Submission Guidelines to the APCP Journal

The APCP Journal is the first journal in the UK to focus on paediatric physiotherapy - it aims to disseminate original research, facilitate continuing medical education and to provide an opportunity to debate controversial issues in paediatric physiotherapy.   If you are considering submitting an article please read the following submission guidance below.

The closing date for submissions for the June Journal is 15 January.

The closing date for submissions for the December Journal is 15 July.


One of the key objectives of the APCP is to encourage research and development (R&D) in paediatric physiotherapy and related fields to enhance the evidence base of physiotherapy.  All submissions to the APCP are subject to anonymous peer review by 2 reviewers.

The APCP Journal will review the following papers on research, Experimental Study, Qualitative Study, Literature Review, Service Evaluation/Audit and Case Study/Series. Other forms of research will be considered but should be discussed with the journal editor prior to submission ( The following guidance is for submission to the journal with regards to the highlighted research types.

Types of Submission

Listed below are the types of submission that can be considered for inclusion in the APCP Journal

  • Experimental study
  • Qualitative study
  • Literature review
  • Service evaluation/ audit
  • Case study/ series

Experimental study

Experimental study: any study that involves exploration of a factor or intervention and the collection of quantitative data will fall into this category whether it is a randomized controlled trial, cross-over study, longitudinal study and so on. As a rule ethical approval is required for these studies and many are prospective in nature. Experimental studies are designed to answer a specific research question usually expressed as a hypothesis and, unlike case studies, inferences or generalizations can be made to the wider population. Experimental studies form the backbone of evidence-based practice.

Articles should normally be no longer than 2,500 words.

The following information provides detail to be included in each section of the paper.


The title should tell the reader in as few words as possible what they are going to read. For example; Exploring muscle stimulation versus exercise on quads strength in CP: a pilot study.


The abstract should provide:  Your main objective in a single sentence;  a brief description of the research design;  the setting of the study e.g. home, primary/secondary care;  brief inclusion/exclusion criteria for participants;  a description of the intervention/comparison and the main/primary outcome measure/s used;  key results with number of participants and data such as mean and standard deviation for each group/condition, difference between groups/conditions, confidence intervals and significance level.  Overall conclusions/implications of the study findings.


This should include a background to the topic being studied including any previous relevant research with gaps /weaknesses identified. This section does not require a long narrative review. The main aims and objectives should be stated, along with any hypotheses.


This section should provide a clear description to the reader about what you actually did. Like a recipe the reader should be able to bake the same cake as you have done. Ethical and/or R&D approval details (see section on ethical approval below for details).  Participants:

  • from where were they recruited and how you intended to recruit including justification for that number (power or pragmatic approach if pilot or feasibility work), along with inclusion and exclusion criteria.
  • Randomisation details where used.

A detailed description of the intervention and any control group treatment. A description of outcome measures used with references for reliability and validity if available. Details of blinding if used. Methods of data analyses, for example descriptive presentation, parametric or non-parametric approach and inferential test used. 


This section should provide a clear description of the findings of the study. A flow chart may be used to account for the flow of participants through the study including drop outs.  Descriptive analysis findings e.g. demographic and main data set including mean and standard deviation/ median inter-quartile range.  Inferential analysis findings e.g. main data set including confidence intervals and significance level if appropriate.  Group analysis of comparisons between groups, mean difference, confidence intervals etc as relevant.

Discussion and conclusion

The first paragraph should summarise the main findings of the study. The findings should then be discussed in relations to previous research and clinical relevance outlined in your introduction. Areas of weakness e.g. bias, outcome measures and sample should be discussed. Strengths of the study should be discussed and finally the article should close with your recommendations and clinical implications if any. NOTE this section must be supported by your findings.


Literature review

Literature reviews are often conducted as a precursor to experimental studies to highlight where the ‘gap’ is, that can then be filled with the experimental study. Alternatively, you may wish to conduct a literature review in order to identify and summarize a large amount of studies about a particular topic in a systematic way. A literature review is particularly important when studies show conflicting results and direct comparisons can highlight the potential reasons for this.

A systematic review should be reported using the PRISMA checklist

A narrative review should be written using the following guide. The introduction to both types of review should include a justification of the chosen method. Articles should be no longer than 3,000.


Identify the topic and scope of the review. The title should tell the reader in as few words as possible what they are going to read. e.g. Inspiratory muscle training and exercise capacity in neurodegenerative conditions: a narrative review


This section should include a brief overview including:

  • Background and justification for review
  • Specific objectives of the review
  • Search criteria
  • Study appraisal and synthesis method
  • Results
  • Limitations
  • Conclusions


This section should include a rationale for the review in the context of what is already known.

A rationale for the review method used (systematic, meta-analysis or narrative). The specific question being addressed should be stated in terms of Participant, Interventions,

Comparisons, Outcome measures and Study designs (PICOS).

A clear search strategy must be provided which includes:

  • Sources of information e.g. databases used and dates covered by search
  • Key search terms in relation to PICOS
  • Inclusion/exclusion criteria for studies
  • Method of study appraisal e.g. Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP and number of appraisers and their role for example is one only for adjudication.


The narrative review should be presented as an analysis and synthesis of the data found based on the search strategy. The review may be divided into sub sections which clearly link to the original review question and provide synthesised findings laid out with clarity for the reader.


This section should provide a conclusion based on the search strategy and the analysis and

synthesis of the studies found. Recommendations for further study should be included.

Service evaluation/ audit

Service evaluation may be used for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is useful to estimate the value of the service being delivered (this may not be in monetary terms, but could be).

Secondly, it may be used to compare a new method of service delivery with a more established one – particularly if a Trust/Health board is moving from one mode to another.

Thirdly it may be used to justify staffing levels or add weight to a funding bid for more staff.

The outcome of a service evaluation may be patient-centred, for example length of hospital stay, number of re-admissions or number of adverse events; or it may be service or therapist centred, for example cost of treatment regime, quality of life of physiotherapist etc. It is important to consider the question that you wish to answer and choose an outcome that is relevant to that question.

Service evaluation should not be used if there are National or Regional Guidelines which relate to the service provided. In these cases the research method which is applicable is audit.

Articles should normally be no longer than 2,500 words.

The following information provides detail to be included in each section of the article.


The title should identify the service that has been evaluated and the context of that evaluation. E.g. An evaluation of a pulmonary rehabilitation service within a rural setting.


The abstract should provide:

  • a brief overview of the purpose of the evaluation
  • the setting of the evaluation e.g. home, primary/secondary care;
  • a brief description of the service
  • a brief description of the method of evaluation
  • a description of the main findings
  • Conclusion and recommendations


This should include a brief background to the purpose and context of the evaluation. The context may include socio-economic, political, environmental, historical issues. It should also include reference to literature as a rationale for undertaking the evaluation.


This section should provide a clear description of the service evaluation including:

  • rationale and objectives of the service
  • the population/people for whom the service was designed
  • activities/processes included within the service
  • involvement of other organisations within the service
  • cost of the service
  • Ethical and/or R&D approval details (see section on ethical approval below for details).

A clear description of the method/s of evaluation should be provided:

  • clear description of method e.g. self completion questionnaire, focus group/s, observation
  • participants in the evaluation – numbers and characteristics
  • method/s of data analysis


A clear description of the findings of the study should be provided and may include quantitative and qualitative data.

If key performance indicators were identified, these may provide a structure for this section.

Results may be divided into sections such as process e.g. attendance, satisfaction and impact e.g. change in participants’ knowledge/behaviour

Quantitative data should be described using tables and graphs; qualitative data should be presented as descriptive themes.

Discussion and conclusion

The first paragraph should summarise the main findings of the study. The findings should then be discussed in relations to previous research, potential changes to policy and/or practice in

the context of professional practice and/or service organisation.

Areas of weakness and strength of the evaluation should be discussed and recommendations made.

Case study / series

You might want to write a case study/series if you come across a condition or technique that is unusual, rare or a response to treatment that is unexpected. Although case studies lack the scientific rigor of large randomized controlled trials, they are important for highlighting instances where a patient or treatment has deviated from the ‘typical’ protocol or response. They are often used for patients who have very rare presentations, where insufficient patient numbers would preclude a randomized controlled trial. Or for novel treatment approaches that have shown to be surprisingly successful! The following provides information of the detail to be included in each section of the case study.

Word count: you should aim for 1500 words for a case study and 2000 words for a case series.


The title should identify the research design and topic of the study e.g. C6 spinal injury in a 1 year old: case study report


The abstract should provide: 

  • The background to the case study/series 
  • A brief description of the case(s) 
  • A brief evaluation of the case(s) in the context of previous literature 
  • Main conclusion/s and recommendation/s.


The introduction should include a background to the topic including: 

  • the purpose of the case study/series – i.e. what is novel about this case study? 
  • Background information e.g. pertinent information relating to the condition 
  • A brief review of pertinent literature related to the case study
  • Clear justification for the case study research approach

The case presentation

This section should provide a clear description to the reader about the case and may include detail related to:

  • Participant demographic data
  • Participant’s underlying condition
  • Participants’ previous medical, medication, family and social history (as much detail as is relevant to the case)
  • Data related to other systems e.g. digestive, musculoskeletal (as relevant)
  • A chronological description of the participant’s problems.

Discussion and conclusion

The first paragraph should summarise the main findings of the case study. The case should be evaluated in terms of accuracy, validity and uniqueness. Information from the case study should be integrated with information from previous literature. New knowledge should be highlighted and recommendations made

All submissions

In addition to the considerations for the specific research-type submission, each paper should include the below sub-headings.

Key points

Three key points should provide the reader with the value of the study.


Acknowledgements should be provided for anyone who was not an author but helped in the preparation of the article.


Funding of the study needs to be acknowledged preferably worded as follows. Either: ‘This work was supported by [name of funder] grant number [xxx]’ or ‘This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors’. You must ensure that the full, correct details of your funder(s) and any relevant grant numbers are included.

Ethical and R&D approval

Approval for use of an individual’s data must be gained from relevant sources. If your manuscript contains any individual person’s data in any form (including individual details, images or videos), consent for publication must be obtained from that person, or in the case of children, their parent or legal guardian.

Trust/Health Board R&D approval and if necessary NHS research ethics approval must be documented. If the study was part of an academic award, confirmation of University ethical approval is also required.

If your manuscript does not contain data from any individual person (ie literature review), please state “Not applicable” in this section.

General Submission Guidance

Email your submission in the first place in Word format to - clearly indicating the nature of the submission, e.g. case series, research project.

Ensure that your copy includes information about the author (full name, qualifications, email address). Once your submission has been received you will receive feedback from the reviewers indicating whether the copy has been accepted for publication.

Formatting the document for submission

All text is Arial and fully justified.

Title: bold 16pt, 1.5 spacing Authors, keywords and correspondence: 12pt, all headings bold Abstract:

  • Sub-headings: 14pt, bold, italic
  • Text: 12pt, single spaced, italic

Main body of article:

  • Headings: bold 14pt,
  • Text: 12pt, double spacing
  • Any further subheadings within sections: italic

Fig and table titles: 12pt

Word count

Articles may be submitted from pieces of work originally for higher education. Generally writing for educational purposes meet different objectives than writing for a journal article. Therefore unless your program of education requires you to write specifically for publication you will need to revise any thesis/literature review to reflect journal dissemination requirements – this reflects the word count for each type of research.


Any included tabulation or images from other publications should include permission from the original copyright owner.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor can be on any issue pertinent to paediatric physiotherapy or to APCP.  Letters should be no more than 500 words long.

Book Reviews

Book reviews should be no more than 750 words long


All work submitted for peer review should be referenced in the Harvard style:

In text, cite only the author(s) surname(s) followed by the date of publication, e.g. (Robinson, 1994) or Robinson (1994). ‘a’, ‘b’, etc., is used to indicate more than one publication by the same author(s) in the same year, e.g. 1992a,b). For three or more authors of a cited paper, name the first followed by et al, e.g. (Smith et al, 1990).

In the reference list, include articles in journals and books alphabetically by author. For citations from journals, give the names and initials of all authors (year of publication), title of the article, full name of the journal, volume number, issue number and first and last page numbers, e.g. Brown A, Green B and Gold C (2001). ‘The value of exercise’, Physiotherapy, 87, 1, 77-79. Referring to books, give the names and initials of all authors/editors (year of publication), title, publisher, place of publication, and the chapter number or the page number of the citation or both, e.g. Gardner, M (2001). The Annotated Alice, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Chap 10, page 210.

Pre-submission Advice and Support

The Editorial Board welcomes pre-submission questions and are also available to offer additional advice and guidance to support you in preparing your submission.

Please contact the Journal Editor -