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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.

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.

General guidelines

All articles require a Title page, stating Title, Authors, their affiliations, Corresponding author’s contact details and Keywords. The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements and references. Supplementary material (e.g. additional tables, figures and text files) can be published online only and isn't included in the word count. If you are not a native English speaker there is a professional editing service available. Authors may find it useful to consult our pre-submission checklist.

Article types and word counts

Review articles

Review articles should provide in-depth (in the order of 4000-4500 words) reviews of both established and new areas in sports and exercise medicine. If you feel your review warrants additional length, consult the editorial office and/or mention the reason in your Cover letter.

Systematic reviews

Systematic reviews provide Level One evidence; they form a critical part of the literature.

  • 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 topic must be of relevance to clinicians with the key question ‘will the findings change what practitioners do?’’
  • Succinct and focussed reviews, with questions that are topical, novel or controversial that will attract readers and researchers to the journal are more likely to be accepted.
  • The literature search should have been completed within 12 months of manuscript submission.
  • 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.
  • A structured Abstract should be added to the Main Document. Including headings Objective, Design, Data sources, Eligibility criteria for selecting studies, Results and Summary/Conclusion.
  • We have a Systematic Review Prize for the best Systematic Review every half year.
  • Please include a summary box summarising in 3-4 clear and specific bullet points ‘What is already known’ and 'What are the new findings'.
  • 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.
  • Systematic review registration: registry and number (if registered)

Word count: up to 4500 words
Abstract: up to 250 words
Tables/illustrations: Maximum 6 tables and/or figures
References: up to 100
Checklist: Prisma checklist/statement and flowchart
MCQs required

Narrative reviews

We consider narrative reviews of general topics of importance to the sports and exercise medicine clinician. Authors should clearly outline in their cover letter why a narrative review is appropriate rather than a systematic review.

Please include a summary box summarising in 3-4 bullet points ‘What is already known’ and 'What are the new findings'.

Word count: up to 4000 words
Abstract: up to 250 words
Tables/illustrations: Maximum 6 tables and/or figures
References: up to 80
MCQs required

Consensus statements

Please follow the steps in the Agree Reporting Checklist and upload as Research Checklist when submitting your article.

Word count and references can be discussed with the editor.

Original Research

Original Research should not exceed 3000 words;  Additional data may be presented as supplementary information, which will be published online only should the article be accepted (this can be in any format: text, tables, images, videos, etc.).

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.

Word count:  up to 3000 words 
Abstract: up to 250 words in length and structured including headings Background/Aim, Methods, Results and Conclusion
Tables/illustrations: up to 6 tables and/or figures
Please include a summary box summarising in 3-4 bullet points "what are the new findings".


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: up to 800 words 
References: up to 8

Additional material can be posted as supplementary information (this can be hyperlinked) or on the BJSM Blog.

Education reviews

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

The BJSM PhD Academy Awards


  • To gather the World’s leading PhD graduates to share their work with the BJSM community.
  • To promote the impact/contribution that graduate students’ work can have on sports medicine clinical practice.
  • To highlight an ‘innovator of the month’.


Each submission to follow the below structure;

  • What did I do? Aim/s of your PhD
  • Why did I do it? Rationale for your PhD
  • How did I do it? Brief overview of main methods
  • What did I find? Overview of main findings
  • What is the most important clinical impact / practical application

Specific rules/eligibility criteria:

To be eligible to enter the PhD Academy Awards, the author must have successfully defended his/her PhD between June to May (e.g. to enter the 2017/18 awards, the author must have successfully defended his/her PhD between June 2017 and May 2018).

There is a special case for eligibility in the 2016/17 round: to be eligible, the author must have successfully defended his/her PhD between January 2016 and May 2017.

Word count: up to 600words 
References: up to 6

Mobile app User Guide

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 versions 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


BJSM welcomes infographics that can communicate key information in an engaging fashion. Broadly, we consider three types of infographics:

1. An infographic submitted (linked) with a manuscript to complement/share its key findings. An example is provided below:

Related inforgraphic paper

2. An infographic providing a summary or perspective on a previously published paper. A submitting author must have agreement from the corresponding author of the original paper before submitting this type of infographic. This may feature a brief (no more than 400 words, up to 5 references) introduction if desired.

3. A stand-alone infographic exploring a relevant issue in sports and/or physical activity. This may feature a brief (no more than 400 words, up to 5 references) introduction.

An example is shown here.

For all of these categories, we encourage the first word in the title to be “Infographic”. Queries can be directed to infographics editor docandrewmurray{at}

Letters to the Editor

  • Word count: up to 600 words
  • Abstract: not required
  • Tables/Illustrations: Maximum 1 tables and/or figures
  • References: Maximum 6

Letters to the Editor undergo the same review process as full length papers.

You will be asked to add a title page including Title, authors, affiliations, contact details. Financial associations or other possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed.


Correspondence in reference to a BJSM article must not exceed 400 words and up to 6 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".
You will be asked to add a title page including Title, authors, affiliations, contact details. 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 2015 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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