Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Effect of food intake during labour on obstetric outcome: randomised controlled trial

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 25 March 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b784

Rapid Response:

Re: Why PICO?

It was good to hear from Jessica M. Langenhoff that the abridged version of this paper (the BMJ pico) in the print BMJ summed up the paper well.

Ms Langenhoff asks "Why Pico?". BMJ pico is essentially an extended abstract that gives the research question, study design, and findings, along with details of funding and competing interests. [1] We chose the term "pico" because it means small (10 to the power of minus 12 in SI units) and is also the name of the widely used critical appraisal tool PICO (population, intervention or exposure, comparison, outcomes), which this new format echoes but does not exactly replicate.

For nearly 10 years we've been abridging research articles to better engage readers of the print BMJ, using a process called ELPS (electronic long, paper short). We believe BMJ pico to be a clearer, more readable format, and much less likely to be confused with the full research articles that are published - with full text that has no word limit and with open access - on

BMJ pico gives authors more control, because they produce their own BMJ picos using basic templates from us. And it allows us to fit more research papers into each print issue, saving paper and freeing up resources we would rather spend on improving our services to authors and readers.

1. Groves T, Godlee F. Innovations in publishing BMJ research. BMJ 2008;337:a3123

Competing interests:
I'm the BMJ's senior research editor

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 April 2009
Trish Groves
deputy editor