Research methods and reporting

Research methods and reporting is for "how to" articles - those that discuss the nuts and bolts of doing and writing up research, are actionable and readable, and will warrant appraisal by the BMJ's research team and statisticians. These articles should be aimed at a general medical audience which includes doctors of all disciplines and other health professionals working in and outside the UK. You should not assume that readers will know about organisations or practices that are specific to a single discipline.

Articles in this section are freely available to all on bmj.com. Authors can post the full text of their published article on their own website or their employer's website. Authors requiring full open access with a Creative Commons licence should request that on submission.

We welcome articles on all kinds of medical and health services research methods that will be relevant and useful to BMJ readers, whether that research is quantitative or qualitative, clinical or not. This includes articles that propose and explain practical and theoretical developments in research methodology and for those on improving the clarity and transparency of reports about research studies, protocols, and results.

This section is for the "how?" of research, while the "what, why, when, and who cares?" will usually belong elsewhere. Studies evaluating ways to conduct and report research should go to the BMJ's Research section; articles debating research concepts, frameworks, and translation into practice and policy should go to Analysis, Editorials, or Features; and those expressing personal opinions should go to Personal View.

Articles for Research methods and reporting should include:

  • up to 2000 words set out under informative subheadings. For some submissions this might be published in full on bmj.com with a shorter version in the print BMJ
  • a 100-150 word separate introduction ("standfirst") spelling out what the article is about and emphasising its importance
  • explicit evidence to support key statements and brief explanation of the strength of the evidence (published trials, systematic reviews, observational studies, expert opinion etc)
  • no more than 20 references in Vancouver style, presenting the evidence on which the key statements in the paper are made
  • up to three tables, boxes, or illustrations (clinical photographs, imaging, line drawings, figures - we welcome colour) to enhance the text and add to or substantiate key points made in the body of the article
  • a summary box with up to four short single sentences, in the form of bullet points, highlighting the article's main points
  • a box of linked information such as website urls for those who want to pursue the subject in more depth: this is optional
  • web extras: we may be able to publish on bmj.com some additional boxes, figures, and references (in a separate reference list numbered w1,w2,w3 etc and marked as such in the main text of the article)
  • suggestions for linked podcasts or video clips, as appropriate
  • a statement of sources and selection criteria: as well as the standard statements of funding, competing interests, and contributorship, please provide at the end of the paper a 100-150 word paragraph (excluded from word count) explaining the paper's provenance. This should include the relevant experience/expertise of the authors and the sources of information used to prepare the paper. It should also give details of each author's role in producing the article and name one as guarantor.
  • all our research shows that readers are more likely to read an article that includes images. If you cannot supply one or more images (or ideas for images) we reserve, therefore, the right to source one or more ourselves. These will usually be photographs, but we will occasionally commission illustrations. We try to let authors know when we commission images, but this is not always possible because of time constraints when we are putting pages together.