Guidelines for Authors on Preparing Manuscripts

General Policies

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

Manuscripts are accepted for consideration by The American Journal of Psychiatry with the understanding that they represent original material, have not been published previously, are not being considered for publication elsewhere, and have been approved by each author. Any form of publication other than an abstract of no more than 400 words constitutes prior publication. This includes components of symposia, proceedings, transactions, books (or chapters), invited articles, or reports of any kind, regardless of differences in readership, as well as electronic databases of a public nature. (Clinical trial registration does not constitute prior publication and will not preclude consideration for publication in the Journal.)

Authors submitting manuscripts containing data or clinical observations already used in published papers or used in papers that are in press, submitted for publication, or to be submitted shortly should provide this information and copies of those papers to the Editor. An explanation of the differences between the papers should be included. You should send your Certification of Authorship, Disclosure of Conflict of Interest and Financial Support, and Copyright Transfer Forms in by mail or fax ONLY after you have been notified that your article has been provisionally accepted for publication.

The American Journal of Psychiatry requires, as a condition of consideration for publication, registration of clinical trials in a public trials registry. Trials must be registered at or before the onset of patient enrollment. For this purpose, a clinical trial is defined as any research project that prospectively assigns human subjects to intervention or comparison groups to study the cause-and-effect relationship between a medical intervention and a health outcome. Studies designed for other purposes, such as to study pharmacokinetics or major toxicity (for example, phase I trials), would be exempt. The Journal does not advocate one particular registry, but requires authors to register their trial in a registry that meets several criteria. The registry must be accessible to the public at no charge. It must be open to all prospective registrants and managed by a not-for-profit organization. There must be a mechanism to ensure the validity of the registration data, and the registry should be electronically searchable.

An acceptable registry must include at minimum the following information: a unique identifying number, a statement of the intervention (or interventions) and comparison (or comparisons) studied, a statement of the study hypothesis, definitions of the primary and secondary outcome measures, eligibility criteria, key trial dates (registration date, anticipated or actual start date, anticipated or actual date of last follow-up, planned or actual date of closure to data entry, and date trial data considered complete), target number of subjects, funding source, and contact information for the principal investigator. To our knowledge, at present, only www.clinicaltrials.gov, sponsored by the United States National Library of Medicine, meets these requirements; there may be other registries, now or in the future, that meet all these requirements. Registration information must be provided in the cover letter at submission.

All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for the content. The corresponding author affirms that he or she had access to all data from the study, both what is reported and what is unreported, and also that he or she had complete freedom to direct its analysis and its reporting, without influence from the sponsors. The corresponding author also affirms that there was no editorial direction or censorship from the sponsors. Preparation of drafts of manuscripts by employees of the sponsor who are not listed as authors is expressly prohibited.

Authorship credit should be based on

1) Substantial contributions to conception and design or analysis and interpretation of data.
2) Substantial contributions to drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content.
3) Final approval of the version to be published.

Conditions 1, 2, and 3 must ALL be met. Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or the collection of data does not justify authorship. General supervision of the research group is also not sufficient. Any part of an article critical to its main conclusions must be the responsibility of at least one author.

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. (Because readers may infer endorsement of the data and conclusions, all persons acknowledged must give written permission for their contribution to be noted in print. It is the corresponding author’s responsibility to obtain written permission.) Editors will require authors to justify the assignment of authorship.

Disclosure of financial relationships is required at the time of submission and provisional acceptance of all manuscripts, including regular articles, editorials, reviews, book reviews, Treatment in Psychiatry submissions, clinical case conferences, and letters to the Editor. The authors are responsible for informing the Journal of any additional financial relationships that may arise prior to the date of publication of their paper. Financial support for the study is always disclosed, whether from governmental, nonprofit, or commercial sources. Nonfinancial forms of support, such as drugs, analytic support, or other assistance with preparation of the manuscript, must also be acknowledged. All authors must individually disclose all financial relationships, whether or not directly related to the subject of their paper. Such reporting must include all equity ownership, profit-sharing agreements, royalties, patents, and research or other grants from private industry or closely affiliated nonprofit funds. For income from pharmaceutical companies, the purpose must be specified, e.g., speakers bureau honoraria or other CME activity, travel funds, advisory panel payments, or research grants. Reporting should encompass the previous 36 months. If an author has no interests to disclose, this must be explicitly stated and will be acknowledged in print as “Dr. X reports no financial relationships with commercial interests.”

The Editors will review all author statements of financial support to determine if there is evidence of bias from these sources. If it appears that there may be, then further review and possible rejection of the manuscript may occur. Authors are encouraged to contact the Editor at any stage in the manuscript review process if they believe that they have relationships that require review.

The Journal requires approval of manuscript submission by all authors in addition to transfer of copyright to the American Psychiatric Association so that the author(s) and the Association are protected from misuse of copyrighted material. Accepted manuscripts will not be scheduled for publication until a completed form has been received in the editorial office. It is the author’s responsibility to obtain the approval of individuals before acknowledging their assistance in the paper.

In addition, authors must obtain letters of permission from publishers and pay any fees 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 The American Journal of Psychiatry. Read our public access policy for guidelines on deposit mandates for research funded by NIH and others and institutional repositories.

Ethical and legal considerations require careful attention to the protection of a patient’s anonymity in case reports and elsewhere. Identifying information such as names, initials, hospital numbers, and dates must be avoided. Also, authors should disguise identifying information when discussing patients’ characteristics and personal history.

Manuscripts and letters to the Editor that report the results of experimental investigation and interviews with human subjects must include a statement that written informed consent was obtained after the procedure(s) had been fully explained. In the case of children, authors are asked to include information about whether the child’s assent was obtained. If your submission does not contain written informed consent or Institutional Review Board approval, it will not be reviewed.

All manuscripts receive an initial review by the Journal Editor and/or Deputy Editors to determine the originality, validity, and importance of content and conclusions. Manuscripts with insufficient priority for publication will be rejected promptly. Other manuscripts are sent for peer review. Authors will be sent reviewer comments that are judged to be useful to them. All reviewers remain anonymous. Authors are informed about the Editor’s decision after the review process is completed.


Manuscript Submission

The American Journal of Psychiatry has implemented a web-based manuscript submission and tracking system to accelerate the peer review process and shorten the time from manuscript submission to publication decision. The Journal will no longer accept manuscripts and letters by mail.

To submit your paper, please visit the manuscript submission site at Manuscript Central and either create an account or use your existing account. Then follow the instructions to upload your manuscript. All submissions must include a title page and be accompanied by a cover letter and list of suggested reviewers.

Types of Articles

Review articles are intended to bring together important information on a topic of general interest to psychiatry. This section is not intended to be a forum for the presentation of new data or meta-analyses. Review articles are usually solicited by the Editors, but we will consider unsolicited material. We rarely proceed with Review papers for which the first author is a student and has not contributed to substantive work in the field on his or her own accord. Please contact the editorial office before writing a review article for the Journal. The text cannot exceed 5,000 words with an abstract of no more than 250 words, a maximum of 5 tables and figures (total), and up to 50 references. Word count includes only the main body of text (i.e., not tables, figures, abstracts or references). Additional tables or figures can be submitted in a separate file as supplemental data for posting online. (See Supplemental Data for what types of data and formats are acceptable for posting online.)

Articles are reports of original work that embodies scientific excellence in psychiatric medicine and advances in clinical research. Typically, articles will contain new data derived from a sizable series of patients or subjects. The text cannot exceed 3,500 words which does not include an abstract of no more than 250 words, a maximum of 5 tables and figures (total), and up to 40 references. Word count includes only the main body of text (i.e., not tables, figures, abstracts or references). Additional tables can be submitted in a separate file as supplemental data for posting online. (See Supplemental Data for what types of data and formats are acceptable for posting online.)

As of May 1, 2007, the Journal no longer accepts brief reports for review. The percentage of brief reports meeting criteria for publication had been declining dramatically because this format did not permit definitive presentation of major research and clinical findings. Authors are encouraged to report their findings as concisely as possible in the regular article format.


Editorials. Editorials are primarily solicited by the Editor, but brief commentaries (500-750 words) can be submitted for consideration.

Treatment in Psychiatry. This series highlights issues in treatment that are frequently encountered, but recognized to be difficult. An idealized case vignette in a brief paragraph, inserted into a table, summarizes the clinical issue. The authorship can be single or multiple, but needs to include a senior author who has well known expertise. The author discusses the pathophysiology and psychopathology and reviews the evidence in the literature for particular treatments. The discussion should not just reiterate guidelines, but rather present the results of studies that support a therapeutic approach. The concluding paragraphs summarize what the author believes is best to do, given the available evidence and experience. Treatment in Psychiatry articles are usually solicited by the Editors, but we will consider unsolicited material. Please contact the editorial office before writing a Treatment in Psychiatry article for the Journal. The text should be limited to 3,500 words, include an abstract, and can have up to 50 references and 1 figure.

Clinical Case Conferences. Clinical case conferences are disguised accounts of the diagnosis and treatment of actual patients who present interesting problems. A critical element is that the case should have been discussed in a departmental forum. Interesting cases seen only by individuals are more suitable for letters to the Editor. Please contact the editorial office before writing a clinical case conference for the Journal. The text of clinical case conferences cannot exceed 2,000 words; the submission should lead with the case (i.e., no abstract or introduction) and can have up to 20 references.

Education in Psychiatry. Articles in this series also begin with an idealized case vignette in a brief paragraph that illustrates an important problem in clinical psychiatry. The goal of these articles is to present and evaluate methods to teach students, trainees, and other psychiatrists how to treat patients with these problems. The authorship can be single or multiple, but needs to include a senior author who has well known expertise. Education in Psychiatry articles are usually solicited by the Editors, but we will consider unsolicited material. Please contact the editorial office before writing an Education in Psychiatry article for the Journal. The text should be limited to 2,400 words with up to 20 references and 1 figure.

Perspectives in Global Mental Health. These articles describe the practice of psychiatry worldwide. The first half of the article should describe the presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of a typical patient in a specific region or country and then the second half should highlight and discuss the unique issuescultural, economic, political, or even militarythat impact treatment in that specific country or region. In almost all countries there is a mixture of medication and culturally distinct practices, use of both should be described. Patients described can be any age. Articles should be written in a style appropriate for a worldwide audience that is interested in unique problems faced by their colleagues. Authors are welcome to use phrases in their own language but they must also be defined or translated into English. The text must be limited to 1,200 words with up to 10 references. Multiple authors are acceptable but we expect the first author to be a well-recognized physician in her or his country. Prospective authors must live and practice in the country they are describing and are encouraged to contact ajp@psych.org to inquire about whether an article about their country is or is not already in progress. Interested authors are also encouraged to send citations for one or two relevant papers that they have published in their own language or in English journals.  

Images in Psychiatry. Authors may submit brief historical or contemporary snapshots of psychiatry’s practitioners or other portrayals of topics of interest to psychiatrists, such as historic buildings, manuscripts, or art, with accompanying text of 250-500 words signifying their relevance to the field today. Permission for republication of images, if not the property of the submitting author, must be obtained before submission. Original unpublished or public domain images should be sought as the Journal does not pay permission fees for reuse.

Introspections. Brief personal vignettes of experiences that have been particularly important—moments of insight or inspiration—will be considered for publication. Introspections should be limited to 1,000 words.

Letters to the Editor. Brief letters (maximum of 500 words, including references) will be considered if they include a cover letter indicating that the correspondence is “for publication.” Novel case reports and other uncontrolled observations should be submitted as Letters to the Editor. Case reports will be peer reviewed; authors must provide a list of 4 suggested reviewers and their e-mail addresses. Letters critical of an article published in the Journal must be received within 6 weeks of the article’s publication. Letters received after the deadline will not be considered for publication; those considered will be sent to the article’s corresponding author to reply on behalf of the group, which will represent the final say on the matter. No additional letters discussing an exchange published in the Journal's Letters to the Editor will be considered. Such letters must include the title and author of the article and the month and year of publication. Letters that do not meet these specifications will be returned unreviewed. Letters will be published on a space-available basis.

Book Forum. Books for review should be sent to the Book Forum Editor, American Journal of Psychiatry, 1000 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 1825, Arlington, VA 22209. Not all books received can be reviewed. Books are received with the understanding that reviewers selected by the Editor write their independent critical appraisals of the book’s content and presentation. Reprints of reviews are not available.


Manuscript Organization and Format

All parts of the manuscript or letter to the Editor, including case reports, quotations, references, and tables, must be double-spaced throughout. The manuscript should be arranged in the following order, with each item beginning a new page: 1) cover letter, 2) title page, 3) abstract, 4) text, 5) references, and 6) tables and/or figures. All pages must be numbered.

The cover letters should include statements regarding Authorship, Disclosure, and Copyright Transfer. Also, it must include a list of 4 suggested reviewers and their e-mail addresses.


Word count. The number of words in the manuscript (including abstract, text, and references) and the number of tables and figures should be noted in the upper right-hand corner of the title page. Tables and figures are no longer included in the word count.

Title. The title should be informative and as brief as possible. Journal style for titles is not to use declarative sentences.

Byline. See instructions for Authorship. 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 correspondence and reprint requests.

Disclosures and acknowledgments. In a separate paragraph, all potential conflicts of interest and financial support for all authors must be disclosed, whether or not directly related to the subject of their paper. Such reporting must include all equity ownership, profit-sharing agreements, royalties, patents, and research or other grants from private industry or closely affiliated nonprofit funds. For income from pharmaceutical companies, the purpose must be specified, e.g., speakers bureau honoraria or other CME activity, travel funds, advisory panel payments, research grants. It is the author’s responsibility to disclose anything in addition to the above that might be construed as potentially affecting the reporting of the study. If an author has no interests to disclose, this must be explicitly stated and will be acknowledged in print as “Dr. X reports no competing interests.” Drug company support of any kind must be acknowledged.

Grant support should be acknowledged in a separate paragraph and should include the full name of the granting agency and grant number.

The abstract is a single paragraph no longer than 250 words for Reviews and Overviews and Articles and no longer than 150 words for Brief Reports. All manuscripts should include structured abstracts with the following information, under the headings indicated: Objective—the primary purpose of the article; Method—data sources, subjects, design, measurements, data analysis; Results—key findings; and Conclusions— implications, future directions. If applicable, clinical trial registration information (name, number, and URL) should be listed at the end of the abstract.

The contents of the text should include four major sections: introduction, method, results, and discussion. The method section should provide a comprehensive description of the nature of the study group, methods for recruitment, measurement and evaluation techniques (including information about reliability as appropriate), and data analysis. At the end of the section describing the subjects it should be clearly stated that “After complete description of the study to the subjects, written informed consent was obtained.” Strengths and weaknesses of the study should be presented in the discussion.

Patient perspectives. As part of a new focus of presenting research in the Journal, authors are strongly encouraged to include as part of their submission a brief clinical vignette in which the experience of the trial is captured from the point of view of one or more subjects. These vignettes should not simply be a summary of a patient’s demographic and clinical characteristics, as would be included in a case report, but rather an idea of the patient’s subjective experience of participating in the study, obtained from notes or recollections of raters who performed structured clinical interviews, actual quotes from subjects, or some other mechanism. The vignettes, which should be no more than two paragraphs, will be set apart from the main body of the article in a shaded text box entitled “Patient Perspectives.”

Data analysis. Adequate description of statistical analysis should be provided, including the names of the statistical tests and whether tests were one- or two-tailed. Standard deviations, rather than standard errors of the mean, are required. Statistical tests that are not well-known should be referenced. All significant and important nonsignificant results must include the test value, degree(s) of freedom, and probability. For manuscripts that report on randomized clinical trials, authors should provide a flow diagram in CONSORT format and all of the information required by the CONSORT checklist. When word limits prevent the inclusion of some of this information in the manuscript, it should be provided in a separate document submitted with the manuscript for posting online. The CONSORT statement, checklist, and flow diagram can be found at http://www.consort-statement.org. (See Supplemental Data for what types of data and formats are acceptable for posting online.)

Abbreviations. The Journal is distributed to a broad psychiatric readership, therefore only a very small number of abbreviations are considered “standard” and thus acceptable for use. Spell out all abbreviations (other than those for units of measure) the first time they are used; idiosyncratic abbreviations should never 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. References should be restricted to closely pertinent material. Accuracy of the 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. Personal communications, unpublished manuscripts, manuscripts submitted but not yet accepted, and similar unpublished items should not appear in the reference list. Such citations may be noted in text. It is the author’s responsibility to obtain permission to refer to another individual’s unpublished observations. Manuscripts that are actually in press may be cited as such in the reference list; the name of the journal or publisher and location must be included. References to the editions of DSM should not be included in the reference list.

Type references in the Vancouver style shown below. 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.

    1. 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

    2. 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 Press, 2000, pp 321-342

    3. 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

The Journal does not publish tables that have been submitted elsewhere or previously published. Tables that duplicate material contained elsewhere in the manuscript (in text, figures, or other tables) will not be used. Authors should delete tables containing data that could be given succinctly in text. A copy of each table must be submitted with the manuscript and must be accessible for copyediting. Tables cannot be embedded within the document or provided as figure art. Authors providing tables in such a manner will be required to resubmit tables in a format that allows for copyediting. In terms of data presentation, values expressed in the same unit of measurement should read down, not across; when percentages are presented, the appropriate numbers must also be given. In preparing the tables, each cell should contain only one item of data. In rows, subcategories should be in separate cells; in columns, Ns and %s or Means and SDs should be in separate cells. For optimum readability and presentation, tables should not exceed 120 characters in width. For other guidelines, consult recent issues of the Journal.

As part of a new focus of presenting research in the Journal, all authors are encouraged to include as part of their submission a figure that summarizes the major findings of the study. The Journal encourages the submission of high-quality color figures (previously published figures are discouraged). Multiple figures for the same article should be prepared as a set, consistent in color and size across all figures.

Consult recent issues of the Journal and the following guidelines for format. A copy of each figure should be submitted with the manuscript. If accepted, figures in manuscripts should be sent as high-resolution .eps or .tif files.



    1. A copy of each figure must accompany the manuscript.

    2. Figure titles and footnotes should be provided within the text of the manuscript.

    3. If figures have been previously adapted from an earlier publication, the author must secure written permission from the holder of copyright for use in the Journal. The author should submit a copy of the permission release and credit lines if the manuscript is accepted for publication.


    1. Definitions of symbols appearing in the figure should be presented in a key within the figure, rather than in the title or footnotes.

    2. Except for the key, avoid using internal type (e.g., placing statistical values within a graph).

    3. Two-dimensional graphs should not be represented in three dimensions.


    1. Each complete figure (including titles and footnotes) should be understandable without reference to the text.

    2. Figures should represent data visually rather than numerically.

    3. If error bars are included, standard deviations, rather than standard errors of the mean, should be used.

    4. Only the most widely recognized abbreviations may be used.

    5. In a graph comparing different groups of subjects, the number of subjects in each group should appear with the name of the group—in the key, in the headings below the horizontal axis, or in the title.

    6. Ordinary footnotes should be cited with lower-case superscript letters. Footnote citations may be given in both the title and the body of the figure; within the body of the figure, they should proceed from left to right.

    7. For statistical comparisons noted in figures, provide complete statistical data in footnotes (see example). If numerous analyses are presented, simple p values may be given in the footnotes, in which case the footnotes should be indicated by single asterisk, double asterisk, etc.

The Journal now allows authors to submit supplemental data to be posted online in support of their printed articles. To be accepted for posting, supplemental material must be essential to the scientific integrity and excellence of the manuscript. The material is subject to the same editorial standards as the printed Journal and will be submitted for peer review. Supplemental material will not be formatted or edited by in-house editorial staff to the extent as performed for material appearing in the print version. The Editor may select material submitted for publication in the print version to be posted online only. The Journal will accept the following categories of supplemental data:

  • Detailed tables (up to 3) that contain data of use to other investigators. Data should be summarized in the text of the print version

  • The CONSORT table and figure for clinical trials are also appropriate for online publication only.

  • Appendices. Questionnaires, tests, checklists, etc., should be submitted as supplemental data.

Supplemental data should be uploaded in a separate file from the for-print manuscript. Please remember that the larger the file size the longer it will take users to download. For this reason, please limit your files to 10 MB. The Journal can accept the following formats:

  • Plain text (.txt)

  • HTML page (.html)

  • JPEG image (.jpg)

  • GIF image (.gif)

  • Adobe PDF (.pdf)

  • Excel spreadsheet (.xls)

  • ZIP compressed file (.zip)

  • Word document (.doc)

  • Tiff image (.tif)

  • PowerPoint presentation (.ppt)

  • Encapsulated Postscript document (.eps)

  • Mp3 file (.mp3)

  • QuickTime video

If your document type is not listed here, please contact the editorial office at ajp@psych.org. Please name your files and cite within the printed text as ST1 for tables, SF1 for figures, SR1 for references, and SA1 for appendices.


Processing of Accepted Manuscripts

Manuscripts are accepted with the understanding that the Editor and the editorial staff have the right to make revisions aimed at greater conciseness, clarity, and conformity with Journal style. Preliminary page proofs will be sent to the corresponding author. Authors who will be away from their offices for a long period or who change address after notification of acceptance should inform the Journal staff.

Reprints & Permissions
Contact the Journal Editorial Office


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