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Instructions for Authors

To ensure that the cases are published in an easy to find, easy to read format we require all authors to submit using our Word templates. There are three available templates: one for full clinical cases, one for Images in ... (very brief articles comprising 1 or 2 striking and/or clinically important images with a brief description of the educational message), and one for global health articles. There is no official word count for full cases and global health articles but we recommend a limit of 2000 words (excluding abstract and references). Images in ... articles should be no more than 500 words.

To help you write full case reports we have prepared a template that provide advice for each section:

How to complete the full cases submission template
User guide - submit your case

Full cases template (Word document)
Images in... template (Word document)
Global health template (Word document)

Please also take a look at the following flow chart which details our submission, peer review and publication processes.

What cases do we want to publish?

We want to publish cases with clinical valuable lessons. Therefore, common cases that present a diagnostic, ethical or management challenge, or that highlight aspects of mechanisms of injury, pharmacology or histopathology are deemed of particular educational value. It is important that the learning outcomes of the articles are important and novel.

In addition, we encourage reports of global health cases and medicine practiced in unusual settings, eg, expedition medicine or humanitarian work. Global health case reports should focus on the causes of ill health and access to healthcare services, whether economic, social or political – global health issues as they impact on individual patient’s lives. These cases require a comprehensive review of the relevant global health literature and an in-depth understanding of the anthropological background of the case you present. 

We want to publish cases worthy of discussion particularly around aspects of differential diagnosis, decision making, management, clinical guidelines and pathology. The advantage is that we learn from real cases. An example of the kind of cases we want to publish can be found in our 5th year anniversary special edition booklet.

We encourage authors to include the patient’s perspective in the article (while preserving anonymity). This can be requested at the same time as consent for publication as informed consent can only be obtained when the patient or guardian has read the article you wish to submit.

BMJ Case Reports is interested in any case that fulfils the following criteria:

Each case will be peer reviewed by at least two external referees as well as the Editor, Deputy Editor or Associate Editor. Accepted cases will be copy edited and you will be provided with an edited version to approve before publication.

What will it cost?

BMJ Case Reports has a unique business model whereby users (whether authors and/or readers) become Fellows .

  • Individuals pay an annual Fellowship fee. During your 12 month Fellowship period you can submit as many cases as you like, access all the published material, and re-use any published material for personal use and teaching without further permission. There are no additional publication or colour charges for accepted articles.
  • The Corresponding Author must be/become a Fellow
  • We also offer Institutional Fellowships - faculty, students and staff in such institutions will not have to pay individual fellowship fees. For further information and pricing (based on the number of full
    time equivalents at the institution) contact our institutional sales team.

How to write for BMJ Case Reports

To ensure that the cases are published in an easy to find, easy to read format we require all authors to submit using our Word templates. There are three available templates: one for full cases, one for Images in ... (very brief articles comprising 1 or 2 striking and/or clinically important images with a brief description of the educational message) and one for global health articles. To help you write full case reports we have prepared this template which provides advice for each section. On submission you will be asked to upload one Word template as well as any figures and accompanying files separately as well as a Patient consent form. You must have a signed BMJ Patient consent form from your patient(s)/guardian(s) for publication before submitting your article. If the patient is dead we strongly encourage you to get consent from the next of kin.

Full cases template (Word document)
Images in... template (Word document)
Global health template (Word document)

Simply save a blank template to your computer, rename using a logical format (we suggest first author's name and date of submission, eg, Smith_June_2014.doc), and fill in the boxes! If you are not a native English speaker and would like assistance with your paper there is a professional editing service available.

Authorship

All authors (maximum 4) must have made an individual contribution to the writing of the article and not just been involved with the patient's care. Individuals just involved in the patient's care (including diagnosis and management) should be listed in the acknowledgements.

The uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to medical journals state that authorship credit should be based only on a substantial contribution to the following:
•    Conception and design, acquisition of data or analysis and interpretation of data
•    Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content.
•    Final approval of the version published.
All three of these conditions must be met.

Further information on authorship is available online.

The corresponding author must have an active Fellowship.

Where to submit your cases

All cases must be submitted online at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/bmjcasereports. On submission you will be asked to complete a series of fields as follows:

  • Patient consent
  • Type of case (see What cases do we want to publish?)
  • Title of case (do not include “Case Report”)
  • Authors (maximum 4, see Authorship)
  • Specialty
    • Select one or more clinical topics from the list provided. These topics will be used to find the right expert to peer review your case, and will be used if the case is published to link it to similar cases
  • Case load
    • We would like to know the approximate number patients your practice or clinic sees with the condition described; this will be important for the peer reviewers, for example, a primary care practitioner will have a different approach from a neurologist to a patient with multiple sclerosis
  • Summary (not needed for Images in...)
    • Cut and paste this from your Word template. Please provide up to 150 words highlighting the most important aspects of the case presentation and outcome
  • Competing interests
  • Acknowledgements
  • Patient demographics
    • These details will not be published but will be used to help users search for the most relevant cases, eg, readers will be able to restrict search results by age, sex, and ethnicity
  • Follow-up
    • To make BMJ Case Reports as valuable as possible we invite you to let us know what happens to the patient(s) - you can come back in 6 months or 6 years and update us on the patient's progress/outcome. There is no commitment to follow-up if you say 'yes' at this stage

You will then be asked to upload your completed Word template as well as any images and multimedia files.

You will also be asked to agree to our Intellectual Property Rights Assignment and BMJ Case Reports Author Fellow Terms and Conditions.

Format for Images

We encourage you to submit all relevant images and there is no restriction on the use of colour.

We accept images in the following formats; jpg, tiff, gif, PowerPoint and eps.

All black and white images should be saved to a minimum of 300 dpi.

Colour images should be saved and supplied as a high quality file to a minimum of 600 dpi. Colour images should not exceed 2MB at a minimum resolution of 600 dpi. If you choose a higher resolution your image dimension should be reduced accordingly to keep the file under 2MB.

NB. Scanners may automatically increase image size at a higher resolution.

Multimedia and Supplemental files

You may submit video and other files to enhance your case report (video files should be supplied as .avi, .wmv, .mp4 or .H264). When submitting video files, you must complete the "video caption" box in Case Report template. You may also submit supplementary material to support the submission and review of your article, e.g., papers in press elsewhere, published articles, raw data. When submitting video files, ensure you upload them using the File Designation "Video Files".

Patient consent

Publication of any personal information about an identifiable living patient requires the explicit consent of the patient or guardian (this is a requirement under the UK's Data Protection legislation). We expect authors to use the BMJ consent form which is available in several languages. 

You must have signed informed consent from patients (or relatives/guardians) before submitting to BMJ Case Reports. Please anonymise the patient’s details as much as possible, eg, specific ages, ethnicity, occupations. For living patients this is a legal requirement and we will not send your article for review without explicit consent from the patient or guardian

If the patient is dead the Data Protection Act does not apply, but the authors must seek permission from a relative (ideally the next of kin).

If you don't have signed consent from a deceased patient, guardian or family, the head of your medical team/hospital or legal team must take responsibility that exhaustive attempts have been made to contact the family and that the paper has been sufficiently anonymised not to cause harm to the patient or their family. You will need to upload a signed document to this effect.

For "Images in ..." articles if it is completely anonymised we may be able to waive consent.

Competing interests

A competing interest exists when professional judgement concerning a primary interest (such as patients' welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain or personal rivalry). It may arise for the authors of an article when they have a financial interest that may influence, probably without their knowing, their interpretation of their results or those of others.

We believe that, to make the best decision on how to deal with a paper, we should know about any such competing interest that authors may have. We are not aiming to eradicate competing interests; they are almost inevitable. We will not reject cases simply because you have a competing interest, but we will make a declaration on whether you have competing interests.

We used to ask authors about any competing interests, but we have decided to restrict our request to financial interests. This is largely a tactical move. We hope that it will increase the number of authors who disclose competing interests. Our experience, supported by some research data, was that authors often did not disclose them.

For all manuscripts please provide a statement describing any relevant interests of all authors in the appropriate box on submission (for guidance on relevant competing interests read the BMJ declaration).

We also ask reviewers to provide statements of competing interests, and we use these when assessing the value of peer review.

Intellectual property rights

On submission the Corresponding Author will be asked to agree the following terms and conditions:

The Corresponding Author has the right to assign on behalf of all authors and does assign on behalf of all authors, a full assignment of all intellectual property rights for all content within the submitted case report (other than as agreed with the BMJ Publishing Group Ltd) in any media known now or created in the future, and permits this case report (if accepted) to be published on BMJ Case Reports and to be fully exploited within the remit of the assignment as set out in the assignment which has been read http://casereports.bmj.com/site/misc/copyright.pdf

All published articles are deposited with PubMed Central (embargoed for 2 years).

Plagiarism detection

BMJ takes publication ethics very seriously and abides by the best practice guidance of the Committee on Publication Ethics. BMJ is a member of CrossCheck by CrossRef and iThenticate which is a plagiarism screening service that verifies the originality of content submitted before publication. iThenticate checks submissions against millions of published articles, and billions of web content. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting www.ithenticate.com. Every article is screened on submission and any that is deemed to overlap more than trivially with other publications will be rejected automatically with no right of appeal.

BMJ are pleased to support the CAse REport (CARE) guidelines: clinical case reporting guideline development.

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