Instructions for Authors
Here you will find information about how to prepare your manuscript and details of our submission and peer review processes.
BMJ Case Reports does not accept case series. However, if we feel that an article makes a point better by including more than one case, we will consider the article. If your case report involves more than three patients, please contact the editorial office so that we can assess your case.
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 cases do we wish to publish?
We want to publish cases with valuable clinical lessons. 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 essential 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, humanitarian work, refugee health, conflict, violence, sexual violence, human trafficking, humanitarian aid, telemedicine and e-health and health innovations. 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 10th anniversary cases special edition booklet.
How to write for BMJ Case Reports
There is no official word count for full cases and global health articles. For full case reports we recommend a maximum of 2000 words and for global health articles we recommend a maximum of 4000 words (excluding abstract and references). Images in … articles should be no more than 500 words.
Please anonymise the patient’s details as much as possible, eg, specific ages, ethnicity, occupations.
On submission you will be asked to upload one Word template, any figures and accompanying files and a patient consent form.
BMJ has prepared a guide that explains how to write a useful case report. For further support when making your submission please refer to the resources available on the BMJ Author Hub. Here you can also find general formatting guidelines across BMJ and a formatting checklist. You may also wish to use the language editing and translation services provided by BMJ Author Services.
BMJ Case Reports adheres to the highest standards concerning its editorial policies on publication ethics, scientific misconduct, consent and peer review criteria. The journal follows guidance produced by bodies that include the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). To view all BMJ Journal policies please refer to the BMJ Author Hub policies page, including information about our Editors’ roles and responsibilities.
We take seriously all possible misconduct. If an Editor, author or reader has concerns that a submitted article describes something that might be considered to constitute misconduct in research, publication or professional behaviour they should forward their concerns to the journal. The publisher will deal with allegations appropriately following ICMJE and COPE guidelines.
If your submission is a modification of a conference poster or abstract please ensure that you mention it in your cover letter.
Copyright and authors’ rights
BMJ Case Reports authors are required to grant BMJ an assignment of the copyright in the report unless an author is a Crown employees or where BMJ has agreed CC BY applies, in which case a non exclusive licence is granted to BMJ. For US Federal Government officers or employees acting as part of their official duties, the terms are as stated in accordance with our author agreement. Open access BMJ Case Reports can be reused under the terms of the relevant Creative Commons licence to facilitate reuse of the content; please refer to the BMJ Case Reports Author Agreement or the applicable Creative Commons licences.
When publishing in BMJ Case Reports, authors choose between three licence types – exclusive licence granted to BMJ, CC-BY-NC and CC-BY (Creative Commons open access licences require payment of an article processing charge). As an author you may wish to post your article in an institutional or subject repository, or on a scientific social sharing network. You may also link your published article to your preprint (if applicable).
What you can do with your article, without seeking permission, depends on the licence you have chosen and the version of your article. Please refer to the BMJ author self archiving and permissions policies page for more information.
Preprints foster openness, accessibility and collaboration by allowing authors to make their findings immediately available to the research community and receive feedback on an article before it is submitted to a journal for formal publication.
BMJ fully supports and encourages the archiving of preprints in any recognised, not-for-profit server such as medRxiv. BMJ does not consider the posting of an article in a dedicated preprint repository to be prior publication.
Preprints are reports of work that have not been peer-reviewed; Preprints should therefore not be used to guide clinical practice, health-related behaviour or health policy. For more information, please refer to our Preprint policy page.
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 latest BMJ consent form, which is available in several languages.
You must have signed informed consent from patients (or 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 UK 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’s family.
You will need to upload a signed document to this effect.
For “Images in …” articles where there is no personal information and very limited clinical data we may be able to waive consent.
Consent will not be waived for case reports involving living patients.
Case reports should have a maximum of four authors, of which at least one must have been involved in the patient’s care.
All authors must have made an individual contribution to the writing of the article and not just been involved with the patient’s care.
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.
- Agreement to be accountable for the article and to ensure that all questions regarding the accuracy or integrity of the article are investigated and resolved.
All of these conditions must be met to be listed as an author. Further information on authorship is available online.
Individuals only involved in the patient’s care (including diagnosis and management) should be listed in the acknowledgements.
Please note, the corresponding author must have an active Fellowship.
Where to submit your cases
All cases must be submitted online.
On submission you will be asked to complete a series of fields as follows:
- Patient consent
- Type of case
- Title of case – Please use a straightforward clinical title that accurately reflects the subject of the case report. Please DO NOT use humorous words or phrases or a play on words. These make your case harder to find for readers using keyword searches and clinical terms, and make it difficult to understand what the case is about. Humour does not translate well internationally and the message to patients may be disrespectful. Please do not include “Case Report” in your title.
- Authors (maximum 4)
- 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
- Caseload – 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…) – You can 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 – please read this advice carefully
- Acknowledgements /li>
You will 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.
What will it cost?
BMJ Case Reports has a unique business model whereby users (whether authors 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. To check if your institution has a Fellowship, contact your institution’s library.
- For further information and pricing (based on the number of full time equivalents at the institution) contact our institutional sales team.
Authors may make their accepted article open access at an extra cost of £400 (+VAT). This is an extra fee to the Fellowship, but is only charged if your article is accepted.
Open access charges
During submission, authors can choose to have their article published open access for 400 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors). This is a separate fee to the Fellowship fee and is entirely optional.
For more information on open access, funder compliance and institutional programmes please refer to the BMJ Author Hub open access page.
Format for Images
We encourage you to submit all relevant images and there is no restriction on the use of colour. Please only submit images of affected areas to preserve patient anonymity. Cropping should be as tight as possible, to eliminate unwanted detail.
For more information about accepted image types and image resolution, visit BMJ’s Author Hub.
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 financial 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.
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.
Peer review process
Articles submitted to BMJ Case Reports are subject to peer review. The journal operates single blind peer review whereby the names of the reviewers are hidden from the author. Manuscripts authored by a member of a journal’s editorial team are independently peer reviewed; an editor will have no input or influence on the peer review process or publication decision for their own article. For more information on what to expect during the peer review process please refer to BMJ Author Hub – the peer review process.
BMJ requests that all reviewers adhere to a set of basic principles and standards during the peer-review process in research publication; these are based on the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Please refer to our peer review terms and conditions policy page.
BMJ is committed to transparency. Every article we publish includes a description of its provenance (commissioned or not commissioned) and whether it was internally or externally peer reviewed.
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 and any that are deemed to overlap more than trivially with other publications will be rejected automatically with no right of appeal.