About the Journal

Focus and Scope


The Healthy Populations Journal (HPJ) is a multi-faculty, student-led, open-access, peer-reviewed journal housed at the Healthy Populations Institute (HPI) at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Our mission is to identify and disseminate research which mobilizes evidence to improve population health and global health equity.

Population health is thinking beyond the health of an individual and looking at the health outcomes of a whole community. It considers all the factors that influence the overall health of a specific population including the social and structural conditions in which people are born, work, live and age.

Differences in the social determinants of health result in health inequities – the unnecessary or unjust conditions that result in differences in people‘s health status or health outcomes.  We can achieve our population health goals by focusing on reducing health inequities, drawing attention to the variety of factors that are known to have impact on individual and community health. The HPJ champions building health equity by disseminating research which addresses the fundamental causes and structural barriers of unhealthy lives and communities around the world. It is imperative that we research the wider determinants of health and create solutions that allow all members of a population to be well.


The scope of the journal is guided by the HPI Competency Framework (Miller et al, 2019). We will consider any research relevant to population health and health equity as it relates to the following principles and competencies:

-        Guiding Principles: Capacity Enhancement; Cultural Safety; Critical Reflection; Community Empowerment & Engagement

-        Competencies: Communication; Leadership; Agents of Change; Knowledge & Knowledge Translation; Research, Policy & Practice; Programming & Evaluation

We strongly encourage population health and health equity research submissions that address:

  • One or more of the United Nations‘ 17 Sustainable Development Goals
  • One or more of the Healthy Populations Institute‘s five Flagship Project themes.

Authors should identify which Sustainable Development Goal and/or Flagship Project theme their work mostly closely aligns with, recognizing that health intersects with other aspects of inequality, injustice, discrimination, marginalization, and exclusion.

We prioritize student research and diverse and intersectional forms of knowledge or expression (i.e., visual and graphic artwork, short stories, poetry, and multi-media expression such as audio-recordings), and approaches. We encourage submissions from a broad authorship including post-secondary students (undergraduate/graduate), independent and government (local/regional/national) scientists and policy makers, non-governmental organizations, and community members worldwide.

Peer Review Process

Each submission will be evaluated by two reviewers. If conflicting reviews occur, a third reviewer will be asked to review. Submitted articles, commentaries, and infographics undergo double-blinded peer-review, meaning authors and reviewers remain unknown to one another. Book reviews, artistic works, and short stories or poems undergo editorial review. As an emerging journal that highlights and supports the work of graduate student researchers, we strive to find knowledgeable reviewers who can provide thoughtful and constructive feedback. 

Reviewer Guidelines

Adapted from https://www.elsevier.com/reviewers/how-to-review/checklist


  • In a short paragraph, provide a summary of your main impressions of the article to demonstrate that you have read and understood the research, share input on whether it is novel and interesting and whether it has a sufficient impact in adding to the literature/knowledge base.
  • Ideally when commenting, do so using short, clearly-defined sentences or paragraphs and make it easy for the editor and author to see what section you‘re referring to. When possible, include the page number and/or line number or include a specific example. If preferable, anonymized track changes are also acceptable.
  • Assess whether the article conforms to the journal-specific instructions (see "submit" tab for author info).
  • Give specific comments and suggestions about the title and abstract: Does the title accurately reflect the content of the submission? Does the abstract accurately reflect the article? Do they include sufficient information relating to the introduction, methods, results, and conclusion to get a sense of the overall article?
  • Keep your comments strictly factual and don‘t speculate on the motives of the author(s). E.g., comment on what may be missing or over-stated, not on what you think they might be trying to say or allude to.
  • Carefully review the methodology and methods – Are there sufficient details and necessary citations?
  • Carefully review any presented statistical results and note any potential statistical errors. Review the results section and ensure that findings are clearly presented.
  • Ensure that the conclusion/discussion section adequately addressed and answered the research question or study purpose.
  • Review the references ensuring those in the reference list are also cited in the text.
  • Consider feedback on the presentation of data in the article, the sustainability and reproducibility of any methodology, the analysis of any data and whether the conclusions are supported by the data.
  • Comment on the overall flow and readability of the article. Note what could be done to improve readability where applicable.
  • Raise your suspicions with the editor if you suspect plagiarism, fraud or have other ethical concerns, providing as much detail as possible.
  • Be aware of the possibility for bias in your review. Unconscious bias can lead us all to make questionable decisions which impact negatively on the academic publishing process. 


  • Feel the need to comment on the spelling, grammar, or layout of the article. If the research is sound but let down by poor language; recommend to the editor that the author(s) have their paper language edited.
  • Make ad-hominem comments.
  • Dismiss alternative viewpoints or theories that might conflict with your own opinions on a topic: when reviewing, maintain an open perspective.
  • Share the review or information about the review with anyone without the agreement of the editors and authors involved. Reviewers must treat any manuscripts they are asked to review as confidential documents.
  • Suggest that the author includes citations to your (or your associates‘) work unless for genuine scientific reasons and not with the intention of increasing citation counts or enhancing the visibility of your work (or that of your associates).

Publication Frequency

The journal publishes 2 issues per year (Spring and Fall).

There are opportunities for collaborations and partnerships with research units and organizations to produce special issues featuring accepted abstracts and papers for conferences and/or focused on specific research themes.

Open Access Policy

The journal aims to reduce barriers to publishing and sharing research and inequalities to accessing information.This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge. The open-access nature of the journal means that there will be no charge for authors or readers to use the journal. The journal has a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (CCBYNC) attribution which allows the author (and others) to share and distribute their full-text article in other public domains, such as Google Scholar or Research Gate.

Social Media Guidance - Sharing HPJ publications

We want HPJ publications to be shared far and wide! We post publications through our Twitter account (@DalHPJ), and encourage you to post on your social media as well. 

Here are some general tips for sharing your publication, which have been adapted from Health Sciences Inquiry media guide.

  • Draw attention to your publication by sharing the key message or findings of your article in clear, concise language. Consider your purpose, results, and conclusion as starting points for content to include in your social media posts.
  • Include the DOI link to the article with your message. Including the DOI, rather than a link to the PDF, will allow Altmetrics/refback to track how the article is shared on social media.
  • Ask your department/institution, colleagues, and peers to share your article.
  • Include visual content (e.g. a visual abstract or artwork) with your post. Consider accompanying your post with a screenshot of your published article, an image related to your article, or an animated .gif. 

Tips for Twitter

Twitter is a useful tool for knowledge translation for academics and scientists. If you have your own Twitter account:

  • Tweet about your article. Include a link to the article DOI.
  • Tag our Twitter account (@DalHPJ) in your post. By including @DalHPJ in your tweet, we will be notified of your post and can then amplify your tweet. 
  • Tag any other relevant Twitter accounts in your post. This could include any co-authors, the Twitter accounts for your places of work or study, and any other peers or colleagues you think would like to be notified of the post.   
  • Integrate accounts and hashtags into the text of your post. If it makes sense within the context of your tweet, replace words and names with accounts and hashtags. If you‘re unable to seamlessly integrate these into the body of your post, include them at the end.  
  • Make images accessible by including an image description that will be readable by a screen-reader.  

Journal History

HPJ was co-founded by Christie Stilwell (Co-Editor in Chief) and Sara Brushett (former Managing Editor) in early 2020 at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Christie and Sara, with support of HPI, established the editorial board in summer 2020 which consisted of Dr. Justine Dol, PhD (Co-Editor in Chief); and editors Aleksandra Buderik, Dr. Hilary Caldwell, Phd; Dr. Phillip Joy, PhD; Laura J Kennedy; Gabriella Luongo; Emma Stirling Cameron, Delinda Trudel, Crystal Watson, and Helen Wong. Dr. Sara Kirk, PhD and Gillian Ritcey of HPI, and Geoff Brown at Dalhousie Libraries offered guidance and support as well. This team produced the inaugural edition of HPJ, published in Spring 2021.

Additional members Katie Gloade, Myles O'Brien, and Jackie Toner joined the editorial board during summer 2021. At this time we also began onboarding new Co-Editor in Chief ivan beck, and new Managing Editor Julia Kontak to take over roles from Dr. Justine Dol and Sara Brushett. The established editorial board and new members produced the second issue of HPJ, published in Fall 2021.