Review Guidelines

Healthcare Policy accepts manuscripts for review that address health services, management and policy issues that are relevant to the international context. The peer review process includes both academic and decision-maker reviewers, and considers both the scientific quality of the work and relevance to knowledge that can inform health policy, planning and management.

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Types of Articles

Submissions can be made for these editorial departments.

Research Papers should be approximately 3,500 words (12-15 typewritten, double-spaced pages) inclusive of figures and tables. Submissions must include an abstract (maximum 150 words). We encourage, but do not require, the use of a structured abstract, e.g. based on CONSORT guidelines. From the abstract, readers should be able to answer the questions: what is already known on the subject in question, what approach was taken by the authors, and what this study adds. Note: Manuscripts that present the results of systematic reviews should be accompanied by the protocol used by the authors to conduct the review unless that information is provided in the body of the manuscript. 

Authors are expected to be familiar with, and to follow, established guidelines for reporting the results of various types of research (see for example). The rationale for any deviation from established guidelines should be clearly explained in the cover letter to the authors. In addition, the conclusions expressed in the paper should be clearly justified based on the results of the research.

Where research results focus on data from a particular setting (e.g. a local geographical area), the broader implications of the study should be clearly outlined in the discussion. Unless a study is focusing on historical questions or trends, it is expected that up-to-date data will be used in any analysis. Authors should specifically justify the use, and on-going relevance of findings based on, data that are 3 or more years old at the time that the study is submitted for publication.

The journal’s readership is broad. Sufficient contextual information (e.g. regarding relevant health policies) should be provided to enable interpretation of the results of a study by readers from different geographical areas or disciplines.

Knowledge Translation, Linkage and Exchange provides a forum for knowledge translation (KT) case studies and studies of the effectiveness of KT strategies. Case study submissions should be a maximum of 2,000 words, exclusive of abstract and references. Submission must include an abstract of no more than 100 words with key messages incorporated, a brief statement of background and context, a description of the KT initiative, a presentation of results (including challenges that arose and how they were addressed) and a discussion of lessons learned, highlighting those that are potentially transferable to other topics and settings. 

Data Matters presents brief, focused papers that report analyses of health administrative or survey data that shed light on significant health services and policy issues. Submissions to Data Matters should be a maximum of 1,500 words, exclusive of abstract (maximum 100 words, with key messages incorporated), references, and should include no more than three tables or figures.

The Discussion and Debate section of Healthcare Policy / Politiques de Santé offers a forum for essays and commentaries that address: 1) important health policy or health system management issues; or 2) critical issues in health services and policy research. Submissions should be a maximum of 2,000 words exclusive of abstract (maximum 100 words, with key messages incorporated) and no more than 20 references. 

Health Technology Briefs provides a forum for brief reports of health technology assessments and policy analyses that can inform Canadian health policy development and health system management. Submissions from health technology assessment organizations or researchers working in other settings should be no more than 1,500 words, exclusive of up to two tables and 10 references and an abstract (maximum 100 words, with key messages incorporated).

Double-blind Review
The journal employs the double-blind peer review process, where both reviewers and authors remain anonymous throughout the review process.

Criteria for Publication
In considering papers for inclusion in the journal, editors consider factors such as the fit with the mandate of the journal, the unique contributions made by the paper both in terms of advancing knowledge and in terms of meeting the priority information needs of decision makers in the health sector, the nature of the methods used and study conducted, and conformance with published guidelines for authors. We encourage our authors to follow the Sex and Gender Equity in Research - SAGER - guidelines and to consider sex and gender matters in their studies, where relevant. Article titles and/or abstracts should indicate clearly what sex(es) the study applies to. Authors should also describe in the background, where relevant, whether sex and/or gender differences may be expected; report how sex and gender were accounted for in the design of the study; provide disaggregated data by sex and gender, where appropriate; and discuss respective results. If a sex and gender analysis was not conducted, when it reasonably could have been, the rationale should be given in the Discussion.

Specifically, for a manuscript to be published in Healthcare Policy, it must meet the following criteria:

1.    Originality
2.    Relevance
3.    Significance
4.    Generalizability
5.    Clarity
6.    Contribution to the Target Topic.


Reviewers are asked to make one of the following recommendation:
1.    Accept as is with minor editing
2.    Accept with minor revisions
3.    Revise and resubmit
4.    Reject

Timely Review
Publication of manuscripts in a timely fashion benefits both the authors and the health policy community at large. Reviewers are therefore kindly asked to complete their reviews within one month. If more time is needed, reviewers should contact the editor promptly.

Honest and Polite
After each round of the review, review reports are sent to the author(s) and all reviewers of the manuscript under consideration, possibly edited for house style. It is important for a reviewer to be honest and considering when providing comments. Review reports with opinions expressed in a kind and constructive way will more effectively persuade the authors on the merit of the review.

Writing the Review
The purpose of the review is to provide the editors with an expert’s opinions on the quality of the manuscript under consideration. A good review report should identify both the strengths and weaknesses of the paper and should also provide constructive and specific comments on how to improve the paper. If the reviewer believes that the paper is not suitable for publication in Healthcare Policy, the review report should provide brief but sufficient information that enables the editors and author(s) to understand the reasons for the reviewer’s recommendation.

Suggested Format
The following format is suggested for preparing the report:

  1. Summary and Recommendation
What is the purpose of the paper? Is the paper appropriate for publication in Healthcare Policy? What are the main contributions of the paper? Are the contributions sufficiently significant? Are the methods or findings sufficiently novel? How relevant are the results to policy or management? What are the major weaknesses of the paper? What is your recommendation for this paper and why? If the paper is unacceptable in its present form, does it show sufficient potential to ask the author(s) for resubmission?

  2. Detailed Comments on Methodology and Conclusions
Is the method or approach valid? Is the execution correct? Does the paper provide adequate acknowledgement of prior research? Do the results answer the research question? Do the data support the conclusions? If not, what other data are needed? Does the paper offer enough details so that the research could be reproduced? Should the authors be asked to provide supplementary methods or data online?
It would be very helpful to provide page numbers to the parts of the paper to which the comments apply.

  3. Detailed Comments on Readability
Is the title appropriate? Is the abstract an accurate and useful summary of the paper? Is the paper clearly written? If not, how can it be improved? Can the paper be shortened? Are the tables and figures easy to understand? Does the paper contain typographical or grammatical errors?
Again, it will be helpful to provide page numbers to the parts of the paper to which the comments apply.


Reviewers should treat the contents of the manuscript under review as strictly confidential, not to be disclosed to others prior to publication. A reviewer should not use or share with others material from a manuscript he/she has reviewed. Nor should a reviewer distribute copies of a manuscript under review, unless it has been made public.

Conflicts of Interest

Reviewers must disclose to editors any conflicts of interest that could bias their opinions of the manuscript, and they should disqualify themselves from reviewing specific manuscripts if such a conflict exists. Reviewers must not use knowledge of the work, before its publication, to further their own interests.