Writing a great article

What to publish

All journal articles begin with an idea. Some ideas develop into comment pieces. Others become case studies. Some are developed into original research.

RCNi journals offer a range of ways for you to take your idea and shape it into a published article that encourages others to reflect, develop or innovate. The journal editors will advise and support you, and it is in their interests to help you succeed.  

The first step on the path to publication is to familiarise yourself with the journal you want to write for. Note, in particular, the types of article published and consider how your idea will fit.

Remember that, while editors are flexible and open to suggestions, journals are governed by their overarching purpose, available space and editorial standards. This means that some submissions are always unsuitable, unabridged and unedited theses and essays among them.

But consider the numerous types of article that editors do welcome. For example:

Descriptions of practice

Perhaps you and your colleagues have undertaken a nursing procedure in a new way, or the introduction of a new nursing role has changed how your team functions; what can others learn from your experience? 

Literature reviews

Reviews of current evidence on particular aspects of nursing should be structured with separate sections:

  • Background.
  • Details of the search, including databases used, search terms and dates.
  • Findings.
  • Themes arising out of the findings.
  •  A strong conclusion that brings the subject together.

Original research

Abstract, introduction, literature review, aims, method, results or findings, discussion and conclusion; research articles have a classic structure and should be based on rigorous, ethical investigation. A box detailing implications for practice should be inserted at the end of the article.

Continuing professional development articles

RCNi does publish continuing professional development (CPD) articles but these are usually commissioned by an editor for a fee rather than being submitted speculatively. Editors welcome suggestions for topics, however, and can give you detailed support and advice on content and structure.


What’s new in your specialty? Have recent guidelines or policies changed how you practise? Readers value summaries and updates on relevant topics.


Expressing a view on a current issue is straightforward enough. Expressing an original view is more challenging but is more likely to be considered for publication. Editors want to hear fresh ideas, not reheated arguments. Be provocative, by all means, but base your opinion on fact. 

Letters to the editor

Has something published in a previous issue of a journal challenged or stimulated you? Further the debate through the letters pages. Alternatively, use a letter to test out one of your ideas more informally than writing an article.

One more thing...

Remember: read the journal before you attempt to write for it.

For more specific guidance, look at the section on author guidelines.


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