If you are interested in contributing a manuscript to the Hospital Physician Hematology/Oncology Board Review Manual ,please contact the Editor (Robert Litchkofski, about your topic. This will ensure that your topic meets the publication’s current editorial needs and that no similar manuscript is in the peer review process or is already accepted for publication.

Most clinical reviews published in the Manual employ a case-based format to review essential content, but narrative reviews are published as well. Each review article should be accompanied by at least 5 multiple choice questions with detailed explanations of the answers (supported by references) on the article topic. The following guidelines explain our style, content, format, and length requirements.


The purpose of the Hospital Physician Hematology/Oncology Board Review Manual is to review essential content (ie, facts, concepts, general knowledge) in the disciplines of hematology and oncology for board certification/recertification preparation. The Board Review Manual is not intended to be a comprehensive review. The goal is to provide a simulated exercise to reinforce critical thinking, clinical decision-making skills, and the synthesis and organization of patient information. Clinical topics should have broad relevance in the practice of hematology or oncology.

Case format. The case format is preferred for manuals that focus on clinical topics (eg, a specific diagnosis). The goal is to provide a simulated exercise to reinforce critical thinking, clinical decision-making skills, and the synthesis and organization of patient information. Components of the case-based format include a case report, strategically placed questions, discussion of the questions, and a brief conclusion. Please keep in mind the purpose and goals of the manual.

  • The case report. Each case study should unfold gradually and be presented in brief sections. The sections should include straightforward information about the course of the case, beginning with clinical examination of the patient and progressing through the stages of workup, diagnosis, and treatment. It is sometimes easier to draft a case that is based on a real patient. It may be necessary to “tweak” a real case to accommodate learning objectives of the case discussion and to maximize the case’s educational value.
  • Strategically placed questions. Each section of patient information should be followed by a question that should challenge the reader’s reasoning and thought process at that particular stage of the case. Pose only one or two questions at a time that can be answered straight away, allowing readers to apply their knowledge and to identify key points for further study.
  • Discussion of the questions. Clinical commentary on the case should be provided in response to the clinical questions raised throughout the case. It is important to explain reasons for decisions and conclusions. Any sources cited in the discussion should be included in a reference list.

Standard narrative review format. A narrative clinical review article format may be better suited to manuals that focus on pathophysiology or basic science concepts. In this case, the manual should include a brief introduction highlighting the rationale for the importance of the subject and a brief conclusion summarizing key teaching points. The body of the text should be organized under appropriate headings and subheadings that correlate with the pertinent teaching points/learning issues.

Level of detail. Level of detail should be guided by the complexity of the subject matter. Although it is better to include too much rather than too little detail, be careful not to delve too deeply into each topic (ie, what would a fellow be expected to know at the latter stage of clinical training?). Keep in mind the primary audience, and use this as a guide for the level of detail, the need for definitions, and so on.

Length. The text of the manual (ie, including references but not figures/legends or tables) should be approximately 5000-7000 words (depending on number of tables/figures). Please be sure to keep the target word count in mind when preparing a manuscript to avoid an overly short or long manual.

References. Manuscripts must include references to support the information provided in the topical review. References to the primary literature (eg, original research articles, systematic reviews, meta-analyses) should be used rather than secondary references (eg, book chapters, general review articles). If a secondary source (eg, book chapter) is used, any original research articles cited should be referenced rather than the secondary source.

References should be numbered in the order in which they are first mentioned in the text. Supply complete bibliographic data for each reference in a numbered list at the end of the manuscript. List all authors when 4 or fewer; when 5 or more, list the first 3 and add et al. Do not use italics. With the exception of number of authors listed, the Board Review Manuals follow the reference style set forth in the Uniform Requirements.

Example: Vega KJ, Pina I, Krevsky B. Heart transplantation is associated with an increased risk for pancreatobiliary disease. Ann Intern Med 1996;124:980-3.

In addition, please note that we use superscripts in the text and a numbered reference list at the end of the manual. Please avoid using any automatic numbering programs that your word processing software provides and manually number the references and reference list.

Tables and figures. Tables and figures can serve many purposes (summary, comparison or contrast, visualization of complicated concepts, illustration of steps involved in diagnosis or therapy), and they offer a great way to save space in a review article. Authors are encouraged to be creative and to use illustrative material wherever possible to avoid having a manual with pages of dense text. This is particularly the case for information that may be more effectively conveyed in a figure than in a narrative discussion.

Tables and figures should be numbered sequentially in the order first cited in the text; all figures must be accompanied by a legend that defines all abbreviations and symbols. Each table or figure must be identified as either original or borrowed from another source; provide a complete reference for any borrowed material, and the Publisher will obtain permission to reprint or adapt such items. For any images, including photographic figures and line drawings, submit a GIF or JPEG file.

Each printed manual is accompanied by a set of online study questions (ie, multiple choice questions with detailed explanations supported by references). The study questions are designed to test the reader’s clinical knowledge and judgment in the subject areas addressed in the manual. Authors should submit the questions, explanations, and supporting references in a separate document from the manual.

Multiple choice questions. A minimum of 5 questions should accompany each manual.

  • Question format. All questions should be single-best answer format (no matching or multiple answers). Each question should consist of a stem (introductory statement or question that elicits the correct answer), the correct answer (best choice), and 3 or 4 distractors (incorrect but plausible choices). Case-based questions are preferred for testing clinical knowledge and judgment (eg, interpretation and analysis, diagnosis, treatment planning, management of complications); a single case may be associated with more than 1 question. Knowledge of specific facts or concepts may be tested with direct questions (eg, “Which description best characterizes the salient clinical features of syndrome X?”) or incomplete statements (eg, “The leading cause of death in patients with disease X is”).
  • Scope and complexity of questions. Authors are encouraged to craft the types of questions physicians will encounter on written board examination (ie, questions that test meaningful facts/concepts and clinical knowledge relevant for certification). Avoid trivia and obscure facts and aim for questions that require synthesis of information and clinical reasoning, rather than simple recall. It is acceptable if the correct answer to a question is NOT specifically stated in the manual, as long as the manual provides a foundation for understanding the principles and concepts underlying the question and the accompanying explanation provides support for the answer. The answer must be based on valid resources (preferably, the primary literature), not the author’s interpretation or clinical experience.
  • Tips for writing stems. Begin by identifying the most clinically relevant content areas within the manual, then write down the exact testing points. Typically, these include recognizing symptoms, formulating diagnoses, evaluating treatments, evaluating causes, and planning next steps in management. Each stem should address one testing point. The stem should be clear enough to provide the reader with sufficient information to anticipate the type of answer before looking at the responses. Stems should be focused, succinct, and link well to each response. Avoid unfocused stems (eg, “Which of the following statements about X is correct?”), which can result in questions that have unrelated responses, are ambiguous, or lack specificity. Also avoid stems that are negatively phrased (ie, use LEAST, NOT, or EXCEPT). If this is the only way to construct a question that has a single best answer, move on to a different focus for the question.
  • Tips for writing responses. All responses (correct answer and distractors) should be conceptually related, parallel in construction, and about the same length and level of detail. No two options should be mutually exclusive (which clues that one of them is the correct answer). Do not mix concepts in distractors (eg, diagnosis, treatment). Do not use “All of the above” or a combination of choices (eg, “A and B”) as an option, which results in multiple choices being correct. “None of the above” also should be avoided. Finally, make sure the answer is correct and the distractors are incorrect!

Explanations. Each question should be accompanied by a brief but complete explanation that states the correct answer, why the answer is correct (what makes it the best choice?), and why the other choices (distractors) are incorrect or inappropriate. Although it is not necessary to provide a “mini-lecture” on the topic, the explanation should state the essential concept or knowledge that is being tested by the question and address any common areas of confusion. The explanation should cite references that support the answer as being correct and the distractors as being incorrect. Ideally, these should be references to the primary literature, not textbook chapters. Each explanation should have its own set of references, numbered consecutively and formatted as described in the section, “Preparing the Manual.”

Length. While length will vary with the complexity of the questions (case-types being longer and more involved) and the level of detail provided in the explanation, authors should aim for a total of 1500 words for the questions, explanations, and references.

Images. In some cases, questions will require interpretation of images (eg, radiographs, MRI/CT scans, ECG tracings, pathology slides). Authors are asked to provide original images, to avoid the need to secure permission from other sources (permission for web reproduction is often denied). Digital images (JPEG, GIF) are preferred.

Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to:

Robert Litchkofski

The Publisher will send manuscripts to at least two independent experts for external peer review. Authors will be asked to respond to reviewer comments and suggestions for revisions.