Guide for Authors

Updated June 2019

To download a PDF version of NWH's Guidelines for Authors, please click here.

Nursing for Women's Health (NWH) is the official practice journal of AWHONN. The mission of the journal is to improve outcomes for women and newborns through the dissemination of clinical scholarship. Manuscripts most likely to be accepted are those with a robust discussion of implications for clinical practice. Our readers want to apply the knowledge to their daily practice.

Although not required, authors may send a submission query addressed to Editor Mary C. Brucker, PhD, CNM, FACNM, FAAN, at For additional information about NWH, visit the website, e-mail, or call 202-261-1467.

Manuscript submission and peer review (with a minimum of three peer reviewers per submission) occur online at Editorial Manager. Reviewers are blinded to authors' identities and authors are blinded to reviewers' identities.

Authors are expected to adhere to ethical standards for publishing as outlined in Elsevier's ethics policy. Suspicions of plagiarism or other ethical breaches will be handled in accordance with guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

Clinical Evaluation & Improvement. Clinically focused original research, reports of quality improvement, program evaluation, and evidence-based practice projects with implications beyond the study site. Manuscripts in this category must include a structured abstract of no more than 300 words using the following headings:

  • Objective
  • Design
  • Setting/Local Problem
  • Participants
  • Intervention/Measurements
  • Results
  • Conclusion

Reports of Quality Improvement (QI) projects must follow the Standards for Quality Improvement Reporting Excellence (SQUIRE) guidelines and outline.

Reviews. Literature reviews, systematic reviews, and integrative reviews with specific implications for clinical practice. Depending on the type of article being submitted, manuscripts in this category are accompanied by either:

  1. An unstructured abstract of no more than 125 words that is factual and provides the main points of the manuscript for literature reviews, or
  2. A structured abstract for systematic and integrative reviews of no more than 300 words using the following headings:
    • Objective
    • Data Sources
    • Study Selection
    • Data Extraction
    • Data Synthesis
    • Conclusion

Reports of systematic reviews must follow the Preferred Reporting Items of Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. PRISMA can be applied to reviews of randomized trials and other types of research and includes a checklist and flow diagram. We also recommend authors of systematic reviews read the guidance contained in Lowe (2009).

For reviews with tables summarizing studies reviewed, see section on “Tables” below for more guidance.

Practice Articles and Invited Columns. Articles that are not original research or comprehensive reviews but that share new or updated guidance or knowledge that readers can apply to their daily practice in the care of women, newborns, and/or childbearing families. Manuscripts in this category are accompanied by an unstructured abstract of no more than 125 words that is factual and provides the main points of the manuscript. If you were invited by a member of the editorial advisory board to submit a column, please indicate such in your cover letter.

Invited CNE Articles. Comprehensive review or practice articles with CNE learning objectives and posttest. Only submit to this category if you have been invited by the editor to do so. If you have an idea for a CNE article, contact the editorial office at to check if the topic meets a learning need identified by our CNE Nurse Planner. Manuscripts in this category are accompanied by an unstructured abstract of no more than 125 words that is factual and provides the main points of the manuscript.

Case Reports. Presentation of new information through case reviews of nursing and interprofessional care. Authors must provide written consent from the participant when clinical descriptions make identification possible. These manuscripts include unstructured abstracts of no more than 125 words that are factual and provide the main points of the manuscript.

Case reports must follow the CAse REport (CARE) guidelines that include a 13-item checklist for guidance in writing a case report. Although written from a medical perspective, these guidelines are generally applicable to and can be adapted for nursing case reports.

Commentary. Opinion or advocacy articles that use evidence from the literature to support a position. These manuscripts include unstructured abstracts of no more than 125 words that are factual and provide the main points of the manuscript.

Letters to the Editor. Points of current interest or comments on an article published in the journal. The editor reserves the right to accept, reject, or excerpt letters. Letters should reference published articles no later than three months after publication.

Personal Essay (“Reflections”). Personal essays written from the first person point of view that describe pivotal or transformational experiences with resonance for our readership. Suggested word count of no more than 1,000 words. Essays typically do not include references.

Manuscripts must be original, not published previously, and not under consideration by another publication. The editor will consider publishing a complete report following the publication of preliminary findings (e.g., in an abstract) or presentations. Previous presentation of research findings should be disclosed in the cover letter.

Authors must disclose any commercial interest they have in the subject of their work as well as the source of any financial or material support. Every author listed on a manuscript must complete a Copyright Transfer & Author Disclosure Form that will be uploaded with the manuscript files in the Editorial Manager system.

A copy of institutional review board (IRB) approval (or a letter from the IRB chair stating that approval for the study is not required) is required for any research published in NWH.

Note to NIH grantees. Pursuant to NIH mandate, our publisher, Elsevier, will post the accepted version of contributions authored by NIH grant-holders to PubMed Central upon acceptance. This accepted version will be made publicly available 12 months after publication. For further information, see the Elsevier NIH Policy Statement.

All persons designated as authors on manuscripts submitted to NWH should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify for authorship should be listed. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content. As per the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (n.d.), such participation includes the following:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Participation that does not qualify for authorship includes data gathering, provision of financial or other support, or review of a preliminary draft. When a large, multi-center group has conducted the work, the group should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript.

The maximum number of authors usually permitted is six on research manuscripts and four on all other types of manuscripts. If more than these numbers of authors are desired, specific information explaining the role of each author should be included in a cover letter.

Double-space all pages, including the abstract, text, references, tables, and legends. Use 12-point font and uniform margins of 1″ at the top, bottom, right, and left. Do not right justify lines. Do not divide words at the end of a line.

Number pages consecutively. Include a shortened version of the title at the top of each page to identify the manuscript. The running head must not contain any author names or initials. In the left margin, consecutively number each line of text.

The average article in NWH is 15 to 18 manuscript pages, plus references, tables, illustrations, and callouts. Review articles can be longer than 18 pages if needed.

Refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), sixth edition, for grammar, punctuation, and style; Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary for spelling of nontechnical words; Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary for spelling of medical terms; and the APA Manual for guidelines on statistical reporting.

Use woman-centered language, such as woman instead of patient, and birth instead of delivery. Use generic names of all drugs and products. Report physical measures in International System of Units (SI) units. For examples of conversion to SI equivalents, refer to the APA Manual. When a term such as height is noted, both the metric and imperial systems should be included.

Authors for whom English is a second language are encouraged to have their manuscripts professionally edited before submission. Authors may wish to use the English Language Editing service available from Elsevier's WebShop or visit Elsevier's customer support site for more information. All services are paid for and arranged by the author, and use of one of these services does not guarantee acceptance or preference for publication.

Title. Limit the title to no more than 20 words. Ensure that the title summarizes the main idea of the paper; is fully explanatory standing alone; and avoids the use of the words method, results, a study, and an experimental investigation. Colons in titles should be avoided.

Keywords. Submit 3 to 10 keywords with the abstract for use in indexing the article. See the MeSH on Demand tool provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine for assistance.

Précis. Provide a précis for use in the table of contents. The précis is a single sentence of no more than 25 words that is written in the present tense and states the conclusion(s) of the report. The précis should be similar to the abstract's conclusion.

Clinical Implications (Short Bulleted List). Provide a list of three to five brief bulleted points that concisely summarize and encapsulate for readers the main clinical takeaways of your article.

Implications for Practice. Before the article's Conclusion section, include a section on Implications for Practice. This is where readers learn how to replicate your work and/or apply it to their practice. The more robust this section is, the better an article's chances of acceptance.

Conclusion. Each article should end with a brief conclusion paragraph that summarizes the main points of the article.

Artwork and Figure Legends. Image-based (not text-based) figures and illustrations should not be embedded within the manuscript Word document; rather they should be uploaded along with the manuscript as separate native files in .JPG, .TIF, .EPS, or .PDF format. Image files must be high-resolution: at least 300 dpi. Image files should contain the image only. Provide all explanatory material, labels, and captions as text on a page following the Conclusion and label it “Figure Legends.” For help with creating and formatting image files, refer to the artwork instructions provide by Elsevier.

Boxes. Provide summary information, long lists, or links to additional information and/or resources in boxes rather than text whenever appropriate. This helps break up long passages of text and improves the reader's experience and comprehension of information. Do not replicate information in both text and boxes. At the bottom of a box cite sources of information contained in the box, as follows: Sources: Jones (2015); Smith (2018). If the text in a box is taken directly from another source, get permission to reuse (see “Permissions”). Boxes should be placed in the body of the manuscript at first mention.

Tables. Do not include more than six tables. Submit only actual tabular material in table form. Simple lists should be incorporated into the text, and longer lists can be incorporated into a box. Number tables consecutively with Arabic numerals and cite in numeric order in the text. Place tables in body of the manuscript where they are first cited (unless you have a very long table, such as for a systematic review; in that case, please the table directly after the conclusion). Refer to Nicol and Pexman (2010) for presentation of statistical data.

Tables of studies included in systematic reviews should use the following column headings: Author/Date, Participants, Methods, Interventions, Outcomes. Information included for each study should be presented in a standardized manner and be as succinct as possible.

For tables that are not original and have been previously published under copyright, see “Permissions” section.

References. Cite current primary sources only. Use references prudently. Cite references in the text in the style outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, sixth edition. The reference list also should be formatted in APA style and should include DOI numbers. Identify sources of quotations and all other borrowed materials.

Data References. We encourage you to cite underlying or relevant data sets in your manuscript by citing them in your text and including a data reference in your Reference List. Data references should include the following elements: author name(s), data set title, data repository, version (where available), year, and global persistent identifier. Add [data set] immediately before the reference so we can properly identify it as a data reference. This identifier will not appear in your published article.

Permissions. Long quotations, figures, tables, photographs, or any other material from previously published sources must be accompanied by the written permission of the copyright holder to reuse. This includes any information that has been adapted from a previously published source. Authors must include documentation indicating permission to reuse the material in print and electronically with the submitted manuscript. For complete permissions guidelines, please refer to the permissions help page.

Photo Release. If you submit photos of people, you must obtain written permission from all persons depicted in the photo to use the photo. Contact the editorial office at to request a photo release form.

Supplementary Materials. Authors are encouraged to submit any supplemental materials with their manuscripts that may enhance the reader's experience. These should enhance the content of the manuscript but should not be essential to the meaning. Materials can include short video clips, interviews, data sets, evidence tables, additional figures, and so forth, and will be reviewed with the manuscript. If the manuscript is accepted, supplementary files will be available online at the journal's website. For additional information, please contact the managing editor at


  • The manuscript is blinded and contains no identifying information, not even in the manuscript file name.
  • First page includes title, abstract, keywords, and précis statement.
  • Clinical Implications bulleted list (page 2).
  • Text (begins on page 3).
  • Each line of text is numbered consecutively in the left margin beginning with the abstract.
  • Toward the end of the manuscript before the Conclusion include a section on Implications for Practice.
  • End the body of the manuscript with a brief Conclusion section that summarizes the main points of the article.
  • Boxes and Tables are embedded in the manuscript at first mention.
  • Figure Legend and Figures follow the Conclusion(figures should be uploaded as separate, high-resolution image files, not embedded in the manuscript Word file).
  • References formatted according to APA style, including DOI numbers, come at the end of the manuscript.


  • Cover letter (submitted with manuscript at Editorial Manager) includes: (a) all author names in the order they should appear in the byline; (b) the name, complete mailing address, and e-mail address of the author who will be responsible for correspondence regarding the manuscript; (c) author identification notes including name, credentials, position title, place of employment or organizational affiliation, city, and state for all authors; (d) a statement that all authors have seen and approved the manuscript; (e) acknowledgment of funding sources for research or significant non-author contributions to the work limited to 25 words; (f) additional information that may be helpful to the editor, such as the type of article the manuscript represents; (g) information on previous or duplicate publication or submission.
  • Copyright transfer & author disclosure form for each author submitted with the manuscript files at Editorial Manager.
  • Letters of permission to reuse content, and/or photo release forms.
  • IRB letters as appropriate.

Most articles become available online for citation before the print version is published. The online version of NWH is the journal of record on which citation metrics are based. Print issues are published in February, April, June, August, October, and December of each year.

Once an article has been accepted for publication, anthors can use the article tracking service to track the article's progress through publication. By registering in the system, authors will receive automatic e-mail alerts each time the article's status changes, including links to the article online as soon as it is available. Authors are also welcome to contact Elsevier's Customer Support.

Open Access vs. Subscription. NWH offers authors a choice about how to publish accepted manuscripts:

Open access:

  • Articles are freely available to subscribers and the wider public with permitted reuse.
  • An open access publication fee is payable by authors or on their behalf, for example, by their research funders or institutions. See the open access license page for pricing and further information.


  • Articles are made available to journal subscribers as well as developing countries and patient groups through our universal access programs.
  • No open access publication fee is required.

Regardless of how you choose to publish your article, the journal will apply the same peer review criteria and acceptance standards.

International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. (n.d.). Defining the role of authors and contributors. Retrieved from

Lowe, N. K. (2009). Systematic literature reviews. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 38, 375–376.

Nicol, A. A. M., & Pexman, P. M. (2010). Presenting your findings: A practical guide for creating tables (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

QUESTIONS? CONTACT US at or 202-261-1467. We are here to help! Thank you for considering NWH for your valuable work.