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Undergraduate Journal of Public Health

BLOG STYLE GUIDE

First, the style guide outlines the two types of articles that are featured on the blog. These article types are called Stories and Commentary, respectively. Independent research papers, literature reviews, and other papers which do not qualify as either Stories or Commentary articles are not eligible for publication on the blog. If you want to submit a research paper or a literature review to the UJPH, you should submit it to the print version of the journal. Next, the style guide delineates the standards of academic integrity, subject matter, format, tone, and language use that all articles must follow. Adhering to these conventions ensures that the blog is approachable for its intended audience: the general student body.

Submission Procedures:

Publication Eligibility:

  • All authors of a manuscript must be an undergraduate at an accredited university. Any work completed as a student, even if the author is no longer a student, is eligible.

  • The manuscript has not been submitted, and will not be submitted, at any other publication at the undergraduate, graduate or professional level.

  • The manuscript is the sole work of the author, and all work is original.


Stories

Stories articles tell the tale of someone’s experience with a public health problem.

These articles recount a specific public health problem and shine a spotlight on someone who has lived through it. A “public health problem” is a discrete event of any kind which has measurably worsened the health status of a population. Here are some examples of public health problems: Cancer rates rise in a small Louisiana town after an industrial dumping ground is built in the area. A shortage of Spanish-speaking mental health professionals in the rural Midwest prevents many Spanish-speaking Americans from accessing mental health services. The FDA’s failure to impose price controls on pharmaceuticals prevents many low-income people from affording them. Stories articles should not solely detail an individual’s (or group’s) experience with a certain medical condition. For example, it would not be enough to retell someone’s experience with cystic fibrosis. To contrast, a story which recounts their struggle to afford their medications would qualify as a Stories article.

  • The subject of these articles can be yourself, another person or group of people, or both.

    • If you decide to profile anyone besides yourself, you must have their unambiguous consent, throughout the writing process, to write about them.

    • Stories articles are not works of investigative journalism. If someone wants you to refrain from including an anecdote or a quote of theirs, you must do so.

  • Before submitting an article to the blog, send a copy to each person whom you profile in it, to ensure that you haven’t forgotten to omit anything.

  • Good Stories articles contextualize their subjects’ experiences; they illustrate the scope of the public health problem.

    • For example, a good article would supplement the story of your parent’s experience with opioid use disorder by describing the general inaccessibility of evidence-based treatments for the disorder.

  • Stories articles must cite at least two sources.

    • Your sources need not be peer-reviewed research articles; they can be media sources and need to be in APA format.

  • The print edition of the UJPH features a section called “Field Notes”, which, like Stories, consists of non-fictional personal narratives. The salient difference between the two is what comprises the bulk of both article types.

    • Field Notes articles convey the urgency of a current public health issue. As such, they focus on describing the issue in impersonal terms, making generous use of data and peer-reviewed research findings.

    • Stories articles  tell an evocative, moving story about someone’s experience with a public health issue past or present. They mostly consist of anecdotes of the person/people whose experiences you are profiling.

    • Field Notes focus on the details of the issue itself.

    • Stories focus on the people whom it has affected.

    • Field Notes are clinical in tone.

    • Stories are expressive, even artful.


Commentary

Commentary articles present the author’s thoughts on a current public health issue.

    These articles offer a fresh perspective on a public health issue facing various communities. A “public health problem” is a discrete event of any kind which has measurably worsened the health status of a population. (Examples listed above if necessary.) Commentaries should not be a soap box speech, but offer readers the facts and the author’s take on those facts to widen their understanding of a particular public health topic.

  • At the heart of these articles is a concise, clear, arguable thesis with a clear call to action (something the reader can do/think about to respond to what you as the author have just presented)

    • For example, if you are against a certain health policy, you as the author must offer an avenue for people to act against the policy if they agree with you, such as by contacting their local representative or signing a currently circulating petition.

  • All factual claims must be supported by scientific evidence and cited in APA format.

    • But a collection of facts alone does not constitute an opinion piece. Rather, you must persuade the reader that these facts validate your own beliefs. Interpret the facts through your own ideological lens.

  • Good Commentary articles engage in good faith with opposing viewpoints.

    • But, you are not obligated to concede that these viewpoints have their merits if you do not believe this.

  • Good Commentary articles push the boundaries of popular opinion. This does not mean being provocative for its own sake. Rather, you should strive to make readers question their own beliefs, biases, and assumptions.


Standards for all UJPH Blog Articles

The blog allows undergraduates to engage with the field of public health. As such, its articles should be written so that all undergraduates can make sense of them. For this to be possible, articles must meet the editorial standards found below. Failing to meet one or more of these standards won’t automatically disqualify your article from being accepted for publication. Above all, its originality and cogency determines whether it gets published. However, you should still make a good-faith effort to conform your writing to the standards.

Academic Integrity:

The University of Michigan’s academic integrity policy defines plagiarism as“representing someone else’s ideas, words, statements, or other work as one’s own without proper acknowledgement or citation”. Plagiarism of any kind and of any degree will not be tolerated.

  • Any information that isn’t common knowledge must be cited in-text.

  • “Smoking causes lung cancer” is an example of common knowledge.

  • “110,000 Americans died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2017 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018)”, conversely, requires a citation.

  • Direct quotations from any source must be cited and contextualized.

  • The entire article, which must include a list of works cited, adheres to the American Psychological Association (APA) writing format.

Subject Matter:

All articles involve one or more of the major sub-disciplines within the field of public health. These sub-disciplines are environmental health, health management and policy, biostatistics, epidemiology, community health, and health behavior/ health education. Authors are strongly advised to keep the number of sub-disciplines employed in their articles to a minimum. Complex articles which draw upon knowledge from many fields may not appeal to the whole student body. Articles are exclusively made up of your novel thoughts.

  • “Stories” articles recount, for the first time, someone’s experience with a public health problem. For example, Stories article about opioid use disorder could detail your friend’s experience with the disorder, but it could not detail Kurt Cobain’s heroin use.

  • “Commentary” articles present an original argument: they do not paraphrase or rehash widely-held opinions. For example, an article arguing that addiction is a medical condition (as opposed to a crime) would not be accepted for publication, because that argument has become the predominant American view on addiction in recent years. You need not end your article by naming potential policies for fixing the public health issue that you describe. Do this only if you feel that it improves the article.

Format:

  • Articles are the work of one person; group-written articles can be submitted to the print edition of the UJPH.

  • Articles should be double-spaced and written in a twelve-point serif font.

  • The expected length of an article depends upon which type of article it is.

    • Good “Commentary” articles are somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length, taking approximately five to ten minutes to read.

    • Good “Stories” articles, which require more exposition, are between 1,500 and 2,500 words in length.

  • Articles that modestly exceed the maximum word count will still be eligible for publication; the minimum word count is strictly enforced. You can supplement your writing with a few charts, tables, and graphs.

  • Images to include in addition to the submission are highly encouraged.

Tone:

Blog articles are less formal in tone than typical peer-reviewed research papers. Be earnest and expressive! Make it clear that your article’s subject matter matters to you. Prioritize being authentic over being decorous. However, this is not to say that writers are allowed to be disrespectful or intellectually dishonest, or to play fast and loose with facts. Writers still must be respectful towards those who disagree with them and accurately represent their beliefs. You can use humor as a rhetorical strategy if you are funny.

Use of language:

Notwithstanding their less-than-formal tone, blog articles must obey the conventions of American English spelling and grammar. Common contractions are allowed. You should make use of academic terminology when appropriate. This includes terms, for example, from the fields of public health, public policy, medicine, and statistics. Some members of the general student body might encounter these terms for the first time when reading the blog. As such, you should define any potentially unfamiliar terms when you first use them. Profanity is not allowed.

If you have any questions about the style guide, please contact the editor of the

blog, Matt Dargay, at mdargay@umich.edu. Contact journal.ph@umich.edu for general

inquiries about the publication process or about UJPH.

 
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