Authors

Editorial policy

BMJ Public Health adheres to the highest standards concerning its editorial policies on publication ethics and scientific misconduct. The journal follows guidance produced by bodies that include the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), the Council of Science Editors and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). To view all BMJ Journal policies please refer to the BMJ Author Hub policies page, including information about our Editors' roles and responsibilities. Authors are required to submit a statement that their study obtained ethics approval (or a statement that it was not required and why) and that participants gave informed consent. Our Editors will consider whether the work is morally acceptable as determined by the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki. In addition to this, in line with General Medical Council guidelines, an article that contains personal medical information about an identifiable living individual requires patients’ explicit consent (in the format of a signed BMJ patient consent form) before we will publish it. Please find further details on BMJ research ethics policies (human participants and animals) and consent for publication; including a link to the downloadable consent form. To make the best decision on how to deal with a manuscript BMJ Public Health needs to know about any competing interests authors may have; this includes any commercial, financial or non-financial associations that may be relevant to the submitted article. Authors must download and complete a copy of the ICMJE Conflict of Interest disclosure form. In addition to this BMJ Public Health ensures that all advertising and sponsorship associated with the journal does not influence editorial decisions, is immediately distinguishable from editorial content and meets all other BMJ guidelines. Please find more information about competing interests and a link to the form.
We take seriously all possible misconduct. If an Editor, author or reader has concerns that a submitted article describes something that might be considered to constitute misconduct in research, publication or professional behaviour they should forward their concerns to the journal. The publisher will deal with allegations appropriately following ICMJE and COPE guidelines. Corrections and retractions are considered where an article has already been published; corrections, expressions of concern or a retraction notices will be published as soon as possible in line with the BMJ correction and retraction policy.

Copyright and authors’ rights

As an open access journal, BMJ Public Health adheres to the Budapest Open Access Initiative definition of open access. Articles are published under an exclusive licence or non-exclusive licence for UK Crown employees or where BMJ has agreed CC BY applies. For US Federal Government officers or employees acting as part of their official duties, the terms are as stated in accordance with our licence terms. Authors or their employers retain copyright. Such open access articles can be reused under the terms of the relevant Creative Commons licence to facilitate reuse of the content. Please refer to the BMJ Public Health Author Licence.
When publishing in BMJ Public Health, authors choose between two licence types – CC-BY-NC and CC-BY (Creative Commons open access licences require payment of an article processing charge). As an author, you may wish to post your article in an institutional or subject repository, or on a scientific social sharing network. You may also link your published article to your preprint (if applicable). What you can do with your article, without seeking permission, depends on the licence you have chosen and the version of your article. Please refer to the BMJ author self-archiving and permissions policies page for more information.

Preprints

Preprints foster openness, accessibility and collaboration by allowing authors to make their findings immediately available to the research community and receive feedback on an article before it is submitted to a journal for formal publication.
BMJ fully supports and encourages the archiving of preprints in any recognised, not-for-profit server such as medRxiv. BMJ does not consider the posting of an article in a dedicated preprint repository to be prior publication.Preprints are reports of work that have not been peer reviewed; Preprints should therefore not be used to guide clinical practice, health-related behaviour or health policy. For more information, please refer to our Preprint policy page.

Article transfer service

BMJ is committed to ensuring that all good quality research is published. Our article transfer service helps authors find the best journal for their research while providing an easy and smooth publication process. If authors agree to transfer their manuscript, all versions, supplementary files and peer reviewer comments are automatically transferred; there is no need to resubmit or reformat.
Authors who submit to the BMJ Public Health and are rejected will be offered the option of transferring to another BMJ Journal, such as BMJ Open. Please note that the article transfer service does not guarantee acceptance but you should receive a quicker initial decision on your manuscript. Contact the Transfer Editor at transfers@bmj.com

Article processing charges

BMJ Public Health is an open access journal and levies an Article Processing Charge (APC) of £2,163 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors). There are no submission, colour or page charges.

Waivers and discounts

BMJ journals offer waivers for the full Article Processing Charge (100% discount of the APC) where all authors are based in low-income countries. Requests for waivers should be made before or during initial submission**. If an article reports funding from a funder with an open access mandate or policy that covers paying APCs, BMJ expects that the APC will be paid. Visit our author hub to learn more about our waivers policy and how to request one. You might be eligible for institutional funding. A number of institutions have open access agreements with BMJ which can either cover the whole cost of open access publishing for authors at participating institutions or can allow authors to receive a discount of the Article Processing Charge (APC). Visit BMJ’s open access agreements page to find out whether your institution is a member and what discounts you may be entitled to.  **Please note that applications for waivers or discounts should be made during initial submission and not after an article has been accepted. Editors are not involved in this process and the ability to pay has no bearing on editorial decisions. Payment will not be required unless your article is accepted. Accepted articles will not be published until payment has been received. BMJ does not refund APCs once paid.

Provenance and peer review

Articles submitted to BMJ Public Health are predominantly unsolicited and all articles are subject to peer review. The journal operates single anonymised peer review whereby the names of the reviewers are hidden from the author; usually two external reviewer reports are obtained before original research articles are accepted for publication. Manuscripts authored by a member of a journal’s editorial team are independently peer reviewed; an editor will have no input or influence on the peer review process or publication decision for their own article. For more information on what to expect during the peer review process please refer to BMJ Author Hub - the peer review process. BMJ is committed to transparency. Every article we publish includes a description of its provenance (commissioned or not commissioned) and whether it was internally or externally peer reviewed.
BMJ requests that all reviewers adhere to a set of basic principles and standards during the peer-review process in research publication; these are based on the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Please refer to our peer review terms and conditions policy page. Plagiarism is the appropriation of the language, ideas or thoughts of another without crediting their true source and representation of them as one’s own original work. 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. BMJ runs manuscripts through iThenticate during the peer review process. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting www.ithenticate.com. Reader responses, questions and comments to published content are welcomed by BMJ Public Health; these should be submitted electronically via the journal's website. Please find further details on how to publish a response and the terms and requirements.

Reporting patient and public involvement in research

BMJ encourages active patient and public involvement in clinical research as part of its patient and public partnership strategy. To support co-production of research we request that authors provide a Patient and Public Involvement statement in the methods section of their papers, under the subheading ‘Patient and public involvement’. We appreciate that patient and public involvement is relatively new and may not be feasible or appropriate for all papers. We, therefore, continue to consider papers where patients were not involved.
The Patient and Public Involvement statement should provide a brief response to the following questions, tailored as appropriate for the study design reported (access examples of the Patient and Public Involvement statement):
  • At what stage in the research process were patients/the public first involved in the research and how?
  • How were the research question(s) and outcome measures developed and informed by their priorities, experience, and preferences?
  • How were patients/the public involved in the design of this study?
  • How were they involved in the recruitment to and conduct of the study?
  • Were they asked to assess the burden of the intervention and time required to participate in the research?
  • How were (or will) they be involved in your plans to disseminate the study results to participants and relevant wider patient communities (e.g. by choosing what information/results to share, when, and in what format)?
If patients were not involved please state this. In addition to considering the points above we advise authors to look at guidance for best reporting of patient and public involvement as set out in the GRIPP2 reporting checklist. If the Patient and Public Involvement statement is missing in the submitted manuscript we will request that authors provide it.

Data Sharing

BMJ Public Health adheres to BMJ's Tier 2 data policy. We strongly encourage that data generated by your research that supports your article be made available as soon as possible, wherever legally and ethically possible. All research articles must contain a Data Availability Statement.  We require data from clinical trials to be made available upon reasonable request. We require that a data sharing plan must be included with trial registration for clinical trials that begin enrolling participants on or after 1st January 2019. Changes to the plan must be noted in the Data Availability Statement and updated in the registry record (to comply with ICMJE recommendations).  For more information and FAQs, please see BMJ's full Data Sharing Policy page.

ORCID

BMJ Public Health mandates ORCID iDs for the submitting author at the time of article submission; co-authors and reviewers are strongly encouraged to also connect their ScholarOne accounts to ORCID. We strongly believe that the increased use and integration of ORCID iDs will be beneficial for the whole research community. Please find more information about ORCID and BMJ’s policy on our Author Hub.

Rapid Responses

A rapid response is a moderated but not peer reviewed online response to a published article in BMJ Public Health; it will not receive a DOI and will not be indexed. Find out more about responses and how to submit a response.

Submission Guidelines

Please review the below article type specifications including the required article lengths, illustrations, table limits and reference counts. The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements, contributions and references. Manuscripts should be as succinct as possible. Please include any funding statements, acknowledgements, and contributor statements in your submission. Figures should be submitted separately in either TIFF or PDF format. For further support when making your submission please refer to the resources available on the BMJ Author Hub. Here you will find information on writing and formatting your research through to the peer review process and promoting your paper. We encourage authors to ensure that research articles are written in accordance with the relevant research reporting guideline. You may also wish to use the language editing and translation services provided by BMJ Author Services. (These services are paid for by the author and do not guarantee that your paper will be considered or accepted by the journal.)

Original Research

Research submissions should have a clear, justified research question. We strongly encourage you to register your study. Prospective registration is mandatory for any clinical trials. Acceptable registries for trials include clinicaltrials.gov. We recommend Prospero for registration of systematic reviews. 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. A statement to this effect must be included in the methods section of the paper. We encourage the use of the Sex and Gender Equity in Research (SAGER) guidelines for reporting of sex and gender information in study design, data analyses, results and interpretation. This includes the correct use of the terms sex (when reporting biological factors) and gender (when reporting identity, psychosocial, or cultural factors) and separate reporting and interpretation of the data by sex and gender. If sex and/or gender information are not reported, this should be explained. Please see SAGER guidelines. Original Research should include the following:
  • Title – include the research question and the study design
  • Keywords – up to five
  • Structured Abstract – (max. 300 words) include the following headings: Introduction, Methods, Results and Conclusions.
  • Key Messages - Please include the key messages of your article after your abstract using the following headings. This section should be no more than 3-5 sentences and should be distinct from the abstract; be succinct, specific and accurate.
    • What is already known on this topic - summarise the state of scientific knowledge on this subject before you did your study and why this study needed to be done
    • What this study adds - summarise what we now know as a result of this study that we did not know before
    • How this study might affect research, practice or policy - summarise the implications of this study
  • Section headings - Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results and Discussion
  • Original protocol for the study, as a supplementary file.
  • Funding statement, preferably worded as follows. Either: 'This work was supported by [name of funder] grant number [xxx]' or 'This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors'. You must ensure that the full, correct details of your funder(s) and any relevant grant numbers are included.
  • Competing interests statement. See the BMJ Author Hub for details on what to include as competing interests.Articles should list each author's contribution individually at the end; this section may also include contributors who do not qualify as authors. Please visit the ICMJE website for more information on authorship.
  • Checklist and flow diagram for the appropriate reporting statement, e.g. STROBE (see below).
  • Patient consent form: any article that contains personal medical information about an identifiable living individual requires the patient's explicit consent before we can publish it. We will need the patient to sign our consent form, which requires the patient to have read the article. This form is available in multiple languages.
  • Data sharing statement, such as: "Technical appendix, statistical code, and dataset available from the Dryad repository, DOI: [include DOI for dataset here].
  • Word count, we recommend your article does not exceed 5000 words, with up to five figures and tables. This is flexible, but exceeding this will impact upon the paper's 'readability'. Authors are encouraged to submit figures and images in colour - there are no colour charges. We require that you upload your figures as separate files rather than embedding them in the manuscript.
  • Supplementary and raw data can be placed online alongside the article although we prefer raw data to be made publicly available and linked to in a suitable repository (e.g. Dryad, FigShare). We may request that you separate out some material into supplementary data files to make the main manuscript clearer for readers.
Word Count: Up to 5,000 Abstract Style/Limit: Structured; 300 words Figure/Table Limit: 5 Reference Limit: 100 Reporting guidelines The guidelines listed below should be followed where appropriate. Please use these guidelines to structure your article. Completed applicable checklists, structured abstracts and flow diagrams should be uploaded with your submission; these will be published alongside the final version of your paper. CONSORT Statement For reporting of randomised controlled trials: please use the appropriate extension to the CONSORT statement, including the extension for writing abstracts SRQR For reporting qualitative research COREQ For reporting qualitative research STARD For reporting of diagnostic accuracy studies STROBE For reporting of observational studies in epidemiology Checklist for cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies (combined) Checklist for cohort studies Checklist for case-control studies Checklist for cross-sectional studies PRISMA For reporting of systematic reviews PRISMA-P For reporting of systematic review and meta-analysis protocols PRISMA-ScR For reporting of scoping reviews MOOSE For reporting of meta-analyses of observational studies SPIRIT For reporting protocols for RCTs STREGA For reporting of gene-disease association studies TRIPOD For reporting of studies developing, validating, or updating a prediction model, whether for diagnostic or prognostic purposes. CHEERS For reporting of health economic evaluations The Equator Network (Enhancing the Quality and Transparency Of Health Research) provides a comprehensive list of reporting guidelines.

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.
  • Key Messages - Please include the key messages of your article after your abstract using the following headings. This section should be no more than 3-5 sentences and should be distinct from the abstract; be succinct, specific and accurate.
    • What is already known on this topic - summarise the state of scientific knowledge on this subject before you did your study and why this study needed to be done
    • What this study adds - summarise what we now know as a result of this study that we did not know before
    • How this study might affect research, practice or policy - summarise the implications of this study
Word count: up to 1500 words Structured Abstract: up to 200 words Tables/Illustrations: up to 2 References: up to 20

Review

Review articles describe recent advances  and new concepts in public health. They may cover practice, theory or research methods.  Research reviews that systematically synthesise evidence (e.g. systematic reviews, meta analysis, scoping reviews, mixed methods reviews) are classified by the journal as Original research and must be submitted as such.
Word Count: Up to 5,000 Abstract Style/Limit: Unstructured; 250 words Figure/Table Limit: 5 Reference Limit: 100

Editorials and Commentaries

These are usually commissioned. Please contact the editorial office with a proposal before submitting.
Word Count: Up to 1200 Abstract Style/Limit: none Reference Limit: 8

Protocol

Protocol manuscripts should report planned or ongoing research studies. If data collection is complete, we will not consider the manuscript. We encourage the submission of protocol manuscripts at an early stage of the study. Protocols nearing completion of data collection will be treated on a case by case basis and the final decision on whether to consider a protocol for publication will rest with the Editor. Publishing study protocols enables researchers and funding bodies to stay up to date in their fields by providing exposure to research activity that may not otherwise be widely publicised. This can help prevent unnecessary duplication of work and will hopefully enable collaboration. Publishing protocols in full also makes available more information than is currently required by trial registries and increases transparency, making it easier for others (editors, reviewers and readers) to see and understand any deviations from the protocol that occur during the conduct of the study. The SPIRIT (Standard Protocol Items for Randomized Trials) statement has now been published. It is an evidence-based tool developed through systematic review of a wide range of resources and consensus. It closely mirrors the CONSORT statement and also reflects important ethics considerations. We encourage investigators to adhere to the SPIRIT recommendations when drafting their protocols and include a completed SPIRIT checklist with their trial protocol submission. The PRISMA-P (Preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis protocols) is a new reporting guideline. An article stating the guideline checklist has now been published. The PRISMA-P checklist contains 17 items considered to be essential and minimum components of a systematic review or meta-analysis protocol. Systematic review authors and assessors are strongly encouraged to make use of PRISMA-P when drafting and appraising review protocols and authors should include a completed PRISMA-P checklist with their protocol submission. Various other resources exist that list the ingredients of an authoritative trial protocol, e.g. the UK Dept of Health/Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Toolkit and the US National Institutes for Health provide advice on how to structure a trial protocol. BMJ Public Health will consider for publication protocols for any study design, including observational studies and systematic reviews. We strongly encourage you to register your study. Prospective registration is mandatory for any clinical trials. Acceptable registries for trials include clinicaltrials.gov. We recommend Prospero for registration of systematic reviews.Following the lead of The BMJ and its patient partnership strategy, BMJ Public Health is encouraging active patient involvement in setting the research agenda. As such, we require authors of Study Protocols to add a Patient and Public Involvement statement in the Methods section. please see more details above.
General BMJ policies apply (see above) on manuscript formatting, editorial policies, licence forms and patient consent (where applicable to study designs). Protocols should include, as a minimum, the following items.
  • Protocol papers should report planned or ongoing studies. Manuscripts that report work already carried out will not be considered as protocols. The dates of the study must be included in the manuscript and cover letter.
  • Protocols for studies that will require ethical approval, such as trials, are unlikely to be considered without having received that approval
  • Title: this should include the specific study type, e.g. randomised controlled trial.
  • Abstract: this should be structured with the following sections. Introduction; Methods and analysis; Ethics and dissemination. Registration details should be included as a final section, if appropriate.
  • Key Messages - Please include the key messages of your article after your abstract using the following headings. This section should be no more than 3-5 sentences and should be distinct from the abstract; be succinct, specific and accurate.
    • What is already known on this topic - summarise the state of scientific knowledge on this subject before you did your study and why this study needed to be done
    • What this study adds - summarise what we now know as a result of this study that we did not know before
    • How this study might affect research, practice or policy - summarise the implications of this study
  • Introduction: explain the rationale for the study and what evidence gap it may fill. Appropriate previous literature should be referenced, including relevant systematic reviews.
  • Methods and analysis: provide a full description of the study design, including the following. How the sample will be selected; interventions to be measured; the sample size calculation (drawing on previous literature) with an estimate of how many participants will be needed for the primary outcome to be statistically, clinically and/or politically significant; what outcomes will be measured, when and how; a data analysis plan.
  • Ethics and dissemination: ethical and safety considerations and any dissemination plan (publications, data deposition and curation) should be covered here.
  • Full references.
  • Authors' contributions: state how each author was involved in writing the protocol.
  • Funding statement: preferably worded as follows. Either: 'This work was supported by [name of funder] grant number [xxx]' or 'This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors'.
  • Competing interests statement.
Word Count: 4,000 words. Should the word count exceed this number, please state this in the cover letter upon submission.