BMJ pico

The full text of all accepted research articles in The BMJ is published online in full, with open access and no word limit, on as soon as it is ready. In the print and iPad issues of The BMJ, each research article is abridged, with the aim of making research more inviting and useful to readers.

BMJ pico is our one page abridged format for research papers in the print journal, which some authors volunteered to help us pilot. We have designed BMJ pico with evidence based medicine experts to succinctly present the key evidence from each study, to help minimise delay between online and print publication, and to enable us to publish more research in each week’s print issue of The BMJ. See frequently asked questions (FAQs) about BMJ pico.

There is no need for authors to prepare a BMJ pico to submit along with their full research article. Authors produce their own BMJ pico, using a template from us, only when the full article has been provisionally accepted.

Do I have to provide a BMJ pico for my research article?

Yes. The pico is the only version that appears in our print and iPad editions, and we want these readers to be aware of all our research.

Where and when should I send mine in?

Please email the pico to

Tips for writing your BMJ pico

Each BMJ pico needs to fill a single page in the print issue of The BMJ, and we've found that a word count of 550 is about right, on average. This has to include the whole body of the text. The statement on funding and disclosures is not a footnote - it's a key part of the BMJ pico.

But page layout depends on the size of the accompanying simple table or figure (for which we allow necessary flexibility): if your table or figure is relatively small it may be fine for the text slightly to exceed the 550 word limit. If it's bigger than average, we may need to cut the text slightly. This need to consider layout may seem rather trivial for a research article, but the single page format is an important element of the BMJ pico's appeal and usefulness to readers. So please try to stick to around 550 words of text (excluding the title and authors' details).

Please ensure that your BMJ pico poses a concise research question that really works as a question.

For example "Do nurse-led follow-up programmes improve patient rehabilitation after discharge from intensive care?" (this was an RCT).

or "Is varenicline, a recently licensed smoking cessation product, associated with an increased risk of self harm compared with bupropion and nicotine replacement therapy?" (this was a cohort study).

BMJ pico templates

Published examples of BMJ pico

Relation of study quality, concordance, take home message, funding, and impact in studies of influenza vaccines: systematic review. Jefferson T and colleagues. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b354 BMJ pico

Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain: economic evaluation. Hollinghurst S and colleagues. doi:10.1136/bmj.a2656 BMJ pico

Management of depression in UK general practice in relation to scores on depression severity questionnaires: analysis of medical record data. Kendrick T and colleagues. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b750 BMJ pico

Patients’ and doctors’ views on depression severity questionnaires incentivised in UK quality and outcomes framework: qualitative study. Dowrick C and colleagues. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b663 BMJ pico

Total mortality after changes in leisure time physical activity in 50 year old men: 35 year follow-up of population based cohort. Byberg L and colleagues. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b688 BMJ pico

Migraines during pregnancy linked to stroke and vascular diseases: US population based case-control study. Bushnell CD and colleagues. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b664 BMJ pico

Written informed consent and selection bias in observational studies using medical records: systematic review. Kho ME and colleagues. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b866 BMJ pico

Effect of food intake during labour on obstetric outcome: randomised controlled trial. O’Sullivan and colleagues. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b784 BMJ pico

Naftidrofuryl for intermittent claudication: meta-analysis based on individual patient data. De Backer and colleagues. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b603 BMJ pico

Inequalities in maternal health: national cohort study of ethnic variation in severe maternal morbidities. Knight M and colleagues. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b542 BMJ pico

Low intensity pulsed ultrasonography for fractures: systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Busse JW and colleagues. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b351 BMJ pico

Effect of tobacco smoking on survival of men and women by social position: a 28 year cohort study. Gruer L and colleagues. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b480 BMJ pico