The American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT) is the official journal of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The primary mission of AJOT is to publish peer-reviewed research examining the effectiveness and efficacy of occupational therapy practice so that occupational therapy professionals can make informed, evidence-based decisions about best practice. In addition, the journal aims to publish (1) research documenting the reliability and validity of occupational therapy instruments; (2) studies demonstrating a relationship between occupational engagement and the facilitation of community participation and health; and (3) articles that provide a forum for scholars to debate professional issues that affect education, practice, and research. This Guidelines for Contributors to AJOT is also available at the American Journal of Occupational Therapy manuscript submission website, ScholarOne (go to https://mc04.manuscriptcentral.com/ajot and click “Instructions & Forms” in the upper right). These guidelines are published annually in a supplement to the journal; any changes implemented in the interim are published to the Author Guidelines page on the AJOT website (go to https://research.aota.org/ajot/pages/authorguidelines).

The American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT) is the official journal of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The primary mission of AJOT is to publish peer-reviewed research examining the effectiveness and efficacy of occupational therapy practice so that occupational therapy professionals can make informed, evidence-based decisions about best practice. In addition, the journal aims to publish (1) research documenting the reliability and validity of occupational therapy instruments; (2) studies demonstrating a relationship between occupational engagement and the facilitation of community participation and health; and (3) articles that provide a forum for scholars to debate professional issues that affect education, practice, and research. This Guidelines for Contributors to AJOT is also available at the American Journal of Occupational Therapy manuscript submission website, ScholarOne (go to https://mc04.manuscriptcentral.com/ajot and click “Instructions & Forms” in the upper right). These guidelines are published annually in a supplement to the journal; any changes implemented in the interim are published to the Author Guidelines page on the AJOT website (go to https://research.aota.org/ajot/pages/authorguidelines).

Manuscripts that are relevant to the study of occupation and the practice of occupational therapy are appropriate for submission. This includes articles on the following topics as they relate to occupational therapy and participation in occupation:

  • ▪ Studies of the effectiveness, efficacy, and effects of interventions and programs that fall within the scope of occupational therapy (i.e., clinical trials) as well as cost–benefit studies of such interventions and programs

  • ▪ Incidence and prevalence of client factors and how they relate to occupational engagement

  • ▪ Patterns of occupational engagement, activity, and participation in various populations

  • ▪ Relationship of engagement in occupations to health and development across the lifespan

  • ▪ Physiological and psychological mechanisms of health and of conditions commonly encountered in occupational therapy practice that present barriers to occupational engagement, activity and participation, and roles

  • ▪ Health services research

  • ▪ Health policy research relating to the facilitation of participation and healthy engagement

  • ▪ Studies establishing the psychometric properties of instruments

  • ▪ Manuscripts exploring timely topical or professional issues (The Issue Is and Health Policy Perspectives columns). Note that space for these articles is limited, and manuscripts may not be accepted for review if they cannot be published within a reasonable time frame.

AJOT will not publish the following types of manuscripts:

  • ▪ Intervention manuals

  • ▪ Descriptions of clinical trial protocols that do not include outcome data

  • ▪ Descriptions of clinical programs (i.e., articles that do not answer a research question)

  • N = 1 case reports

  • ▪ Clinical trials that were not registered

  • ▪ Articles translating instruments, tools, or protocols into another language without any additional reliability or validity testing.

AJOT is an online-only publication and article content is available at the AJOT website (https://research.aota.org/ajot). Issues are published bimonthly, along with two or three supplements each year. AJOT follows a continuous publishing model, whereby an article is published online as soon as it has been finalized; in practice, this means that articles can be available a month or more before the issue publication date. The site includes all issues of AJOT from 1980 to the present. Subscription is free to all AOTA members and content is available for a fee to nonmembers and other subscribers. For more information, contact subscriptions@aota.org. Content that is more than 5 yr old is available without a subscription.

AOTA grants editorial freedom to the AJOT Editor-in-Chief, who is appointed by AOTA’s Board of Directors. The views expressed in AJOT are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of AOTA.

Authors are required to complete a presubmission checklist and upload this document with their AJOT submission. The checklist is available for download from the Author Guidelines page of the AJOT website as well as under “Instructions & Forms” on the ScholarOne manuscript submission site. The purpose of this checklist is to assist authors in preparing manuscripts and to expedite the review process. The checklist should be uploaded as a supplemental file during the submission process.

AJOT solicits seven basic article types. The type of article dictates the allowed length as well as specific preparation requirements. An overview of each article type and general guidelines are outlined in Table 1.

AJOT follows the EQUATOR Network recommendations for research reporting (Chan et al., 2014). Specific guidelines are included in the sections that follow and are summarized in Table 2. Additional details can be found on the EQUATOR website.

Original Research

Original research articles may fall into a variety of categories, including effectiveness studies, instrument development and testing, health services research, education, methods development, qualitative inquiry, or basic research (e.g., studies establishing relationships between conditions and occupational limitations, research on the prevalence or incidence of conditions or client factors within a condition, or development of taxonomies). Original research may reflect a variety of design types, including quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methodologies. During the manuscript preparation phase, authors should review the reporting guidelines outlined in Table 2. Additional information is presented in this section.

Effectiveness studies at any level of evidence and design may be submitted. Authors should clearly identify the research as feasibility or pilot, as appropriate, referring to guidelines developed by Eldridge and colleagues (2016). For feasibility studies, only feasibility questions, rather than outcome data, should be addressed. A pilot study may ask similar questions as the feasibility study but will include results from a part of the proposed study or the proposed study completed on a smaller scale (Eldridge et al., 2016). Authors collecting data in a pilot trial must register their study with ClinicalTrials.gov or a similar international registry (see additional information regarding clinical trials registration in the next section).

To increase the transparency of clinical research and improve the ability to evaluate published articles for methodological and analytical rigor, AJOT has adopted reporting standards based on the CONsolidated Standards Of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) 2010 Statement (Schulz et al., 2010) for randomized trials. Several extensions of the CONSORT statement exist (e.g., extension checklist for reporting within-person randomized trials, extension to randomized pilot and feasibility trials) and should be considered on the basis of the study design and purpose. To enhance intervention replicability, we also encourage authors to use the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) checklist (Hoffmann et al., 2014) and/or guidelines outlined in the manual for the Rehabilitation Treatment Specification System (RTSS; Hart et al., 2018).

Clinical Trial Registration

Clinical trial registration is required for all manuscripts describing clinical trials. Available registries include ClinicalTrials.gov, the International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (https://www.isrctn.com/), and the World Health Organization (WHO) Registry Network (https://www.who.int/clinical-trials- registry-platform/network/primary-registries). AJOT uses the National Institutes of Health (2014) definition of clinical trial:

A research study in which one or more human subjects are prospectively assigned to one or more interventions (which may include placebo or other control) to evaluate the effects of those interventions on health-related biomedical or behavioral outcomes.

For trials in which participant recruitment started January 1, 2016, or later, registration must have occurred prior to participant recruitment to be considered for publication. Trials whose participant enrollment began before January 1, 2016, must be registered retrospectively. Manuscripts that are accepted must provide the trial registration website address and trial registration number in the final, unmasked manuscript in the Acknowledgments section.

The following types of trials do not need to be registered:

  • ▪ trials that evaluate the effects, efficacy, or effectiveness of educational methodologies and techniques for occupational therapy practitioners or for continuing education; and

  • ▪ trials that do not have client health–related biomedical or behavioral outcomes.

Other Original Research Designs

AJOT welcomes qualitative research submissions that have a high level of rigor. Authors submitting manuscripts based on qualitative research should refer to the Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research (SRQR; O’Brien et al., 2014). In addition to SRQR guidelines, authors who use focus groups or interviews as part of their qualitative data collection process are encouraged to use the COnsolidated criteria for REporting Qualitative research (COREQ) checklist as part of their manuscript preparation process (Tong et al., 2007).

Additional guidelines for specific article types are highlighted here. See Table 2 and the EQUATOR Network for details.

  • ▪ Observational studies should follow the STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology guidelines (STROBE; von Elm et al., 2007).

  • ▪ Diagnostic studies (identification of specific impairments or occupational problems) should follow the STAndards for the Reporting of Diagnostic accuracy studies (STARD; Bossuyt et al., 2015).

  • ▪ Survey research in which the purpose of the article is to describe how participant responses to the survey relate to the construct measured by the survey should use validated survey instruments, if possible. The instrument’s psychometric properties must be briefly stated in the manuscript. If the study uses an author-created survey, AJOT will only consider manuscripts that describe the survey’s development (e.g., creation of items, establishing psychometric properties) or that demonstrate that the authors established the psychometrics of their instrument before attempting to describe the survey results’ relationship to the construct. AJOT will consider only survey research in which the participant numbers represent enough of the population to make it likely that the findings validly represent the population.

Critical Reviews

Critical reviews commonly published in AJOT include systematic reviews, scoping reviews, and meta-analyses. Other types of critical reviews will be considered (e.g., mapping reviews), but AJOT does not accept narrative reviews. Rapid reviews will only be considered for topics that require time-critical decision-making (e.g., for policy) or to answer clinically urgent questions.

Systematic Reviews

Systematic reviews are conducted when sufficient studies exist to be able to assess the strength of the evidence related to a topic. Systematic review articles should attempt to answer a narrowly focused question; questions that are unfocused in terms of intervention, outcome targets, or populations create difficulty in interpreting findings in a useful manner. Authors should follow AJOT’s Guidelines for Systematic Reviews (also available at https://mc04.manuscriptcentral.com/ajot under “Instructions & Forms”). These guidelines are in line with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement (Liberati et al., 2009; Moher et al., 2009) and provide additional information on formatting evidence tables.

Authors conducting systematic reviews who find sufficient homogeneity in the discovered literature should conduct a meta-analysis. When homogeneity exists in only part of the literature, the authors should conduct a meta-analysis of the homogeneous domain, followed by narrative results of the part of the literature that is not homogeneous. Generally, previous systematic reviews should not be used as primary data, but they may be included in introductory material and the Discussion section. If the authors choose to use previous systematic reviews as primary data, they must include a separate risk-of-bias table for included systematic reviews, such as the Assessing the Methodological Quality of Systematic Reviews checklist (AMSTAR; Shea et al., 2017).

Authors should adhere to best practices in conducting systematic reviews, as detailed in the Cochrane Handbooks for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (Higgins et al., 2023) and the Joanna Briggs Institute Reviewers Manual (Peters et al., 2015). As described in these documents, best practices for systematic reviews require that reviews be conducted by at least two researchers. Therefore, AJOT will not consider reviews conducted by a single researcher. Single-author manuscripts are acceptable as long as the text makes it clear that at least two researchers conducted the review. Authors are encouraged, but not required, to register their systematic review prospectively at the PROSPERO registry site or another registry site.

Scoping Reviews and Mapping Reviews

Scoping reviews and mapping reviews attempt to answer questions about a broad field or a topic for which limited data are available. These review types typically describe what is known about a topic rather than review the strength of the intervention evidence. These reviews should include a clear statement of what the research gaps are and recommendations for future research. An evidence table should be included with the manuscript. The table format may vary, but all evidence tables should include the important characteristics of each study included in the review. A diagram (map) of the findings may be included, but it cannot substitute for the table. Authors of scoping and mapping reviews should follow the PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR; Tricco et al., 2018). Scoping reviews should cover topics that have not been reviewed in the past 5 yr.

Brief Reports

A Brief Report is a short report of original research that is of a pilot or exploratory nature or that addresses a discrete research question and lacks broad implications. The research can be of any design. Authors should follow the reporting guidelines stated earlier to the extent possible, given the size constraints.

The Issue Is

The Issue Is columns address timely issues, policies, or professional trends or express opinions supported by cogent argument from the literature. They provide a forum for scholars to debate professional issues that have an impact on the evolution of the profession. The Issue Is columns have three primary sections: (1) background information about the problem in question as it relates to the profession and to the larger society, (2) logically presented arguments supporting the author’s position, and (3) the steps the profession must take to promote positive change. Limited space is allocated to The Issue Is columns, and otherwise acceptable manuscripts may be rejected if they cannot be published within a reasonable time frame.

Health Policy Perspectives

Health Policy Perspectives columns offer perspective on occupational therapy practice in the changing health care system. They focus on the federal, state, or local policy questions that are critical to occupational therapy. The column provides an opportunity for expression of thoughtful opinions and is a forum for views; calls to action for the profession on practice, education, outreach, and research; and perspectives on how occupational therapy and health care policy intersect. Original research is not required, although preference is given to columns that reference published or ongoing research.

State of the Science

State of the Science (SoS) columns are intended to provide a brief narrative review of the state of the occupational therapy literature in a broad area of practice with the goal of providing a roadmap for researchers interested in conducting new and innovative research in this area. Typically, the state of the theory, intervention, assessment, and policy or advocacy should be considered as part of the column. A bulleted list of future research directions should be included. SoS authors should be experts in their field; collaboration with multiple experts is encouraged. Student papers will not be considered. Authors should discuss possible SoS topics with the AJOT Editor-in-Chief before pursuing this article type. SoS columns will only be considered on a limited basis.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor that discuss a recent AJOT article or other broad issue relative to the journal will be considered for publication. Letters must be scholarly, contribute to the professional discussion of a topic, include references as appropriate, and be no more than 750 words in length, including references. Letters may be edited for length and to conform with AJOT editorial style and will be published at the sole discretion of the Editor-in-Chief. Letters should be submitted through ScholarOne, our manuscript submission platform (go to https://mc04.manuscriptcentral.com/ajot).

In accordance with guidelines provided by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), AJOT requires authors to disclose at the time of article submission whether they used generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology or Large Language Models (LLMs; e.g., ChatGPT or other chatbots) during the creation of their work. How the AI was used should be described in detail in both the cover letter and the submitted work (e.g., in the Methods or Acknowledgments sections). Authors must also describe how AI-generated content was evaluated to ensure accuracy, integrity, and originality. Ultimately, authors are responsible for ensuring there are no errors or plagiarism in their work. Authors must also ensure the appropriateness and accuracy of references cited in their work, being fully aware that AI tools such as ChatGPT have been known to “hallucinate” sources (i.e., generate citations that do not exist).

At AJOT, we believe AI can best be used to help edit or summarize the authors’ original text, and can be used by international authors to help correct or identify errors in English grammar or syntax. AI should not be used to generate original content (i.e., analyze and interpret data or draw scientific conclusions). AI should also not be listed as an author or coauthor because these tools cannot assume responsibility for the validity or originality of the generated work, and these responsibilities are required for authorship, as defined by the ICMJE.

Given that AI tools have been known to generate content that is incomplete or that includes biases, it is also the responsibility of the authors to ensure that bias is eliminated from the text. As noted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), authors must “use appropriate mathematical or statistical procedures, […] ensure that the risk of errors is minimized […], and prevent discriminatory effects on the basis of racial or ethnic origin, political opinion, religion or beliefs, trade union membership, genetic or health status, or sexual orientation” (European Union, 2016).

AJOT will take corrective action when authors fail to disclose the use of AI, when an article is found to have been plagiarized, or when authors fail to accurately cite references. Actions could include rescinding article acceptance, revoking article publication, or publishing a statement in the journal that identifies violations of our guidelines.

We will update our Author Guidelines on the use of AI tools and LLMs as these emerging technologies continue to evolve and we better understand how they are used in the preparation and publication of research. Please check our Author Guidelines page for the latest information.

At AJOT, we recognize that bias projected intentionally or unintentionally through social and biomedical research has the potential to perpetuate stigma and racism, impact health care decisions, and exacerbate health care inequities (Boyd et al., 2020; Flanagin et al., 2021; Tsai, 2022). To reduce bias in scholarly reporting, AJOT requires authors to use bias-free and inclusive language to help reduce bias around topics such as gender, age, disability, racial and ethnic identity, and sexual orientation. Specific examples on how to write using bias-free language can be found on the APA Style website. In cases where groups of participants have identified preferred terms for use in the research study (e.g., use of the term autistic adult versus adult with autism), authors should include a description or footnote indicating why those terms are being used. Author positionality statements are strongly encouraged for research that includes historically minoritized and marginalized groups.

AJOT uses the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA7; American Psychological Association [APA], 2019) as the primary style guide. Consult this manual for style questions not addressed in these guidelines. AJOT is participating with several other major rehabilitation and disability journals in a collaborative initiative to enhance clinical research reporting standards through adoption of the EQUATOR Network reporting guidelines (Chan et al., 2014; see also APA Publications and Communications Board Working Group on Journal Article Reporting Standards, 2008). Authors are required to use established guidelines appropriate to their research design in the preparation of manuscripts submitted to AJOT. Reviewers refer to the guidelines when evaluating all AJOT submissions (see Table 2).

Formatting

All submissions must adhere to the following formatting guidelines:

  • ▪ Double-space the entire manuscript, including abstract, text, quotations, acknowledgments, and references. Tables and figures may be single spaced.

  • ▪ Leave 1-inch margins on all sides, and keep the right side unjustified.

  • ▪ Number all pages, starting with the title page.

  • ▪ Use line numbering in the text, starting with the page containing the abstract.

  • ▪ Use only Times New Roman 12-point font.

  • ▪ Include no more than four graphic elements (tables, figures, images, etc.). Place all graphic elements on their own page, starting after the References section of the manuscript.

Authorship

Manuscript authors are defined as those who have contributed significantly (e.g., in ideas, content development, writing) to the work. Consent should be secured by all authors before submission. Refer to the APA (2015) authorship guidelines.

Author Order

The order of authors in the byline follows APA guidelines. The principal contributor appears first, and subsequent names are in order of decreasing contribution. In some cases, the last author will represent the most senior author, advisor, or principal investigator in the study who supervised activities of the research team. Authors are encouraged to limit the number of coauthors to seven or fewer.

Title

The title should be no more than 15 words and reflect the primary focus of the article. Authors are encouraged to include method keywords in the title, such as “a systematic review” or “a randomized controlled trial.” Authors are discouraged from using abbreviations in the title.

Title Page

The title page for the original (masked) submission should include only the manuscript title. It should not include author names or affiliations. If the manuscript is accepted, the authors will be asked for an unmasked copy when production begins on the journal issue, several months before the publication date. The unmasked version should include the title as well as the full names, degrees, titles, and affiliations for each author. Designate the corresponding author by providing their e-mail address. Before uploading the final, unmasked manuscript, authors should ensure that the corresponding author’s contact information in the manuscript submission system is correct.

Keywords

Authors may assign keywords and research methodology descriptors to their article. These keywords will be used to match the manuscript with reviewers. In addition, for articles that are accepted for publication, authors will receive an AOTA taxonomy form during the production process to identify occupational therapy–specific taxonomy that describes their research. Keywords and AOTA taxonomy are published online with the article to improve the user experience and enhance the discoverability of the article content.

Abstract

For all research articles, a structured abstract of no more than 250 words is required. The abstract should provide a concise but comprehensive summary of the manuscript contents. AJOT’s Instructions for Structured Abstracts are derived from the approach used in the Journal of the American Medical Association (American Medical Association, 2023). Instructions for preparing the abstract are downloadable from the AJOT website and from our manuscript submission system (ScholarOne). Abstracts for columns (The Issue Is, Health Policy Perspectives, State of the Science) and guest editorials should include a synopsis of the main points and be limited to 150 words.

Each abstract should end with a section titled Plain-Language Summary (not included in the abstract word count; see the description in the next section).

All abstracts, including the plain-language summary, are available Open Access on the AJOT website for members and nonmembers to read.

During the submission process, authors will be asked to cut and paste the abstract into a designated section in the online system.

Plain-Language Summary

The Plain-Language Summary (PLS) describes the significance of research findings and evidence to a broad audience in clear, easy-to-understand, jargon-free, and nontechnical language. The PLS improves engagement with and accessibility of research published in AJOT, with the primary goal of translating evidence and findings into practice to benefit occupational therapy clients. Helping the profession as well as the public understand the significance of research raises awareness of the value of the research and builds further support, engagement, and involvement.

The PLS should be no more than 150 words, and it should be placed at the end of the abstract. See our Instructions for AJOT Structured Abstracts for information on what to include in the PLS. The PLS is not included in the word count for either the abstract or the submitted article. The PLS will appear at the end of the abstract. All abstracts, including the PLS, are available Open Access on the AJOT site for members and nonmembers to read.

Body of the Manuscript

Sections within the body of the manuscript will be similar for original research studies, critical reviews, and Brief Reports. Major headings are listed here; subheadings are encouraged to assist with the overall organization of the manuscript:

  • Introduction: Provide a focused review of the relevant background literature; a clear rationale for or purpose of the study; and a clear statement of study aims, objectives, hypotheses, and research questions.

  • Method: Identify the study design, setting, participants (including recruitment, eligibility, and consent process), measurement and outcomes, intervention protocol (if applicable), data collection, and data analysis plan.

  • Results: Present the outcomes of the data analysis and clearly link them to explicitly stated research questions and hypotheses. Findings should be stated without bias or subjective interpretation.

  • Discussion: Discuss the results within the context of current literature (what was already known) and explain any new insights gained from the research results. If hypotheses were set a priori, this section should indicate whether those hypotheses were supported. Include a section on limitations. For all studies, authors should consider the size of the effect and its clinical relevance in forming their discussion to keep the discussion within the bounds of their data and to not overstate the impact on occupational therapy. Future research directions can be a separate section or included in the Discussion section; either way, the section should be indicated with its own heading.

  • Implications for Occupational Therapy Practice (described next).

  • Conclusion: Consider the study results within the context of how they contribute to increasing real-life function, engagement, or satisfaction with occupations. Authors should indicate whether the study objectives were met.

Feature-length articles, including evidence reviews, must include a separate section summarizing the implications of the research for occupational therapy practice after the Discussion and before the Conclusion. This section should consist of a short introductory paragraph followed by a bulleted list of the practice implications, and it should be included in the manuscript’s word count. Although Brief Reports do not require a separate Implications section, they should clearly indicate the implications for clinical practice in their discussion.

This section is meant to be a brief highlight of the study’s implications for clinical practice. It should be written in plain language and should not include implications for research or restate the results or discussion. Rather, it should look ahead to how the findings might be extended to routine clinical practice. The points discussed in the Implications should stay within the limits of the study findings:

  • ▪ If the study tests the effects of a particular intervention, then mention what those effects might mean for clinical practice. Do not include statements about general occupational therapy practice unless tested in the study.

  • ▪ Do not include statements related to a particular assessment approach if the study did not test assessment practices.

  • ▪ If the study provides confirmatory evidence, then use wording such as “This study confirms previous work that . . . ” or “The results offer further evidence that . . . .”

  • ▪ If the study suggests a promising type or amount of service that is not feasible as a result of current health care or reimbursement policies, it may be more appropriate to suggest that practitioners advocate for changes in policies rather than provide that service.

  • ▪ For pilot or feasibility studies, the only statements that can be made are whether the intervention may have potential to facilitate benefits if larger studies show similar results. In addition, the following statement may be made: “If practitioners choose to implement this approach clinically, they need to carefully document treatment content, client responses to the treatment, and changes in client functioning (or occupational engagement) from start to termination of treatment.”

If the findings have relevance for occupational therapy education, authors may include a section on Implications for Occupational Therapy Education (this would be the only Implications section if the study is educational research). It is not sufficient to argue that new content must be included in entry-level curricula. Occupational therapy education programs typically are overloaded with content; therefore, authors making recommendations to add content should provide an idea of what could be replaced in current curricula.

Acknowledgments

Acknowledgments can be included in the masked manuscript submission only if identifiers have been removed; authors will have an opportunity to add information prior to publication. The Acknowledgments section follows the Conclusion and precedes the References. Acknowledgments should be brief and may include names of persons who contributed to the research or article but who are not authors (e.g., a statistician), followed by any funding bodies that supported the research and appropriate grant numbers. The study’s clinical trial registration number (if applicable) should be provided in this section. Prior presentation of the paper at a meeting should be briefly described as well.

References

Authors are solely responsible for the accuracy and completeness of their references and in-text citations. Manuscripts with significant deficiencies in their references and in-text citations will be returned to authors for correction. Follow APA7 reference format for both in-text and full reference citations; however, in the References section, for the maximum number of authors cited in a given reference, AJOT lists up to 7 authors, with the final author taking the 7th position. In-text citations should use author–date format. The References section should appear after the Acknowledgments section. All references cited in the manuscript should appear in the References, including studies listed in evidence tables.

Studies that are included in systematic reviews or scoping reviews should have an asterisk placed at the start of the reference entry in the References. Occasionally, the number of references for a critical review is so large that the manuscript would significantly exceed page limitations if all the reviewed studies were included in the References. Please contact the Editor-in-Chief at ajoteditor@aota.org in such situations.

References to journal articles must include the digital object identifier (DOI), and URLs must link to the specific document being cited, not a home page. Personal communications and other nonretrievable citations are described in the text only; consult APA7 for the correct format.

Authors must provide references for all tests and assessment tools mentioned in the article or used in the research being described, including tools mentioned in tables or lists of assessments. However, tests and assessment tools listed in supplemental evidence tables do not need to be referenced.

Tables

Tables should be numbered and referenced sequentially in the text. Place each table on a new page after the References section. Table titles should be descriptive, and data appearing in tables should supplement, not duplicate, the text. It is the authors’ responsibility to double-check column totals and percentages. Be sure that any numbers in the text match the numbers that appear in the table. Define all abbreviations and explain any empty cells in a table footnote. Tables should be understandable by themselves without the reader having to return to the text to understand them. Tables must be included in the main manuscript file and should not be uploaded as supplemental files during submission. Manuscripts with missing tables or with tables submitted as supplemental files will be returned to the authors.

Figures and Illustrations

Number figures in the order they are first mentioned in the text. Figures (including charts, diagrams, and photographs) must be submitted as high-resolution digitized electronic files (minimum 600 dpi). Figures may be submitted in black and white or color and should be reproducible with minimal editing, retouching, or resizing. All text within figures should be legible at the size at which figures will be printed (maximum width is 7 in.). Each figure must be uploaded to the manuscript submission system as a separate file that is named in accordance with the figure number (e.g., “Figure 1.tif”); figures that are embedded in the manuscript will be removed from the file by the manuscript processing system. Figures and illustrations should not be uploaded into the supplemental files field during submission.

Provide a caption for each figure; place all captions after the References, double-spaced. Because figures should be understandable without reference to the text, ensure that the caption clearly describes the figure content. Provide source information for photographs and line art, and ensure that permission has been obtained to reprint figures that have been previously published or have not been created by the article authors (see Permissions below). Obtain photo releases from all identifiable persons appearing in photos (a form is available; e-mail ajotproduction@aota.org).

Limit on Number of Tables and Figures

No more than four (4) graphic elements—that is, any combination of tables, figures, or images—may be submitted with each article. If there is a strong rationale for an additional table or figure for a systematic, scoping, or mapping review, please include the rationale in a cover letter with the submission and the additional art element(s) will be considered, at the Editor-in-Chief’s discretion, for inclusion with these types of articles. Authors of accepted manuscripts who believe readers will benefit from additional tables or figures may submit those items during the production process as supplemental materials (see the Supplemental Material section below). Supplemental data and other materials are not typeset and are posted with the online article publication exactly as they are submitted.

Statistics

Authors must provide references for statistical tests used or described in the article. We strongly encourage authors to report statistical results that extend beyond p values; p values do not indicate the size or robustness of the effect. It is possible for results that have little clinical or real-world significance to achieve statistical significance. Therefore, when appropriate, authors need to include the effect size related to the comparisons. In addition, a measure of precision (confidence intervals) can be included to help clarify results and assist with data interpretation.

In addition, the following criteria should be considered when preparing statistical results (Lang & Altman, 2013):

  • ▪ Name the statistical package used for analysis.

  • ▪ Report the α level (e.g., 0.05) that defines statistical significance.

  • ▪ When reporting t and F statistics, provide degrees of freedom (df) and the actual test statistic; for example, F(df, df) = X, p = 0.01, not just the p values. df are not required for chi-square statistics, although the test statistic is required.

  • ▪ Report means with standard deviations when the data are normally distributed; use the format M (SD), not M ± SD.

  • ▪ Report median values for data that are not normally distributed; include interpercentile ranges, ranges, or both.

  • ▪ Do not use the standard error of the mean (SEM) to indicate the precision of an estimate; use the 95% confidence interval instead.

  • ▪ Nonsignificant p values should still be included in the manuscript; p values should be reported as exact values and to 2 decimal places (e.g., p = 0.04), except when p ≤ 0.001.

  • ▪ Report whether and how any statistical adjustments were made for multiple statistical comparisons.

  • ▪ If relevant, identify the minimum clinically important difference (MCID).

For reporting guidelines for specific statistical tests, see Lang and Altman (2013).

AJOT will publish along with an article supplemental material that cannot be included within the main body of the article but that supports the interpretation of the research or the translation of research findings. In general, supplemental materials should be saved as a separate file and submitted as “Supplemental file for review” as part of the manuscript submission. Supplemental tables or figures should be numbered consecutively and in the order they are referred to in the article. Supplemental files can include tables, figures, images, training materials, study protocols, treatment manuals, researcher-developed evaluation measures, progression or decision-making protocols, or other study materials. Any supplemental material should be referred to in the body of the manuscript. Supplemental materials are not copyedited and are published online with an article exactly as they are submitted.

Abbreviations

Do not use abbreviations in the title or abstract of the article; the use of abbreviations in the text should be kept to a minimum. Terms should be written out fully the first time they are used, then followed immediately by the abbreviation in parentheses. Avoid the use of OT as an abbreviation for occupational therapy or occupational therapist; please write out the terms occupational therapist and occupational therapy assistant in the text.

Practitioner Roles

Consistent with the Guidelines for Supervision, Roles, and Responsibilities During the Delivery of Occupational Therapy Services (AOTA, 2020b), the roles of the occupational therapist and occupational therapy assistant shall be considered, and when appropriate, role distinctions shall be clarified.

Derivative Work

Authors who are submitting derivative work using a data set from which other articles were published must provide the publication information for those other articles in a cover letter. Authors should include a brief description of the design of the study from which the data were generated (e.g., randomized controlled trial, three-group cohort study).

ScholarOne Online Submission

Manuscripts are submitted to AJOT’s Editor-in-Chief through ScholarOne (go to https://mc04.manuscriptcentral.com/ajot).

Authors are responsible for ensuring that a blind review process can take place by submitting a masked version of the manuscript; that is, one that contains no identifying information, including names and affiliations of all authors and acknowledgments. Unmasked articles will be returned for masking before they can be reviewed. Authors of manuscripts that are accepted for publication will be asked to provide an unmasked version for production purposes.

Manuscripts are compiled and converted to PDF format during the online submission process. Tables should be placed at the end of the main text after the References. Figures should be uploaded as separate files.

ORCID ID

As part of our commitment to ensuring an ethical, transparent, and fair peer-review process, AJOT supports the use of ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID). AJOT requires the corresponding author to provide an ORCID number when submitting a paper. We also encourage all coauthors to link their ORCID ID to their account in ScholarOne, AJOT’s manuscript submission platform. Please do not include ORCIDs in the manuscript file. If authors do not already have an ORCID ID, please go to the ORCID site to create one (go to https://orcid.org/register). Authors’ ORCID IDs will become part of the published article’s metadata, making the work attributable only to the author(s). ORCID IDs are published with an article so that readers can link to the authors’ ORCID profiles and from there link to the authors’ other publications.

Cover Letter

Cover letters are not required for submissions, but they are helpful for context and conveying any additional information to the editors. A cover letter may be uploaded as part of the manuscript submission process. If the manuscript is being submitted for a special issue, or the authors would like it to be considered in conjunction with other submitted papers, this should also be highlighted in the cover letter.

Funding Information

During the online submission process, authors will be asked to disclose any funding that was received to support the research. Authors should provide the name of the funding body and award number at the time of submission.

Copyright, Authorship, and Financial Form

As part of the submission process, all authors must provide original signatures for copyright release, authorship responsibility, and financial disclosure. The statement of authorship responsibility is certification that each author has made substantial contributions to (1) the study conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; (2) the drafting and revision of the article; and (3) the approval of the final version. Moreover, each author takes public responsibility for the work.

AJOT publishes only original content; manuscripts that have been published in whole or in substantial part, whether in print or online, will be rejected. The only exceptions to this policy are (1) research presented at conferences and (2) dissertations and theses that have been archived in university library systems. The combined Copyright Transfer/Author Certification/Financial Disclosure Form may be downloaded from AJOT’s manuscript submission website, ScholarOne (go to https://mc04.manuscriptcentral.com/ajot and click “Instructions & Forms” in the upper right). A completed, signed form must be uploaded as part of the submission process.

Permissions

Authors who wish to reprint tables, figures, or long quotations from other sources are responsible for obtaining permission from the copyright holder. In addition, permission must be obtained to reprint assessment items that have been published elsewhere. Letters of permission with original signatures from the copyright holder or an authorized representative must be submitted to the Editor-in-Chief at the time of the initial submission. AOTA does not reimburse authors for any expense incurred when obtaining permission to reprint. The need for permission applies to adapted tables and figures as well as to exact reproductions.

Signed statements of permission to publish must accompany all photographs of identifiable persons at the time of submission. Release forms are available (e-mail ajotproduction@aota.org). At the time of submission, authors must provide signed statements of permission from people cited for personal communications.

Preprints

When submitting a paper for publication, authors should inform the journal about the preprint posting of the same work. The study can be deposited before submission or during the peer-review process, but the editors must be informed, with a link to the preprint posting provided. After publication, the preprint deposit must include the DOI link to the final published AJOT article.

Manuscripts and reviews are confidential materials. The existence of a manuscript under review is not revealed to anyone beyond the AJOT editorial staff. All submitted manuscripts are initially reviewed by the Editor-in-Chief for suitability for the journal. Suitable manuscripts are then sent to editorial board members or guest editors (for special issues) as the first phase of peer review. Manuscripts may be rejected or returned to the authors for revisions at this stage. At the second stage of peer review, manuscripts are sent to at least two reviewers. The identities of the reviewers and of the authors are kept confidential.

Authors are encouraged to provide names of suggested reviewers during the submission process. Author-provided reviewer suggestions are of great assistance, particularly when a manuscript represents a new or small area of study in occupational therapy or the investigators have used methodology (including data analysis) that is not typically found in occupational therapy or rehabilitation research. AJOT has a limited pool of reviewers, and at times the volume of submissions leads to slower turnaround times for reviews; author-suggested reviewers can help expedite the peer-review in these situations.

Revisions of manuscripts may be sent out for a second review. When a second review is returned with mixed recommendations, a third review may be solicited to assist the editorial board with manuscript decisions.

All accepted manuscripts are subject to copyediting. Authors will receive a copy of the edited manuscript for review and final approval during the article production process. Authors will also receive a PDF of the typeset article for review and final approval prior to publication. The authors assume final responsibility for the article content, including changes made in copyediting and proofreading.

The journal cannot assume responsibility for the loss of manuscripts.

Ethics

AJOT is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). COPE Guidelines are formal COPE policy and are intended to advise editors and publishers on expected publication ethics practices. Authors, editors, and reviewers are expected to adhere to these guidelines (go to https://publicationethics.org/guidance/Guidelines). It is expected that AJOT editors and reviewers will also adhere to ethical standards expressed in the AOTA 2020 Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics (AOTA, 2020a) and elsewhere. Violations of confidentiality will be handled in accordance with the processes set forth in the Enforcement Procedures for the AOTA Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics (AOTA, 2019). AJOT also follows the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and uses checklists and guidance from recognized sources such as the EQUATOR Network.

Appeals

AJOT receives far more submissions each year than can possibly be accepted for publication. As a result, challenging decisions have to be made regarding which papers to reject and which to accept. The Editor-in-Chief and the editorial board have the discretion to reject a manuscript at any phase of the submission and review process. This rejection notice will provide a brief description of why the paper is no longer being considered for publication in the journal. Authors who believe their paper was unfairly rejected or rejected in error may appeal the decision by writing a letter to the Editor-in-Chief explaining why, in their estimation, the decision was erroneous. Letters can be submitted by e-mail to ajoteditor@aota.org.

After Acceptance

If a manuscript is accepted for publication, the corresponding author will receive a notification from the Editor-in-Chief that identifies the volume and issue for which it is scheduled. All subsequent communications will come from AOTA’s editorial and production staff. Authors will be asked for an unmasked copy of the manuscript when production begins on the journal issue. As part of the article production process, manuscripts are copyedited and sent to authors for review and approval. A PDF of the article proofs are also sent to the authors for review and final approval prior to publication. The corresponding author is the primary contact during the article production process. It is the authors’ responsibility to review all documents carefully and to make any corrections prior to publication.

Open Access Policy

Authors of articles accepted for publication in AJOT have the option to make their article free to nonsubscribers for a fee of $1,500 for research articles and $1,200 for all other types of articles. An Open Access purchase request form is sent to authors when the copyedit is sent for review.

Deposit of Articles to Approved Public Repositories

On behalf of authors, AJOT will directly deposit content with declared funding from the National Institutes of Health or other federal government funding in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central. Funding information is collected at the time of article submission and should be included in the article’s Acknowledgments section.

Copyright and Patent

When a manuscript is accepted for publication, authors are required to convey copyright ownership to AOTA; a completed copyright transfer form must be uploaded with the manuscript submission, as noted earlier. Manuscripts published in the journal are copyrighted by AOTA and may not be published elsewhere without permission. To obtain permission to reprint journal material, go to the Copyright Clearance Center website (https://marketplace.copyright.com), and type in “AOTA Online.” Any device, equipment, splint, or other item described with explicit directions for construction in an article submitted to AJOT for publication is not protected by AOTA copyright and can be produced for commercial purposes and patented by others, unless the item was already patented or its patent is pending at the time the article is submitted.

Plagiarism

All articles accepted for publication in AJOT will undergo a rigorous scan for plagiarism using iThenticate Plagiarism Detection Software (https://www.ithenticate.com). Any article flagged for plagiarism concerns will be reviewed in depth by our editorial team. Articles found to have plagiarized the work of others, or self-plagiarized, will have acceptance rescinded. In some cases, additional action will be taken, including removing the article from the journal (in cases in which the article has already been published), publishing a correction, reporting the issues to relevant supervisors or governing bodies (e.g., the AOTA Ethics Commission), or taking legal action.

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