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In the three years since I became editor of the New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy (NZJOT), I have been on a valuable learning curve albeit more challenging than required at times. In coming to terms with the role of editor, my goal has been to ensure that the criterion set by previous editors is being maintained and improved. To this end, I try to keep up with the changes that occur in standards of publishing and in the technology used by authors, editors and publishers. Because written language also changes, so too does the form of presenting manuscripts. For this reason the New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapists (NZAOT) will review the Journal protocols in respect of the standard required for publications. The aim is to ensure that my goals are aligned to those of NZAOT, and the content of the journal is aligned to that of Journals published internationally while maintaining our unique identity.

When considering style requirements for the Journal in 1991, the editor Clare Hocking, adopted those contained in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA). Consistency of presentation and format within and across journal articles is an aspect of publishing that enables readers to judge the quality of the material presented. Similarly, standardization facilitates clear communication of new ideas and research, and allows linkages across articles and across publishers (APA, 2001). This is why authors submitting manuscripts for publication in NZJOT are expected to conform to APA format.

Specifically with reference to research, one of the issues that often occurs is manuscripts are submitted as research without the standard headings for research as outlined in APA (2001, p.7). Headings for a research article should include an introduction, literature review, methodology, findings, and discussion. Alternatives are sometimes acceptable, but unusual, as the research design helps to establish the rigour of the research process. For all things there is a reason and in this instance the rigor of the study design informs the reader of the reliability and validity of the research findings. No amount of writing skill will disguise poor research.

In contrast to scientific research and other categories which require academic knowledge, the Journal will publish a new category for articles grounded in practice. Articles in this category: Practice Reality will not require the same exacting academic standard. Rather the style of writing will facilitate clear communication of practice based knowledge. The rules for preparation of manuscripts will remain the same i.e. APA format because the style is used by other professional journals and is therefore familiar to a wider audience.

To assist authors in the preparation and submission of manuscripts the Guidelines to Authors is published in every edition of NZJOT. Authors intending to submit a manuscript for publication would enhance the chance of it becoming a published article, and greatly assist the editor and the reviewers, by following the guidelines. To ensure manuscripts achieve the best possible standard for publication, the peer review process is an opportunity for feedback on the style and content from others in the given field of practice. Most manuscripts need some revision and even experienced writers do not always have their manuscript accepted first time. The intention is to support authors and ensure NZJOT achieves a national standard we are proud to uphold.

With the exception of one, the articles in this edition of the New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy share a similar theme in that each is concerned with the question of how we, as a profession, can better support the people we serve. The first article by Dunstan and Griffiths presents a research project which explored one family's experiences of using sensory integration strategies at home. The findings suggest occupational therapists can offer valuable education on sensory strategies to enable a child to carry out everyday occupations within the family context. Onto the second article in which Valerie Wright-St Clair draws on two stories told by older New Zealanders to discuss the aging population and its implications for occupational therapy's strategic intent. Rather than offering solutions, the paper closes by raising relevant questions about the future place and purpose of occupational therapy within an aging society. The third article in the trilogy is by Jonathon Armstrong who provides insights into the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary client-centred goal setting in rehabilitation. After explaining the underlying principles of the approach the article goes on to extract themes from literature outlining the benefits of goal setting for client participation and motivation, interdisciplinary working, improving communication and improved outcomes. The final article by Scaletti, Egan and Kenning reviews the history of the New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy. This article is timely given that this year is the 60th anniversary of the first occupational therapy Newsletter which was published in New Zealand in 1948. The review focuses on two themes--the need for a professional voice, and the challenges of maintaining publication. The authors propose that the Journal, as a national and international voice for occupational therapists, has grown in stature to become a valuable asset both in New Zealand and beyond.


American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Grace O'Sullivan

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Author:O'Sullivan, Grace
Publication:New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 1, 2008
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