Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care

Author Instructions

All manuscripts should be submitted via ScholarOne Manuscripts.

Australian Journal of Primary Health aims to provide its readers with information on issues influencing community health services and primary health care and on integrating theory and practice, utilising perspectives from a range of disciplines.

Publishing Policies
Australian Journal of Primary Health insists on high standards of ethical behaviour throughout the publication process. Our journal editors work within the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). Further information on our policies can be found at

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Peer review
Australian Journal of Primary Health is a peer-reviewed journal that uses a double-blind peer-review. The Editors-in-Chief are responsible to maintain high-quality peer-review of papers submitted to the journal and work together with an Editorial Panel and Board to ensure a thorough and fair peer-review and the highest scientific publishing standards. All submissions undergo preliminary assessment by an Editor-in-Chief, who may reject a paper before peer review when it is outside the journal’s scope or is of insufficient quality. Editorial Panel members select reviewers and after at least two review reports are received, they make the decision whether to accept/reject or send a manuscript for revision. The final decision is made by the Editorial Panel member.

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The conditions around authorship for Australian Journal of Primary Health should follow the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), for more information see

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Licence to publish
For details regarding copyright, please see Copyright/Licence to Publish.

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Open access
Authors may choose to publish their paper Open Access on payment of a publication fee. See Open Access for more details.

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Journal editorial policy
Authors should obtain the appropriate clearances from their directors or supervisors before submission. Authors are encouraged to ensure their papers are in accord with the Journal´s implementation of Article VII of the Declaration of Alma Ata.

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to use figures and tables previously published in other books or journals. It is also the reponsibility of the authors to check reproduced materials against the original for accuracy.

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Forum articles
Forum articles should address important policy, research, service delivery or practice issues that have wider application to primary and community health. They should present new ideas, proposals and analyses through scholarly argument drawing on the literature and previous literature as appropriate. Forum papers should not exceed 3000 words, including abstract and full references list.

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Research papers
Research papers should present new findings on issues in primary and community health. Topics may include services research, consumer research, policy analyses and clinical studies. A range of methodological approaches including qualitative research, time series designs, experimental studies and correlational designs are acceptable. Papers should include an abstract, up to six additional key words (not already used in the title); introduction, methods, results and discussion sections. Research Papers should be limited to a maximum of 3000 words (including Abstract) plus up to 25 references.

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The Journal welcomes systematic review articles that conform to the current PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews. They should be submitted in the same way as research papers.

The Journal also takes invited reviews. Authors are advised to discuss the review with the editors before submission. They should be formatted as simply as possible, using no more than three levels of heading and normal or body text style for the main text. Summary diagrams should be used where possible to reduce the amount of description required to introduce a topic.

Reviews should be limited to a maximum of 3000 words (including Abstract) plus up to 50 references.

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Practice & Innovation
Practice & Innovation papers are different from research papers in some important ways. First, they may be about learning from practice. In the Journal context this requires clarity about the problem addressed, the context in which the practice is located, and how particular projects or practices add to our knowledge of ways to solve the problem. Second, they may be about exploring evidence-based practice. This may mean either that practices emerge from relevant research or evaluation, or it may mean exploration of evidence to practice processes and actions in their own right.

Walter et al. (2003)* describe a taxonomy of interventions reported in the literature on evidence-based policy and practice. In the taxonomy there are six categories of activity: professional, financial, organisational, patient-oriented, structural and regulatory interventions. Some interventions are about publicising research with potential users, and others are about promoting uptake of research findings by users. Some promote findings of particular research projects, others promote user engagement with researchers and accumulated bodies of knowledge, while yet others promote practices that required the acquisition of knowledge. For a more detailed discussion of these issues see the editorial in the November 2007 issue of the Journal.
*Walter, I., Nutley, S., & Davies, H. (2003). Developing a taxonomy of interventions used to increase the impact of research. Research Unit for Research Utilisation, Department of Management, University of St Andrews, St Andrews.

Practice & Innovation papers need to be carefully and systematically written in a style, and with a structure, that is accessible to readers and builds upon existing knowledge. Practice & Innovation papers should be limited to a maximum of 2500 words (including Abstract) plus up to 25 references.

A typical structure for a practice paper is the following:

  • Introduction
  • Context - policy or service context
  • Review of literature on similar cases
  • The case study or practice innovation
  • What can be learnt from this case
  • Conclusion
  • References

The structure of a research to practice paper, which addresses some of the issues described by Walter et al. (2003), may have a structure more like the following:

  • Introduction
  • Discussion of the evidence base
  • Discussion of the relevant links between researchers and practitioners
  • Description of the initiative
  • What was learnt or what resulted from the initiative
  • Conclusion
  • References

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Letters should provide brief commentary on primary health policy, research and practice issues. They may include comments on articles published in the Journal. Letters should not exceed 600 words in length. Publication is at the discretion of the editors.

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Preparation of manuscripts
Papers must be typed with double- or 1.5-line spacing throughout and with a margin of at least 3 cm on the left-hand side. All pages of the manuscript must be numbered consecutively, including those carrying references, tables and figure captions, all of which are to be placed after the text. All pages of the manuscript must contain line numbering to aid the referees in their task. llustrations, both line drawings and photographs, are to be numbered as figures in a common sequence, and each must be referred to in the text. Figures that are of the same quality as those to be reproduced in the published paper must be included and clearly numbered.

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Title page
The title page should include the manuscript title, author names, institutional affiliations, and academic qualifications of authors (please give complete details including addresses), as well as any competing interests and acknowledgments that may spoil double-blind review.

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The title should be concise and appropriately informative and should contain all keywords necessary to facilitate retrieval by modern searching techniques. Additional keywords not already contained in the title or abstract may be listed beneath the abstract. An abridged title suitable for use as a running head at the top of the printed page and not exceeding 50 characters should be supplied.

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The abstract (preferably less than 200 words) should not just recapitulate the results but should state concisely the scope of the work and give the principal findings. It should be complete enough for direct use by abstracting services. Acronyms and references should be avoided.

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Summary statement
For forum, research, and practice & innovation articles authors are asked to provide, on a separate page after the abstract, two short items answering these questions:

  • What is known about the topic?
  • What does this paper add?

Under each heading, there should be 1 bullet point. Each bullet point should be concise, with between 20-30 words in each and ending with a full stop. Each bullet point should stand alone as a meaningful statement (i.e. not needing to rely on preceding statements) and be written in proper sentences. All bullet points should be derived from the content of the paper and be supported by the evidence presented in the paper.

The summary statement should not contain abbreviations (except for a few that are self-explanatory and universally understood, e.g. HIV/AIDS). No references should be included. Colloquial terms and local details should not be included, and nor should the paper´s country of origin (unless that is essential, pertinent information). Instead the statements should be framed globally.

Statements on ‘What this paper adds’ should emphasise what the work adds to knowledge rather than just provide a list of findings or state processes studied.

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If present, Acknowledgements should be placed at the end of the text. Where appropriate give credit to grantors, sponsors, technical assistants, and professional colleagues.

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Conflicts of Interest
Under a subheading ´Conflicts of Interest´ at the end of the text all authors must disclose any financial and personal relationships with organisations or people that could inappropriately influence their work. If there is no conflict of interest, please include the statement "The authors declare no conflicts of interest".

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Ethics approval
In reporting research regarding human subjects, authors are required to document that a formally constituted review board (Institutional Review Board or Ethics committee) has granted approval for the research to be done, or that the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki regarding human experimentation have been met. Investigators who do not have access to an institutional review board are required to provide a statement to the editor outlining why it was not possible to gain formal ethics approval. If the study is judged exempt from review, a statement from the committee is required. Authors should make an ethics statement within the manuscript to this effect. Authors should also state that the research was undertaken with appropriate informed consent of participants or guardians. CSIRO Publishing also follows CSIRO’s own guidelines on ethical human research.

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Clinical Trials
Articles on clinical trials should contain abstracts that include items the CONSORT group has identified as essential. When reporting a randomised controlled trial (RCT) include the trial registration number at the end of the abstract. When reporting on a RCT, list the trial registration number at the first instance of using the trial acronym whenever a registration number is available.

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References are cited chronologically in the text by author and date and are not numbered. All references in the text must be listed at the end of the paper, with the names of authors arranged alphabetically; all entries in this list must correspond to references in the text. In the text, the names of two co-authors are linked by ´and´; for three or more the first author´s name is followed by ´et al.´. No editorial responsibility can be taken for the accuracy of the references and authors are requested to check these with special care. The following are examples of the style required for citing a journal article, whole book, book chapter and website.

  • Isaksson G, Skar L, Lexell J (2005) Women´s perception of changes in the social network after a spinal cord injury. Disability and Rehabilitation 27, 131-141.
  • Bamert R, Dillon J (eds) (2007) ´Promoting teamwork in community care.´ (Oxford University Press: Oxford)
  • Johnson H (2002) Emerging trends in mental health: implications for social work. In ´Social work practice in mental health: contemporary roles, tasks, and techniques´. (Ed. K Bentley) pp. 361-391. (Brooks and Cole: Pacific Grove, CA)
  • Black Dog Institute (2009) ´Bipolar disorder explained.´ (Black Dog Institute: Randwick, NSW) Available at [Verified 26 June 2008]

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Use of referencing software
If using ´EndNote´ software, you can obtain the style file for this journal at

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Tables must be numbered with arabic numerals and each must be accompanied by a title. The first letter only of headings to rows and vertical columns should be capitalised. When constructing tables, please use the table formatting function in Microsoft Word (i.e. use table cells, with each value in a separate cell). Each table must be referred to in the text and duplication of data in tables and figures and/or text must be avoided. Please note that the content of tables does not count towards the total word length of the manuscript. Tables should be used only where necessary and should be formatted to minimise the space used.

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Examine all figures carefully to ensure that the data are presented with the greatest possible clarity and help the reader to understand the text. Similarly, determine if a figure would communicate the information more effectively than narrative. Photographs which disclose their identity must be accompanied by signed permission.

Photographs and line drawings should be of the highest quality. Computer-generated graphs and diagrams must be editable vector graphic files, saved in the following formats: Excel; encapsulated postscript (.eps) or Adobe Illustrator (.ai); illustrations created in PowerPoint should be saved in PowerPoint and as Windows Metafiles (.wmf); CorelDraw files should be saved as .eps or .ai files. Photographs should be at least 300 dpi and saved as .jpg or Photoshop files. If not created digitally, line drawings should be scanned at high resolution: at least 600 dpi, saved as .tif or Photoshop files. Colour photographs will be accepted but the cost of colour reproduction must be borne by the author.

Graphs should be simple. Do not use three-dimensional boxes or unnecessary shading. If you need to distinguish columns in a histogram, use shading rather than a pattern. Graphs need a figure legend (which should include all explanatory text: that is, avoid displaying stray text on the graph itself), and both axes should be labelled. If material is presented in a table or graph, there is no need to repeat it in the text.

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Page proofs
We will send page proofs to the corresponding author as PDF files. They must be returned to the production editor within the time specified. Major alterations to the text and illustrations are accepted only when absolutely necessary.

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The publisher will provide a final version of the paper free of charge as a high-resolution PDF. Authors may purchase hard copies and order them from the publisher when the proofs are returned. Hard copies (if ordered) are sent out a few weeks after online publication.

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Address for submissions
To submit your paper, please use our online journal management system ScholarOne Manuscripts, which can be reached directly through this link or from the link on the journal´s homepage. If a first-time user, register via the ´Register here´ link, or use your existing username and password to log in. Then click on the ´Author Centre´ link and proceed.

A covering letter must accompany the submission and should include the name, address, fax and telephone numbers, and email address of the corresponding author.

For general enquiries not related to submissions please contact:
Attention: Jenny Macmillan
Australian Journal of Primary Health
c/o Australian Institute for Primary Care and Ageing
La Trobe University
Bundoora, Vic. 3086
Telephone +[61 3] 9479 1772
Fax +[61 3] 9479 5977

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Comprehensive Primary Health Care: Positioning the Australian Journal of Primary Health
Article VII of the declaration of Alma Ata describes the elements of primary health care. They are reproduced in the table below together with the Journal´s implementation of these principles.

Article VII Declaration of Alma Ata (WHO & UNICEF 1978)

Australian Journal of Primary Health (AJPH) – implementation of the principles

1. Reflects and evolves from the economic conditions and socio-cultural and political characteristics of the country and its communities and is based on the application of the relevant results of social, biomedical and health services research and public health experience.

We publish papers that build the evidence base for the Australian primary health care system.  Because other journals focus on biomedical perspectives these should be a low priority for the AJPH.  The WHO concept of health as being about social, physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing underpins the primary health care approach.

2. Addresses the main health problems in the community, providing promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services accordingly.

The AJPH selection of topics should be strongly influenced by Australian health problems and could address issues across the continuum of care from health promotion to rehabilitation. This does not preclude international papers addressing universal issues. Some of the universal issues are captured in the Reform agenda described in the World Health Report of 2008 summarised below this table.

3. Includes at least: education concerning prevailing health problems and the methods of preventing and controlling them; promotion of food supply and proper nutrition; an adequate supply of safe water and basic sanitation; maternal and child health care, including family planning; immunization against the major infectious diseases; prevention and control of locally endemic diseases; appropriate treatment of common diseases and injuries; and provision of essential drugs.

Each of these topics is appropriate as are others reflective of the Australian context, for example Indigenous health and multicultural issues.  The approach taken to these issues should reflect point 1 above.

4. Involves, in addition to the health sector, all related sectors and aspects of national and community development, in particular agriculture, animal husbandry, food, industry, education, housing, public works, communications and other sectors; and demands the coordinated efforts of all those Sectors.

Collaborative research and practice undertaken with the sectors influencing the social determinants and pre-requisites for health are relevant to the AJPH.  The emphasis of the papers should be on the health issues or health effects.

5. Requires and promotes maximum community and individual self-reliance and participation in the planning, organization, operation and control of primary health care, making fullest use of local, national and other available resources; and to this end develops through appropriate education the ability of communities to participate.

Papers on individual and community capacity to influence health and the participation if individuals and communities in planning and decision-making are relevant to the AJPH.  This includes self care, organised self help, and chronic disease self management.
6. Should be sustained by integrated, functional and mutually supportive referral systems, leading to the progressive improvement of comprehensive health care for all, and giving priority to those most in need.

Papers addressing people centred service systems, linkages within the primary health care system, across the boundaries into secondary and tertiary care, and links with social care that address the needs of disadvantaged individuals and populations, are relevant to the AJPH.  Equity and social justice issues relevant to health and wellbeing are also relevant.

7. Relies, at local and referral levels, on health workers, including physicians, nurses, midwives, auxiliaries and community workers as applicable, as well as traditional practitioners as needed, suitably trained socially and technically to work as a health team and to respond to the expressed health needs of the community.

Papers addressing multi-disciplinary team work and interagency partnerships to address community needs are relevant.

The World Health Report (WHO 2008) argues that there are a number of health reforms relevant to primary health care systems around the world.  These are apparent at the point of convergence between:  “the evidence on what is needed for an effective response to the health challenges of today’s world, the values of equity, solidarity and social justice that drive the PHC movement, and the growing expectations of the population in modernizing societies” (WHO 2008:xvi).  These reforms should ensure that:

  •  that health systems contribute to health equity, social justice and the end of exclusion, primarily by moving towards universal access and social health protection – universal coverage reforms;
  •  reforms that reorganize health services as primary care, i.e. around people’s needs and expectations, so as to make them more socially relevant and more responsive to the changing world while producing better outcomes – service delivery reforms;

  •  reforms that secure healthier communities, by integrating public health actions with primary care and by pursuing healthy public policies across sectors – public policy reforms;

  •  reforms that replace disproportionate reliance on command and control on one hand, and laissez-faire disengagement of the state on the other, by the inclusive, participatory, negotiation-based leadership required by the complexity of contemporary health systems – leadership reforms (WHO 2008:xvi). 

WHO (2008) World Health Report 2008: Primary health care – Now more than ever. World health Organization, Geneva.
WHO and UNICEF (1978) Declaration of Alma Ata. International Conference on Primary Health Care, Alma-Ata, USSR, 6-12 September

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