General Practice

Guidance on publishing in the BMJ

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 28 October 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1140

Our full instructions to authors are published in the issue of 7 January 1995 p 50. The following guidance deals with issues such as authorship and release of material to the media.


The uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to medical journals state that “authorship credit should be based only on substantial contribution to (a) conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data; and to (b) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and on (c) final approval of the version to be published. Conditions (a), (b), and (c) must all be met. Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or the collection of data does not justify authorship.” We want authors to assure us that all authors included on a paper fulfil the criteria of authorship and also that no one who fulfils the criteria has been excluded.

Conflict of interest

We want authors of papers, letters, and commissioned articles to let us know whenever they have a conflict of interest capable of influencing their judgments. Such conflicts may take many forms but are likely to be financial, personal, political, or academic. Authors should let us know of the potential conflicts even when they are confident that their judgments have not been influenced. We may decide that our readers should know about such a conflict of interest and make up their own minds. Before publishing such information we will consult the authors. In particular, we want all sources of funding for the research to be included in the published paper. We also ask referees about any conflicts of interest.

Redundant publication

Whenever a paper submitted to the BMJ overlaps by more than 10% with previously published papers or papers submitted elsewhere we want authors to send us copies of those papers. To save readers and researchers from being overwhelmed by redundant material we do not want to publish papers that overlap substantially with papers published elsewhere, and we want to make up our own minds on the degree of overlap.

Release of material to the media

We do not want material that is published in the BMJ appearing beforehand in other media because doctors and patients are then presented with incomplete material that has not been peer reviewed; they cannot make up their own minds on the validity of the message. We accept that reports may appear in the media after presentations at scientific meetings. Those authors who wish us to publish their papers can clarify matters for the media but should not give them any information not included in their presentation. Articles may be withdrawn from publication if given media coverage while under consideration or in press at the BMJ.

The BMJ issues a press release each week on the forthcoming issue. Authors are asked to draft a statement on their paper for the press release and approve the final version. We advise authors in the week before publication of possible press interest. Authors approached by journalists in the week before publication should emphasise that all material is embargoed until the Friday morning. The Public Affairs Division of the BMA is happy to advise authors on the BMJ's media policy.

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