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Our hope is that doctors who are settled in jobs; newly qualified; looking for fresh challenges; working at full throttle; planning retirement; or training flexibly; as well as international medical graduates, retainers, returners, and absconders will find something of interest in BMJ Careers.
We strive to cover everything objectively, from foundation programmes to the best theatre play lists to how to pass PLAB or start in private practice.
Want to get involved? Great. We publish several different styles of articles in BMJ Careers. Before you start, you should consider how the article you want to write could fit into these categories. Then you can ensure you write in the correct style, to the correct length, and that you include the necessary information.
Once you have a decent idea for an article and know where it could fit into the section, please pitch it to us by emailing the BMJ Careers editor Tom Moberly (firstname.lastname@example.org). If we like your idea we’ll commission you to write up the article. Easy peasy.
Please find more detailed information on each step below.
(1) What type of article do you want to write?
We publish daily news articles largely about UK doctors’ pay, pensions, contracts, training, exams, continuing professional development, and regulation. These are mostly written in house, but we’re keen to hear your ideas. If you have a news tip or an issue you think we should cover on our news pages, please get in touch with the editor Tom Moberly (email@example.com).
- Royal college to pilot new system of workplace based assessments
- Doctors call for further industrial action in pension dispute
- General practices should beware CCG constitutions with performance management clauses, says BMA
General feature articles
Feature articles vary in length from between 800 words (a single page) to 1500 words (two pages) and – in exceptional circumstances - up to 2300 words (3 pages).
We’re open to suggestions on any topic pertinent to medical careers, working lives, or professional and personal development of UK doctors. Please note that this section does not cover clinical issues.
Features need to be written objectively and include different perspectives and views. Boxes, scenarios, and examples are often useful, but please make sure you have written consent to write about patients. We also welcome suggestions for pictures to illustrate your article; it’s helpful if you’re able to provide mugshots of interviewees for example. You will be asked to declare any competing interests.
- Providing pastoral care to junior doctors in paediatric intensive care
- Training the rural GPs of the future
- The UK-wide GP contract: still fit for purpose?
Career specialties ("A career in...")
If you want to write about careers in a certain specialty, first check whether something similar has been written already using the Search engine on the BMJ Careers website.
You should consider covering the following points:
- Number of current and projected national training numbers (by deanery if possible) and consultant numbers
- A "day in the life of" case study (give details of who you are basing this on)
- Advantages and disadvantages of the specialty
- Qualities needed
- Further information
Most career specialty articles will be 2 pages - aim for 1500 words.
Interview articles are usually but not always with doctors. Subjects need to be either inspirational or extraordinary, preferably both. Check we’ve not already interviewed them, and check with the editor if there are any particular questions that should be asked.
Whatever happens in the actual interview, pieces should be written in the style of "question" then "answer," "question" then "answer," and so on. Keep questions to short, snappy one-liners in your write up. You are responsible for asking your subject for a photograph and emailing this as a jpeg along with your piece.
Interview articles are always 850 words. This includes a 20 word biography box (subject’s name, position, potted biography.)
This is an 800-1000 word first-person piece on any subject pertinent to medical careers, doctors’ working lives, or professional and personal development. It needs to give your name and job position. (We cannot accept anonymous articles). If you have a picture of yourself please send it to us as a jpeg with your article.
- Using mobile phones on the job
- Foundation trainees on the BBC: fingers on the red button?
- Rural medicine - what’s it really like?
We welcome your comments on BMJ Careers as rapid responses, whether in direct response to an article or as a way of sharing your own ideas and experiences. We are especially interested in upbeat ideas from which other doctors can benefit. As long as it isn’t libellous or offensive, we will post it online.
We print a selection of our rapid responses as letters but no longer accept snail mail as letters to the editor.
(2) How should you pitch an idea?
To pitch an article idea for BMJ Careers, please get in touch with the editor Tom Moberly (firstname.lastname@example.org) and include the following in your email:
- Which type of article you want to write.
- A two line summary of your idea, including why the topic would appeal to readers of BMJ Careers.
- How you are going to do it; for example, who you are going to interview for comment on the topic.
- What qualifies you to write this.
- How you can be contacted.
- Any examples of previously published work (ideally URLs).
(3) What happens when we get your email?
If you’ve written for BMJ Careers before or we like your examples of published work, and we like your idea, we’ll probably commission you to write it. This means that we’ll explain how we’d like it written and give you a deadline.
If we think the idea has potential, but aren’t convinced the finished article will live up to its promise, we may ask you to send it in "on spec." This does not commit us to publishing it. Either way, please do not go over the word limit and never miss a deadline.
(4) How should you write your article?
BMJ Careers articles are aimed at practising doctors in all stages of their career. Some topics will appeal to all types of doctors but others will have a more narrow target audience (for example, foundation year one doctors or GP partners), so you should give some thought as to what group of doctors your article will be aimed at and how much knowledge they are likely to have of the topic already.
We hate exclamation marks. Please avoid them. If you find yourself using them to convey humour or add emphasis, please re-read your sentence and consider rephrasing it.
Please note that common nouns like doctor, general practitioner, senior house officer, professor, and international medical graduate do not start with capital letters. However, abbreviations like SHO and GP do need to be in capitals.
10 tips for writers
- Write the article, exactly as we’ve agreed, sticking to the word count and within the deadline.
- Write in the active voice. For example, "you can gain unique experience" instead of "unique experience is gained."
- Write as you speak.
- Keep it simple and informal.
- Try to keep paragraphs short, breaking up text with subheadings before every other paragraph.
- Don’t mention patients without their explicit consent. Use the consent form. Using fictitious examples to illustrate a point works well.
- Spell out abbreviations and acronyms the first time you use them.
- Be specific about what country/area you are talking about. For example, Department of Health initiatives cover England only, GMC is UK-wide. Also do this with any statistics. Be clear what area/country they cover.
- Use references where appropriate.
Please spell check your work before submitting it.
Writing advice from Student BMJ:
How to write a feature article.
Student BMJ 2012;20:e2785.
How to write a good profile
Student BMJ 2012;20:e2951
(4) You’ve written what we’ve asked for, what next?
Once you’ve written the body of your article, there are a few other bits and piece we need you to include before you submit to us. If you exceed the word count, we’ll send the article back to you and ask you to resubmit to the agreed wordage. This is a bore and wastes everyone’s time.
Please make sure you include author contact details (name, email address, phone number and workplace details) in the Word file itself, not just in a covering email.
Write two lines introducing your article under the heading. This should include your name, in italics. For example: "Rachel Bright-Thomas describes recent developments in breast surgery practice and training" or "You don't have to be a qualified dentist to do a senior house officer job in maxillofacial surgery. Ross Anderson and Martin Telfer explain how it can be a valuable experience for wannabe head and neck surgeons."
Use Times New Roman size 12 font for the main text. Your title only should be in size 16. Left align the text, but don’t do anything else with it. No fancy fonts, no justification of text, no underlining, no italics other than your name in the two lines at the beginning.
Alert readers to relevant websites or contacts by including a further information box at the end of your article.
At the end of the article, please include your name (without title) in bold. On the next line, write your position and location. One author should also include an email address. For example:
SHO Surgery, Guy’s Hospital, London
Many of the articles carry photos when they appear in print, although not usually on the web. If you have photos to go with your article, please email them as separate JPEGs. Please do not embed pictures or photos in your article. Please note that a professional illustrator will redraw any diagrams.
You also need to complete a competing interests form and exclusive licence form and send them back to us before we can publish your article.
Once you’ve completed all these steps, please email your article as a word attachment to email@example.com
(5) What do we do with your submission?
Once we receive commissioned work, it will be edited and returned to you, often with queries that we ask you to address promptly. We aim to give you a prompt decision about material sent in on spec.
Your article will then be prepared for publication by going through our copy editors and page layout team.
If you have queries please email firstname.lastname@example.org