Author guidelines

Health Reports, a peer-reviewed journal of population health and health services research

Health Reports scope
Health Reports content
Guidelines for writing articles
Submitting Your Article
The review process
Data verification
The Daily

Health Reports scope

Health Reports  publishes original research on diverse topics related to understanding and improving the health of populations and the delivery of health care. We publish studies based on analyses of Canadian national/provincial representative surveys or Canadian national/provincial administrative databases, as well as results of international comparative health research.  Health Reports encourages the sharing of methodological information among those engaged in the analysis of health surveys or administrative databases. Use of the most current data available is advised for all submissions.

Who publishes Health Reports

Health Reports is published by Canada’s national statistics agency, Statistics Canada.  Health Reports is designed for a broad audience that includes health professionals, researchers, policymakers, and through media coverage, the general public.  Articles are published electronically on the third Wednesday of every month.

Health Reports content

Health Reports contains three types of article:  Research Articles, Health Matters, and Methodological Insights. (Please indicate type when you submit your manuscript)

Research Articles

Research Articles present an in-depth analysis of a research question or hypothesis.  Authors should think in terms of issues or themes, rather than a description of data.  Research Articles undergo double-blind external peer review. Articles are also read by Statistics Canada staff and subject matter specialists from Health Canada or the Public Health Agency of Canada (a step known as “institutional review”).

Methodological Insights

Methodological Insights explore issues such as data quality, response bias, and sampling error.  They are intended for the benefit of other researchers and data users.  Like Research Articles, Methodological Insights undergo double-blind external peer review and institutional review.

Health Matters

Health Matters are short, descriptive reports.  Profile articles are more appropriate for Health Matters than for Research Articles and consequently often accompany Statistics Canada data releases. Health Matters articles also undergo peer and institutional review.

Guidelines for writing articles

The style requirements of Health Reports generally follow those of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), entitled “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals,” which can be found at: International Committee of Medical Journal Editors' web site.

Research Articles and Methodological Insights

  • Length: 3,500 words for an English submission or 4,100 for a French submission (maximum) not including Abstract, Keywords, tables/charts, references
  • Structured abstract: 250 words (English) or 300 words (French) with the headings Background, Data and methods, Results, and Interpretation 
  • Keywords: 3 to 10 key words that capture the main topics of the article (terms from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) could be used)
  • Tables and figures: Articles can be accompanied by seven tables or seven figures, or some combination of both adding to seven
  • References: A maximum of 50


The text should be divided into sections headed Introduction, Data and methods, Results, and Discussion. Long articles may need subheadings within some sections to clarify their content. Only one level of subhead beneath these major sections should be used. 


The Introduction should provide context and background. Authors should provide a clear statement of the objectives and how they intend to reach them. 


This section should include a description of the data sources including details of sample size, collection methodology and, in the case of survey data, response rate. Statistical methods should be described with enough detail to enable a knowledgeable reader with access to the original data to reproduce the reported results. Findings should be presented with appropriate indicators of measurement error or uncertainty (such as confidence intervals). Appropriate methods that account for the complexity of survey sampling (for example, the use of resampling techniques like boostrapping) should be used where indicated.


Emphasize or summarize only important observations.  Regardless of the type of article, readers should not be burdened with too many numbers.  Put only key numbers in the text; less important figures can be displayed in accompanying tables.  Do not repeat in the text a lengthy description of material that is presented in tables and/or figures. 


We encourage authors to write the discussion sections of research articles in a structured way. For more information, see "The case for structuring the discussion of scientific papers", BMJ 1999; 318:1224-1225 (8 May).

The Discussion addresses the specific issue(s) and the broader context presented in the Introduction.  The Discussion should be written without numbers (or just a few).  A brief summary of the main findings may be helpful, but authors should not repeat in detail the material in the Results section.  Emphasize the new and important aspects of the study and the conclusions that follow from them. Compare and contrast the results with other relevant studies, state the limitations, and explore the implications of findings for future research.  Link the Results with the goals of the study, but avoid unqualified statements and conclusions not supported by the data.

To maintain Statistics Canada's position as a neutral and objective information provider, opinions related to current or previous policies or directions for future policies should be avoided.

Health Reports follows journals published by the BMJ Group by asking that authors include a "What this paper adds" box. The box should be divided into two short paragraphs containing bulleted sentences.

Paragraph 1: What is already known on this subject?
In two or three bulleted sentences, explain the state of scientific knowledge in this area prior to your study and why this study needed to be done.

Paragraph 2: What does this study add?
Give a simple answer to the question, "What do we now know as a result of this study that we did not know before?" Be brief, succinct, specific and accurate. The last sentence should summarize any implications for future research.


Health Reports follows the Vancouver style of referencing (using a superscripted number system). A list of sample references for many different types of citations (for example, journal articles, books, book chapters) is available at: United States National Library of Medicine. We strongly urge our authors to consult these requirements when preparing their manuscripts.

Health Matters

  • Length: 2,000 words for an English submission or 2,350 for a French submission (maximum) not including Keywords, tables/figures, references
  • Abstract: A 150-word (English) or 175- word (French) (maximum) unstructured abstract
  • Keywords: 3 to 10 keywords that capture the main topics of the article (terms from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) should be used)
  • Tables and figures: Articles can be accompanied by five tables or five figures, or some combination of both adding to five
  • References: A maximum of 30


Health Matters are generally profiles and do not adhere to the uniform style. However, the objectives should be presented at the beginning, and the presentation of results should be logical and concise. Methodological information is provided in sidebars called “The data”, which describes the surveys and/or databases from which the information was derived, and explains concepts and terms used in the article.


Same as those for Research Articles and Methodological Insights (see above).

Submitting your article

All articles should be submitted electronically to: Submissions should be double-spaced and use 12pt font. Track changes should be removed. The title page containing author information, the abstract, the word count and the number of tables and figures and the body of the text should all be in one MS Word document.

Tables and figures should be included in the e-mailed submission as separate files in MS Excel. Each table or figure should be in a separate file. Data for the creation of figures should be included in the same spreadsheet as the figure itself.

Tables should contain, only one number per cell. For example, a mean with the accompanying 95% confidence interval should be presented in three columns: mean, lower bound and upper bound.

For more complex figures (for example, maps), an image (.gif) can be provided. Authors might be asked to provide a written description of the figure.

Manuscripts rejected at this stage typically are those that fall outside the scope of the journal, are lacking originality or population health/health services research significance, have serious conceptual and/or methodological flaws or do not follow the author guidelines. Authors of manuscripts rejected at this stage will normally be informed within two weeks of receipt.

The review process

A manuscript submitted to Health Reports is assessed by the Scientific Editor, who, in consultation with Associate Editors, decides whether it is suitable to be sent to peer and institutional review. 

Manuscripts rejected at this stage typically are those that fall outside the scope of the journal, lack originality or population health/health services research significance, have serious conceptual and/or methodological flaws, or do not follow the author guidelines.

If deemed suitable, the article is sent to a minimum of two peer reviewers.  Authors may suggest individuals who specialize in the topic of their paper as reviewers, but Health Reports does not guarantee that the editors will use all or any of the suggested reviewers.  Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and depending on the subject of the paper, other government departments, also review the articles. At the same time as peer review, the article is reviewed by senior management at Statistics Canada to ensure that no statements might compromise Statistics Canada’s non-partisanship, objectivity and neutrality.  The review process normally takes four to six weeks.  

In light of the peer and institutional reviews, the Scientific Editor decides on one of four possible outcomes:  accept, accept with minor revisions, accept with major revisions, or reject.  If an article is accepted and revisions are required, the author’s revised version is reassessed by the Scientific Editor.  Once an article is accepted, it will be copy-edited.

Data verification

If the article is accepted for publication, Health Reports reserves the right to examine data programs and output to ensure the findings can be reproduced.


Health Reports is published in English and French.  Translations of Health Reports articles are verified by a French or English editor, depending on the language of the original manuscript.  Authors are offered an opportunity to review the translation of their article.

The Daily

Articles published in Health Reports may be featured in The Daily, Statistics Canada’s official release bulletin, and  first line of communication with the media and the public.  The Daily is released online at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time each working day.

A telephone number and e-mail address are given for the corresponding author.  If this person cannot respond to questions in the other official language, a Statistics Canada employee will be assigned to this task. Authors are asked to make themselves available for interviews on the day of release. The contents of Health Reports articles are embargoed until 8:30 a.m. of the day of release.

Because articles featured in The Daily often receive considerable media coverage, authors are requested to participate in a media preparation session before publication. For Health Reports articles featured in The Daily, a press release is prepared by the staff of The Daily. In such cases, authors will have an opportunity to review and verify the contents of the release.