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Journal of Medical Ethics is a leading international journal that reflects the whole field of medical ethics. The journal seeks to promote ethical reflection and conduct in scientific research and medical practice. It features articles on various ethical aspects of health care relevant to health care professionals, members of clinical ethics committees, medical ethics professionals, researchers and bioscientists, policy makers and patients.


Editorial policy

Journal of Medical Ethics adheres to the highest standards concerning its editorial policies on publication ethics, scientific misconduct, consent and peer review criteria. To view all BMJ Journal policies please refer to the BMJ Author Hub policies page.

Articles are published under an exclusive licence or non-exclusive licence for UK Crown employees or where BMJ has agreed CC BY applies. For US Federal Government officers or employees acting as part of their official duties, the terms are as stated in accordance with our licence terms. Authors or their employers retain copyright. Open access articles can be reused under the terms of the relevant Creative Commons licence to facilitate reuse of the content; please refer to the Journal of Medical Ethics Author Licence for the applicable Creative Commons licences”.

More information on copyright and authors’ rights.


Peer review

Journal of Medical Ethics operates double-blind peer review which requires authors to submit an anonymous version of their manuscript file (to be uploaded as the Manuscript File including abstract):

This file should be anonymous and should NOT include:

      • Any author names (including file path in document footer)
      • Author institution details
      • Author contact details
      • Acknowledgements
      • Competing interests (if declared)
      • Ethics approval statements that refer to your institution
      • Please ensure tracked changes are switched off if previously used; this file will be automatically converted to PDF once uploaded through the online submission system and will be made available to the reviewers

Conflicts of interest

Authors are asked to declare any competing interests on submission to the journal. Associate editors are also asked to declare any potential conflict of interest when handling a paper, such as authorship by an author in the same institution or other relationships where there may be an appearance of a conflict of interest. These papers are handled by Professor Kenneth Boyd, Conflict of Interest editor for the journal, who may seek advice from other members of the editorial committee as appropriate. In these cases, the Conflict of Interest Editor may seek advice from a sub-committee of Associate Editors who are not affiliated to the authors. Other parts of the editorial process, which do not involve decisions about publishing the paper are not affected.


Article processing charges

During submission, authors can choose to have their article published open access for 1950 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors). Authors can also choose to publish their article in colour for the print edition – instead of the default option of black and white – for 250 GBP. There are no submission, page or online-only colour figure charges.

For more information on open access, funder compliance and institutional programmes please refer to the BMJ Author Hub open access page.

Data Sharing

Journal of Medical Ethics adheres to BMJ’s Tier 2 data policy. We strongly encourage that data generated by your research that supports your article be made available as soon as possible, wherever legally and ethically possible. We also require data from clinical trials to be made available upon reasonable request. To adhere to ICMJE guidelines, we require that a data sharing plan must be included with trial registration for clinical trials that begin enrolling participants on or after 1st January 2019. Changes to the plan must be noted in the Data Availability Statement and updated in the registry record. All research articles must contain a Data Availability Statement. For more information and FAQs, please see BMJ’s full Data Sharing Policy page.

Submission guidelines

Please review the below article type specifications including the required article lengths, illustrations, table limits and reference counts. The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements, contributions and references. Manuscripts should be as succinct as possible.

For further support when making your submission please refer to the resources available on the BMJ Author Hub. Here you will find information on writing and formatting your research through to the peer review process and promoting your paper. You may also wish to use the language editing and translation services provided by BMJ Author Services.

If your article is accepted you can take advantage of BMJ’s partnership with Kudos, a free service to help you maximise your article’s reach.

Journal of Medical Ethics does accept footnotes at the end of each page which should be denoted in superscript Roman numerals. There should be no more than around 30 words per footnote.

Editorial

Editorials are commissioned only articles.

Commentary

Commentaries are commissioned only articles.

Word count: up to 1,000
Tables/illustrations: up to 2
References: up to 10

Original research

Original research includes both philosophical papers and empirical studies.

Word count: up to 3,500
Abstract: up to 250
Tables/Illustrations: up to 5

Original research – extended essay

Original research – extended essays employ in-depth philosophical analysis in order to address an important policy- or practice-related normative question. Predominantly empirical papers will not be considered in this category.

Note that because of space considerations, the acceptance rate for extended essays is very low. We would recommend to authors (to maximise their chance of successful submission) that they submit their work as a standard length article unless there is a clear and compelling justification for the higher word count. Predominantly empirical papers will not be considered in this category.

Word count: up to 7,000
Abstract: up to 250 words
Tables/Illustrations: up to 5
References: up to 50

Feature article

Feature articles are selected from the best Extended Essays accepted for publication in the journal. Occasionally they will be commissioned and authors can discuss this with the editors prior to submission. Feature Articles will be selected on the basis that they express authoritative, novel and perhaps even provocative arguments. They might also discuss important new advances which have implications for both research, clinical practice or society at large. While authors need not be systematic in their approach to the literature, they should aim to develop a theme, with clear, logical argumentation, with some vision of the future or practical import for medical ethics, broadly construed.

Word count: up to 7,000
References: up to 30

We will generally run several 1,000 word commentaries around the Feature article; you are invited to suggest potential commentators. You will have the right to write a short response to commentators of less than 500 words.

Brief report

Brief reports include summarised Original research arguments or results of empirical studies that can be stated succinctly.

Word count: up to 1,500
Abstract: up to 250
Tables/Illustrations: up to 2
References: up to 25

Clinical ethics

An article that clearly addresses an issue that is clinically relevant and likely to be of interest to medical students, doctors and health care professionals,

Word count: up to 3,500
Abstract: up to 250
Tables/Illustrations: up to 5

 Clinical ethics roundtable

While roundtables are commissioned only, those interested in proposing one when they address issues that are significant and relevant to health care professionals should write to the Editor in Chief.

Clinical ethics roundtables should include the following:

  • Description of the situation or issue of between 400-800 words.
  • At least three commentaries of up to 1,000 words from a range of perspectives. Ordinarily, at least one commentary will present a patient perspective.

Confidentiality

The Journal of Medical Ethics is committed to the importance of respecting confidentiality and it follows BMJ’s guidelines.

Response

Response articles are responses to articles previously published in the Journal of Medical Ethics. They may be peer-reviewed at the editors’ discretion, peer-reviewed responses will be reviewed on a fast track for timely publication. This may include responses from authors who have been criticised in the Journal.

Abstract: up to 250
Word count: 1,500 words
Illustrations: at editorial discretion
References: up to 10

Ethics abstract

Ethics abstracts are commissioned only articles offered to authors following submissions where the topic or findings are considered to be of some interest to Journal of Medical Ethics readership but not at the level of a peer-reviewed article.

Word count: up to 500
Tables/illustrations: up to 1
References: up to 3

Student essay

Student Essays aim to encourage medical and other related students to consider ethical issues. To qualify as a student essay, all the authors must be current students at the time of submission, usually on a medical or undergraduate course rather than at doctoral or other postgraduate level; information about your current course of study should be included in your cover letter.

Word count: up to 3,500
Abstract: up to 250
Tables/Illustrations: up to 5
References: up to 25

Current controversy

This article should cover some current news item, legal case or recent advance of ethical significance, together with identification and some analysis of ethical issues involved. Articles in this category undergo peer review, though where they discuss urgent issues the review process may be fast-tracked to ensure early publication.

Authors should consider submitting a blog post on the issue that they plan on writing about before submitting a current controversy. This will mean that they can draw attention to an issue in the blog post while it is ‘news’ and then publish a more in depth ethical analysis of it as a current controversy.

Word count: up to 3500 words
Abstract: up to 250 words
Tables/Illustrations: up to 5, any more at editorial discretion
References: up to 25

Author meets critics

The author meets critics commissioned only series consists of a summary of a new book (monograph) in medical ethics by the author, plus responses from 2 to 3 critics, each of no more than 1,000 words and an author response.

Supplements

BMJ 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.
  • BMJ 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.

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

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