Types of content accepted

Topic lead: Andy Nobes, Katie Foxall, Clarissa F. D. Carneiro
Last updated: 06/07/2023
Page: https://www.oajournals-toolkit.org/getting-started/types-of-content-accepted

Academic journals publish a range of different content types, which vary according to the scope and aims of the journal as well as its focus. The choice of appropriate content types helps maintain quality and ensure that the information published is methodologically sound, relevant to its audience and eligible for indexing.

Depending on their chosen scope, aims and focus, journals should choose an appropriate mix of content types to publish. It is important to note that journals often publish a mix of peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed contents, which have to be clearly labelled on journal pages to ensure readers are not misled (e.g. research vs opinion pieces).

The following tables outline the most common content types as well as discipline-specific outputs that a journal may consider.

Peer-reviewed content types

Content typeKey features
Original research articles
  • Original research findings typically based on data collected through experiments, surveys, interviews, observations or other forms of research methodologies
  • Should have a clear hypothesis (or exploratory design if inductive research), methodology, results, and conclusion
Review articles
  • Overview of existing research on a particular topic and help to synthesise the existing body of research on a particular topic and provide a roadmap for future research
  • May follow a range of formats, such as narrative reviews, scoping reviews, and systematic reviews and meta-analyses
Case studies
  • In-depth descriptions of real-life situations or events, used to demonstrate the application of a particular theory or concept in a specific context
  • Typically describe a single case or a small series of cases and may not involve the same level of statistical analysis as other types of research
Conference proceedings
  • Collections of papers that have been presented at academic conferences
    Can be in the form of full-length research articles, as well as abstracts or summary papers
  • May alternatively be published in collections called ‘proceedings’ rather than in a journal
  • In some cases, they may not be peer-reviewed

Non-peer-reviewed content types

Content typeKey features
Letters to the editor, commentaries and opinion pieces
  • Short pieces of writing that express opinions or views on a specific topic
  • Typically written in response to an article that has been published in the journal
  • Provide a forum for authors and readers to engage in a dialogue and share perspectives on a particular issue
Book reviews
  • Critical evaluations of books that have been published in the field
  • Provide readers with an overview of the content and arguments of the book, as well as an evaluation of the book’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Often written by the editor of the journal and provide a platform for the writer to express their opinions and views, or often to provide an introduction and commentary for that particular journal issue

Discipline-specific content types

Content typeKey features
Clinical trials  
  • Report the results of experiments that involve testing new treatments, drugs, or medical devices on human subjects
  • Usually required to follow strict reporting guidelines, such as the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) statement), to ensure that the study design, methods, and results are transparent and replicable
Protocol papers or methods papers
  • Describe the methodology and design of a study before it is carried out, and may include details about the research question, hypothesis, study population, and statistical analysis plan
  • Typically submitted to journals that focus on clinical research or methodology
Technical reports
  • Similar to protocol papers, but more common in engineering and computing
  • Provide a detailed description of the process and results of technical research or development
Registered reports
  • Describe a research question, hypothesis, and study design in advance, and undergo peer review before the study is carried out
  • If the report is accepted, the researchers are guaranteed publication of the study results, regardless of the outcome
  • Aim to reduce publication bias and promote transparency in scientific research

Experimentation around content types

In principle, journals can publish an even broader range of outputs, including conceptual papers, policy briefs, data reports, discovery reports and tutorials. Some open access journals and megajournals take a radical approach and accept almost any output from the research cycle (e.g. RIO Journal).

The types of content accepted in your journal should be displayed as part of author guidelines as well as the Aims & Scope page. If you are charging article processing charges, you will need to be clear which types of articles require payment and which do not. For example, book reviews, letters and other non-peer reviewed content would not normally be subject to an article processing charge.

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