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Instructions for Authors

For guidelines on policy and submission across our journals, please click on the links below:
Manuscript preparation
Editorial policies
Patient consent forms
Licence forms
Peer review
Submission and production processes

Editorial policy

The Postgraduate Medical Journal is committed to ongoing medical education across the whole range of specialties. Clearly the requirements of clinicians vary within different settings and in different countries. It is this principle that underlies the future planning of the journal and guides the editorial board and reviewers in making their judgements on whether papers submitted to the Postgraduate Medical Journal should be accepted or rejected.

Our policy is to provide a broad mix of articles that will be of educational value to specialists and trainees, and to seek innovative and attractive ways in which to deliver a comprehensive programme of professional development. Our priorities are to:

  • Publish up-to-date guidance on clinical management.
  • Harness the latest technologies to promote access to a full range of educational resources.
  • Continue to develop specialist areas of publication that deal with legal, ethical, ethnic and historical issues that are relevant to clinical medicine.
  • Publish contentious issues that are of educational importance.
  • Ensure that a fair, independent peer review system is in place.
  • Adhere to the highest ethical standards concerning research conduct.

Open Access

Authors can choose to have their article published Open Access for a fee of £1,950 (plus applicable VAT).

Colour figure charges

During submission you will be asked whether or not you agree to pay for the colour print publication of your colour images. This service is available to any author publishing within this journal for a fee of £250 per article. Authors can elect to publish online in colour and black and white in print, in which case the appropriate selection should be made upon submission.

Article types and word counts

The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements and contributions and the references. If you are not a native English speaker and would like assistance with your article there is a professional editing service available.

Best Practice

These are usually commissioned by the editor but we welcome suggestions for topics and authors. Please email us at pmj{at}bmjgroup.com.

The article should review current clinical practice with evidence from controlled clinical trials. Where no evidence exists, it should be made clear what is based on consensus and what is based on personal experience or opinion. The article should summarise what national guidelines are available and where these can be sourced. The extent to which the guidelines are evidence or consensus-based, and a comment on their importance. should be discussed. Areas of controversy should be included. The author should state, from a personal viewpoint, on which side he/she would come down, and why.

The article should provide a list of useful websites for patients and doctors, together with information on self-help groups and sources of good quality patient information. The author should select from the complete list of references, the top five review or original articles published within the last five years, for further reading. These should be placed in a box for ease of identification. A complete list of references should be included at the end of the article in the usual way.

At the end of the article there should be between five and ten self-test questions on the content of the article. These can be multiple choice or open questions. A set of answers should accompany the article.

Word count: between 2000 and 3000 words.
Abstract: up to 150 words.
Tables: up to 5.
Illustrations: up to 3.
References: up to 100.

Commentary

These are commissioned by the editor to accompany one or more published articles.

Word count: up to 1500 words.
Abstract: not required.
Tables/illustrations: up to 2.
References: up to 10.

Controversies

This is a forum for debating the challenging and difficult issues currently confronting the medical profession. Two articles should be submitted; one offering a 'view' and the other providing the 'counter-view'. Each should contain cogent arguments backed up with relevant references.

For each article:
Word count : up to 2000 words.
Abstract: not required.
Tables/illustrations: up to 1.
References: up to 25.

Editorials

Editorials should deal with contemporary issues of importance to clinicians. Their content can be clinical, social, political, legal or related to research issues. Although they may be controversial, they should attempt to provide a balanced view. Editorials provide a personal view and, as such, will not be routinely submitted to peer review.

Word count: 1000 to 2000 words.
Abstract: not required.
Tables/illustrations: not normally included.
References: up to 10.

Education & Learning

These encompass a variety of resources and are commissioned by the editor.

Ethics, Ethnicity and Legal Issues

These articles focus on ethical, ethnic or legal aspects of clinical practice and examine the implications for patient care. Articles can be submitted either as a comprehensive Review Article or as an Original Article.

Fillers

Fillers can either be a written account or a photograph. We welcome summaries of around 250 words that provide light, informative reading. Subjects might include favourite books and music, self help groups, life defining moments, memorable patients, historical events and anniversaries. Photographs that add interest and variety to the PMJ should be accompanied by a brief caption.

Images

Images should have a clear educational message or are aesthetically interesting. They can relate to historical aspects of medicine in the broadest term. A picture which 'shocks' is unlikely to be published simply for its horror value. The selected image(s) should be clearly described and be accompanied by a succinct case history. In addition pictures must have definition and be capable of good quality reproduction in the journal.

The patient's written permission to publish their case must be obtained prior to submission.

Word count: up to 500 words.
Abstract: not required.
Illustrations: up to 2.
References: up to 5.

Online Resources

This is a new section of the PMJ and ideas for contributions are welcome. Please email us at pmj{at}bmjgroup.com.

Video collection
Video demonstrations of clinical, surgical, technological or laboratory topics will be featured on PMJ Online. Videos should be 2-3 minutes long and can accompany any of the article types described here. A 25-50 word legend or audio voice-over should be provided.

Alternatively, the video can be submitted as a stand-alone resource. It should be accompanied by an explanatory account of around 1000 words or an audio voice-over. Written accounts should include a title page, introduction, methods or technique shown, comments, and up to 5 references.

If individual patients are involved, their written permission to publish the video must be obtained prior to submission.

Image quiz
This is designed to help candidates preparing for the MRCP or equivalent. Any number of images can be included, but the emphasis should be on selecting conditions that candidates are likely to experience in the examination and in clinical practice.

The quiz should start with a brief introduction, giving the aim and scope of the quiz and its intended audience. Each image should be accompanied by a brief summary of the case (if appropriate) and question(s) that are designed to test the participant's knowledge. The answer(s) should follow separately and should include a brief description of the diagnostic features of the image and the key learning points.

The quiz can be submitted either as a PowerPoint presentation or with the images saved in TIFF, JPEG or EPS format and the accompanying text saved as a Word document or equivalent.

All online resources, including those that have been invited, are subject to peer review. If individual patients are involved, their written permission to publish the material must be obtained prior to submission.

All online resources, including those that have been invited, are subject to peer review. If individual patients are involved, their written permission to publish the material must be obtained prior to submission.

Original Articles

Original articles are always welcome at the PMJ. We continue to believe in the value of clinical research and to encourage its impact on health care. For most doctors this is the reason they took up clinical practice. All of us should be enthusiastic about applying scientific methodology to patient investigation, care and treatment and so ensure the provision of the best service that we can achieve.

Articles should be presented in a way that is accessible to readers of a general medical journal. All research papers involving human subjects MUST contain a statement about ethics committee approval. Reports of randomised controlled trials should follow the revised CONSORT statement (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials.) published in JAMA (2001;285:1987-91), as closely as possible. See RCTs for more guidelines.

Papers should also summarise in list-form "What is already known on the subject" and the study's main messages.

Word count: up to 3000 words
Structured abstract: Abstracts of up to 250 words are required for all original articles. Headings for experimental or observational studies should include: purpose of the study, study design, results and conclusions. Headings for randomised controlled trials and meta-analyses should, as a guide, include: aim, design, setting, patients, interventions, main outcome measures, results, and conclusions.
Tables/illustrations: up to 6
References: up to 30

Review Articles

Review articles must be up-to-date and provide practical and clear guidance where possible for the clinician. Areas of uncertainty need to be documented and referenced. The views expressed in favour of one form of treatment as opposed to another should be soundly based and referenced. Of course, as practising clinicians we all have developed certain biases over the years. When a review article discusses such personal preferences the authors are encouraged to make it clear that this is exactly what they are - personal preferences and prejudices. However, such views need to be kept to a minimum. They only have a small part in contemporary clinical practice and would be hard to defend against criticism.

Liberal use should be made of bulleted learning points. Up to 100 references may be included and, from these, the authors should select five that they consider to be the key references for further reading. At the end of the review five multiple choice questions should be provided, together with the answers in true/false format.

Word count: Between 2000 and 5000 words.
Abstract: up to 150 words.
Tables: up to 5.
Illustrations: up to 3.
References: up to 100.

Supplements

The BMJ Publishing Group journals are willing to consider publishing supplements to regular issues. Supplement proposals may be made at the request of:

  1. The journal editor, an editorial board member or a learned society may wish to organise a meeting, sponsorship may be sought and the proceedings published as a supplement.
  2. The journal editor, editorial board member or learned society may wish to commission a supplement on a particular theme or topic. Again, sponsorship may be sought.
  3. The BMJPG itself may have proposals for supplements where sponsorship may be necessary.
  4. A sponsoring organisation, often a pharmaceutical company or a charitable foundation, that wishes to arrange a meeting, the proceedings of which will be published as a supplement.

In all cases, it is vital that the journal's integrity, independence and academic reputation is not compromised in any way.

When contacting us regarding a potential supplement, please include as much of the information below as possible.

  • Journal in which you would like the supplement published
  • Title of supplement and/or meeting on which it is based
  • Date of meeting on which it is based
  • Proposed table of contents with provisional article titles and proposed authors
  • An indication of whether authors have agreed to participate
  • Sponsor information including any relevant deadlines
  • An indication of the expected length of each paper Guest Editor proposals if appropriate

For further information on criteria that must be fulfilled, download the supplements guidelines (PDF).

Plagiarism detection

BMJ is a member of CrossCheck by CrossRef and iThenticate. iThenticate is a plagiarism screening service that verifies the originality of content submitted before publication. iThenticate checks submissions against millions of published research papers, and billions of web content. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting www.ithenticate.com.


Free sample
This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of PMJ.
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