Information for Contributors

Psychiatric Services is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal published monthly by the American Psychiatric Association. Research published in Psychiatric Services focuses on the delivery of mental health services in organized systems of care in the public and private sectors and on the development and provision of evidence-based interventions, especially for people with severe mental illnesses living in the community. The journal has a strong clinical focus but also provides in-depth coverage of administrative, legal, economic, and public policy issues.

The journal gives priority to material that is clearly applicable in everyday clinical and administrative practice or in public policy development.

Manuscripts are accepted for consideration by Psychiatric Services with the understanding that they represent original material, have not been published previously, are not being considered for publication elsewhere, and have been approved by each author. (Clinical trial registration does not constitute prior publication and will not preclude consideration for publication.)

Authors submitting manuscripts containing data or clinical observations already used in published papers or used in papers that are in press, submitted for publication, or soon to be submitted should provide this information and electronic copies of those papers (or links to the online publications) to the Editor in a cover letter uploaded to ScholarOne Manuscripts. An explanation of the differences between the papers should be included.

Psychiatric Services requires, as a condition of consideration for publication, registration of clinical trials in a public trials registry. Trials must be registered at or before the onset of patient enrollment. For this purpose, a clinical trial is defined as any research project that prospectively assigns human subjects to intervention or comparison groups to study the cause-and-effect relationship between a medical intervention and a health outcome. Studies designed for other purposes, such as to study pharmacokinetics or major toxicity (for example, phase I trials), are exempt. The journal does not advocate one particular registry but requires authors to register their trial in a registry that meets several criteria. The registry must be accessible to the public at no charge. It must be open to all prospective registrants and managed by a not-for-profit organization. There must be a mechanism to ensure the validity of the registration data, and the registry must be electronically searchable.

An acceptable registry must include at minimum the following information: a unique identifying number, a statement of the intervention (or interventions) and comparison (or comparisons) studied, a statement of the study hypothesis, definitions of the primary and secondary outcome measures, eligibility criteria, key trial dates (registration date, anticipated or actual start date, anticipated or actual date of last follow-up, planned or actual date of closure to data entry, and date trial data were considered complete), target number of subjects, funding source, and contact information for the principal investigator. To our knowledge, at present, only www.clinicaltrials.gov, sponsored by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, meets these requirements; there may be other registries, now or in the future, that meet all these requirements. Registration information must be provided in the cover letter at submission.

On acceptance of a manuscript, the corresponding author and all coauthors will receive an e-mail with a link to the Authorship, Disclosure, and Copyright Transfer form and instructions for online submission of the completed form. The form requires each author to attest to authorship.

To qualify for authorship, all persons designated as authors should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for the content. The form requires the corresponding author to affirm that he or she had access to all data from the study, both what is reported and what is unreported, and also that he or she had complete freedom to direct its analysis and its reporting, without influence from the sponsors. The corresponding author also affirms that there was no editorial direction or censorship from the sponsors. Preparation of drafts of manuscripts by employees of the sponsor who are not listed as authors is expressly prohibited.

Authorship credit should be based on the following criteria:

  • substantial contributions to conception and design or analysis and interpretation of data
  • substantial contributions to drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content
  • final approval of the version to be published.

Conditions 1, 2, and 3 must ALL be met. Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or the collection of data does not justify authorship. General supervision of the research group is also not sufficient. Any part of an article critical to its main conclusions must be the responsibility of at least one author.

Others contributing to the work may be recognized in an Acknowledgment. (The corresponding author is responsible for seeking permission of all persons to be acknowledged, because readers may infer that those acknowledged endorse the data and conclusions presented in the article.)

Disclosure of financial relationships is required at the time of submission (see further information in the subsection about disclosures under Title Page below). Financial support for the study is always disclosed, whether from governmental, nonprofit, or commercial sources. Nonfinancial forms of support for the study, such as medications and other in-kind support, must also be disclosed. The authors are responsible for informing the editorial office of any additional financial relationships that may arise prior to the date of publication of the paper.

On acceptance of a manuscript, the corresponding author and all coauthors will receive an e-mail with a link to the Authorship, Disclosure, and Copyright Transfer form and instructions for online submission of the form. This form requires all authors to individually disclose all financial relationships, whether or not directly related to the subject of the paper. Reporting should encompass the previous 36 months. Such reporting must include all equity ownership, profit-sharing agreements, royalties, patents, and research or other grants from private industry or closely affiliated nonprofit funds. For income from pharmaceutical companies, the purpose must be specified—e.g., speakers’ bureau honoraria or other CME activity, travel funds, advisory panel payments, or research grants. If an author has no interests to disclose, the form requires an author to specifically state this, which will be noted in print as “The author reports no competing interests.”

The Editor will review all author statements of financial support to determine whether there is evidence of bias from these sources. If it appears that there may be, then further review and possible rejection of the manuscript may occur. Authors are encouraged to contact the Editor at any stage in the manuscript review process if they believe that they have relationships that require review.


On acceptance of a manuscript, the corresponding author and all coauthors will receive an e-mail with a link to the Authorship, Disclosure, and Copyright Transfer form and instructions for online submission of the form. Psychiatric Services requires transfer of copyright to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) so that the author(s) and the Association are protected from misuse of copyrighted material. Accepted manuscripts will not be scheduled for publication until a completed form has been received in the editorial office.

In addition, authors must obtain letters of permission from publishers and pay any fees for use of extensive quotations (more than 500 words) or figures that have been previously published or submitted elsewhere.

Broad access to the research literature and the rights of our authors are important to the American Psychiatric Association, the publisher of Psychiatric Services. Read our public access policy for guidelines on deposit mandates for research funded by NIH and others and institutional repositories.



Manuscripts that report the results of experimental investigation and interviews with human subjects must include a statement that written informed consent was obtained after the procedure(s) had been fully explained. In the case of children, authors are asked to include information about whether the child’s assent was obtained. If your submission does not address written informed consent and Institutional Review Board approval, it will not be reviewed.


All manuscripts receive an initial review by the Editor of Psychiatric Services to determine the originality, validity, and importance of content and conclusions. Manuscripts with insufficient priority for publication will be rejected promptly.

Other manuscripts are sent for peer review to at least three independent reviewers. The journal uses a double-blind review system (authors and all reviewers remain anonymous). Separate statistical review is obtained when a reviewer requests it. Authors are informed about the Editor’s decision after the review process is completed. Authors are usually notified of a decision within three months.

Manuscripts not rejected after the first round of peer review usually require revision and re-review by one or more of the original reviewers. Authors will be sent reviewer comments that are judged to be useful to them. Revised manuscripts must conform to the general requirements listed above, including specified word limits. They are submitted online via ScholarOne Manuscripts.

The final decision is the Editor’s. Authors should contact the Editorial Office if they become concerned about a delay.




The journal uses ScholarOne Manuscripts, a Web-based manuscript submission and tracking system. To submit your paper, please visit ScholarOne Manuscripts and either use your existing account or create an account if you don’t have one. Then follow the instructions to upload your manuscript. Because the journal’s peer review process is double-blind, please ensure that the manuscript’s title page, acknowledgments, and disclosures do not contain any author information. Do not use authors’ initials in the text or file names. Please review the list of tips to help ensure problem-free submission. 



Psychiatric Services publishes several types of articles, including regular articles and brief reports, which present the results of original research, and literature reviews. In addition, the journal publishes regular columns on a range of clinical, policy, legal, and financial issues; commentaries on topics of current interest; letters; and book reviews. To determine the best category for your article, use the guidelines and summary table below.

Psychiatric Services welcomes submissions that examine new applications of established clinical or research instruments with populations receiving or providing mental health services. Basic psychometric work on the development of new scales should not be submitted.

The journal considers publication of randomized trials with negative findings if they are accompanied by analysis with adequate statistical power and a discussion of what was learned from the research.

Regular Articles, Brief Reports, and Literature Reviews
In general, regular articles should not exceed 3,000 words, excluding abstract, references, and tables and figures, although some exceptions are made by the Editor. Please do not submit articles of more than 3,000 words without first contacting the Editor or Managing Editor at psjournal@psych.org. In your e-mail, please explain why the paper should exceed the word limit. Attach the abstract of the proposed submission or the paper itself.

Brief reports should be a maximum 1,800 words (excluding abstract, references, and table), plus no more than 15 references and one table or figure.

Literature reviews and special articles generally are solicited by the Editor and are 4,000 to 6,000 words plus no more than 100 references. Reviews should focus on recent literature. Before submitting a review, please consult the Editor at psjournal@psych.org. In your e-mail, please provide a word count; count only the words in the text, not in the abstract, references, or tables or figures. Attach an abstract for the paper if possible.

Provocative commentaries of 425 words maximum are invited for Taking Issue. Authors may also submit commentaries of 1,200 to 1,600 words and up to 15 references for the Open Forum section. Authors may be asked for source material to support factual statements in opinion pieces.

Letters should not exceed 500 words and may have a maximum of 3 authors and 5 references. Letters reporting results of a study should be uploaded to ScholarOne Manuscripts for peer review. Letters commenting on material published in Psychiatric Services should be sent directly to the Editor at psjournal@psych.org. They must be received within 3 months of publication of the article to which they refer. Such letters are published at the discretion of the Editor and will be sent to the author for possible reply.

Material for columns is solicited by the column editors. Authors of possible submissions should contact the column editor directly. Columns should not exceed 2,500 total words, including text, 15 references, and an abstract of no more than 100 words. The word count for columns with displayed material (tables, figures, and boxes) is lower.

Book Reviews
Books to be considered for review should be sent to the book review editor, Jeffrey L. Geller, M.D., M.P.H., Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01655 (e-mail: Jeffrey.Geller@UMassMed.edu). Potential reviewers should contact Dr. Geller. All book reviews are published only online.


Guidelines for publication in Psychiatric Services, by article type







Word limit



Limit on references

Limit on displayed itemsa

Regular article






Literature review








Brief report












Open Forum






Taking Issue












aDisplayed items may include tables, figures (graphs, line art), or boxes (lists).



A more detailed list of editorial style and format guidelines is available here.

  • Remember to state the purpose of the research in the last paragraph of the introduction. (If the purpose is not stated as a research question, it should be translatable into a research question.) Also indicate the type of study design, such as experiment, survey, or retrospective or prospective study.
  • Include data on the sex, age, and race-ethnicity of the study participants, preferably in the Results section.
  • Include the dates the original data were collected.
  • Include in the Methods section a brief statement about institutional review board approval. For studies that include human subjects, also indicate whether informed consent was obtained or whether the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki were followed.
  • Preferably in the Methods section, describe the data analysis procedure concisely and in a manner understandable by nonstatisticians.
  • In the Results section, including tables, report only the findings related directly to the research purpose or research question. Omit other data.
  • Report sample numbers for all percentages, and report SDs or SEs for all means.
  • When reporting statistically significant results, report test statistic values, degrees of freedom, and probability level (not to exceed p<.001; do not use p=.000).


The manuscript must be double-spaced throughout. The manuscript should be arranged in the following order: title page, abstract, text, references, captions for any figures, and tables and/or figures. All pages must be numbered.

The text of research reports and literature reviews should include four major sections after the introductory paragraphs: Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions. The last paragraph of the introduction should state the purpose of the research. The Methods section should provide a comprehensive description of the sample (including data on sex, age, and race-ethnicity), methods of recruitment, measurement and evaluation techniques (including information about reliability as appropriate), and data analysis (including the name and version of the statistical package used). The Methods section should include a clear statement regarding informed consent and institutional review board (IRB) approval. The issue of IRB approval should be addressed even if need for approval was waived. Strengths and weaknesses of the study should be presented in the Discussion. For additional detail, see General Guidelines for Research Reports.


Title Page

All of the following elements should appear on the title page of the electronic file uploaded to ScholarOne Manuscripts. No author names (or initials) should appear on the title page (blind review).

Title. The title should be informative and should not exceed 115 characters plus spaces. Journal style for titles is not to use declarative sentences.

Disclosures and acknowledgments. In a separate paragraph, all potential conflicts of interest and financial support for all authors must be disclosed, whether or not directly related to the subject of the paper. (Because of blind review, use Dr. X, Dr. Y, and so forth.) Such reporting must include all equity ownership, profit-sharing agreements, royalties, patents, and research or other grants from private industry or closely affiliated nonprofit funds. Support of any kind from pharmaceutical companies must be acknowledged and the purpose must be specified, e.g., speakers’ bureau honoraria or other CME activity, travel funds, advisory panel payments, research grants. It is the author’s responsibility to disclose anything in addition to the above that might be construed as potentially affecting the reporting of the study.

Grant support should be acknowledged in a separate paragraph and should include the full name of the granting agency and grant number.

Word count. The number of words in the text (i.e., not including the abstract and references). Tables and figures are not included in the word count.

Previous presentation. If data have been presented at a meeting, give the name of the meeting, the location, and the inclusive dates.


Structured Abstract
All research reports and literature reviews should include a structured abstract after the title page. Abstracts should be clear, concise, and readable and able to stand on their own as a description of the article. The abstract should provide the following information in complete sentences under the headings indicated: Objective: the primary purpose of the article; Methods: data sources, sample, design, measurements, data analysis; Results: key findings; and Conclusions: implications. For regular articles, the abstract should not exceed 250 words. For brief reports, the limit is 150 words. Please do not use “we” or “our” in the abstract.


Tables and Figures
For regular articles, include no more than 5 tables, figures, or combination of tables and figures. Include displayed material only when it presents relevant data or concepts more clearly than could be done in text. Data in short tables often can be incorporated more concisely in text. Data in simple graphs may be more appropriately presented in a table or text. Authors will be asked to delete extraneous material or will have the option of moving the material to an online-only file to supplement the article. Checklists and forms generally are not printed; however, such material may be included as a supplemental file, or the text may include a note that such material is available from the author.

(Also see Supplemental Data below.)

Psychiatric Services discourages the use of previously published tables or figures. Authors who use such material must obtain from the copyright owner written permission for reprinting and include it with the submission.

Tables. Tables should appear at the end of the uploaded file, after References and any figure captions. Do not embed tables within the main narrative text, and do not submit tables in a separate file.

Sample table formats

Each cell should contain only one item of data. In rows, subcategories should be in separate cells; in columns, Ns and %s or means and SDs should be in separate cells; no numerical data should be presented in parentheses within tables. When percentages are presented, the appropriate sample numbers must also be given. Row headings and column headings should initial cap only the first word (“Sentence style”; see <examples>). All columns, including the leftmost, need a heading. Specify all units of measure clearly. Values expressed in the same unit of measurement should read down as a column, not across in a row.

Figures. Figures should contain essential information that cannot be adequately presented in text or tables. Most figures without data—for example, CONSORT diagrams—are judged nonessential for print publication. (Also see Supplemental Data below.)

Figures accepted for print publication must be clear, uncluttered, two-dimensional, and without color. Line graphs should include units of measure, and labels in all figures should initial cap only the first word (“Sentence style”). Figure titles and footnotes should be provided within the text of the manuscript, after References and before any tables.

To facilitate peer review, upload the figure at the end of the Main Body file if possible. If more than one figure must be uploaded separately, use a single file if possible. If invited to revise the manuscript for further review, submit with the revision a black-and-white (noncolor), editable .tiff (text image file format) or .eps (encapsulated Postscript) file or the original Excel or PowerPoint file for each figure, separate from the file containing the text and tables; if the manuscript is accepted, separate figure files will be essential for production.

Figure placement, by stage of manuscript




Within Main Body file, at end

Revision and resubmission

Separate .tiff, .eps, Excel, or PowerPoint files


Separate .tiff, .eps, Excel, or PowerPoint files



Limit references to relevant published material cited in the text, including all but widely known tests and scales. Comprehensive literature reviews are rarely necessary in a typical research article.

Only material that has been published (including online publication), accepted for publication, or presented at a major national meeting is included in the reference list. Citations of material in press must include journal or publisher name. (If unpublished material is cited, note the source and year in parentheses in the text of the paper, not in the reference list. Citation of unpublished material should be kept to a minimum.)

Arrange and number references in order of citation in text, not alphabetically. (Do not use the name-and-date style of citation in the text.) All references must be cited in sequence within the main text; any citations necessary in tables or figures must first be included in the main text. The reference list must not contain duplicates; once a reference is cited in sequence, it may be cited again in the text.

In the reference list, name all authors and editors through the third; if there are more than three, list the first three, followed by et al. Spell out journal names; do not underline or use italic or boldface. Follow Psychiatric Services style for reference punctuation as noted in the examples that follow.

Journal articles. Include authors, article title, full journal name, volume number, first and last pages, and year. A digital object identifier (DOI) may be included but is not necessary. Articles published online in advance of appearing in a printed issue also may be listed.

Wenzlow AT, Ireys HT, Mann B, et al: Effects of a discharge planning program on Medicaid coverage of state prisoners with serious mental illness. Psychiatric Services 62:73–78, 2011

Swanson JW, Van Dorn RA, Swartz MS: Alternative pathways to violence in persons with schizophrenia: the role of childhood antisocial behavior problems. Law and Human Behavior 32:228–240, 2007

Bowersox NW, Bohnert ASB, Ganoczy D, et al: Inpatient psychiatric care experience and its relationship to posthospitalization treatment participation. Psychiatric Services (Epub ahead of print, March 15, 2013)

Books and monographs. Include authors or editors, book title (not underlined), volume or edition (for federal government publications, any series designation), city, publisher, and year.

Riba MB, Ravindranath D (eds): Clinical Manual of Emergency Psychiatry. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Publishing, 2010

Chapters in books. Include chapter authors, chapter title, book title (not underlined or italicized), volume or edition, book editors, city, publisher, and year.

Kimmel RJ, Roy-Byrne PP: Posttraumatic stress disorder; in Evidence-Based Guide to Antidepressant Medications. Edited by Rothschild AJ. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Publishing, 2012

Reports and other material. For gray literature—for example, reports, fact sheets, brochures, and census tables—include as many standard elements of a reference as possible, including publisher name and location.

Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America. Pub no SMA-03-3832. Rockville, Md, Department of Health and Human Services, President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, 2003

Some gray literature is available primarily or exclusively online. In those cases, provide a DOI or a URL.

Critical Coverage: Benzodiazepines Under Medicare Part D. New York, Medicare Rights Center, June 2005. Available at www.medicarerights.org/pdf/Critical_Coverage.pdf

If the material seems mercurial (data or lists that seem to be updated frequently), follow the “Available at” statement with an “Accessed [date]” statement.


Compressed Mortality File: Mortality for 1999–2006. Atlanta, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at wonder.cdc.gov/cmf-icd10.html. Accessed Sept 15, 2010

If you wish to refer readers to a Web site without citing a specific document, include the URL in the text but do not list the source within the reference list:

. . . in the registry (www.nrepp.samhsa.gov).

Legal proceedings. Follow The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, by the Harvard Law Review Association.


Supplemental Data
Psychiatric Services allows authors to submit supplemental data to be posted online in support of printed articles. To be accepted for posting, supplemental material must be essential to the scientific integrity and excellence of the manuscript. The material is subject to the same editorial standards as the printed journal and will be peer reviewed. The Editor’s decision to accept a manuscript may be contingent on selecting material from the final manuscript for online publication only. The main text refers readers to the supplemental material on the journal’s Web site.

To facilitate review, supplemental material should be clearly labeled Online Supplement and uploaded separately from the Main Body file. Color is permitted in supplemental files.

Types of supplemental data:

  • Detailed tables that contain data of use to other investigators (data should be summarized in the text of the print version)
  • CONSORT flowchart for clinical trials
  • Figures that illustrate data from the study in alternative formats
  • Extended or annotated bibliographies
  • Questionnaires, tests, checklists, etc.

Supplemental material can be in any of the following formats:

  • Plain text (.txt)
  • HTML page (.html)
  • JPEG image (.jpg)
  • GIF image (.gif)
  • Adobe PDF (.pdf)
  • Excel spreadsheet (.xls)
  • Word document (.docx)
  • Tiff image (.tif)
  • PowerPoint (.ppt)
  • Encapsulated Postscript (.eps)
  • Mp3 (.mp3)
  • QuickTime video

If your document type is not listed here, please contact the Editorial Office.



Accepted manuscripts will be edited for clarity, elimination of redundancy, and conformity with Psychiatric Services style.

The corresponding author receives an electronic file of the edited paper for approval before publication. He or she will be asked to check the edited version carefully and make any necessary changes, answer editorial queries, and return changes to the editorial office by a specified date. After the paper is typeset, galley proofs will be made available to the corresponding author via an interactive Web site, and this review will be the author’s final opportunity to make corrections before the article is published.


Psychiatric Services is covered in PubMed/MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Social Work Abstracts; Web of Science/Social Sciences Citation Index and Current Contents; EBSCOhost and ProQuest (in various generalist and specialty databases for each); Journal Watch Psychiatry; Excerpta Medica; EMBASE; and other print and electronic sources.


Reprints & Permissions
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