Guide for Authors


  • To facilitate a smooth submission process for both authors and editorial staff, Practical Radiation Oncology has assembled the following author guidelines. For clarification on the policies listed below, or general questions regarding submissions, please contact the PRO editorial office at (703) 502-1550 or pro@astro.org.

    I. Introduction to Practical Radiation Oncology

    II. Electronic Submissions and Correspondence

    III. Journal Policies

    A. Human and Animal Experimentation

    B. Conditions of Publication

    C. Copyright Transfer

    D. Conflicts of Interest and Disclosure

    E. Permissions

    F. Authorship Criteria

    G. Publication Ethics and Misconduct

    H. Peer Review: Double-Blind

    I. Online Publication

    IV. Journal Style & Guidelines

    A. Types of Submissions
    1. Editorials
    2. Critical Reviews
    3. Correspondence
    4. Special Articles
    5. Teaching Cases
    6. Original Reports
    7. Interesting Images

    I. Introduction to Practical Radiation Oncology

    Practical Radiation Oncology (PRO) is a peer-reviewed journal whose purpose is to document the state of radiation oncology practice. PRO publishes original clinical research related to the practice of radiation oncology and related disciplines. Concise manuscripts that focus on imaging, contouring, target delineation, simulation, treatment planning, immobilization, organ motion, patient safety, quality measurement and other practical issues are of particular interest. PRO intends to provide its readers with content that emphasizes knowledge "with a purpose".

    W. Robert Lee, M.D., M.S., M.Ed. serves as the journal's Editor-in-Chief. He can be contacted at the Department of Radiation Oncology, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3085, Durham, NC 27710. Phone: (919) 668-5640; fax: (919) 668-7345; e-mail: pro@astro.org.

    PRO can be accessed online at www.practicalradonc.org.

    II. Electronic Submissions and Correspondence

    Manuscripts and correspondence must be submitted electronically through EES. The Web-based system enables authors to track their submissions online. The entire review process and all written correspondence are also handled through this system. Author and reviewer tutorials are provided online, and 24-hour phone and e-mail help is available. Authors must register on the Website with their e-mail address and other information to receive a password. Those who have previously reviewed a manuscript for PRO may already be registered. Once the submission files are uploaded, the system automatically generates an electronic (PDF) file, which is then used for reviewing. All correspondence, including editor decisions and requests for revisions, are by e-mail.

    III. Journal Policies

    A. Human and Animal Experimentation

    When reporting on human subjects, please indicate in the text whether the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional or regional) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Patient anonymity must be ensured at all times; do not use patient names, initials, hospital numbers, or other identification in the manuscript, tables, or figures. In clinical photographs, identities of patients should be masked or otherwise cropped. Written consent forms from patients must accompany all photographs in which there is any possibility of identification of the patient. When reporting experiments on animals, please also indicate in the text that you followed your institution's or a national research council's guide for, or a national law on, the care and use of laboratory animals.

    B. Conditions of Publication

    It is a condition of publication that manuscripts submitted to PRO have not already been published and will not be submitted simultaneously or published elsewhere. Abstracts submitted for meetings are exempt; however, we ask that you state when and where an abstract was presented. All manuscripts submitted to PRO are subject to peer review, and only those that are of the highest scientific quality are accepted for publication.

    C. Copyright Transfer

    Authors are required to sign a copyright transfer form, which will accompany page proofs of the article. For details on copyright policy, please refer to Copyright Information at http://www.elsevier.com/authors.

    D. Conflicts of Interest and Disclosure

    PRO adheres to the policy on conflict of interest promulgated by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which states, in part, that "to prevent ambiguity, authors must state explicitly whether potential conflicts do or do not exist." (See Conflict of Interest Notification.) All authors on the manuscript are required to include an ICMJE form with submission, available for free download at http://www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf.

    E. Permissions

    Written permission must be obtained by authors and submitted with the manuscript for the following:

    • Permission of the publisher and/or copyright holder to reprint in PRO any material that has been previously published, including figures, tables, and quotations; quotations must be accurate and fully credited.
    • Permission for the use of personal communication and/or unpublished data, and the month and year in which the information was obtained.
    • Written consent forms from patients for all photographs in which there is any possibility of identifying the patient.

    F. Authorship Criteria

    According to the "Uniform Requirements" (see Journal Style and Guidelines), all persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for its content. Authorship credit should be based only on substantial contributions to

    (1) conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data, and to

    (2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content, and to

    (3) final approval of the version to be published.

    All three criteria must be met. Participation solely in the acquisition of funding of collection of data does not justify authorship. General supervision of the research group does not justify authorship. Any part of an article critical to its main conclusions must be the responsibility of at least one author.

    In the case of corporate authorship, all members of the group must meet all criteria to justify authorship and inclusion in the byline. Those who do not meet these criteria should be listed (with their permission) in an Acknowledgments section.

    The order of the authors must be agreed to by all co-authors before the manuscript is submitted for consideration.

    G. Publication Ethics and Misconduct

    PRO maintains a zero-tolerance policy when addressing allegations of plagiarism, data falsification, and scientific misconduct. Articles will be retracted if ethics violations are substantiated.Plagiarism is defined by the World Association for Medical Editors (WAME) as "the use of others' published and unpublished ideas or words (or other intellectual property) without attribution or permission, and presenting them as new and original rather than derived from an existing source." PRO uses the CrossCheck program to investigate incidents of plagiarism.

    Manipulating data through fabrication, omission, or intentional distortion is unacceptable. Authors should be prepared to provide original data to editors if there is a question of authenticity.

    Claims of scientific misconduct are investigated and addressed, guided by the Committee of Publication Ethics (COPE) Code of Conduct. Specific questions regarding publication ethics and misconduct policies at PRO should be directed to the Editorial Office at (703)-502-1550 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, or by email to pro@astro.org.

    H.Peer Review: Double-Blind

    PRO uses a double-blind review process in which authors do not know the identity of their reviewers, nor do the reviewers know the identities of the authors. The Senior Editors select external reviewers from a database of experts, many of whom are Editorial Board members. The Editors encourage authors to suggest names of potential reviewers, although there is no guarantee that these reviewers will, in fact, review the submission. Reviewers provide comments for the Editors and the authors and recommend one of the four decisions listed below. The Editor assigned to the manuscript reads all reviews and forwards a recommendation to the Editor-in-Chief. The Editor-in-Chief approves all accept and reject decisions.

    A portion of submissions are declined without external review if such manuscripts are judged to be inappropriate for the journal's readership. If review is required, authors can expect to learn of rejection or acceptance in approximately 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the turnaround time for reviews.

    After the external review is complete, the Editor's decision, with comments from the reviewers, is emailed to the corresponding author. The author will receive one of the following decisions:

    Reject: The Editors did not select your manuscript for publication. Many factors contribute to acceptance, including but not limited to: importance of the research to the field of oncology; the originality of the work; the quality of the study; or the priority of the work to PRO and its readership.
    Unacceptable/Major Revision: The editors felt that your article contained information of potential importance but a number of major issues were raised. If you believe that you can address the issues raised, the editors would be willing to reconsider your manuscript, but cannot guarantee acceptance, particularly if you cannot address the concerns. Such manuscripts must be revised and resubmitted within 2 months after the decision, or they will be considered a new submission.
    Acceptable/Minor Revisions: The editors found your manuscript potentially acceptable for publication provided you make some minor adjustments. Such manuscripts must be revised and resubmitted within one month after the decision.
    Accepted: The editors selected your manuscript for publication. Additional information will be provided regarding the production process.

    I.Online Publication

    Articles that have been accepted for publication, set into page proof, and corrected by authors and editors are posted online before print publication under the "Articles in Press" section of the PRO Web site, www.practicalradonc.org.

    IV. Journal Style & Guidelines

    In addition to these Instructions to Authors, PRO relies on the "Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals," (http://www.icmje.org/) and the American Medical Association Manual of Style, 10th ed.

    A. Types of Submissions

    1. Editorials

    The Editor-in-Chief may solicit an Editorial to accompany an accepted manuscript. Authors may submit editorials that are unrelated to a specific article or related to important research published in another journal. Before submitting unsolicited Editorials, authors should contact W. Robert Lee (pro@astro.org) to determine the appropriateness of the topic for PRO.

    a) Requirements
    Disclosure forms - Available www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf, this form must be completed by each author and submitted with the manuscript.

    b) Limitations
    Editorials should not exceed 1,500 words and 10 references.

    2. Critical Reviews

    The Editor-in-Chief typically solicits Critical Reviews. Before submitting an unsolicited review, authors should ascertain the suitability of the topic by sending an inquiry to W. Robert Lee (pro@astro.org). The authors, rather than a representative, should make the inquiry. The manuscript must present significant new information to justify publication. Critical Reviews will be reviewed in the same manner as Original Reports. Suitability inquiries must contain the following: a detailed explanation of the manuscript concept; an outline listing specific clinical or phase trials to be included; and all of the authors' conflicts of interest.

    a) Requirements
    Cover Letter (Preferred) - The cover letter introduces the manuscript to the Editor-in-Chief and briefly summarizes the purpose or intent of the research.

    Abstract Abstracts for Critical Reviews should just summarize the content of the article. The Abstract should reflect the content of the article and include the purpose of the study, the experimental design, the most important results, and an interpretation of the data, including the conclusion and any implications derived from the results.

    Disclosure forms - Available www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf, this form must be completed by each author and submitted with the manuscript.

    b) Limitations
    Abstract - 300 words or fewer

    Manuscript - 4,500 words, including the abstract, references, figures legends, and tables.

    References - 50 or fewer (additional references may be published online in an appendix).

    Figures and Tables - Not to exceed eight total (includes both tables and figures)

    3. Correspondence

    Authors may respond to a published article or express an opinion in a short, freestanding piece. If the Correspondence refers to a published article, the Editor-in-Chief may choose to invite a reply. Correspondence is reviewed by the Editor-in-Chief for possible inclusion in the journal. Letters and replies must be submitted electronically using the online system. Correspondence is reviewed by the Editor-in-Chief for possible inclusion in the journal. Letters and replies must be submitted electronically using EES.

    a) Limitations
    Letters must be limited to no more than 400 words and 10 references.

    4. Special Articles

    Special Articles are manuscripts whose content and style do not fall under the categories of Original Reports or Critical Reviews. These may include- but are not limited to-guidelines, summaries of consensus meetings, and other scholarly communications.

    5. Teaching Cases

    PRO invites case reports with high-resolution images, preferably in color (additional charges may be necessary), including X-rays or scans of characteristic or classic conditions relevant to radiation oncology, for consideration in the Teaching Case section. All identifying information of patients, such as names, dates of birth, dates of service, or patient identification codes must be removed. If the case report or the image includes individually identifiable health information, authors must comply with the applicable privacy laws and obtain a HIPAA-compliant patient authorization form.

    a) Requirements
    Cover Letter (Preferred) - The cover letter introduces the manuscript to the Editor-in-Chief and briefly summarizes the purpose or intent of the research.

    Title Page (with author details) - The title page should include a concise but informative title; a complete byline (see Authorship), including each author's full name and highest earned academic degree(s); each author's complete affiliation( s), including department(s), institution(s), city, state, and country; the name and complete mailing address, phone number, fax number, and e-mail address of the corresponding author (to whom all correspondence and reprint requests will be directed); and a shortened running title. Acknowledgment of grant or other financial support, meeting presentation, conflict of interest, or assistance with manuscript preparation or data collection can be included here or in an Acknowledgments section.

    Conflict of Interest Notification - On the page that follows the title page under the heading "Conflicts of Interest Notification," please state explicitly whether any actual or potential conflicts of interest do or do not exist. Provide additional detail, as necessary, in the accompanying cover letter.

    Blinded manuscript - Include a brief overview describing the case and a concise literature review. When preparing a manuscript for submission, it is critical that the authors remove all author-identifying information. Institution and author names within the text should be substituted with generic phrases, such as "the institute" or "the author(s)." Where appropriate, authors may also substitute generic characters, such as "XXXX." Manuscripts that are non-compliant with this requirement will be returned without exception.

    Disclosure forms - Available www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf, this form must be completed by each author and submitted with the manuscript.

    b) Limitations
    Do not include an abstract.

    Manuscript - 1,500 words, including the title page, main text, references, figures, and tables.

    References - 50 or fewer (additional references may be published online in an appendix).

    Figures and Tables - Not to exceed eight total (includes both tables and figures)

    6. Original Reports

    Original Reports are the primary mode of scientific communication in PRO. Authors are encouraged to review the "Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals" prior to submission. The Editor-in-Chief and a Senior Editor review all Original Reports. All submitted manuscripts are reviewed by external peer reviewers, and when required, a biostatistician. Comments offered by external reviewers are returned to the author(s) for consideration.

    Authors should focus on accuracy, brevity, and clarity in their presentation and avoid lengthy introductions, repetition of data from tables and figures in the text, and unfocused discussions. Authors should include extended patient demographic data in a table, not within the text.

    a) Requirements
    Cover Letter (Preferred) - The cover letter introduces the manuscript to the Editor-in-Chief and briefly summarizes the purpose or intent of the research.

    Title Page (with author details) - The title page should include a concise but informative title; a complete byline (see Authorship), including each author's full name and highest earned academic degree(s); each author's complete affiliation( s), including department(s), institution(s), city, state, and country; the name and complete mailing address, phone number, fax number, and e-mail address of the corresponding author (to whom all correspondence and reprint requests will be directed); and a shortened running title. Acknowledgment of grant or other financial support, meeting presentation, conflict of interest, or assistance with manuscript preparation or data collection can be included here or in an Acknowledgments section.

    Conflict of Interest Notification - On the page that follows the title page under the heading "Conflicts of Interest Notification," please state explicitly whether any actual or potential conflicts of interest do or do not exist. Provide additional detail, as necessary, in the accompanying cover letter.

    Blinded manuscript - When preparing a manuscript for submission, it is critical that the authors remove all author-identifying information. Institution and author names within the text should be substituted with generic phrases, such as "the institute" or "the author(s)." Where appropriate, authors may also substitute generic characters, such as "XXXX." Manuscripts that are non-compliant with this requirement will be returned without exception.

    Abstract - The abstract should be structured using the following subheadings: Purpose, Methods and Materials, Results, and Conclusions. The Abstract should reflect the content of the article and include the purpose of the study, the experimental design, the most important results, and an interpretation of the data, including the conclusion and any implications derived from the results.

    Introduction - The Introduction section should include the background and rationale for the study, a clear purpose or hypothesis statement, and a brief description of the experimental design.

    Methods and Materials - The Methods and Materials section should describe the materials used and the experimental and statistical methods. Previously described methods should not be included, only cited, with significant modifications stated. Clinical studies should be identified as retrospective or prospective. Methods should not be included in the Results section or figure legends.

    Results - The Results section should describe only the most important results of the study and include as little discussion as possible. Measures of statistical significance must be clearly indicated, and tables and figures should be cited in numerical order.

    Discussion - The Discussion section should begin with a statement of the conclusions based on the study's findings and include an interpretation of the results in the context of other published studies. The study's limitations and implications should also be stated. The conclusions can be included in this section or presented separately under the heading "Conclusions." They should be clearly tied to the purpose of the study. Background information, methods, and results should not be repeated in detail in the Discussion.

    References - References must be cited and numbered in consecutive numerical order as they first appear in the text and should be listed in consecutive numerical (not alphabetical) order in the References section. All bibliographic information must be complete and accurate. The author is responsible for the accuracy of all references. The following reference style must be used, and the author should also refer to the "Uniform Requirements" and the American Medical Association Manual of Style for other examples and conventions.

    Journal references should be given in the following order: author(s) surnames and initials, that is, the names of the first three authors followed by et al.; article title (with subtitle if any), journal abbreviation in italics, year, volume number, part or supplement number, and inclusive page numbers. If the paper has been seen only in abstract form, this should be indicated at the end of the original reference by the addition of the word [Abstract]. Likewise, if the reference is to a volume with a supplement, the supplement number with the abbreviation [Suppl.] should be included. References to books must include the names of the authors, title, edition number, city of publication, publisher, and year. References to chapters in books must include the names of the editors and the chapter title after the name(s) of the author(s) and the book title. Examples of references using the AMA numbered style follow:

    1. Davis JT, Allen HD, Powers JD, et al. Population requirements for capitation planning in pediatric cardiac surgery. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1996;150:257-259.
    2. Champlin RER, Feig SA, Ho WG, et al. Bone marrow transplantation for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in remission: Importance of extramedullary involvement [Abstract]. Blood 1982;60 (Suppl. 1):165a.
    3. Ringsven MK, Bond D. Gerontology and leadership skills for nurses. 2nd ed. Albany (NY): Delmar Publishers; 1996.
    4. Phillips SJ, Whisnant JP. Hypertension and stroke. In: Laragh JH, Brenner BM, editors. Hypertension: Pathophysiology, diagnosis, andmanagement. 2nd ed.NewYork:RavenPress; 1995. p. 465-478.

    Figure Legends - Complete, explanatory, and descriptive legends must be provided for all figures. The legends must correspond to the consecutively numbered figures and be typed double-spaced after the References section inside the manuscript document. All abbreviations or other letter designations used in a figure must be defined in the legend for that figure. Magnification and staining materials should be indicated. Acknowledgment of previously published material should be given in the legend, and the source should be included in the References section. (See Permissions.)Include a CONSORT diagram for studies in which two or more groups are compared.

    Figures - Each figure should be placed in a separate file and uploaded individually at submission. Please make sure that each figure is properly identified in the file. Figures should be consecutively numbered (1, 2, 3, etc.) as they appear in the text and must be accompanied by legends (See Figure Legends.). The author should include figures that enhance, not duplicate, textual information. Four-color figures may be submitted, but the author assumes all costs for printing in color if elected. Color figures are printed free of charge in the online version of articles. Lettering should be uniform and large enough to be easily read when reduced for publication. Patient anonymity must be ensured at all times; do not use patient names, initials, hospital numbers, or other identification in the figures or legends. In clinical photographs, identities of patients should be masked or otherwise cropped. Written consent forms from patients must accompany all photographs in which there is any possibility of identifying the patient. Unsuitable figures will be returned to the author for correction or substitution.

    Previously published figures must be accompanied by written permission to reprint from the publisher and authors, with sources cited in the text.

    For further details in the preparation of artwork and the types of files that are acceptable for publication, please go to www.elsevier.com/locate/artwork.

    Tables - Tables should be placed in one separate file for uploading at submission, preferably in a Word document. Tables should be typed double-spaced on separate pages, and numbered consecutively, as well as cited in the text in numerical order. Each table number (1, 2, 3, etc.) should be followed by a brief, specific title. Table titles should be placed above each of their respective tables. The data should be self-explanatory and should supplement, not duplicate, the text. Previously published tables must be accompanied by written permission to reprint from the publisher and authors, with sources cited in the text. Acknowledgments to previously published material should be given in a footnote to the table, and the source should be included in the References section. (See Permissions.) All abbreviations used in the table must be defined in the footnotes. Footnotes should be ordered as they first appear in the table with the following standard symbols: *(asterisk), † (dagger), †† (double dagger), § (section mark), ¶ (parallel mark), ¶ (paragraph symbol), and # (number sign).

    Supplemental Materials - Authors are welcome to submit supplementary material and appendices at the time of e-submission. However, the Editor-in-Chief will determine whether the material is relevant enough that it should be published with the manuscript. If not, the author will be told that the material will be posted on the Journal's website and a footnote will be added to the opening page of the article indicating that "Supplementary material or appendices for this article can be found at www.practicalradonc.org." It is recommended that authors indicate this Web site in the text where the material is cited and number the material as Table e1 or Figure e1, etc. Appendices should be numbered Appendix eI or eII, etc. While supplementary material and appendices will be reviewed, it will not be typeset or edited by the publisher.

    Disclosure forms - Available www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf, this form must be completed by each author and submitted with the manuscript.

    b) Limitations
    No more than 20 authors.

    Cover Letter - None.

    Title page - Restrict to one page, if possible.

    Blinded manuscript - 4,000 words (including title page, abstract, body text, references, figure legends, and tables)

    Abstract - 300 words or fewer (included in 4,000 word overall count)

    Figures and Tables - Not to exceed eight total (includes both tables and figures)

    7. Interesting Images

    PRO invites interesting high-resolution images, preferably in color, including X-rays or scans of characteristic or classic conditions relevant to radiation oncology. Exceptional images may be considered for the cover of the journal.

    a) Requirements and Limitations
    • Include a brief overview describing the case.
    • Do not include an abstract.
    • Limit text to 400 words or fewer.
    • All identifying information of patients, such as names, dates of birth, dates of service, or patient identification codes must be removed.
    • If the image includes individually identifiable health information, authors must comply with the applicable privacy laws and obtain a HIPAA-compliant patient authorization form.

    Updated May 2012

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