General Guidelines

Click a section to jump to that part of the page


Publication Requirements


As part of the submission process, authors are required to check off their submission’s compliance with all of the following items. Submissions that do not adhere to these guidelines may be returned to the authors without review.

  1. The submission has not been previously published, nor is it currently submitted to another journal for consideration.
  2. The author has full permission to copyright of all text, figures, and tables submitted. Authors license MSRJ to edit and reproduce the submission with no time or number restrictions while maintaining copyright to their submission. MSRJ is an open access journal where anyone is free to copy, distribute, and transmit the work – given that the original author(s) is given credit, it is not for profit, and any reuse of the works must make the license terms clear.
  3. The first author is a medical student enrolled in and in good standing with an accredited medical college. A copy of a letter of current enrollment or letter of good standing that is signed by appropriate faculty on school letterhead must be submitted, including year of anticipated graduation.
  4. Authorship should be based upon the guidelines set by the Michigan State University– University Research Council found here: Authorship Guide For additional information regarding Health Research Reporting Guidelines, we recommend you visit The Equator Network. They provide reporting guidelines for multiple types of research.
  5. The manuscript has been read and approved by all the authors, and the authors listed are the sole authors of this work. The requirements for authorship as stated in the Authorship Guide have been met, each author believes that the manuscript represents honest work of the highest integrity, and statements made in the manuscript are true to current scientific knowledge.  All manuscripts will be screened for potential plagiarism.
  6. The name, address, and telephone number of the corresponding author, who is responsible for communicating with the other authors about revisions and final approval of the proofs, is included on the title page.
  7. If submitting to a peer-reviewed section of the journal, the authors should take care to follow the Ensuring a Blind Review guidelines.
  8. Each author has completed ICMJE authorship conflict of interest forms and attached them as supporting documents to this submission. Available here: Please right-click and “save link as” to properly view the document.
  9. Potentially identifiable patient information should not be included and violations of HIPAA regulations ( will result in rejection. Written permission must be obtained and submitted to MSRJ for any identifiable information or images. Please use this consent form to obtain written consent for every patient mentioned in a case report or case series. More information on patient consent requirements is available below in the Disclosures section.
  10. If the study involved human subjects research, a copy of the approval letter or email of approval for the institutional review board (IRB) application should be attached, whether exempt, expedited, or full review. A sentence mentioning IRB approval should appear in the manuscript.


Text Formatting


Use Times New Roman at 11 or 12 point font with double spacing for all portions of the manuscript, except tables and figures which may use single spacing. Pages should conform to 8.5 x 11 inches with 1 inch margins on all sides. Text should be left justified. New paragraphs should indent with the first line. Authors should number all of the pages of the manuscript consecutively, beginning with the title page, to facilitate the editorial process.  The running title should appear in the header. The submission file must be in Microsoft Word (either .doc or .docx). Measurements of length, height, weight, and volume should be reported in metric units (meters, kilograms, or liters); if information is better conveyed using U.S. standards of measurement, such as height or weight of a patient, those should be in parentheses in addition to metric measurements. In addition, the use of American English should be utilized rather than British English (color instead of colour, orthopedics instead of orthopaedics, anesthetized instead of anaesthetized, tumor instead of tumour, etc); this does not apply to references or quotations.


Types of Articles Accepted

Top (Follow links for more detailed descriptions of each type):

    1. Case Studies: Case Reports are an in-depth study of one individual. Case Series are reports involving more than 1 and no more than 5 patients of a similar situation. A prospective case study involves following an individual over time and observing outcomes whereas a retrospective case study involves looking at historical information on the individual to determine if there is a presence of risk factors that may have contributed to the outcome of interest. Case reports should include a critical review of relevant literature including search strategies used, description of case and its uniqueness in context to the literature review presentation of different clinical outcomes and management strategies where applicable, and implications for clinical practice.
    2. Original Research: Original research presents a full description of investigator-initiated research that has been conducted and resulted in reportable findings. A range of types of research are acceptable including basic science and clinical research such as clinical trials and health services research. The work is meant to be a culmination of information that is important to the field and would contribute new data, new ways of approaching a problem, or a change in the previous understanding of a disease process. The manuscript details the hypothesis, background and significance, methods, results, discussion, and implications for clinical practice.
    3. Reflections: Reflections are articles written about a particular topic in medicine or science that has had a profound impact, is controversial, or is an emerging new concept or approach to medical science and care. They can be conceptual and are intended to introduce a fresh perspective that generates thought and dialogue and contributes to sustaining the relevance of medicine and medical scholarship to current issues. Reflections are relatively unstructured but should clearly indicate the topic or thesis being addressed, its significance, and supporting background information; present a cogent argument for the author’s position; and identify implications and recommendations for change or action. In addition, artistic pieces may be submitted under this type of article such as original poetry or short stories.
    4. Brief Report: Brief reports are similar to original research in that they follow the same rigor, format and guidelines, but are designed for small-scale research or research that is in early stages of development. These may include preliminary studies that utilize a simple research design or a small sample size and that have produced limited pilot data and initial findings that indicate need for further investigation.  Brief reports are much shorter than manuscripts associated with a more advanced, larger-scale research project.  They are not meant to be used for a short version of an article about research that would otherwise qualify for a full original research manuscript or for publishing material on research that lacks significance, is not rigorous or, if expanded, would not qualify for a full research study or article.
    5. Reviews: Reviews are articles that distill the most significant current scientific literature on a given topic into a concise report in order to summarize current knowledge of the topic, including gaps in knowledge and future directions. The review should provide a detailed description of previous work, current guidelines or knowledge, the most recent research findings, and implications for practice, policy, and additional research. Reviews can be systematic/meta-analyses, or narrative reviews. Systematic reviews follow a standard, rigorous methodology for data collection and analyses. A detailed explanation of the specific methods used should be described in the manuscript. Narrative reviews do not utilize a standardized methodology but whatever method is used should be clearly explained as well as a clear argument for the review’s significance, critical descriptions of the literature presented, a summary of the current state of knowledge, conclusions, and implications.

Manuscript Limits

Case Studies:

  1. Total Length: up to 1000 words (excluding abstract, illustrations, and references)
  2. Abstract Length: up to 150 words
  3. Table/Figure Limits: up to 3 tables and figures
  4. Bulleted Learning Points: minimum of 3 required, maximum of 6
  5. References: up to 15 references

Original Research:

  1. Total Length: 3000-4000 words (excluding abstract, illustrations, and references)
  2. Abstract Length: 250-300 words
  3. Table/Figure Limits: up to 8 tables and figures
  4. References: up to 100 references


  1. Total Length: up to 1500 words (excluding abstract, illustrations, and references)
  2. Abstract Length: up to 150 words
  3. Table/Figure Limits: up to 3 tables and figures
  4. References: up to 30 references

Brief Report:

  1. Total Length: up to 1500 words (excluding abstract, illustrations, and references)
  2. Abstract Length: up to 150 words
  3. Table/Figure Limits: up to 3 tables and figures
  4. References: up to 40 references


  1. Total Length: 3000-4000 words (excluding abstract, illustrations, and references)
  2. Abstract Length: 250-300 words
  3. Table/Figure Limits: up to 8 tables/figures
  4. References: up to 100 references

Title Page


The title page should carry the following information:

    • Article Title (concise information about the study, limited to 100 characters)
    • Author Names (Mark D. Smith B.S.1*, Jeremy Michael Howes M.S.2, Jessica P. Masters M.D. Ph. D.1,2)
    • Institutional Affiliations of all authors in order of appearance in author names (1 College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA. 2 Dept. of Internal Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA)
    • Contact information for corresponding author(s) including address, email, phone, and fax. The corresponding author should indicate clearly whether his or her e-mail address can be published. Corresponding author(s) is indicated with asterisk by name in author listing; the medical students should be corresponding author.
    • Short Title (50 character limit shorter title for headers)
    • Key Phrases – Relevant words or short phrases that aid search engines or indexes in finding your work (use MeSH headings if possible). Use key phrases that are not present in the title. Maximum of 6, e.g. (Pemphigus, Bullous Skin Disorder, Autoimmune, Blistering, Skin Diseases, Monoclonal Antibody)
    • Disclaimers, if any
    • Word Count: Abstract and Body (excluding abstract, illustrations, and references)
    • Table and Figure Count
    • Source(s) of support in the form of grants, equipment, drugs, or all of these
    • Conflict of Interest Statement




Abstracts are the only substantive portion of the article indexed in many electronic databases, and the only portion many readers read. Authors must be careful that they accurately reflect the content of the article in the abstract. They may be formatted differently and may have different content depending on the article type. This description should include:

    • context or background for the study including description of literature search methodology
    • purpose, basic procedures, main findings and principal conclusions
    • Emphasis on new and important aspects of the study or observations
    • No references, illustrations, or references to illustrations are allowed in the abstract
    • The abstract should be structured with similar headings as in the main article (example for a case study: introduction, patient profile, interventions, conclusions)


Illustrations (Figures and Tables)


Number tables and figures consecutively in the order of their first citation in the text. Supply a brief title for each, followed by a caption that describes the illustration, its components, and any pertinent information needed to interpret it. Letters, numbers, and symbols on figures should be clear and consistent throughout, and large enough to remain legible when the figure is reduced for publication. All graphs must have labeled axes and units. Measurements of length, height, weight, and volume should be reported in metric units (meters, kilograms, or liters); if information is better conveyed using U.S. standards of measurement, such as height or weight of a patient, those should be in parentheses in addition to metric measurements. Photomicrographs should have internal scale markers. Photographs of potentially identifiable people must be accompanied by written permission to use the photograph as mentioned in the publication requirements. Illustrations that are currently copyrighted are not allowed to be published in the journal unless express written permission from the copyright holder has been given, and a copy of the permission has been submitted to MSRJ; the authors are responsible for obtaining permission.
A sample form for requesting permission to reprint published material can be found here from the American Physical Society.


When referencing a figure or table in the text, refer to it as: fig. # or figure #, or table #.


“As seen in figure 1A, the increase of mortality possessed a linear relationship to the amount of toxin ingested. However this strongly contrasted with the amount of anti-toxin administered (fig. 1B).”

“The patient population demographics were widely varied, seen in table 2.”




Please see the directions for formatting References.



It is the corresponding author’s responsibility to ensure all co-authors adhere to these policies.


The Medical Student Research Journal (MSRJ) is graciously funded by a start-up grant from the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University, and by funding from the Dean’s Student Adivsory Committee – Student Medical Education Enrichment Fund. Funding for student travel to conferences is dependent on student personal finances and recently supplemented with funds from the College of Human Medicine Research Enhancement Award.


All authors must declare any financial interests or benefits to themselves or to members of their immediate family from the research or manuscript; all funding sources should be identified and submitted. This should be included in the manuscript on the title page of the submission in its designated position. Authors are responsible for all costs associated with creating, conducting, writing, editing, or submission of their works; the MSRJ shall not be held accountable for any such costs.


Informed Consent and Human/Animal Rights
Authors that use direct patient data, images, or information are required to obtain informed consent from the patients being studied unless waiver of consent has been approved by the institution’s internal review board (IRB) or ethics committee. The authors must comply with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Please use this consent form to obtain written consent for every patient mentioned/featured in a case report (one patient) or case series (five or less patients). If written consent cannot be obtained, a ruling from your institution’s IRB or ethics committee must be submitted, and documentation from your senior physician/attending must be submitted stating that despite exhaustive efforts, the patient and/or family could not be reached for proper consent. The MSRJ retains the right to request IRB approval or turn down any submission in order to protect patient privacy.
For human subjects research, authors are required to detail their official IRB approval in the manuscripts, and are expected to comply with the terms of their institution’s IRB approval. Manuscripts or studies that include more than 5 patients must have IRB approval. When reporting experiments on animals, authors should indicate whether the institutional and national guide for the care and use of laboratory animals was followed. Research with animal models should comply with regulations of the institution’s animal use requirements, the Animal Welfare Act and CDC Guidelines.

Conflict of Interest
The contents of this journal are purely educational in nature, and no profits, payments, or benefits are given to the authors, reviewers, editors, or faculty of this organization. The MSRJ has no conflict of interest in submission, review, or publication of any manuscripts or art.
All authors and co-authors are required to submit a signed copy of the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest at the time of submission. These forms are stored on file for future reference. Conflicts of interest must also be stated specifically in the designated spot in the title page of the submission.
If there are conflicts of interest in a submission, they will be stated in the published manuscript.


The Medical Student Research Journal is a scholarly journal by medical students supported by Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Authors grant unrestricted copyright license to MSRJ while retaining full copyright to their works. This means authors may distribute their work at their discretion, but may not alter the final product as published by MSRJ. Permissions for reproduction of final published article are granted by MSRJ, while pre-publication works are distributable at authors’ discretion.

Creative Commons License
Medical Student Research Journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

Michigan State University logos used with permission.

Privacy Statement

The names and email addresses entered in this journal site will be used exclusively for the stated purposes of this journal and will not be made available for any other purpose or to any other party. Except for internal correspondence and correspondence with the authors, submissions and manuscripts (including drafts, reviews, and revisions) under review will remain confidential, and will not be transmitted outside of the MSRJ.

Before submitting your manuscript for review, it may be wise to have the piece edited for language, particularly if English is not your first language. While the MSRJ does not require this, it my be helpful in order to ensure the editors and reviewers can understand the content of the manuscript in the way it was intended. MSRJ suggests that the authors utilize services at their own institution, but there are commercial services available to edit manuscripts for language, grammar, spelling, tone, and clarity; MSRJ does not endorse any particular service. Authors are liable for all costs associated with such services. Editing for language does not guarantee the submission will be accepted for publication.

This page was last updated on 2/15/2014 KCP.