The order of authorship on the byline should be a joint decision of the co-authors. Authors should be prepared to explain the order in which authors are listed.

All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship, such as a person who provided purely technical help, writing assistance, or a department chair who provided only general support, should be listed. Financial and material support should also be acknowledged. Groups of persons who have contributed materially to the paper, but whose contributions do not justify authorship may be listed under a heading such as ‘clinical investigators’ or ‘participating investigators’, and their function or contribution should be described – for example, ‘served as scientific advisors’, ‘critically reviewed the study proposal’, ‘collected data’, or ‘provided and cared for study patients’.

Because readers may infer their endorsement of the data and conclusions, all persons must have given written permission to be acknowledged.

(Adapted from: International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. (1997)
Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. Ann
Intern Med 126: 36-47.)

Image credit | pexels


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