Instructions for Authors

All research papers in the Journal of Spine Surgery (JSS) are published Open Access without any charges, thanks to the generous sponsorship from the NeuroSpine Surgery Research Group (NSURG). Moreover, JSS immediately fulfills the requirements of the US National Institutes of Health, the UK Medical Research Council, the Welcome Trust, and other funding bodies by making the full text of publicly funded research freely available on and forwarding it directly to be indexed on PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine's full text archive (in future).

1. Manuscript Categories

Original Studies

JSS will consider original scientific reports of clinical research, including randomized controlled trials, prospective studies, retrospective studies, and institutional or multi-institutional reports, and basic science research. Structured abstracts should be no longer than 300 words, while the structured manuscript should be less than 3000 words.

Basic Science

Basic science papers are previously unpublished manuscripts that include laboratory work in areas ranging from basic lab work, cadaver studies, cellular mechanisms, molecular biology, growth factor work, preclinical animal studies and novel imaging (as related to the basic sciences rather than clinical imaging). Structured abstract is required.

Featured Article

Featured Articles are brief research highlights of clinical research, including randomized controlled trials, prospective studies and institutional or multi-institutional reports, and basic science research. Featured articles may also review recent surgical developments or highlight technical mistakes or possible complications in the performance of spinal surgical procedures. These reports should detail the mechanism of their occurrence, followed by recommendations of the appropriate management. Structured abstracts must be no more than 300 words, while the structured manuscript must be less than 3000 words.

Technical Note

Technical notes should present a novel or improved technique, investigation or procedure. The article must describe a demonstrable advance on what is currently available. The text is limited to 1500 words excluding references, tables and figures. Photos, drawings and videos are encouraged.


Perspective articles can be more subjective, forward-looking or speculative. A paper presenting controversial positions or papers of the same topic advocating opposite opinions will be published as Perspectives. While most perspective articles will be solicited by the Editors, we also welcome timely, unsolicited perspective articles. A non-structured abstract is limited to 300 words. The text is limited to 3000 words.


Guidelines need to be the product of a large group of individuals who are recognised authorities in their field. A non-structured abstract is limited to 450 words. The text is limited to 6,000 words including abstract but excluding references, tables and figures.

Case Reports

The manuscript should report on a specific case or series of related cases of interest, with limited references to the literature. Text length should be relatively brief (8-10 double-spaced pages.) Illustrations (radiographs, photographs) should be included. A structured Abstract is required.

Evidence Update

A JSS Evidence Update manuscript identifies and describes recent systematic reviews and high impact randomized controlled trials or registry publications, appraise their quality and highlight strengths and weaknesses. Evidence Update articles will be intended for busy clinicians and decision-makers and can be used for answering questions about the effects of specific interventions, whether such questions arise from practice or when making policy. Text is limited to 1000 words.

Invited Reviews

The manuscript should cover an established but controversial area of multidisciplinary spine care with the goal of updating and consolidating knowledge and the conceptual framework. It should include a minimum of 50 references with 20-30 pages of double-spaced text, 3-5 explanatory tables, and appropriate artwork. A structured abstract is required.


Editorials are written by recognized leader(s) in the field. Editorials are generally solicited by the (Deputy) Editor(s)-in-Chief. Length should not exceed 2500 words with no more than 20 references.

2. Structure of Manuscripts

The length of manuscripts must strictly adhere to the specifications under the section Manuscript Categories. Manuscripts should be presented in the following order: (i) title page, (ii) abstract and key words, (iii) text, (iv) acknowledgments, (v) disclosure, (vi) references, (vii) supplementary material, (viii) figure legends, (ix) tables (each table complete with title and footnotes) and (x) figures. Footnotes to the text are not permitted and any such material should be incorporated into the text as parenthetical matter.

Title page

The title page should contain (i) the title of the manuscript. Authors should include all information in the title that will make electronic retrieval of the article both sensitive and specific. (ii) the full names of the authors and (iii) the addresses of the institutions at which the work was carried out together with (iv) the full postal and email address, plus facsimile and telephone numbers, of the corresponding author. The present address of any author, if different from that where the work was carried out, should also be supplied. In keeping with the latest guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, each author's contribution to the paper is to be quantified. The title should be short, informative and contain the major key words so that readers and online users will identify the article easily in online search. Do not use abbreviations in the title. A short running title (less than 40 characters) must also be provided.

Abstract and keywords

The length of all abstracts is limited to 300 words, and should be either structured or non-structured according to the Submission Guidelines for the specific categories. It must be factual and comprehensive. The use of abbreviations and acronyms should be limited and general statements (e.g. "the significance of the results is discussed") should be avoided. Three to five key words should be supplied below the abstract, and should be taken from those recommended by the US National Library of Medicine’s Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) browser list at:


Authors should follow the recommended headings to standardize article structures. This will ensure consistent formats and styles between articles, as well as improving ease of readability. Suggested discussion points are also provided in the Guidelines.


At the time of submission, each author must disclose and describe any involvement, financial or otherwise, that might potentially pose a conflict of interest. Disclosure must be included in the text of the manuscript.


The Vancouver system of referencing should be used. In the text, references should be cited using superscript Arabic numerals in the order in which they appear. If cited in tables or figure legends, number according to the first identification of the table or figure in the text. In the reference list, cite the names of all authors when there are six or fewer; when seven or more, list the first three followed by et al. Do not use ibid. or op cit. Reference to unpublished data and personal communications should not appear in the list but should be cited in the text only (e.g. Smith A, 2000, unpublished data). All citations mentioned in the text, tables or figures must be listed in the reference list. Names of journals should be abbreviated in the style used in Pubmed. Authors are responsible for the accuracy of the references.


Tables should be self-contained and complement (but not duplicate) information contained in the text. Number tables consecutively in the text in Arabic numerals. Type tables on a separate page with the title above. Titles should be concise but comprehensive - the table, title and footnotes must be understandable without reference to the text. Column headings should be brief, with units of measurement in parentheses; all abbreviations must be defined in footnotes. Footnote symbols: †, ‡, §, ¶, should be used (in that order) and *, **, *** should be reserved for P-values. Statistical measures such as SD or SEM should be identified in the headings. If tables have been reproduced from another source, a letter from the copyright holder (usually the Publisher), stating authorization to reproduce the material, must be attached to the covering letter, and must also be referenced in the table footnote.


All illustrations (line drawings and photographs) are classified as figures. Figures should be cited in consecutive order in the text. Magnifications should be indicated using a scale bar on the illustration. If figures have been reproduced from another source, a letter from the copyright holder (usually the Publisher), stating authorization to reproduce the material, must be attached to the covering letter, and must also be referenced in the figure legend.

- Size: Figures should be sized to fit within the column (82 mm), intermediate (118 mm) or the full text width (173 mm).

- Resolution: Figures must be supplied as high resolution saved as .eps or .tif. Halftone figures 300 dpi (dots per inch), Color figures 300 dpi saved as CMYK, figures containing text 400 dpi, Line figures 1000 dpi.

- Color figures: Files should be set up as CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) and not as RGB (red, green, blue) so that colors as they appear on screen will be a closer representation of how they will print in the JSS.

- Line figures: Must be sharp, black and white graphs or diagrams, drawn professionally or with a computer graphics package.

- Text sizing in figures: Lettering must be included and should be sized no larger than the journal text or 8 point (Should be readable after reduction – avoid large type or thick lines). Line width between 0.5 and 1 point.

- Figure legends: Type figure legends on a separate page. Legends should be concise but comprehensive – the figure and its legend must be understandable without reference to the text. Include definitions of any symbols used and define/explain all abbreviations and units of measurement.

Figures which are deemed of unsatisfactory quality for publication at the discretion of the Editorial Office will be returned to the author for amendment.


JSS will accept digital files in mp4, flash video (flv.), MPEG (MPEG video file), DVD video format, mov., avi., and mwv. formats or video on CD/DVD. Contributors are asked to be succinct, and the Editor-in-chief reserves the rights to require shorter video duration if necessary. Video files can be submitted with a manuscript online:

Duration: Video files should be limited to 20 minutes.

Quality: Please set the video aspect ratio as 4:3 or 16:9(widescreen). The original video should be of high quality. The resolution is no less than 1280×720, the frame rate no less than 24 frames per second and the bit rate no lower than 5Mbps.

Text in video: All the text notes, explanations or descriptions, etc. in the video must be in English. And the logo or watermark of hospital should not be stick on the screen. Plus, the information of patients should be erased from the video.

Video legends: Legends for the video files should be provided. The video files should be number consecutively in the order of reference in the text.

Supplementary Files

JSS accepts supplementary files that will enhance the content of your research and manuscript, to be published in online version only. This may be in the form of movies, animation sequences, additional images, sound clips, and more. Authors must submit the material along with the article, and acceptance will be at the discretion of the Editors-in-Chief. Supplementary material must follow the above set-out criteria, or otherwise be concisely described as per a succinct caption. For more information, please contact the JSS Editorial Office.

3. Conflicts of Interest

At the time of submission, the submitting author must include a disclosure statement in the body of the manuscript. The statement should include whether the authors have published or submitted the manuscript elsewhere. The statement will also describe all of the authors’ relationships with companies that may have a financial interest in the information contained in the manuscript. This information should be provided under the heading titled 'Disclosure', which should appear after the ‘Acknowledgement’ section and before the 'References' section. The absence of any interest to disclose must also be stated. In addition, any financial interests must be detailed in the Financial Disclosure form, which will be provided to the corresponding author upon acceptance for distribution to each author.

4. Ethical considerations

Authors must state that the protocol for the research project has been approved by a suitably constituted Ethics Committee of the institution within which the work was undertaken and that it conforms to the provisions of the Declaration of Helsinki (as revised in Edinburgh 2000), available at: The JSS retains the right to reject any manuscript on the basis of unethical conduct of either human or animal studies. All investigations on human subjects must include a statement that the subjects gave informed consent. Patient anonymity should be preserved. Photographs need to be cropped sufficiently to prevent human subjects being recognized (or an eye bar should be used).

In general, submission of a case report should be accompanied by the written consent of the subject (or parent/guardian) before publication. Informed consent is required for Case report, original/research articles and visualized surgery. The statement should be included in the footnote. this is particularly important where photographs are to be used or in cases where the unique nature of the incident reported makes it possible for the patient to be identified. While the Editorial Board recognizes that it might not always be possible or appropriate to seek such consent, the onus will be on the authors to demonstrate that this exception applies in their case. Any experiments involving animals must be demonstrated to be ethically acceptable and where relevant conform to national guidelines for animal usage in research.

5. Clinical Trials Registry

We require, as a condition of consideration for publication, registration in a public trials registry. Trials must register at, or before, the onset of patient enrollment. This policy applies to any clinical trial starting enrollment after January 1, 2006. For trials that began enrollment before this date, we require registration by April 1, 2006, before considering the trial for publication. We define a clinical trial 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 (e.g., phase 1 trials) are exempt.

We do not advocate one particular registry, but registration must be with a registry that meets the following minimum criteria: (1) accessible to the public at no charge; (2) searchable by standard, electronic (Internet-based) methods; (3) open to all prospective registrants free of charge or at minimal cost; (4) validates registered information; (5) identifies trials with a unique number; and (6) includes information on the investigator(s), research question or hypothesis, methodology, intervention and comparisons, eligibility criteria, primary and secondary outcomes measured, date of registration, anticipated or actual start date, anticipated or actual date of last follow-up, target number of subjects, status (anticipated, ongoing or closed) and funding source(s).

Registries that currently meet these criteria include: (1) the registry sponsored by the United States National Library of Medicine (; (2) the International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number Registry (; (2) the Australian Clinical Trials Registry (; (4) the Chinese Clinical Trials Register (; and (5) the Clinical Trials Registry - India (

6. Randomized Controlled Trials

Reporting of randomized controlled trials should follow the guidelines of The CONSORT Statement:

Papers accepted for publication in the JSS become copyright of JSS and the corresponding author will be asked to sign a transfer of copyright form on behalf of all authors. In signing the transfer of copyright, it is assumed that authors have obtained permission to use any copyrighted or previously published material. All authors must read and agree to the conditions outlined in the Copyright Assignment Form, and the corresponding author can sign on their behalf. Acceptance of a manuscript is contingent upon receipt of a signed Copyright Assignment Form.

8. Style of Manuscript

Manuscripts must follow the style of the Vancouver agreement detailed in the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ revised 'Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication', as presented at:

Author name

Each author's given name should be followed by his/her surname. Capitalize each letter of the surname. A hyphen could be used in surname according to the rule in the Author's region. Capitalize the first letter of those words/syllables that they hope to be abbreviated in their given name, otherwise, DO NOT capitalize the first letter and use a hyphen to connect it with its anterior word.


The JSS uses US spelling and authors should therefore follow the latest edition of the Merriam–Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.


All measurements must be given in SI or SI-derived units. For more information about SI units, please go to the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) website at:


Must be used sparingly – only where they ease the reader’s task by reducing repetition of long, technical terms. Initially use the word in full, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. Thereafter use the abbreviation only.

Trade names

Drugs should be referred to by their generic names. If proprietary drugs have been used in the study, refer to these by their generic name, mentioning the proprietary name, and the name and location of the manufacturer, in parentheses.

9. Supporting information

Supporting Information is provided by the authors to support the content of an article but they are not integral to that article. They do not appear in the print version of the article. Supporting Information must be submitted together with the article for review; they should not be added at a later stage. They can be in the form of tables, figures, appendices and video footage. Reference to Supporting Information in the main body of the article is allowed. However, it should be noted that excessive reference to an item listed as. Supporting Information may indicate that it would be better suited as a proper reference or fully included figure/table. The materials will be published as they are supplied and will not be checked or typeset in any way. All Supporting Information files should be accompanied by a legend, listed at the end of the main article. Each figure and table file should not be larger than 5MB, although video files may be larger.

10. Submission of Manuscripts

General Requirements

All articles submitted to the JSS must comply with these instructions. Failure to do so will result in return of the manuscript and possible delay in publication.

• Submissions must be double-spaced.

• All margins should be at least 30 mm.

• All pages should be numbered consecutively in the top right-hand corner, beginning with the title page.

• Do not use Enter at the end of lines within a paragraph.

• Turn the hyphenation option off; include only those hyphens that are essential to the meaning.

• Specify any special characters used to represent non-keyboard characters.

• Take care not to use l (ell) for 1 (one), O (capital o) for 0 (zero) or ß (German esszett) for (Greek beta).

• Use a tab, not spaces, to separate data points in tables. If you use a table editor function, ensure that each data point is contained within a unique cell (i.e. do not use carriage returns within cells).

Each figure should be supplied as a separate file, with the figure number incorporated in the file name. For submission, low-resolution figures saved as .jpg or .bmp files should be uploaded, for ease of transmission during the review process. Upon acceptance of the article, high-resolution figures (at least 300 dpi) saved as .eps or .tif files should be uploaded. Digital images supplied only as low-resolution files cannot be used for publication.

Cover Letter

Papers are accepted for publication in JSS based on the understanding that the content has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere except as a brief abstract in the proceedings of a scientific meeting or symposium. This must be stated in the covering letter. The covering letter must also contain an acknowledgment that all authors have contributed significantly, and that all authors are in agreement with the content of the manuscript. In keeping with the latest guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, each author’s contribution to the paper is to be quantified.

11. Review Process

The reviewers' evaluations and Associate Editor's comments are compiled by the Editor-in-Chief for disposition and transmission to the authors. A decision is usually made within four weeks of submission of the manuscript.

The Editor-in-Chief will advise authors whether a manuscript is accepted, should be revised or is rejected. Minor revisions are expected to be returned within two weeks of the decision; major revisions within four weeks. Manuscripts not revised within these time periods are subject to withdrawal from consideration for publication unless the authors can provide proof of extenuating circumstances.

A number of manuscripts will have to be rejected on the grounds of priority and available space. A manuscript may be returned to the authors without external review if the Editor-in-Chief and the Associate Editor find it inappropriate for publication in the JSS. Similarly, the Editors may expedite the review process for manuscripts felt to be of high priority in order to reach a rapid decision. Such ‘fast-track decisions’ will normally occur within one week of receipt of the manuscript.

Authors may recommend preferred reviewers by providing the Editor-in-Chief with the names, addresses and email addresses of up to three suitably qualified individuals of international standing. However, the Editor-in-Chief will not be bound by any such nomination. Likewise, authors may advise of any individual who for any reason, such as potential conflict of interest, might be inappropriate to act as a referee, again without binding the Editor-in-Chief.

The Editor-in-Chief's decision is final. However, if the authors dispute a decision and can document good reasons why a manuscript should be reconsidered, a rebuttal process exists. In the first incidence, authors should write to the Editor-in-Chief.

All manuscripts should be written in a clear, concise, direct style so that they are intelligible to the professional reader who is not a specialist in the particular field. Where contributions are judged as acceptable for publication, the Editor and the Publisher reserve the right to modify manuscripts to eliminate ambiguity and repetition to improve communication between the author and the reader. If extensive alterations are required, the manuscript will be returned to the author for revision.

12. Proofs

It is essential that corresponding authors supply an email address to which correspondence can be emailed while their article is in production. Notification of the URL from where to download a Portable Document Format (PDF) typeset page proof, associated forms and further instructions will be sent by email to the corresponding author. The purpose of the PDF proof is a final check of the layout tables and figures. Alterations other than the essential correction of errors are unacceptable at PDF proof stage. The proof should be checked, and approval to publish the article should be emailed to the Publisher by the date indicated, otherwise, it may be signed off by the Editor or held over to the next issue. Acrobat Reader will be required in order to read the PDF. This software can be downloaded (free of charge) from the following web site: This will enable the file to be opened, read on screen, and printed out in order for any corrections to be added. Further instructions will be sent with the proof.

13. Offprints

Minimum orders of 50 offprints will be provided upon request, at the author's expense. Please email

14. No Publication Fees

There is no fee or article processing charges (APC) for articles published in the Journal of Spine Surgery, due to the generous support from the NeuroSpine Surgery Research Group (NSURG). The acceptance of the article is based on the merit of quality of the manuscripts.

15. Tracking Manuscripts

Author Services enables authors to track their article, once it has been accepted, through the production process to publication online and in print. Authors can check the status of their articles online and choose to receive automated emails at key stages of production so they do not need to contact the production editor to check on progress.

16. Epub Ahead of Print (accepted articles)

JSS offers Accepted Articles service for selected articles. Accepted Articles are complete full-text articles published online in advance of their publication in a printed issue. Articles are therefore available as soon as they are ready, rather than having to wait for the next scheduled print issue. Accepted Articles have been fully reviewed and approved for publication, but has yet to undergo copy-editing and proof correction. They are therefore given a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), which allows the article to be cited and tracked before it is allocated to an issue. After print publication, the DOI remains valid and can continue to be used to cite and access the article. More information about DOIs can be found at