This post is part of a series explaining aspects of the author instructions (see also the checklist) for Health Services Research (HSR) as they existed circa March 2022. Each post quotes portions of the instructions and explains their import. Neither these posts nor the checklist are a substitute for reading and following the full set of instructions, which is expected of all authors for all submissions.
This post focuses on portions of Section 1 of the author instructions, which includes some common reasons for desk rejection, as well as indicates the kinds of papers we do consider for publication.
Section 1.: “… We focus on methods, concepts, and results related to the financing, organization, delivery, evaluation, and outcomes of health services…”
This is, perhaps, the aspect of HSR‘s focus, vision, mission, and values that accounts for the most desk rejections. If a manuscript is not within this scope, it’s not a good fit for the journal.
Section 1.1: “…Areas of interest include … Studies that report on important new data sources … Studies on biological, behavioral, social, and political factors—including structural racism—in addition to health care, as determinants of health outcomes … Articles that advance health services research by developing, demonstrating, or rigorously validating qualitative and quantitative methods…”
These are not the only areas of interest (read the full Section 1.1 of the author instructions). But these are worth pointing out to emphasize that HSR‘s scope includes papers on new data, non-health care factors that affect health outcomes, and methods articles.
Section 1.2: “HSR typically does not consider … Preliminary or scoping reviews … Case studies from a single site, in the absence of a reasonable argument for the generalizability … Simple pre-post (uncontrolled) studies … Studies whose most recent data are >5 years old unless the cover letter and manuscript provide a valid reason…”
These are all common reasons for desk rejections.
Section 1.3: “…[S]tudies of health services in countries other than the US [must include] direct, analytic comparison to US practices … The cover letter and Discussion section for any submission from outside the US should explain why the article is pertinent or salient to US health care.”
Also a common reason for desk rejection.
That’s it for Section 1, which is relatively short. Section 2 (Manuscript Formatting and Submission Requirements), on the other hand, is quite long and is covered in the next post of this series.