Journals Library


An abstract must be submitted as part of the report and will appear on MEDLINE and other appropriate bibliographic databases. The abstract should be an unnumbered section without references, figures or tables. This should not be more than 500 words (with the exception of PGfAR reports, which have a limit of 750 words).   The word count does NOT include study registration or funding details.  Please include a word count.

Abstracts should include data (relative risks, odds ratios, and confidence intervals) to support statements of efficacy or cost-effectiveness. 

Generally, abstracts should include the headings below. However, if your report is a randomised controlled trial or systematic review you should ensure that you follow the CONSORT extension for abstracts and the PRISMA Checklist respectively so that your abstract is compliant with these guidelines.

  • Background
  • Objective(s)
  • Design
  • Setting
  • Participants
  • Interventions
  • Main outcome measures
  • Data sources (if applicable)
  • Review methods (if applicable)
  • Results
  • Limitations
  • Conclusions
  • Future work
  • Study registration
  • Funding details - this should be only your main research award and should be worded as follows: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) XXX programme and will be published in XXX Journal; Vol. XX, No. XX. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.  Details of other funding, such as NIHR professorships and CLAHRC funding needs to be clearly shown in the statement of declared interests.

To aid readability, please do not use any abbreviations in your abstract.  Commonly used abbreviations may be substituted at production stage, the final editorial decision rests with NETSCC. 

Reporting of cost effectiveness results in abstracts 

  1. The NIHR Journals Library contains research reports, not technology appraisals. They should therefore not make judgements about what is worthwhile or what would be value for money for the NHS.
  2. Cost-effectiveness is measured on a spectrum, not a dichotomy. The dichotomy comes with cost-effectiveness thresholds, as used implicitly or explicitly in many healthcare decision-making processes.
  3. NICE, by contrast, does work with dichotomies. Its base cost-effectiveness threshold is £20k/QALY, although that can increase in various circumstances to £30k, £50k or £100k per QALY – or even more.
  4. This means that authors in abstracts in the NIHR Journals Library:
    1. Should normally report the costs (usually £) and benefits (usually QALYs) in numbers, with confidence intervals
    2. Might want to say that something is more or less cost-effective, or similarly cost-effective (the difference being that such language acknowledges a spectrum)
    3. Should not say “it is cost effective” or “it is not cost-effective” (those both dichotomise, implying a threshold)
  5. This advice needs to be read in conjunction with the aims of the study and applied thoughtfully.
  6. These principles also apply to the headlines, written by NETSCC