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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

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health is published monthly and covers the field of epidemiology and community health relating to a total defined and numerically rated population. Papers are accepted on their scientific originality and general interest.

All submissions are peer reviewed. A significant proportion of original articles are rejected after review in house. The usual reasons for rejection at this stage are insufficient originality, serious scientific flaws, or the absence of a message that is important to an international general public health audience. Ethical considerations are taken into account too. The remaining articles are sent to one or more external reviewers selected from our database of experts. Reviewers advise the editors, who are responsible for the final decision to accept or reject a manuscript. Authors and external reviewers can consult on general guidance for peer reviewers provided by BMJ. Authors can suggest up to four external reviewers for their manuscript, but the Editor is not obliged to use these reviewers. We aim to make publication decisions as quickly as possible - recent statistics on acceptance rates and turnaround times are available as a guide.

Pre-submission enquiries are discouraged, but authors may contact the jech{at}bmj.com for technical assistance.

Open Access

Authors can choose to have their article published Open Access for a fee of £1950 (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 editors stimulate potential authors to improve the quality of reporting, following basic rules of scientific writing. At the EQUATOR Network website there is a series of guidelines, including observational and experimental studies, systematic reviews, qualitative research and economic evaluations.

For non-native English speakers we offer a professional editing service.

Authors may find it useful to consult our pre-submission checklist.

Editorial

Editorials are usually commissioned, but we are happy to consider and peer review unsolicited editorials on any relevant topic.

Word count: up to 1200 words.
Tables/Illustrations: 1.
References: up to 12 references.

Commentary

Critical analysis of an article published in the journal, always commissioned by the editors.Readers that wish to comment on a published article may do so via submission of a Letter to the Editor or an eLetter.

Word count: up to 800 words.
References: up to 12 references.

Research report

Manuscripts reporting results of original research should follow the IMRaD style (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion) and should have a structured abstract (Background, Methods, Results and Conclusion). All research on human subjects must have been approved by the appropriate ethics committee and must have conformed to the principles embodied in the Declaration of Helsinki (see Ethics Approval for more guidelines). A statement to this effect must be included in the methods section of the paper.

Research Reports should include a box offering a thumbnail sketch of what is already known and what your paper adds to the literature, for readers who would like an overview without reading the whole paper. It should be as different as possible from the text in the Abstract, brief and schematic. The use of abbreviations should be avoided. It should include the following information:

What is already known on this subject?
In two or three sentences explain what the state of scientific knowledge was in this area before you did your study and why this study needed to be done. Be clear and specific.

What this study adds?
Give a simple answer to the question "What do we now know as a result of this study that we did not know before?". Be brief, succinct, specific, and accurate. You might use the last sentence to summarise any implications for practice, research, policy, or public health.

Word count: up to 3000 words.
Abstract: maximum of 250 words (Background, Methods, Results and Conclusion).
Tables/Illustrations: up to 5.
References: up to 40.

Short report

Manuscripts reporting initial results of innovative research that deserve immediate dissemination before finalisation. The section must not be used to present a poorly elaborated research report. Short Reports should follow the IMRaD style (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion) and should have a structured abstract (Background, Methods, Results and Conclusion).

All research on human subjects must have been approved by the appropriate ethics committee and must have conformed to the principles embodied in the Declaration of Helsinki (see Ethics Approval for more guidelines). A statement to this effect must be included in the methods section of the paper.

Manuscripts should include a box offering a thumbnail sketch of what is already known and what your paper adds to the literature (see Research Reports).

Word count: up to 1500 words.
Structured Abstract: up to 200 words.
Tables/Illustrations: up to 2.
References: up to 20.

Evidence-based public health policy and practice

The Editors believe that we should be publishing more work from the field and the front line. The laboratory for public health is to be found largely in the community itself. We need to learn the lessons from practitioners. The late Professor Geoffrey Rose spoke of the need for a clean mind and dirty hands. We want contributions from those with dirty hands, but they need to make sense to those with clean minds.

They should include a box offering a thumbnail sketch of what is already known and what your paper adds to the literature, for readers who would like an overview without reading the whole paper. It should be as different as possible from the text in the Abstract, brief and schematic. The use of abbreviations should be avoided. It should include the following information:

What is already known on this subject?
In two or three sentences explain what the state of scientific knowledge was in this area before you did your study and why this study needed to be done. Be clear and specific

What this study adds?
Give a simple answer to the question "What do we now know as a result of this study that we did not know before?". Be brief, succinct, specific, and accurate. You might use the last sentence to summarise any implications for practice, research, policy, or public health.

Policy implications
Explain how your results could support the implementation of policies directed to solve the problem you are dealing with in your manuscript.

Word count: up to 3000 words.
Abstract: up to 250 words (Background, Methods, Results and Conclusion).
Tables/Illustrations: 5.
References: up to 40.

Theory and methods

Manuscripts reporting novel methods or conceptual frameworks relevant to investigation of epidemiological or public health research problems. When possible they must follow the IMRaD style (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion). The abstract may be structured or unstructured according to the characteristics of the manuscript.

Submissions should aim to show clearly the messages from the methodological or theoretical issue under consideration. Manuscripts should include a box offering a thumbnail sketch of what is already known and what the manuscript adds to the literature (see Research Reports)

Word count: up to 3000 words.
Abstract: up to 250 words.
Tables/Illustrations: up to 5.
References: up to 40.

Essay

Manuscripts reporting analytic, interpretative or critical point of views and scientific arguments about a subject relevant for epidemiology or public health. Essays are commissioned by the editors. There is no fixed style, but submissions should aim to demonstrate clearly the messages from the issue under consideration. The abstract may be structured or unstructured according to the characteristics of the manuscript.

Word count: up to 3000 words.
Abstract: up to 250 words.
Tables/Illustrations: up to 5.
References: up to 50.

Review

Manuscripts reporting exhaustive, critical assessments of published literature on relevant epidemiological questions. Reviews should be prepared in strict compliance with MOOSE or PRISMA (formerly QUOROM) guidelines or with Cochrane's complementary guidelines for systematic reviews of health promotion and public health interventions. The journal encourages authors to use alternative databases covering scientific literature from low- and middle-income countries not indexed in the traditional international databases (ie, Medline, Web of Science). Manuscripts should include a box offering a thumbnail sketch of what is already known and what the manuscript adds to the literature (see Research Reports).

Word count: up to 3000 words.
Structured abstract: maximum of 250 words.
Tables/Illustrations: up to 5.
References: up to 100.

Glossary

Manuscripts containing definitions of relevant terms in a defined field of epidemiology or public health, mostly commissioned by the editors but we are happy to consider unsolicited editorials. Definitions should be as clear as possible and intelligible to non-specialist audiences. They should aim to cover the needs of such readers and contribute to the wider requirement for standardised concepts in our discipline. Longer glossaries may be considered but of a length publishable in a maximum of two parts.

For a full description of the aims and contents of the Glossaries in the journal, see: "A call for glossaries in public health" (J Epidemiol Community Health 2000;54:561).

Word count: up to 3000 words.
Abstract: should not exceed 150 words.
References: up to 50.

Debate

A group of manuscripts aimed at stimulating new thoughts on theoretical, methodological and applied questions related to public health and epidemiology. These manuscripts could be about an Essay (or eventually other article type) or about a question posed by the Editors. While they are always commissioned, the editors welcome idea on topics for debate suggested by our readers and authors.

Word count: up to 1500 words.
Abstract: up to 150 words.
Tables/Illustrations: 1.
References: up to 15.

Research agenda

Manuscripts aimed at presenting useful background information on topical problems in public health and epidemiological research and providing readers with a summary of what it is necessary to know, a type of "objectives for future studies". Ideally, authors of the Research Agenda section should present ideas and hypotheses that they are willing to share with others. Voluntary sharing of hypotheses and new research ideas in public health and epidemiology could stimulate creativity, innovation and useful research and also contribute to the shaping of the research agenda.

For more information on the aims and contents of the Research Agenda, see: "Sharing hypotheses and ideas in public health research: contributing to the research agenda" (J Epidemiol Community Health 2007;61:2-4).

Word count: up to 1500 words.
Abstract: up to 150 words.
Tables/Illustrations/Box: up to 2.
References: up to 30.

Speakers' corner

Speakers' Corner is an opportunity for readers to get things off their chests. We welcome provocative, outspoken and stimulating contributions - preferably rooted in reality. The idea is to have a more flexible place in which authors freely give their opinions on public health or epidemiological matters without the academic constrictions of other sections of the journal. For more information see "More opportunities for your opinions: The JECH speaker's corner" (J Epidemiol Community Health 2001;55:217).

Word count: up to 800 words.
Tables/Illustrations: none.
References: up to 10.

Gallery

A section in which images (ie, photographs) will be more prominent than text, in contrast with the usual papers we publish. In doing this we want to use the advantages of images over words in triggering evocations and in reflecting on aspects of human health. The submission must include a title, the image and a text of no more than 200 words. Please note that we will require you to provide written consent from any person who appears in a photograph you submit.

For a full description of the aims and contents of the Gallery, see "The JECH Gallery: a call for public health photographs" (J Epidemiol Community Health 2000;54:801).

Word count: up to 200 words.
Tables/Illustrations: 1.

Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor are expected to include original data or substantiated comments or criticism arising from recent articles published in the journal.

Word count: up to 400 words.
Tables/Illustrations: 1.
References: up to 5.

eLetter

Comments arising from recent articles published in the journal are welcome and should be submitted directly via the website (not throughout the normal online submission system used for all the other types of article). Authors should go to the Abstract or full text of the article in question. At the top right corner of each article is a "Contents box". Click on the "Submit a response" link. Some letters in response to an article may be published in the print version of the journal.

Word count: up to 400 words.
Tables/Illustrations: 1.
References: up to 5.

Obituary

Obituaries are usually commissioned, but we are happy to consider and review unsolicited obituaries. We also welcome good quality photographs for this section.

Word count: up to 250 words.
Tables/Illustrations: 1.

Aphorism

Story-telling is one of the most powerful ways of communicating experience and motivating people to change practice. If you have an aphorism or a story which deserves wider broadcasting, the Editors would be delighted to receive it. Keep it short and pithy and try not to cover too many points at once.

Word count: up to 200 words.
Tables/Illustrations: 1.
References: up to 5.

Supplements

BMJ 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 BMJ 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

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