ABSTRACT: Writing an article can be a daunting thought but there are hints and tips that can help you produce a good piece of work. Mentors and peer reviewers will give valuable feedback to help you improve your manuscript. Academic writing is formal, structured and has a logical flow using signposting for the different sections. Referencing cites the sources of information that you have used to base your opinion and the VNJ uses the APA system. You will be paid £100 every time you are published.

It can be very daunting trying to write an article, but it is not as scary as you might think. Hopefully the following article will give you courage to have a go. The main thing is that we have systems in place that will help and support you to produce a good piece of work. Remember we won’t let you publish a bad piece of work.

   We can give you a mentor to guide you through the process.

• Our peer reviewers will give you feedback to help improve your article.

   You can contact the editor for advice before submitting.

Having an article published in a peer-reviewed journal is a great addition to your CV. The other thing that may persuade you is that we pay £100 for every article that is published.

The whole process may take up to four months in total so be patient, but feel free to contact the editor to see where your article is in the process.

Academic writing

When writing with the aim to be published, it is important to adopt a formal style of writing adapted to the audience. Formal language basically means that slang/colloquial words, or contractions such as didn’t, he’s; should not be used; always write in full e.g., did not, he is.

Formal language should be objective rather than personal (unless it is a reflective report). This style of writing uses third person rather than first person for example, do not use ‘I’, ‘we’ or ‘you’. It also is , written in the past tense. Have a go at the exercise at the end of the article, to convert the paragraph into formal language. An example answer will be on the BVNA website to give you an idea if you are on the right track.

There should be a clear focus on the topic rather than the author’s opinion. Use the correct terminology for the topic and audience.

Academic writing is precise and accurate with proper use of punctuation. It is essential that the author makes use of a proof-reader to check the grammar, punctuation and flow of information. The font used in the VNJ is Times Roman 12 and the document should be justified.

Evidence and justification should be provided for any statements or conclusions that are made. This demonstrates understanding of the topic i.e., include references.

Academic writing is well organised and flows in a logical fashion from one section to another.

As the article should be evidence-based, it is important to spend time researching the topic using current sources of information. Ensure the source is reputable i.e., Wikipedia should not be cited; however, it is often a good starting point as the reference list can lead to primary sources of information.

We use a double-blind peer review system which means that you do not know who reviewed your article and the reviewer does not know your name.


Abstract is a short summary of the article to help the reader understand what is to follow. The abstract is usually written once the article is finished. The abstract identifies the purpose, problem, methods, results and conclusion of the study. If you have done a literature review; it will contain a statement of the main topic, purpose and objectives, methodology, overview of significant findings, conclusions and recommendations.

It is usually around 300 words.

Keywords are four to five words that can be used by others to search for your article. Think of words that you used to find sources of information.

Introduction should grab the reader and outlines the main issues that will be addressed in the main body. It should identify the topic, purpose and structure of the article (who, what, where, when, why, how). Use clearly-written sentences which give the reader some background on the main topic and tells them what to expect from the rest of the article.

Main body is where you give your argument, provide evidence or describe your research or case study and findings. The main body of text expands on the topics in your introduction and brings all the information together from your sources.

It can be divided into sections depending on the type of article you are writing. Using subheadings can help the reader follow the subject.

Research study should include:



   Introduction – clearly stating the aim of the research question

   Materials and methods



   Ensure there is ethical approval for the research

   Ensure you have participant/practice/ owner consent

Case study – ensure there is informed consent given by the owner to use their pet and by the practice



   Signalment and history


   Diagnostic tests if appropriate

   Description of nursing care, management and treatment

   Evaluation of care


There should be plenty of evidence to support your main points. Evaluate the evidence by identifying what is good, what is bad and what can be done better in the future. Whether the article is a case study, literature review or research project, it is important that in-depth research of the topic area, using credible sources of information from both sides of the argument are included to allow an informed, unbiased judgement to be made. Include your opinion of how improvements can be made in the future based on the evidence collected (but remember not to say ‘I’).

Conclusion is where the important aspects of the article are highlighted. It summarises the main points given in the main body of text and draws together ideas to explain how they connect and relate. There should not be any new material in this section. The reader should be left with a clear idea about what you think and should be based on evidence and facts. Are the main points of the article summarised?

Reference list/bibliography should be at the end of the article and be in alphabetical order according to the surname of the author. A reference list is a list of sources that are cited in the article. A bibliography is a list of all the sources that have been used to gather your information but not necessarily cited in the article.

When researching your topic think about how current the source is and whether the author is credible.

APA referenci

The VNJ uses APA referencing style.

In text citation should be used to justify any statements made that are not the authors own thoughts.

One author: Surname, year of publication

Two authors: Surname and surname, year

Three – five authors: in the first citation; (surname, surname and surname, year). For the following citations; (surname of main author, et al., year).

Six or more authors: use (surname of main author, et al., year) in all mentions.

Uploading to ScholarOne

Before uploading the article to ScholarOne (S1) you should have the following files:

   Your manuscript including a title page with the names of all the authors and co-authors.

   An anonymous manuscript with an abstract, keywords, main text and references. Do not include tables and figures in the manuscript, this will be uploaded separately but ensure you identify them in your text.

   A file with all your figures or images (number the figures/images in order that they appear in your text and ensure they have a title). Title should go at the bottom of the figure or image.

   A file with all your tables (number the tables in order that they appear in your text and ensure they have a title). Title should go at the top of the table.

   Any supplemental files or biographical notes

Log into S1 from the BVNA publications page on the website and click on the ‘begin submission’ button and follow the instructions. There are instructions to guide as a video and a word document.

Select the type of article you are submitting; case study, clinical article or feature. Don’t worry if you are not sure, we can always change it later.

There may be some terminology used in the submission process that you are not familiar with (Table 1).

Peer reviewer feedback

All submitted manuscripts are peer reviewed anonymously. This means that the reviewer cannot identify you and also you will not know who has reviewed your manuscript (double-blind peer review).

The aim of the feedback is to identify strengths and weaknesses in your manuscript and give you feedback to help you to improve your work. Two reviewers will look through your work and make comments about whether they feel it is suitable for publishing and how you can improve it.

The feedback may be short and to the point i.e., ‘rephrase this sentence, ‘include a reference here, ‘spelling’. Do not be put off by this as the intent is to aid you, it is important to read through it and consider whether you feel it is justified. You will have the chance

to challenge the feedback and justify why you feel the suggestions are not appropriate or you can make the changes identified. Sometimes the reviewers may ask for a little more evidence, this simply means to include citations or some extra information to justify your comments.

It is advisable to make amendments to your manuscript and upload it back into ScholarOne as soon as possible whilst it is still fresh in your mind.


Once your reviewed manuscript is uploaded and accepted, you will receive an email from the VNJ stating your article will be published. You will receive a paper copy of the issue with access to 50 online copies for you to send to friends and colleagues.

Once you have been published, you will be paid £100.

Have a go

Try this exercise to change the informal language in the following paragraph to formal academic writing. There is an example of an answer on the BVNA website, (http://www.localhost:10018/publications/vnj-mcqs), but remember it may not exactly match your own answer, it is a guidance only.

Yesterday, I admitted a cat with a brown wicker basket that had a faulty clasp and I thought it might be a problem but it wasn’t and the cat was admitted without any trouble. The owner wanted to leave the basket here but we didn’t have any storage for it but the owner insisted so it was placed in a cupboard in reception.


Nicola Ruedisueli RVN PGCHE FHEA

CertVNRT PGDip Veterinary Education

Nicola Ruedisueli RVN PGCHE FHEA CertVNRT PGDip Veterinary Education. Nikki began her veterinary nursing career at Liverpool University Small Animal Hospital. She worked in both private and referral practice, then moved to Mars UK providing nutritional technical advice to veterinary professionals. Nikki moved to Nottingham Trent University in 2007 establishing and course leading the FdSc in Veterinary Nursing and now works for the BVNA as Head of Learning and Development. She still works in a small animal hospital at weekends.

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 35 • February 2020