Policies/Information for Authors

Policy Statements

  1. The editors and staff of Health Behavior Research adhere to the ethical standards established by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE; www.publicationethics.org) who will adjudicate any breach of scientific integrity.
  2. The editors and staff of Health Behavior Research follow the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (ICMJE Recommendations) http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/
  3. Health Behavior Research complies with the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) Code of Conduct. Users have the right to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full text of articles in this journal, and to use them for any other lawful purpose.

Other Policies

Information for Authors

Article Types

HBR welcomes manuscripts in the form of research articles, research briefs, current issues, and commentaries. Descriptions and specific guidelines are as follows:

Research Articles are original empirical manuscripts. This category includes novel empirical research in addition to cutting-edge and/or innovative methodologies or techniques used to answer health behavior research questions.

Research Briefs are smaller-scale Research Articles. This category includes pilot (or preliminary) studies, studies that report the validation process for surveys/instruments, and overall smaller-scale studies to answer health behavior research questions.

Current Issues are scholarly reviews of any current issue or controversy that may be of interest to HBR readers. Papers should be informative with the aim of prompting new thinking and scholarly discourse regarding concepts and theories applied in health behavior research.

Commentaries are essay-type articles that provide opinions, observations, annotations, and remarks about an article published in HBR. For areas that may be challenging and/or thought provoking (e.g. changing paradigms, theory critiques), HBR will purposefully invite rebuttals or point/counterpoint articles from appropriate experts in the area who may or may not be Academy members.  If you are interested in writing a commentary, it is recommended to contact the editor first ().

*NOTE: Editorials are also considered; however no guidelines are presented for this special type of article.  If you are interested in writing an Editorial, please contact the editor ().

Submission Policies

Conditions of Submission

HBR does not charge submission or publication fees.

A manuscript is accept for consideration with the understanding that: (1) it has been submitted solely to HBR; (2) it has not been previously published, either in whole or in part; and (3) the contents have not been posted previously in any online format.

Submission of a manuscript is understood to indicate that the authors have complied with all policies as delineated in this document and the Editorial Policies. The editors adhere to the ethical standards established by the Committee on Publication Ethics (www.publicationethics.org) who will adjudicate any breach of scientific integrity. Individuals who violate these policies are subject to editorial action including, but not limited to: (1) disclosure of violations to employers, funding agencies, or other journal offices; and/or (2) publication of a retraction, correction, editorial expression of concern, or editorial.

The editors reserve the right to make editorial changes in all matter published within the journal, although the authors’ consent will be sought for any significant changes. The editors, editorial board, sponsoring organization, and publishers are not responsible for the statements expressed by authors in their contributions.

Ethical Approval Statement at the End of the Manuscript (before References Section)

All studies involving human subjects must include a clear description and statement of appropriate safeguards and ethical approval by appropriate governing bodies in the country where the research was conducted.  This should appear at the end of the manuscript, before the references section.

Potential Author Conflicts

At the bottom of the manuscript (before the references section) and in the cover letter, authors must disclose all relationships that could be viewed as presenting a potential conflict of interest (financial or otherwise).  If none exist, please note “The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare”. 

Potential Reviewer Conflicts

Authors may provide editors with the names of persons they believe should not review their manuscript because of a potential conflict. When possible, authors should also explain the reason(s) for their concerns. Editors will try to avoid selecting reviewers who have potential conflicts of interest.


In accordance with International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ recommendations, all authors must have a significant role in the manuscript in that all three of the following conditions must be met: (1) the individual made a substantial contribution to conception and design of the study, to data acquisition, or to data analysis and interpretation; (2) the individual wrote the article and/or revised the article for important intellectual content; and, (3) the individual read and approved the final version of the submitted manuscript. A description of the contribution of each individual listed as an author should be placed in the cover letter.

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Manuscript Preparation

All manuscripts will be accepted electronically for review with the understanding that copyright will be held by HBR. It is the author’s responsibility to gain permission for the use of copyrighted materials with signed release forms submitted with all original photographs. PLEASE NOTE: All manuscripts must be submitted with a Cover Letter and a signed APA Format Checklist (see below). All manuscripts must abide by the APA 7th Edition publication guidelines. Manuscripts that do not abide by these guidelines will be returned to the authors without undergoing peer review.

Journal Style

HBR follows the American Psychological Association Manual, 7th edition. Please refer to the Owl at Purdue APA Style Guide for questions about formatting or structure.

Cover Letter

The cover letter should be uploaded in the requested field on the submission form and must state that the manuscript has been submitted solely to HBR and that it has not been previously published, either in whole or in part, nor have the findings been posted online.

APA Format Checklist

Please download the APA Format Checklist and acknowledge in the cover letter that the manuscript follows APA 7th Edition manuscript preparation guidelines

Manuscript Format

Prepare manuscript following APA 7th Edition manuscript preparation guidelines and the APA Format Checklist.

In addition to general manuscript preparation guidelines, Research Articles must also include the following:

Title Page. The title page should include the following:

  • Title
  • Author names and affiliations: Include the first name, middle initial, last name, and relevant degrees and certifications of each author, as well as the names of their departments and institutions (including city and state), to which the work should be attributed
  • Corresponding author information: Include the name, full address, telephone number, and e-mail address of the author responsible for correspondence.
  • Word count (total word count (include main body of text/not Discussion Questions/References/etc), number of pages, tables, and figures)
  • Conflict of interest statement: Include a statement from each of the authors disclosing all funding sources that supported their work as well as all institutional and corporate affiliations. When no competing interests are present, this should be indicated in the publishable disclosure statement at the bottom of the manuscript (before the references section) (e.g., "The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.")
  • A description of the contribution of each individual listed as an author is required at the time of submission.

Abstract. Unstructured and limited to 250 words.

Key Words:  List no more than six key words or short phrases that will assist in cross-indexing.

Main body. Text limited to 4,000 words with the following headings (*Note: Articles reporting Qualitative Research can go over the 4000 word limit):

  • Introduction
    • Provides an adequate description of relevant supporting research.
    • Identifies gap in the literature/Importance of the study.
    • Clearly describes purpose of the study (formal research questions and/or hypotheses are not required, but allowed).
  • Methods
    • Descriptions should be succinct but sufficiently detailed to allow replication by a researcher.
    • If study methods have been previously published, a brief description should be provided, in addition to the reference.
    • Statements regarding IRB approval and informed consent are required.
    • If appropriate, indicate whether there was a pre-registration of analysis plans, such as in clinicaltrials.gov or https://www.cos.io/initiatives/prereg
  • Results
    • Clearly present the study findings.
    • Incorporate all tables and figures in the main body of the text. Do not place them on a separate page.
  • Discussion
    • Describe the importance and contributions of the findings, limitations, and conclusions. This section should not merely restate the results.
  • Implications for Health Behavior Research
  • This section should be thoughtful, interpretative, and directive, and not merely a gratuitous inclusion.
  • Authors should consider how this article advances our understanding of the mechanisms and factors that shape health behaviors (i.e. how this research moves the field forward).
  • Authors should also consider how readers from multiple disciplines may use the article to inform theory building, practice, policy, or future research.
  • Finally, authors should consider what specific gap did the article/study fill. Where does it lead to next? Are there new questions to be answered? Are there new gaps?
  • The details in this section MUST BE ACTION-ORIENTED – i.e., what researchers might do, what practitioners could do, or what policymakers may do as a result of your study findings.
  • Examples of areas to highlight include:
  • Recommended actions for how we define, measure, relate or apply theoretical constructs and theories.
  • Recommended actions for what health behavior scientists could consider doing differently after reading this work.
  • Recommended actions for how this work can be translated by health behavior practitioners and/or policy makers to advance the field.
  • This section is not just an extension of the Discussion or a summary of findings. Your paper will be returned to you until these parameters are addressed as described.
  • Discussion Questions
    • Authors must include 1-2 discussion questions related to their article. These questions should be constructed to elicit rich, thoughtful discussion about your study.
    • These questions might be used by the American Academy of Health Behavior (AAHB) listserv* to promote your paper and engage AAHB members in discussions about your paper.
    • Examples of discussion questions are included below.
      • Our findings indicate a need to move away from individual-focused models to describe, explain, and predict behavior. What are the best approaches for moving forward in this realm? (Developed by the Editors as an example question in response to: http://newprairiepress.org/hbr/vol1/iss1/6/)
      • Social marketing theory can be used alongside many other theories. Describe how you could use social marketing theory and another theory together to address a health behavior. (Developed by Rita Debate & Amy Gatto/HBR Vol. 4/Issue 2: An Application of Social Marketing Theory to develop a social marketing campaign to address mental health literacy and help-seeking behavior among male college students; https://newprairiepress.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1095&context=hbr).
      • We suggest that when researchers and practitioners use the Theory of Planned Behavior or Reasoned Action Approach, they should include both formative and reflective items so they can understand not only the determinants of behaviors and intentions, but also attitudes, perceived norms, and PBC. This also will help link theory to practice. What will prevent or enable professionals from evaluating both formative and reflective items in the future? (Developed by Paul Branscum & Katie Qualls Fay/HBR Vol. 2/Issue 4: What determines young adults’ attitudes, perceived norms, and perceived behavioral control towards healthy sleep behaviors? A reasoned action approach; https://newprairiepress.org/hbr/vol2/iss4/12/).
      • *Note: Only AAHB members have access to the AAHB listserv. To gain access to the listserv, please consider applying for membership with the American Academy of Health Behavior.
  • References
    • HBR follows the American Psychological Association Manual, 7th edition. Please refer to the Owl at Purdue APA Style Guide for questions about formatting or structure. 
    • The PubMed Citation Matcher is a useful tool: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/citmatch/
    • Automatic reference numbering in MS Word is not accepted; programs such as EndNote and Reference Manager are not accepted.
    • Where available, DOIs (digital object identifiers) for the references must be provided and hotlinked in the Word document. As a member of CrossRef, our publisher, New Prairie Press, is required to include DOIs. Use the free DOI lookupon CrossRef's website to check your citations.
  • Figures and Tables
    • All figures and tables should be incorporated into the body of the Word file to make the manuscript publication-ready.
    • Total limit of 6 exhibits (i.e. tables, figures, etc)
    • Appendix tables should be labeled with Arabic numerals (Appendix Table 1).
    • The limit for table titles is 15 words.
    • Footnotes should use lowercase letters (a,b,c), except for footnotes reporting statistical significance.
    • In addition to general manuscript preparation guidelines, Research Briefs must also include the following:
      • Unstructured abstract of 150 words or less;
      • Text limited to 2000 words;
        • Same sections as a Research Article: Introduction/Methods/Results/Discussion/Implications for Health Behavior Theory/Discussion Questions.
      • Reference limit is 25.
      • Total limit of 2 exhibits (i.e. tables, figures, etc).
    • In addition to general manuscript preparation guidelines, Current Issues must also include the following:
      • Unstructured abstract of 100 words or less.
      • Text limited to 2000 words.
        • Sections do not need to follow the same format as the Research Articles.
      • Reference limit is 20.
      • Total limit of 4 exhibits (i.e. tables, figures, etc).
    • In addition to general manuscript preparation guidelines Commentaries must also include the following:
      • Unstructured abstract of 100 words or less.
      • No text limit.
        • Sections do not need to follow the same format as the Research Articles.
      • Reference limit is 10.
      • Total limit of 2 exhibits (i.e. tables, figures, etc).

    *Note: While we have provided guidelines for page limits and number of exhibits for each article type, please know we are flexible. If you have a need to go over either the page limit or number of exhibits for your article please contact the editorial team () and let us know. We are willing to work with you.

    Manuscript submission

    Manuscript sections should be organized into the following MS Word files: (1) cover letter; (2) title page; 3) abstract, text, acknowledgments, references (4) appendix material (if needed). The files should then be combined into one word document named with the corresponding author’s name and date of submission (ex. John_Doe_08_15_2016).

    By submitting each manuscript to the journal of Health Behavior Research, authors confirm that they have thoroughly read the authors guidelines, understand the requirements, received written permission to use all copyrighted materials, and agree that the information is original, factual, and meet all research compliance measures.

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    Manuscript Review Process

    Health Behavior Research follows a single-blinded peer-review process, meaning the identity of the author(s) is revealed to the reviewers (but the identities of the reviewers are not revealed to the author(s)).  Therefore, there is no need to ‘blind’ any section of the manuscript, to conceal the identity of the author(s).

    Initial Screening

    Upon receipt, all submissions are screened by an editorial staff member to ensure the document has all required elements and appropriately follows formatting guidelines, including word count limits. Manuscripts that do not contain required elements and/or do not follow guidelines will be returned to the author.

    Review Process 

    Manuscripts passing initial screening are forwarded to an editor for internal editorial review. Manuscripts that pass internal editorial review will undergo external peer review, normally by three reviewers. Once external reviewers agree to review a manuscript, they are given ~3 week.  Once the reviewer accesses the manuscript, they review it and then submit their decision recommendation, comments for the author, and confidential comments for the editor. 

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    New Prairie Press recommends the use of the Creative Commons license. Health Behavior Research requires authors to agree to Creative Commons Attribution and Non-commercial licenses. Authors who publish with Health Behavior Research agree to the following terms:

    Copyright of all material is held by the American Academy of Health Behavior (AAHB). Authors may use their own material in other publications if AAHB is acknowledged as the original place of publication. Authors grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.

    Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.

    Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.

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    Open Access Policy

    This journal provides open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

    Archival Policy

    Contents of the Journal are archived for perpetual access through New Prairie Press' participation in CLOCKSS (Controlled Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) and Portico and managed through the Digital Commons Publishing platform. New Prairie Press also participates in LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe). Once published, the contents are never changed.

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    General Terms and Conditions of Use

    Users of the New Prairie Press website and/or software agree not to misuse the New Prairie Press service or software in any way.

    The failure of New Prairie Press to exercise or enforce any right or provision in the policies or the Submission Agreement does not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any term of the Submission Agreement or these policies is found to be invalid, the parties nevertheless agree that the court should endeavor to give effect to the parties' intentions as reflected in the provision, and the other provisions of the Submission Agreement and these policies remain in full force and effect. These policies and the Submission Agreement constitute the entire agreement between New Prairie Press and the Author(s) regarding submission of the Article.

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    This page was last updated on 11/11/2021