Guide to Authors
To download our complete Guide to Authors as a pdf, please click here. We require you to comply with the instructions in the attached when submitting, as the below is only an overview and thus does not cover everything.
Spinal Cord and Springer Nature are pleased to share detailed online Author Tutorials - including interactive quizzes - which cover the following topics:
- Writing a journal manuscript
- Submitting a journal and peer review
- Writing in English
- Open Access
You can also watch a brief video giving an overview of the tutorials here.
Article Type Specifications
Article (presenting primary data): Spinal Cord prioritises original research that contains prospectively collected data driven by clear a priori hypothesis. This includes but isn't limited to: randomised and non-randomised clinical trials; diagnostic studies; cohort studies; case-control studies; psychometric studies; basic cellular studies; animal studies; qualitative studies; explanatory or mechanistic studies; economic evaluation studies
The following studies are low publication priority: retrospective chart audits; studies of the demographics of patients of a single hospital presenting with new SCI; studies that are only of a regional interest; studies examining the reliability of outcome measures translated into a non-English language; surveys of small and non-representative samples.
Exceptions will be made if the authors can demonstrate that the study is particularly novel and would be of wide interest to an international readership.
Specifications: Structured Abstract (Study Design; Objectives; Setting; Methods; Results; Conclusions; Sponsorship) max. 250 words; Main body of text (excluding abstract, tables/figures and references) not to exceed 3,500* words; Max. 4 tables and 3 figures; Max. 30 references
Review Article: Spinal Cord prioritises systematic reviews about treatment effectiveness which have clearly stated Population-Intervention-Comparate-Outcomes (PICO) elements with results presented in forest plots including meta-analyses as appropriate. Systematic reviews examining incidence or prevelance of SCI or of a secondary condition will also be prioritised.
Narrative reviews will be considered but only if the topic is of wide interest to readers. The topics of both narrative and systematic reviews should not have already been extensively reviewed, or the authors can demonstrate that the review adds new insights to a previous review on the topic. Authors are encourage to seek feedback about suitability for publication of narrative reviews from the Editorial Office before submitting.
Specifications: Structured Abstract of max. 250 words; Main body of text (excluding abstract, tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 4,500* words; Max. of 2 tables and 3 figures; Max. 30 references (references of the studies extracted can go in supplementary files)
Protocol (when submitting please select manuscript type 'Article)': Protocol of large cohort studies or clinical trials may be published from time-to-time. However, the studies need to be of high importance (e.g. answering a key clinical question, or offering methodologic innovation) with a strong likelihood of completion (evident by sufficient funding).
The headings for the Structured Abstract and within the article text should be the same as for Articles as outlined in the complete Guide to Authors document with the following exception: the Results and Discussion sections should be replaced with one section titled 'Ethics and Dissemination'. Additional subheadings within the sections are allowed.
Specifications: Structured Abstract of max. 250 words; Main body of text (excluding abstract, tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 2,500* words; Max. of 1 table and 2 figures; Max. of 30 references
Correspondence: Correspondences will be considered if they relate to a previously published manuscript in Spinal Cord or a current controversial issue. Correspondences that highlight an important weakness with the methodology or interpretation of the results of a published paper will be prioritised.
Specifications: No abstract or subheadings required; Main body of text (excluding tables/figures, references) not to exceed 800 words; No tables or figures unless essential; Max. 5 references
Perspective: Any type of scholarly paper that requires less than 1,500 words and 10 references. This may include summaries of Cochrane Reviewers (provided by the Cochrane Rehabilitation Group), summaries of well-recognised clinical practise guidelines, summaries of position or consensus statements by Societies and organisations affiliated with ISCoS, summaries of important strategic planning meetings, summaries of medical or research procedures or new assessment tools, or short narratives on controversial topics. Perspectives need to be balanced but can be more opinionated than original research. They should stimulate discussion or provide an accessible summary of content that would be of interest to the readers of Spinal Cord.
Specifications: Unstructured abstract/brief overview of maximum 150 words; Main body of text (excluding tables/figures, references) not to exceed 1,500 words; Max. 1 table and/or figures+; Max. 10 references
*Unless the restrictions prevent authors from conveying key messages. If these restrictions are exceeded then authors need to provide an explanation in their covering letter and be aware that they may be asked to reduce the number of Tables, Figures, References and/or length of the manuscript. Authors can put extensive descriptions of particular methods of statistical techniques, and extra Figures or Tables in Supplementary Files.
+Additional Tables and Figures can be included as Supplementary Files.
Please note: all submissions should include a Title Page and a Conflict of Interest Statement. More information can be found below.
Important message: Mandatory requirements starting 1st January 2018
From 2018: All clinical trials starting on or after 1st January 2018 MUST be registered BEFORE the first participant is randomised to be accepted for publication in Spinal Cord. A clinical trial is any study in which participants are allocated to a treatment. Most registries allow registration of non-interventional studies, and we encourage researchers to register their observational studies. Trials commenced before 2018 must be retrospectively registered.
Read here and see the Clinical Trial section in the Guide to Authors PDF for more details.
Systematic reviews can be registered in PROSPERO (https://www.crd.yourk.ac.uk/PROSPERO) and Spinal Cord will at some point in the future start requiring such pre-registration.
Preparation of Articles
House Style: Authors should adhere to the following formatting guidelines
- We accept UK English or American English, however authors should be consistent of their use of either within the manuscript.
- Text should be double spaced with margins of between 1cm and 3cm wide.
- All pages and lines are to be numbered continuously.
- Do not make rules thinner than 1pt (0.36mm).
- Use a coarse hatching pattern rather than shading for tints in graphs.
- Colour should be distinct when being used as an identifying tool.
- Commas, not spaces should be used to separate thousands. Decimal values should be proceeded by a dot, not a comma.
- At first mention of a manufacturer, the town (and state if USA) and country should be provided.
- Normally distributed data should be expressed as mean (SD). Skewed data should be expressed as median (25% and 75% percentiles).
- Sole reliance on statistically significance (and p values) is discouraged. Instead, we encourage reporting of effect sizes preferably in the units of the original scale. See Author Guide for more details and examples of this.
- Units: Use metric units (SI units) as fully as possible. Preferably give measurements of energy in kiloJoules or megaJoules with kilocalories in parentheses (1 kcal = 4.186kJ). Use % throughout.
- Express all 95% confidence intervals in this format - "95% CI, xx to xx"
- Express all means and standard deviations in this format - "the mean (SD) was xx (xx)"
- Use person centred terminology throughout e.g. "people with tetraplegia" not "tetraplegics"
- Use the term "tetraplegia" (not quadripligea)
- Use the words "person/s", "people" or "individual/s" where ever possible (rather than patient/s) unless this distracts from the readability or meaning
- Use the word "participant/s" not "subject/s"
- Avoid spurious precision. As a general rule, report numbers between 0 and 1 to 2 decimal places, between 1 and 10 to 1 decimal place, and above 10 with no decimal place
Please note Articles must contain the below components. More details on this can also be found in the Guide to Authors PDF.
Cover Letter: Authors should provide a cover letter that includes the affiliation and contact information for the corresponding author. Authors should briefly discuss the importance of the work and explain why it is considered appropriate for the diverse readership of the journal. The cover letter should confirm the material is original research, has not been previously published and has not been/will not be submitted for publication elsewhere while under consideration. If the manuscript has been previously considered for publication in another journal, please include the previous reviewer comments, to help expedite the decision by the Editorial team.
Title Page: The title page should contain:
- Title of the paper - brief, informative, of 150 characters or less and should not make a statement or conclusion. See Author Guide for more details and examples.
- Full first and last names of all authors along with initials for any middle names. Also provide the affiliations of all authors, as well as the e-mail address of the corresponding author (postal addresses are no longer required). If authors regard it as essential to indicate that two or more co-authors are equal in status, they may be identified by an asterisk symbol with the caption ‘These authors contributed equally to this work’ immediately under the address list.
- Consortia: please see Author Guide for full details on this.
Large Language Models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT, do not currently satisfy our authorship criteria. Notably an attribution of authorship carries with it accountability for the work, which cannot be effectively applied to LLMs. Use of an LLM should be properly documented in the Methods section (and if a Methods section is not available, in a suitable alternative part) of the manuscript.
Structured Abstract: Articles must be prepared with a structured abstract designed to summarise the essential features of the paper in a logical and concise sequence under the following mandatory headings. Authors can also apply this layout to Review Articles if they wish to do so. (Structured abstracts must be used for systematic reviews but unstructured abstracts may be used for narrative reviews)
- Study Design e.g. Cohort Study; clinical trial; Narrative Review; Systematic Review - see "Article Description" for other examples
- Setting e.g. Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden; University-based laboratory in Chicago, USA. (Narrative and systematice reviews do not need to include this heading)
- Conclusions: Framed with respect to the objectives and primary results
- Sponsorship (this is only relevant if a commercial company has sponsored the study)
Graphical Abstracts (optional): A graphical abstract, which summarizes the manuscript in a visual way, is designed to attract the attention of readers in the table of contents of the journal. Graphical abstracts are published in the table of contents and in the article html. The graphic should be submitted as a single file using a standard file format (.tiff, .eps, .jpg, .bmp, .doc, or .pdf.), it should be 9 cm wide x 5 cm high when printed at full scale and a minimum of 300 dpi. All graphical abstracts should be submitted with a white background and imagery should fill the available width, whenever possible. Colour graphical abstracts are encouraged and will be published at no additional charge. Textual statements should be kept to a minimum.
Introduction: The Introduction should assume that the reader is knowledgeable in the field and should therefore be as brief as possible but, can include a short historical review where desirable. Please refrain from commencing with statements such as "Spinal cord injuries are devastating injuries" or similar
Methods: This section should contain sufficient detail, so that all experimental procedures can be reproduced by a knowledgeable scientist, and include references. Methods that have been published in detail elsewhere should not be described in detail. Authors should provide the name of the manufacturer and their location for any specifically named medical equipment and instruments, and all drugs should be identified by their pharmaceutical names, and by their trade name if relevant.
Results: The Results section should briefly present the experimental data in text, tables and/or figures. Tables and figures should not be described extensively in the text, but the text should refer to key findings/observations in Tables and Figures e.g. "As shown in Table 2, males are taller than females with a mean (SD) difference of 1.2 (0.3)cm". All results comparing groups should be presented as point estimates with measures of precision (eg. mean between-group differences, odds ratios or hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals).
Discussion: The Discussion should focus on the interpretation and the significance of the findings with concise objective comments that describe their relation to other work in the area. It should not repeat information in the results. The final paragraph should highlight the main conclusion(s) and clinical implications, and provide some indication of the direction future research should take.
Data Availability Statement: Please include a statement at the end of your paper that tells readers where the data generated or analysed during this study can be found e.g. within the published article and its supplementary files, within a recognised repository, with a link to the data in said repository, or if additional data are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Please see the Data Availability and Policy page for more information.
References: Only papers directly related to the article should be cited. Exhaustive lists should be avoided - see the limitations on number of references under Article Type Specifications above. References should follow the Vancouver format. In the text they should appear as numbers (starting at one) in square brackets before punctuations. Example "...the scale maintains adequate construct validity and measures the attributes it purports to measure [15,16]".
The full details of the References should appear at the end of the paper (double-spaced) in numerical order corresponding to the order of citation in the text. If you use a reference manager such as Endnote or RefWorks, make sure you check the results for completeness and proper capitalization of author names, Journal names, titles, and year/volume/issue/page information. The doi, PMCID and similar numbers should not be included unless the Reference is only available in electronic format. Please ensure the links to Endnote are removed prior to submission.
All authors should be listed for papers with up to six authors; for papers with more than six authors, the first six only should be listed, followed by et al. Abbreviations for titles of medical periodicals should conform to those used in the NCBI database. The first and last page numbers for each reference should be provided. Abstracts and letters must be identified as such. Papers in press may be included in the list of references.
Personal communications can be allocated a number and included in the list of references in the usual way or simply referred to in the text e.g. "William Jones, personal communication, 2 June 2018". In either case authors must obtain permission from the individual concerned to quote his/her unpublished work.
Neidlein, S, Wirth, R, Pourhassan, M. Iron deficiency, fatigue and muscle strength and function in older hospitalized patients. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2020; 75:456–463.
Journal article by DOI:
Kurotani K, Shinsugi C, Takimoto H. Diet quality and household income level among students: 2014 National Health and Nutrition Survey Japan. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2020; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-020-00794-1.
Journal article, in press:
Gallardo RL, Juneja HS, Gardner FH. Normal human marrow stromal cells induce clonal growth of human malignant T-lymphoblasts. Int. J Cell Cloning (in press).
Atkinson K, Champlin R, Ritz J, Fibbe W, Ljungman P, Brenner MK (eds). Clinical Bone Marrow and Blood Stem Cell Transplantation. 3rd ed. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004.
Chapter in book:
Coccia PF. Hematopoietic cell transplantation for osteopetrosis. In: Blume KG, Forman SJ, Appelbaum FR (eds). Thomas' Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. 3rd ed. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Malden, 2004. pp 1443–1454.
Abstracts from the 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting of the British and Irish Hypertension Society (BIHS). J Hum Hypertens 34; 2020; 1–20
Kassambara A. rstatix: pipe-friendly framework for basic statistical tests. 2020. https://rpkgs.datanovia.com/rstatix/.
Doe J. Title of subordinate document. In: The dictionary of substances and their effects. Royal Society of Chemistry. 1999. http://www.rsc.org/dose/title of subordinate document. Accessed 15 Jan 1999.
Acknowledgements: These should be brief, and should include sources of technical assistance, critical advice or other assistance, which contributed to the final manuscript.
Author Contributions: Authors must include a statement about the contribution of each author to the manuscript (see section on Authorship). The initials of each author may be used. Please see example in the Guide to Authors document.
Funding: The funding section is mandatory. Authors must declare sources of study funding including sponsorship (e.g. university, charity, commercial organization) and sources of material (e.g. novel drugs) not available commercially. If no financial assistance was received in support of the study, please include a statement to this fact here.
Authors must provide a statement regarding ethical approval (see information on Human and Other Animal Experiments in the Editorial Policy section for further details). If ethical approval was not required, authors must provide an explanation of why it was not needed.
Competing Interests: Authors must declare whether or not there are any competing financial interests in relation to the work described. This information must be included at this stage and will be published as part of the paper. Please see the Competing Interests section under Editorial Policies for detailed information.
Patient consent for images or information used in a manuscript: If a patient or participant of a study can be identified in any way through images or information presented in a paper, the patient or participant provide written and signed consent for this identification. The consent needs to be emailed to the editorial office. Alternatively, please indicate where a photograph can be cropped to remove identifiable features. If consent has not been obtained, then any recognizable features must be masked so that the individual is 'officially unrecognizable'.
Figure Legends: These should appear on a separate manuscript page after the References section. Each Figure should have a brief title and may have a short footnote.
Tables: Tables should only be used to present essential data; they should not duplicate what is written in the text. Use lower case letters starting with 'a' to reference Table footnotes. Tables should consist of at least two columns; columns should always have headings. Ensure each Table is cited within the text and in the correct order, e.g. (Table 3). All measures of variability should be defined either within the table title or footnote. It is imperative that tables are editable and ideally submitted in Excel format although Word format is acceptable. If uploading in Excel, each table must be uploaded as a separate workbook with a title or caption and be clearly labelled, sequentially. Files for Tables need to be saved with one of the following extensions: .xls / .xlsx / .ods / or .doc or .docx. Please ensure that you provide a 'flat' file, with single values in each cell with no macros or links to other workbooks or worksheets and no calculations or functions.
Figures: Figures and images should be labelled sequentially and cited in the text (e.g. Fig1.). Figures should not be embedded within the text but uploaded as separate files. The use of three-dimensional histograms is strongly discouraged unless the addition of the third dimension is important for conveying the results. All parts of a figure should be grouped together. Where possible large figures and tables should be included as supplementary material.
Detailed guidelines for submitting artwork can be found by downloading our Artwork Guidelines. Using the guidelines, please submit production quality artwork with your initial online submission. If you have followed the guidelines, we will not require the artwork to be resubmitted following the peer-review process, if your paper is accepted for publication.
There is a charge if authors choose to publish their figures in colour in print publication (which includes the online PDF). VAT or local taxes will be added where applicable. Colour charges will not apply to authors who wish to have their figures in colour online only (HTML version of the article but NOT the PDF).
Colour charges will NOT apply to authors who choose to pay an article processing charge to make their paper Open Access.
Number of colour illustrations
Cost: Rest of world
Standard Abbreviations: Abbreviations should be defined in full at their first usage in the Abstract, and again at their first usage in the body of the manuscript. So on first use of an abbreviation, place it in parentheses after the full item. Do this separately for the abstract and the full texts). Note these abbreviations: gram g; litre l; milligram mg; kilogram kg; kilojoule kj; megajoule mj; weight wt; seconds s; minutes m; hours h. Do not add s for plural units. Terms used less than four times should not be abbreviated. It is not advised to use more than five abbreviations in total unless they are extremely common abbreviations.
Reporting of demographic and neurological details: Demographic data should be reported as mean and standard deviation, or median and interquartile range depending on whether the data are skewed or not. If data are to be grouped, authors are encouraged to follow the recommendations of Biering-Sørensen et al. Age should be grouped in 15 year increments: 0–15, 16–30, 31–45… to 76+. Reporting on the paediatric SCI population should use age groups 0–5, 6–12, 13–14, 15-17 and 18–21. When time since injury is grouped, 5 year increments should be used: <1 year, 1–5 years, 6–10 years, and 5-year increments thereafter. Calendar time (years during which the study is conducted) should be grouped by either 5 or 10 year increments with years ending in 4 or 9. The severity of injury should be grouped as C1-4 ASIA Impairment Scale grade (AIS) A, B, or C; C5-8 AIS A, B, or C; T1-S5 AIS A, B, or C; AIS D at any injury level; Ventilator-dependent at any injury level or AIS grade. If data are limited, the above groups can be collapsed. If data are limited, the above groups can be collapsed.
 Biering-Sorensen F, DeVivo MJ, Charlifue S, Chen Y, New PW, Noonan V. et al. International Spinal Cord Injury Core Data Set (version 2.0) including standardization of reporting. Spinal Cord 2017; 55: 759-764.
Supplementary Information: Supplementary information is material directly relevant to the Methods, Results, Discussion and/or Conclusion of an article that cannot be included in the printed version owing to space or format constraints. The article must be complete and self-explanatory for the average reader without the Supplementary Information, which is posted on the journal's website and linked to the article. Supplementary Information may consist of data files, graphics, movies or extensive tables. Please see our Artwork Guidelines for information on accepted file types.
Authors should submit supplementary information files in the FINAL format as they are not edited, typeset or changed, and will appear online exactly as submitted. Ideally all Supplementary Information files should be merged into one PDF document, unless the file contains Data, Software, Movie or Audio files, in which case these should be submitted as separate documents/files in the appropriate format (e.g. Excel files, *.dat files, *.mov files, etc.). Please upload supplementary material as file type 'Supplementary Material - seen by all'. When submitting Supplementary Information, authors are required to:
- Include a text summary (no more than 50 words) to describe the contents of each file within the supplementary materials as the legends. These need to be placed in the Supplementary File (not at the back of the manuscript). If you are unable to include the legends for Supplementary Materials within the file, please upload your legends for supplementary materials in a separate file. Please also ensure that all data files include a codebook explaining each variable. It is important that all Supplementary Files are referred to within the main text of the manuscript. For example - "(see Supplementary Appendix 1 for participant-level data)".
- Identify the types of files (file formats) submitted.
Please submit supplementary figures, small tables and text as a single combined PDF document. Tables longer than one page should be provided as an Excel or similar file type. For optimal quality video files please use H.264 encoding, the standard aspect ratio of 16:9 (4:3 is second best) and do not compress the video. Supplementary information is not copyedited, so please ensure that it is clearly and succinctly presented, and that the style and terminology conform to the rest of the manuscript, with any tracked-changes or Review mark-ups removed.
Please note: We do not allow the resupplying of Supplementary Information files for style reasons after a paper has been exported in production, unless there is a serious error that affects the science which would lead to a formal correction once the paper has been published. In these cases we would make an exception and replace the file; however there are very few instances where a Supplementary Information file would be corrected post publication.