- What is a BJPsych paper?
- Online submission
- Fast-track assessment
- Relevance statement
- Title and authors
- Involvement of professional writers
- Declaration of interest
- Research ethics
- Publication ethics
- Responding to reviewers
- Structure of manuscripts
- Randomised controlled trials
- Systematic reviews and meta-analyses
- Observational/epidemiological studies
- Economic evaluations
- Qualitative research
- Letters to the Editor
- Open access
The British Journal of Psychiatry (BJPsych) is published monthly by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The BJPsych publishes original work in all fields of psychiatry. Manuscripts for publication should be submitted online via http://submit-bjp.rcpsych.org.
All published articles are peer reviewed. Contributions are accepted for publication on the condition that their substance has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere, and this includes web-based documents. Authors submitting papers to the BJPsych (serially or otherwise) with a common theme or using data derived from the same sample (or a subset thereof) must send details of all relevant previous publications and simultaneous submissions.
The BJPsych is not responsible for statements made by contributors. Material in the BJPsych does not necessarily reflect the views of the Editor or of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Manuscripts accepted for publication are copy-edited to improve readability and to ensure conformity with house style.
The Editorial Board of BJPsych has prepared a concise document 'What is a BJPsych paper?' to help handling editors in their difficult task of filtering all the high-quality papers submitted to the journal. Authors should be aware of the criteria listed in this document.
Manuscripts for publication must be submitted online at http://submit-bjp.rcpsych.org. A unique account will be created for each contributor using his or her email address as identification. (Note for contributors with more than one email account: please ensure you use the same email address whenever logging on to the manuscript submission website.) Manuscripts should be submitted as Word documents. Contributors may track the progress of their submissions at any time via this website. For assistance with online submission, please email email@example.com or telephone +44 (0)20 7235 8857.
To submit a letter to the Editor, see below.
Authors have the option of requesting fast-track assessment if they believe their paper has the potential directly to improve clinical practice or influence public policy. Any request for fast-track assessment must be made at the start of the covering letter, where the corresponding author must explain why they think their paper deserves to jump the queue. Appropriate reasons for fast-track assessment might be:
- findings suggest an immediate change in practice for reasons of patient safety
- findings suggest that aspects of current practice are no longer ethical
- findings suggest that a change in current practice will lead to significantly improved patient outcomes
- the first report of a novel, clinically useful therapy
- the first report of good evidence for a novel aetiological mechanism.
A decision whether to approve the fast-track route will be made within 10 days of submission; papers that are not selected for this route will be assessed in the normal way unless the authors state specifically that they want fast-track assessment only. All papers approved for the fast-track route will be assessed within 4 weeks of submission.
Only papers relevant to practising psychiatrists - the core readership of the BJPsych - will be considered for publication. Instead of a traditional covering letter, authors are now required to provide a relevance statement that explains in no more than 100 words the relevance to practising psychiatrists of the work that is being submitted for publication. If the Editor is not convinced of the relevance of a study, it will not be considered for publication.
The title should be brief and relevant. Subtitles should not be used unless they are essential. Titles should not announce the results of articles and, except in editorials, they should not be phrased as questions.
All authors must sign the copyright transfer and publication agreement, which can be downloaded from http://submit-bjp.rcpsych.org once a manuscript has been accepted. One of the authors should be designated to receive correspondence and proofs, and the appropriate address indicated. This author must take responsibility for keeping all other named authors informed of the paper's progress. The contribution of each author to the paper must be stated at the end of the article; this information may be published online. Authorship credit should be based only on substantial contribution to:
- conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data
- drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content, and
- final approval of the version to be published.
All three of these conditions must be met. Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or the collection of data does not justify authorship. In addition, the corresponding author must ensure that there is no one else who fulfils the criteria but has not been included as an author. Group authorship is permitted but individuals choosing this option will not be cited personally, as only those listed as authors on the title page of the manuscript and (on acceptance for publication) whose signed copyright agreement has been obtained, qualify for author status. It is the responsibility of the corresponding author to ensure that authorship is agreed among the study's workers, contributors of additional data and other interested parties, before submission of the manuscript.
The names of the authors should appear on the title page in the form that is wished for publication, and the names, degrees, affiliations and full addresses at the time the work described in the paper was carried out should be given at the end of the paper.
If a professional medical writer has been employed in connection with the work, this must be stated clearly and the writer named in the Acknowledgements section. Their contact details must be supplied, and they will be required to submit a disclosure form. Details of the disclosure may be included in the published work at the Editor's discretion.
All submissions to the BJPsych (including editorials and letters to the Editor) require a declaration of interest. This should list fees and grants from, employment by, consultancy for, shared ownership in, or any close relationship with, at any time over the preceding 36 months, any organisation whose interests may be affected by the publication of the paper. It should also list any non-financial associations or interests (personal, professional, political, institutional, religious, or other) that a reasonable reader would want to know about in relation to the submitted work. This pertains to all the authors of the study, their spouses or partners and their children (aged under 18). We recommend use of the disclosure form developed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors for this purpose.
The BJPsych supports and expects all authors to follow the World Medical Association's Declaration of Helsinki regarding the ethics of research involving human participants. Assessors for the journal are required to consider the ethics of each submitted work. To facilitate this, every research article submitted to the BJPsych must include a statement that the investigators obtained ethical approval for the study (or an explanation of why ethical approval was not needed), including the name of the ethics committee(s) or review board(s), any allocated reference number of the approval(s) and a statement concerning the participants' informed consent.
Authors are expected to be aware of and comply with best practice in publication ethics, including (but not restricted to) avoiding multiple submission, plagiarism and manipulation of figures/data. Any concerns in this regard must be brought to the attention of the Editor. The procedures recommended by the Committee on Publication Ethics will be followed in investigating allegations of misconduct. If conclusive evidence of misconduct is found, the BJPsych undertakes to publish a correction or retraction as necessary to correct the scientific record.
When submitting a revised manuscript, authors are expected to respond to reviewers' comments on the previous submission, point by point, where prompted on the online submission site. Please also highlight those sections of your manuscript that have been changed in response to reviewers' comments. Note that comments on the manuscript made using track changes will not be visible to the Editor, but highlighting will be.
A structured abstract of up to 150 words should be given at the beginning of the article, incorporating the following headings: Background; Aims; Method; Results; Conclusions; Declaration of interest. The abstract is a crucial part of the paper and authors are urged to devote some care to ensuring that all the important findings are included within the word limit.
Introductions should normally be no more than one paragraph; longer ones may be allowed for new and unusual subjects. This should be followed by Method, Results and Discussion sections. The Discussion should always include limitations of the paper to ensure balance. Use of subheadings is encouraged, particularly in Discussion sections. A separate Conclusions section is not required.
The article should normally be between 3000 and 4000 words in length (excluding references, tables and figure legends) and normally would not include more than 25 essential references beyond those describing statistical procedures, psychometric instruments and diagnostic guidelines used in the study. In total, up to four tables and figures may be included in the print version of each paper (e.g. three tables and one figure); additional data tables and figures may be included in an online data supplement, and all large tables (exceeding half a journal page) will be published online only (see Online data supplements, below). Authors are encouraged to present key data within smaller tables for print publication. If a highly specialist, but not novel methodology is employed, technical details about the method and statistical analysis, as well as supporting references for these, may be supplied as an online-only supplement, rather than being included in the body of the paper. This applies also to review articles and short reports.
Review articles should be structured in the same way as regular papers, but the length of these may vary considerably, as will the number of references. Systematic reviews are preferred and narrative reviews will be published only under exceptional circumstances. Reviews done for the Cochrane Collaboration, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and other groups likely to be published, or already published, elsewhere, should be submitted with the latest version of the parent review and its status so that an informed decision can be made about the added value of the submitted paper.
Short reports require an unstructured summary of one paragraph, not exceeding 100 words. The report should not exceed 1200 words (excluding references, tables and figure legends) and contain no more than one figure or table and up to 10 essential references beyond those describing statistical procedures, psychometric instruments and diagnostic guidelines used in the study. Short reports will not exceed two printed pages of the BJPsych and authors may be required to edit their report at proof stage to conform to this requirement. This may be necessary even if the report does not exceed 1200 words if a figure or table is unduly large.
Editorials require an unstructured summary of one paragraph, not exceeding 50 words. Editorials should not exceed 1500 words and may contain no more than one figure or table and no more than 10 essential references. Editorials may only exceed two printed pages in length at the Editor's discretion. A good-quality photograph of the lead author for publication alongside the editorial must be submitted with the manuscript, along with brief biographical details (up to 25 words) for all authors.
This is a section following the structure of Editorials but with up to 15 essential references. These articles are mainly commissioned by the Editor and are concerned with well-known subjects in psychiatry that are going through a period of controversy or re-evaluation. Reappraisals are intended to give a long-term, balanced perspective on the subject, based on the latest evidence.
Analysis articles discuss a clinical, scientific, ethical, legal or policy issue that is relevant to clinical practice and patient care. Articles must demonstrate an unbiased approach in evaluating the relevant evidence, with a clear line of argument and justifiable conclusion. Articles addressing recent developments are particularly welcome and authors must bear in mind the international readership of the BJPsych. Analysis articles require a summary paragraph, not exceeding 50 words. Articles should not exceed 2500 words and may contain no more than one figure or table and up to 25 essential references. Articles will usually be commissioned. However unsolicited material may be considered for publication, in which case authors are asked to send a pre-submission inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Authors may submit proposals for In Debate articles, providing a brief (one paragraph) outline of the issue to be debated together with the proposed motion. They may also suggest an opponent for the debate. Two debaters have three rounds of debate (1-2-1-2-1-2), responding to each other after each round. Each author may use up to 2500 words and 15 references, divided as they wish between their three rounds. A short introduction will be provided by the In Debate Editors post-acceptance. In Debate articles not adhering to this format will not usually be considered.
Authors are responsible for checking all references for accuracy and relevance in advance of submission. Reference lists not in the correct style will be returned to the author for correction. References should be numbered in the order that they appear in the text and listed at the end of the article using the Vancouver style (see below), in which the names and initials of all authors are given after the appropriate reference number. If there are more than six authors, the first six should be named, followed by 'et al'.
The authors' names are followed by the full title of the article; the journal title abbreviated (in italics) according to the style of Index Medicus; the year of publication; the volume number (in bold type); and the first and last page numbers. References to book or book chapters should give the titles of the book (and the chapter if selected), names of any authors, name of publisher, names of any editors, and year. Examples are shown below.
1 Kapusta ND, Etzersdorfer E, Krall C, Sonneck G. Firearm legislation reform in the European Union: impact on firearm availability, firearm suicide and homicide rates in Austria. Br J Psychiatry 2007; 191: 253-7.
2 Thornicroft GJ. Shunned: Discrimination Against People with Mental Illness. Oxford University Press, 2006.
3 Casey P. Alternatives to abortion and hard cases. In Swimming Against the Tide; Feminist Dissent on the Issue of Abortion (ed AB Kennedy): 86-95. Open Air Books, 1997.
4 Lancet. Burnished or burnt out: the delights and dangers of working in health (editorial). Lancet 1994; 344: 1583-4.
5 Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). PhRMA Guiding Principles on Direct to Consumer Advertisements About Prescription Medications. PhRMA, 2005. http://www.phrma.org/publications/policy//2005-08-02.1194.pdf
6 Soni SD, Mallik A, Mbatia J, Shrimankar J. Late paraphrenia (letter). Br J Psychiatry 1988; 152: 719-20.
7 Viding E, Frick P, Plomin R. Aetiology of the relationship between callous-unemotional traits and conduct problems in childhood. Br J Psychiatry 2007; 190 (suppl 49): s33-8.
Personal communications need written authorisation (email is acceptable); they should not be included in the reference list. Unpublished doctoral theses may be cited (please state department or faculty, university and degree). No other citation of unpublished work, including unpublished conference presentations, is permissible.
Tables should be numbered and have an appropriate heading. The tables should be mentioned in the text but must not duplicate information. The heading of the table, together with any footnotes or comments, should be self-explanatory. The desired position of the table in the manuscript should be indicated. Do not tabulate lists, which should be incorporated into the text, where, if necessary, they may be displayed.
Authors must obtain permission from the original publisher if they intend to use tables from other sources, and due acknowledgement should be made in a footnote to the table.
Figures should be clearly numbered and include an explanatory legend. Avoid cluttering figures with explanatory text, which is better incorporated succinctly in the legend. 3-D effects should generally be avoided. Lettering should be parallel to the axes. Units must be clearly indicated and should be presented in the form quantity (unit) (note: `litre' should be spelled out in full unless modified to ml, dl, etc.). All figures should be mentioned in the text and the desired position of the figure in the manuscript should be indicated.
Authors must obtain permission from the original publisher if they intend to use figures from other sources, and due acknowledgement should be made in the legend.
Colour figures may be reproduced if authors are able to cover the costs.
Methods of statistical analysis should be described in language that is comprehensible to the numerate psychiatrist as well as the medical statistician. Particular attention should be paid to clear description of study designs and objectives, and evidence that the statistical procedures used were both appropriate for the hypotheses tested and correctly interpreted. The statistical analyses should be planned before data are collected and full explanations given for any post hoc analyses carried out. The value of test statistics used (e.g. t, F-ratio) should be given as well as their significance levels so that their derivation can be understood. Standard deviations and errors should not be reported as ± but should be specified and referred to in parentheses.
Trends should not be reported unless they have been supported by appropriate statistical analyses for trends.
The use of percentages to report results from small samples is discouraged, other than where this facilitates comparisons. The number of decimal places to which numbers are given should reflect the accuracy of the determination, and estimates of error should be given for statistics.
A brief and useful introduction to the place of confidence intervals is given by Gardner & Altman (1990, Br J Psychiatry, 156, 472-4). Use of these is encouraged but not mandatory.
Authors are encouraged to include estimates of statistical power where appropriate. To report a difference as being statistically significant is generally insufficient, and comment should be made about the magnitude and direction of change.
The BJPsych requires authors to submit a completed checklist and flowchart in accordance with the appropriate CONSORT guidelines. The registration details of the trial and a flow chart illustrating the progress of participants through the trial (CONSORT diagram) must be included in the submitted manuscript.
Reports of systematic reviews or meta-analyses of evaluations studies, including randomised controlled trials, must follow the PRISMA guidelines; meta-analyses of observational studies must adhere to the MOOSE guidelines.
For reports of epidemiological research, please ensure that the appropriate STROBE checklist is followed.Economic evaluations
The BJPsych has a long history of supporting the publication of economic evaluations of mental health services. We will continue to support such studies, but as the number of manuscripts submitted and pressure on space increases, a system for prioritising submissions has been developed. These priorities do not apply to BJPsych Open, which will consider all economic evaluations submitted for publication that meet appropriate methodological and reporting standards.
Priority will be given to trial-based economic evaluations submitted to the BJPsych that meet the following criteria (in order of importance):
- Submitted with the main clinical trial outcome results in a single manuscript
- Submitted alongside the main clinical trial manuscript, or subsequent to the main clinical trial manuscript being accepted for publication in the BJPsych and demonstrating added value in the form of original and important results not reported in the clinical trial manuscript
- Submitted in isolation from the main clinical trial manuscript, published elsewhere, and demonstrating added value in the form of original and important results not reported in the clinical trial manuscript.
Priority will be given to economic evaluations based on decision modelling that meet all of the following criteria:
- Original and important results, not reported elsewhere, that are likely to have an impact on real decisions in clinical practice or on mental health policy
- Methods/results that are described/reported clearly enough to be accessible to a primarily clinical audience
- Based on data from systematic literature reviews/meta-analyses, randomised controlled trials and/or routine data sources (such as hospital episode statistics or patient registries). Manuscripts that do not meet this criterion may still be considered, if the first two criteria are clearly met.
All economic evaluations submitted to BJPsych and BJPsych Open must demonstrate that they conform to the reporting standards laid out in the Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards (CHEERS) checklist.
Other economic studies
Other economic study designs will be considered on a case-by-case basis, although the BJPsych will not usually publish cost-of-illness or cost studies.
The BJPsych welcomes submissions of reports of qualitative research relevant to the scope of the journal. These manuscripts will be evaluated in terms of design, conduct and reporting of the study, which need to be of sufficient quality and merit to warrant inclusion in the BJPsych . The Editor recognises that the term 'qualitative research' encompasses diverse methods underpinned by various epistemological or theoretical frameworks. Accordingly, manuscripts will be evaluated on the basis of the appropriateness of the selected framework to the enquiry, the internal coherence of the report and its adherence to quality criteria consistent with the methodology and method as follows:
- The epistemological underpinnings and/or theoretical framework are made explicit and applied consistently
- The research goal is clearly articulated, justified with reference to literature, and placed in context
- The approach matches the purpose of research and is justified
- Methods of sampling, data collection, data management and analysis are made explicit and consistent with methodology
- Analytical and interpretative processes are described fully
- Findings represent the depth and breadth of data
- Findings and interpretations are supported by the data
- Direct quotations, exemplars or other data presentations are used judiciously in a way that illustrates the findings
- Findings are presented in a way that is consistent with methodology, method and study aims
- Authors are appropriately cautious about knowledge claims
- Findings are explored theoretically and applications discussed
- The report provides an account of reflexive practice in keeping with the methodology
The review of the manuscript will determine whether the authors present their research in such a way that the reader can evaluate the relevance, credibility and applicability of the generated evidence.
For further guidance, authors may refer to the Royal College of Psychiatrists' house style guide.
If the study includes original data, at least one author must confirm that he or she had full access to all the data in the study, and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. We strongly encourage authors to make their source data publicly available. Authors may be asked to provide the raw data at any time up to 5 years after publication of research in the BJPsych.
The BJPsych recommends that all clinical trials are registered in a public trials registry. Further details of criteria for acceptable registries and of the information to be registered are available at http://www.icmje.org/index.html#clin_trials. For reports supported by industry funds, this is a requirement for the paper to be considered for publication in the BJPsych.
If an individual is described, his or her consent must be obtained and submitted with the manuscript. Our consent form can be downloaded here. The individual should read the report before submission. If it is not possible for informed consent to be obtained, the report can be published only if all details that would enable any reader (including the individual or anyone else) to identify the person are omitted. Merely altering some details, such as age and location, is not sufficient to ensure that a person's confidentiality is maintained. Contributors should be aware of the risk of complaint by individuals in respect of defamation and breach of confidentiality, and where concerned should seek advice. In general, case studies are published in the BJPsych only if the authors can present evidence that the case report is of fundamental significance and it is unlikely that the scientific value of the communication could be achieved using any other methodology.
Because of space constraints in the journal, supporting material related to a paper but not essential for a general understanding of the method and results may be published as an online data supplement to the paper. This material might include, but is not restricted to: additional data, presented as tables or figures; details of a search strategy employed in a literature review, or details of the literature retrieved but not further discussed in the body of the paper; technical details of specialist (but not novel) methodology and statistical analysis, and supporting references. Note that if colour figures are included in the body of the article, a colour printing charge will be incurred, but colour figures may be included within online data supplements at no charge to the authors.
All abbreviations must be spelt out on first usage and only widely recognised abbreviations will be permitted.
The generic names of drugs should be used.
Generally, International System of Units (SI) units should be used; where they are not, the SI equivalent should be included in parentheses. Units should not use indices: i.e. report g/ml, not gml-1.
The use of notes separate to the text should generally be avoided, whether they be footnotes or a separate section at the end of a paper. A footnote to the first page may, however, be included to give some general information concerning the paper.
The source of any compounds not yet available on general prescription should be indicated. The version number (or release date) and manufacturer of software used, and the platform on which it is operated (PC, Mac, UNIX etc.), should be stated. The manufacturer, manufacturer's location and product identification should be included when describing equipment central to a study (e.g. scanning equipment used in an imaging study).
A proof will be sent to the corresponding author of an article. Offprints, which are prepared at the same time as the BJPsych is printed, should be ordered when the proof is returned to the Editor. Offprints are despatched up to 6 weeks after publication.
On acceptance of the paper for publication, we will require all authors to assign copyright to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. You retain the right to use the article (provided you acknowledge the published original in standard bibliographic citation form) in the following ways, as long as you do not sell it (or give it away) in ways that would conflict directly with our business interests. You are free to use the article for teaching purposes within your own institution or, in whole or in part, as the basis of your own further publications or spoken presentations. In addition, you retain the right to provide a copy of the manuscript to a public archive (such as an institutional repository or PubMed Central) for public release no sooner than 12 months after publication in the British Journal of Psychiatry (or from the date of publication, if the open access option is chosen, see below). Only the final peer-reviewed manuscript as accepted for publication (not earlier versions, or the final copy-edited version) may be deposited in this way. Any such manuscripts must contain the following wording on the first page: "This is an author-produced electronic version of an article accepted for publication in the British Journal of Psychiatry. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at http://bjp.rcpsych.org." If your funding body has a policy regarding PubMed Central deposit, our compliance guidelines are published here.
Letters may be submitted online either as responses to published articles (follow the link 'submit a response' when viewing an article online) or as general letters to the Editor (from the general eLetter submission page). A selection from these eLetters will subsequently be included in the printed Journal. Letters may be up to 500 words in length with a maximum of 5 references.
Extras are published at the end of articles where space allows. These comprise a wide range of material considered to be of interest to readers of the BJPsych. Submissions for publication as extras should not be submitted online, but sent by email to email@example.com.
There is no submission or publication fee for papers published in the BJPsych in the usual way. All papers published in the BJPsych become freely available online 12 months after publication. In a new initiative to maximise access to original research, authors now have the option to make their papers freely available from the time of publication, on payment of an open access article-processing charge (APC). This charge is currently £2500 (or US$4500) per article plus VAT where applicable. If you wish to take up this option, contact the BJP Editorial Assistant once your paper has been accepted for publication. For such papers, the requirement for a 12-month delay before release of the manuscript in a public archive is waived, and the final published version may be deposited. Article deposit into PubMed Central will be done by the publisher on the behalf of the authors. In the case of Wellcome-funded research, authors taking this option will be fully compliant with the Wellcome open access policy. If a paper does not proceed to publication after payment of an APC, the APC may be refunded in part (minus an administration fee). Post-publication, the APC is non-refundable.