Journal of Advanced Nursing

Cover image for Vol. 72 Issue 11

Edited By: Editor-in-Chief: Roger Watson; Editors: Robyn Gallagher, Mark Hayter, Jane Noyes, Rita Pickler & Brenda Roe

Impact Factor: 1.917

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2015: 8/114 (Nursing (Social Science)); 10/116 (Nursing (Science))

Online ISSN: 1365-2648

Systematic review or other type of review paper

Last updated: November 2015

JAN publishes high quality qualitative, quantitative and mixed method systematic reviews, systematic methodological, economic and policy reviews, realist and integrative reviews, of relevance to nursing. Authors should demonstrate the appropriate choice and use of methodology for a specific review question or context.

Manuscripts should not exceed 5,000 words for the main text, excluding the abstract, summary statement, tables and references. However, at the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief, a more flexible approach to the word limit may be approved for reviews of exceptional quality and importance. Authors who anticipate that their review requires more than 5,000 words to adhere to international reporting standards should first make maximum use of supplemental online files (see Supporting Information), and then outline the reason for requiring additional words in the main text in their cover letter Additional flexibility with the word count will be considered on a case by case basis.

Authors should also consider page length even if the text of their paper is under 5,000 words. Very long or numerous tables and figures are not compatible with the page allowance that is available for any single issue of the print journal. Please make maximum use of supplemental online files (see Supporting Information). Look at some examples of review papers in recent issues of JAN to see how tables can be formatted using space economically. If appropriate contact the Editor for advice about designing tables of included studies for the print journal.

Organising your manuscript:

Separate files to be created and uploaded onto ScholarOne Manuscripts:

Title Page
Your title page should include the following information:

• Full title (maximum 25 words)
• Running head
• Author details: names (please put last names in CAPITALS), job titles and affiliations (maximum of 3 per author), qualifications (maximum of 3 per author, including RN/RM where appropriate)
• Acknowledgements (if applicable)
Conflict of Interest statement
Funding Statement

The title should begin with a descriptor that best describes the type of review, such as: ‘Systematic review:’, ‘Quantitative Systematic review:’, ‘Qualitative Systematic Review’, ‘Meta-analysis’, 'Integrative review'.

In general we do not include country names in published articles and therefore encourage you to omit these from your manuscript title.

Impact Statement
We ask all authors to prepare a short statement (approximately 100 words), using bullet points if necessary, on any impact you see your paper having in terms of patients, clinical practice, education, or wider social and economic issues. This will be seen by editors and reviewers and may be used for promotional purposes.

Main file, to include:

Abstract: 250 words. The abstract should include the following headings: Aims (of the paper), Background, Design, Data Sources (include search dates), Review Methods, Results, Conclusion. The abstract should not contain abbreviations or detailed statistics. The Aim should simply state: ‘To…'
Summary Statement: Please see the Summary Statement guidelines.
Keywords: A maximum of 10. Should include 'literature review' and other MeSH headings appropriate for the specific review, such as ‘systematic review’, as well as nurses/midwives/nursing and subject-specific keywords.
Main Text: To include the headings below and references.

Tables and figures should be uploaded separately.

The main text of your paper should include the following headings and sub-headings:

Include rationale, conceptual or theoretical context, and international relevance of topic.

Present the scientific, conceptual or theoretical framework that guided the review, identifying and providing an overview of the conceptual model and/or theory where appropriate. Identify key concepts or variables.

Include research topic/objectives/questions/hypothesis(es): for example, ‘The aim of the (type) review was to…’.

Structure the review question(s) as appropriate for the review type.
The review design should be the most appropriate for the review question. Identify type of review and describe design and methods used in detail (e.g. meta-ethnography, Cochrane intervention review, realist synthesis etc). Report original methodological sources of reference for the review design and methods. Report processes and steps used and any methodological adaptations/deviations (if any) with supporting rationale.
Search methods
Include: Development, testing and choice of search strategies (consider using a supplemental information file to report searches), inclusion/exclusion criteria, databases searched, keywords, languages and inclusive dates of the literature searched
Search outcome
Search outcome and audit trail - application of inclusion/exclusion criteria, retrieval and selection of references and handling. Summarise included studies (and, if appropriate, excluded studies) in separate tables.
Quality appraisal
Please note that for most systematic review approaches quality appraisal is mandatory and considered the primary marker of a systematic review. Include a description of approaches used, outcome of appraisal process and audit of discarded studies. Make clear the criteria that were used for discarding studies. If quality appraisal was not undertaken provide a convincing and robust explanation, and in the limitations section outline the potential impact on the credibility of the review findings. JAN is less likely to publish reviews where quality appraisal of evidence is considered important but was not undertaken.
Data abstraction
Describe the methods and process(es).
Include clear description of process(es) used.


Present the results of your review using appropriate subheadings outlined here and adhere to relevant standard(s) of reporting (e.g. PRISMA for systematic review of RCTs, or RAMESES publication standards for realist syntheses and meta-narrative reviews). Include a flow diagram illustrating the flow of literature through the review. Review methods that involve multiple methodological stages/processes should report the outcome of each stage/process. If appropriate, identify the conceptual or theoretical context of each definition or discussion of the concept found in the literature.


Draw out the applicability, theoretical and practical implications of the review findings. End with limitations and strength and generalisability/transferability of the evidence.


This should not be a summary/repetition of the findings. Clarify the contribution of the review to existing knowledge, highlight gaps in knowledge and understanding, outline future research, report implications/recommendations for practice/research/education/management as appropriate, and consistent with the limitations. If appropriate, consider whether one or more theoretical frameworks could guide future research about the topic of the review.

Links to useful resources
Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG, The PRISMA Group (2009) Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: The PRISMA Statement. PLoS Med 6(7) -

Centre for Reviews and Dissemination

Cochrane Collaboration

The Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre)

Joanna Briggs Institute

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Social Care Institute for Excellence

RAMESES Publication Standards for Realist Syntheses

RAMESES Publication Standards for Meta-narrative Reviews

Reporting meta-ethnography

Guidelines for reporting non complex qualitative evidence syntheses

Rapid Evidence Assessment