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Instructions for Authors

For guidelines on policy and submission across our journals, please click on the links below:
Manuscript preparation
Editorial policies
Patient consent forms
Licence forms
Peer review
Submission and production processes

Twitter handles - BJSM encourages the inclusion of Twitter usernames in an author's information to encourage discussion and debate around each article.  

Editorial policy

The British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) aims to highlight clinically-relevant orginal research, editorials, systematic reviews, consensus statements and commentary that will be of interest to the field of sport and exercise medicine. The journal is aimed at physicians, physiotherapists, exercise scientists and those involved in public policy.

Please note that references will be published online only; references should be provided as a separate data supplement.

Open Access

Authors can choose to have their article published Open Access for a fee of £1,950 (plus applicable VAT).

Colour figure charges

During submission you will be asked whether or not you agree to pay for the colour print publication of your colour images. This service is available to any author publishing within this journal for a fee of £250 per article. Authors can elect to publish online in colour and black and white in print, in which case the appropriate selection should be made upon submission.

Article types and word counts

The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements and contributions and the references.

Please note: Maximum word counts are strictly enforced and manuscripts that exceed these guidelines are usually rejected.

If you are not a native English speaker and would like assistance with your paper there is a professional editing service available.

BMJ's pre-submission checklist

Review articles

Review articles should provide in-depth (in the order of 4000-5000 words) reviews of both established and new areas in sports medicine.

Systematic reviews
Systematic reviews provide Level One evidence; they form a critical part of the literature. Here we provide some ground rules for SRs of interest in this journal. These guidelines are meant to inform authors but are not absolute.

Is the review of interest to our core readership?
BJSM is a leading clinical journal so the topic must have relevance to clinicians. Ask the key question "will the findings change what practitioners do?"

The scope of the question and review
Very specific questions and very broad questions may both have limited appeal. Those that ask and answer 'meaty' questions that reflect clinical issues have greater interest to BJSM readers.

Is the review worth the journal space?
Succinct and focussed reviews are always of more interest. Questions that are topical, novel or controversial that will attract readers and researchers to the journal are more likely to be accepted.

Do the authors have broad knowledge in the topic area?
We are looking for experts to synthesise the literature and to comment on the outcomes of the review in a meaningful and clinically relevant way. The conclusion that "more research is needed" is uninformative.

So, after you consider these questions, please send in your SRs. We are open to amendments to these guidelines - contact us with your suggestions (remember we have a Systematic Review Prize for the best SR every half year).

Please provide 5 multiple choice questions (MCQs) each with 4-5 possible answers (only 1 correct answer), so the reader can test his or her understanding of the article. These MCQs will be published online-only in the form of an E-learning module.

How to easily create multiple choice questions:         

  • Make the questions a positive single choice with only one correct answer
  • Provide 4-5 answer options for each question
  • The reader should be able to answer the question's need from the material provided in the article
  • Problem orientated questions in the form of a short case description are best
  • Make sure that each question focuses only on one problem
  • The answers you offer should be homogeneous: for example 5 diagnostic procedures, 5 therapeutic interventions
  • Avoid options that contain vague terms such as "common," "often", "rare," "sometimes," and absolute statements such as "never" or "always"
  • Avoid "all of the above" or "none of the above"
  • Please give us an answer key for your questions! This should be the correct answer with a short explanation for each answer
  • Please check all your questions and answers carefully - do this with a colleague.

Word count: up to 4500 words (not including figure/table legends, references).If you feel your review warrants additional length, consult the editorial office – please do not assume you cannot submit to BJSM.

Peer reviewed by 2 external reviewers.

The BJSM is committed to publishing high quality, up-to-date systematic reviews to help clinicians make decisions based on the latest evidence. To ensure this, we ask that authors confirm that their literature search has been completed within 12 months of manuscript submission. If the search has been completed more than 12 months before manuscript submission, and the authors consider their results to be of value to our readers, they must provide a compelling rationale in their cover letter and in the methods section of the submitted manuscript. A completed PRISMA checklist and flow diagram should accompany the submission.

All systematic reviews (with or without meta-analysis) should address all the items recommended in the PRISMA statement. Abstracts for meta-analyses and systematic reviews should have the following headings:

Aim or objective: what the review sets out to determine
Design: type of meta-analysis, systematic review and study appraisal and synthesis methods
Data sources: from where included studies were retrieved
Eligibility criteria for selecting studies: inclusion and exclusion criteria (specifying participants, interventions, comparisons, outcomes and study design as appropriate)
Results: main findings (with 95% confidence intervals for meta-analysis summary statistics)
Summary/conclusions: primary findings (summary) and their implications (conclusion)
Systematic review registration: registry and number (if registered)

Immediately following the abstract, in the manuscript file include 2 or 3 single sentence bullet points to summarise ‘what is already known’ about the subject before this review commenced and why this review needed to be done, and 3 or 4 bullet points summarising ‘what are the new findings’. Be clear and specific, not vague.

Body of the manuscript
In the introduction, provide a concise summary of the relevant background to the review; clearly and concisely outline the rationale. Provide an explicit statement of the aim of the review with reference to participants, interventions, comparisons, outcomes and study design as appropriate.

In the methods provide a clear and detailed description of the systematic review (and meta-analysis, if appropriate) methodology ensuring that the selection criteria, search, data extraction, risk of bias assessment and approach to data synthesis is clearly described. Indicate whether the review has been prospectively registered and provide registration details. Provide the citation for the published SR protocol if there is one.

In the results give numbers of studies screened, assessed for eligibility and included in the review, with reasons for exclusions (ideally using the PRISMA flowchart). Provide an overview of the characteristics of included studies and the population studied; present the results of the risk of bias assessment. For each study, present simple summary data for each group and effect estimates with confidence intervals (ideally with a forest plot). For meta-analyses, provide an interpretation of summary statistics and measures of consistency/heterogeneity. Give results of additional analyses (e.g. sub-group or sensitivity analyses) if performed.

In the discussion, summarise the main findings including the strength of evidence for each main outcome considering their relevance to key stakeholders (e.g. patients, clinicians, policy makers). Address limitations at the study- (e.g. risk of bias) and review-level (e.g. reporting bias, statistical heterogeneity). Provide a general interpretation of the results in the context of other evidence, and implications for clinical practice and future research. The main conclusions of the review should be clearly stated, ensuring that they match the stated aim.

Original reports

Papers should be a maximum of 3000 words in length (not including abstract, figure/table legends, references).
Abstracts should be a maximum of 250 words in length and structured as follows:

  • Background/Aim
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Conclusions

Please include a summary box summarising in 3-4 bullet points "what are the new findings".

Main body of the paper: We encourage short introductions when the rationale of the study is obvious, i.e. it may be as short as 3 short paragraphs if that addresses "Why we did it".

We encourage the use of subheadings in the methods, results and discussion. We find it hard to imagine a discussion that has fewer than two subheadings.

Peer reviewed by 2 external reviewers.


This type of paper makes a comment related to a hot topic; it differs from an editorial in that it might be wider ranging and it may link (discuss) a series of papers. As with an editorial, these should be written in less than 800 words and use 8 or less references.


BJSM welcomes editorials. The purpose of an editorial is to provide a novel perspective on a clinically-relevant issue. Please see the table of contents of BJSM for examples. We welcome suggestions for possible topics and authors.

Word count: a maximum of 800 words (not including figure/table legends, references). References: up to 8. Additional material can be posted as a supplement or on the BJSM Blog. Editorials are peer reviewed by 2 reviewers who may be external or members of the Editorial Board.

Education reviews

These are written or commissioned by the editors and should follow the proforma guidelines that will be supplied by the editorial office.
Peer reviewed by 2 external reviewers.

Mobile app Review

BJSM welcomes reviews of mobile sporting apps that have the potential for clinical use in the world of sports medicine. Such submissions should follow the format below:

  • Author - Name, address, email and Twitter handle (if you have one)
  • Name of the mobile application - e.g. Strava
  • Category of the mobile application - e.g. Fitness or health
  • Platform - e.g. iOS (iPhone 4 & above), Android (versions 2.3.3 & above), Google Glass and over 50 GPS devices (e.g. Garmin) can upload date onto the Strava website
  • Cost - The different verions available of an app and their particular pricings
  • About the App - Should be less than 300 words
  • Use in clinical practice - Should be less than 150 words
  • Pros - Up to eight bullet points, but no less than three
  • Cons - Up to eight bullet points, but no less than three
  • References - References are not essential and the maximum required is four
  • Screen shot - Please provide an image of the app, such as a screen shot, for use in the article. The quality of the image must be at least 300dpi and in .tif, .jpeg, .gif or .eps format


We try to make the best use of every page of the printed BJSM, so we use small gaps to publish fillers. Most fillers have the added advantage of entertaining readers and making them think. If the filler refers to an identifiable person we will need written consent to publication from that person or a relative. We welcome articles of up to 400 words (we also like and need much shorter ones) on topics such as:

  • Any other story conveying instruction, pathos or humour.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor are considered for publication (subject to editing and abridgment) provided they do not contain material that has been submitted or published elsewhere. 

Letters in reference to a BJSM article must not exceed 175 words (excluding references), and must be received within three weeks of publication of the article. If you are responding to an Online First article that does not have a print publication date, the article will be listed under "Online Articles." 

Letters not related to a BJSM article must not exceed 400 words (excluding references). 

A letter can have no more than four references and one figure or table. 

A letter may not be signed by more than three authors. 

You will be asked to include your full address, telephone number and e-mail address. Financial associations or other possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed.


The BMJ Publishing Group journals are willing to consider publishing supplements to regular issues. Supplement proposals may be made at the request of:

  • The journal editor, an editorial board member or a learned society may wish to organise a meeting, sponsorship may be sought and the proceedings published as a supplement.
  • The journal editor, editorial board member or learned society may wish to commission a supplement on a particular theme or topic. Again, sponsorship may be sought.
  • The BMJPG itself may have proposals for supplements where sponsorship may be necessary.
  • A sponsoring organisation, often a pharmaceutical company or a charitable foundation, that wishes to arrange a meeting, the proceedings of which will be published as a supplement.

In all cases, it is vital that the journal's integrity, independence and academic reputation is not compromised in any way.

When contacting us regarding a potential supplement, please include as much of the information below as possible.

  • Journal in which you would like the supplement published
  • Title of supplement and/or meeting on which it is based
  • Date of meeting on which it is based
  • Proposed table of contents with provisional article titles and proposed authors
  • An indication of whether authors have agreed to participate
  • Sponsor information including any relevant deadlines
  • An indication of the expected length of each paper Guest Editor proposals if appropriate

For further information on criteria that must be fulfilled, download the supplements guidelines (PDF).

Video Abstracts

We welcome video abstracts to accompany accepted research articles. These allow authors to personally talk through their work beyond the restrictions of a formal article to improve the user’s understanding.

Note that we will not ask you to consider submitting a video abstract until your paper has been accepted. Please do not try to upload a video abstract upon initial submission of your manuscript.

There are many tutorials online which can guide the production of a video abstract, using widely and often freely available software.Windows Movie Maker and Apple iMovie are the most common examples. Examples of video abstracts are available from The BMJ. Below are a few guidelines for making a video abstract. Authors may also want to ask their institution’s press/media office for assistance.

  • Video abstracts should not last longer than 4 minutes.
  • The content and focus of the video must relate directly to the study that has been accepted for publication, and should not stray beyond the data. We recommend that you follow the same structure as the paper itself i.e. briefly outline the background/context of the study, present your research objective, outline the methods used, present the key results and then discuss the implications of the outcomes.
  • The presentation and content of the video should be in a style and in terms that will be understandable and accessible to a general medical audience. The main language should be English, but we welcome subtitles in another language. Please avoid jargon that will not be familiar to a wide medical audience, and do not use abbreviations.
  • Authors usually talk directly into the camera and/or present a slideshow, but we encourage the use of other relevant visual and audio material (such as animations, video clips, still photographs, figures, infographics). If you wish to use material from previously published work or from other sources, please obtain the appropriate permissions from the relevant publisher or copyright owner.
  • If the video shows any identifiable living patients and/or identifiable personal details, authors need to demonstrate that consent has been obtained. If a patient consent form was provided for the related article, there is no need to provide this again for the video.
  • Please use the compression parameters that video sharing sites use. Often these are standard options from your editing software. A comprehensive guide is available from the vimeo website.

Videos are too large to email so will need to be uploaded to BMJ’s account on the Hightail website. Please include the journal’s name and your manuscript ID number in the message field – this will enable us to match your video to your paper. Your video needs to be received by the time that you return the corrections for your article proof, at the very latest. Please note that if you do not correctly label your video or if you miss the deadline, this may cause delays in publication of both your article and the video.

All video abstracts will be assessed for suitability by the editorial team and publication is not guaranteed. In some cases editors may request edits to the video.

Video abstracts are embedded within the research article online and also published separately on the journal’s YouTube channel. They are published under the same copyright terms as the associated article.

Preferred reviewers

Please suggest up to four reviewers who the editors can approach to review if needed. First name, last name, institution and email are required. You are required to suggest at least two reviewers, and preferably, at least half of the nominated reviewers should be from a country other than your own. Reviewer nominees from the same institution as any of the authors are not permitted.

Plagiarism detection

BMJ is a member of CrossCheck by CrossRef and iThenticate. iThenticate is a plagiarism screening service that verifies the originality of content submitted before publication. iThenticate checks submissions against millions of published research papers, and billions of web content. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting

Free sample

This 2014 issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of BJSM.
View free sample issue >>

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