Health Affairs encourages submissions to its DataWatch section.

DataWatch articles are short papers (2000 words or less) that highlight data that "speak for themselves" relative to important policy issues or topics. They should shed light on some important question and be "worth knowing." They do not typically test hypotheses, rely on sophisticated statistical methods, or include lengthy policy discussions. We aim to present new data or new analyses of existing data that are reliable and credible and that promote understanding among nonexperts on important, policy-relevant topics. We encourage work based on underused or new data sources.


Length and Focus. DataWatch papers should relate to important policy topics even as they devote limited space to a policy discussion. The focus should be on highlights of the data and their interpretation and relevance to policy issues.

Discussion of the data source should be brief, clear, and suitable for non-expert, lay readers. If you cannot adequately discuss your data and methods within the space of about 200 or 300 words, you should include a technical appendix for review purposes only (designate the file(s) as "supplementary files for review" in the "file upload" step at the time of submission).

The total word count for DataWatch papers should not exceed 2,000 words (this total includes text and endnotes, but excludes exhibits). If fewer words will suffice, there's no need to reach the word limit. We may ask for cuts if we feel that the length exceeds what is necessary.

We do not publish abstracts for DataWatch papers, but it would be helpful if you would provide one in the space provided in the submission forms since this information is helpful to reviewers. Please include the abstract only in the submission forms; omit it from the document that contains the text, but include in its place a short "subtitle" (50 words) that highlights the main takeaway point from the paper. The abstract should state what your paper is about, why it is important, the data source, and the main observations that the data point to.

Exhibits. The data presented (usually in 4 to 6 tables and/or figures) should tell the story, and we prefer to see the most important exhibit mentioned very early in the paper (within 150 words of the beginning of the paper). This first exhibit should be the exhibit that best shows the article's main result and should be "eye catching." It often works well to highlight in the opening paragraph or two the main or most interesting finding, then to return to it later if appropriate. We encourage authors to include a variety of exhibits—tables and different figures, including graphs and maps.

Submission Requirements

Manuscripts should be submitted via Health Affairs' manuscript submission system.

Papers should be original submissions not previously published or being considered by other journals.

Additional details and style guidelines are available on Health Affairs' Web site under "Help for Authors".


There is no deadline for submissions; DataWatch papers will be considered on an ongoing basis. However, it is expected that papers will deal with topics of interest in a timely way so that data presented are relevant to current policy concerns.

Selection Process

Health Affairs' editors will evaluate all submissions to make an initial determination on suitability for the journal. Those papers that advance through this phase will be subjected to external peer review, which will consist of sharing papers with at least two experts. Comments and recommendations of peer reviewers will factor into the journal's decision on whether or not to select papers for revision and, ultimately, publication.


If you have questions about the suitability of a particular paper, please contact the executive editor at