For authors



BMJ Paediatrics Open is an open-access journal dedicated to publishing original research, clinical reviews and protocols that deal with any aspect of child health. The provision of child health is multidisciplinary and the journal welcomes papers from all health care professions. Papers dealing with paediatric surgery, paediatric specialties, public health and healthcare provision will all be considered. Please note in vitro studies/studies without clinical outcomes are unlikely to be published.

BMJ Paediatrics Open adheres to a rigorous and transparent peer review process. Publication decisions will be made on the scientific validity, ethical soundness and transparency of the research and whether the paper deserves publication, rather than on its apparent interest to any particular readership. The journal will be published continuously online and aims to operate a fast submission process, to ensure timely, up-to-date research is available worldwide.



Editorial policy

BMJ Paediatrics Open adheres to the highest standards concerning its editorial policies on publication ethics and scientific misconduct. The journal follows guidance produced by bodies that include the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), the Council of Science Editors 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. 

Authors are required to submit a statement that their study obtained ethics approval (or a statement that it was not required and why) and that participants gave informed consent. Our Editors will consider whether the work is morally acceptable as determined by the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki. In addition to this, in line with General Medical Council guidelines, an article that contains personal medical information about an identifiable living individual requires patients explicit consent (in the format of a signed BMJ patient consent form) before we will publish it. Please find further details on BMJ research ethics policies (human participants and animals) and consent for publication; including a link to the downloadable consent form.

The journal encourages academic and scientific collaborations between investigators from low (LIC) and middle income countries (MIC) and those from high income countries (HIC). In research that is conducted in LIC and MIC, the journal prefers that these collaborations are reflected with local authors appearing high on the author listing, ideally as first and/or second, and for the contribution of contributors from LIC and MIC to be properly recognised, in terms of author numbers and seniority.

To make the best decision on how to deal with a manuscript BMJ Paediatrics Open needs to know about any competing interests authors may have; this includes any commercial, financial or non financial associations that may be relevant to the submitted article. Authors must download and complete a copy of the ICMJE Conflict of Interest disclosure form. In addition to this BMJ Paediatrics Open ensures that all advertising and sponsorship associated with the journal does not influence editorial decisions, is immediately distinguishable from editorial content and meets all other BMJ guidelines. Please find more information about competing interests and a link to the form.

We take seriously all possible misconduct.  Anyone with concerns that a submitted article describes something that might be considered to constitute misconduct in research, publication or professional behaviour should forward their concerns to the journal. The publisher will deal with allegations appropriately following ICMJE and COPE guidelines. Corrections and retractions are considered where an article has already been published; corrections, expressions of concern or a retraction notices will be published as soon as possible in line with the BMJ correction and retraction policy.


Copyright and authors’ rights

As an open access journal, BMJ Paediatrics Open adheres to the Budapest Open Access Initiative definition of open access. 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. Such 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 BMJ Paediatrics Open Author Licence. More information on copyright and authors’ rights.

When publishing in BMJ Paediatrics Open, authors choose between two licence types – 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

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.


Article processing charges

BMJ Paediatrics Open is an open access journal and levies an Article Processing Charge (APC) of 1,500 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors). Charges for publishing a study protocol are 1,000 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors). Charges for publishing an editorial or original research letter are 675 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors).There are no submission, colour or page charges.

There is a 25% discount for articles where the corresponding author is a Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health member or where the corresponding author has reviewed for BMJ PO within the previous 12 months. These discounts cannot be combined.

As one of the founding members of the HINARI Access to Research in Health Programme, we provide free access to all of our journals, and journals archive to local, not-for-profit institutions in low income countries. In addition, we appreciate that some authors do not have access to funding to cover publication costs and we offer waivers through our Open Access Waiver Fund. We will accept part payment where only limited funds are available, and we offer waivers to authors in exceptional circumstances, on request.

Find out if you are eligible for institutional funding

A number of institutions have open access agreements with BMJ which can either cover the whole cost of open access publishing for authors at participating institutions or can allow authors to receive a discount of the Article Processing Charge (APC).

Visit BMJ’s open access agreements page to find out whether your institution is a member and what discounts you may be entitled to.

BMJ also grants waivers and discounts* in specific circumstances, for more information on publishing open access with BMJ visit our Author Hub.

*Please note that applications for waivers or discounts should be made during initial submission and not after an article has been accepted. Editors are not involved in this process and the ability to pay has no bearing on editorial decisions. Payment will not be required unless your article is accepted. Accepted articles will not be published until payment has been received. BMJ does not refund APCs once paid.

Provenance and peer review process

BMJ Paediatrics Open submissions are predominantly unsolicited; the journal commissions Editorials occasionally. Articles submitted to BMJ Paediatrics Open are subject to external open peer review. When a paper has been submitted from the Editor, Deputy or Associate Editors’ departments, they have no role in the reviewing or decision making process. This also applies to any Associate Editors who are authors, in which instance the reviewing process is handled by the Editor-in-Chief.

Upon publication, all previous versions of the manuscript are made available, as are the reviewers’ comments and authors’ replies to those comments. Exceptions are made only when an article is accepted based on reviews received at another BMJ journal and the reviewers have not granted permission for their reviews to be posted online.

BMJ Paediatrics Open also has a panel of expert statistical reviewers. They are assigned by the editor to papers with more than a basic level of statistical analysis. Other statistics reviewers may be invited on an ad hoc basis.

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.

Reviewers are now able to share their activity by connecting their review to their ORCID account. As BMJ Paediatrics Open is an open peer-reviewed Journal, information about the Journal, review, and article will be uploaded (title, DOI, URL, etc) into the reviewer’s ORCID record. Records are uploaded once a final decision or revision has been made on the article. Please find more information about ORCID and BMJ’s policy on our Author Hub.

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 Paediatrics Open is committed to open peer review. As part of this commitment we make the peer review history of every article we publish publicly available. When an article is published we post the peer reviewers’ comments and the authors’ responses online. We also post the versions of the paper that were used during peer review. These are the versions that the peer review comments apply to. The versions of the paper that follow are the versions that were submitted during the peer review process. They are not the versions of record or the final published versions.In rare instances we determine after careful consideration that we should not make certain portions of the prepublication record publicly available.

Plagiarism is the appropriation of the language, ideas or thoughts of another without crediting their true source and representation of them as one’s own original work. 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. BMJ runs manuscripts through iThenticate during the peer review process. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting www.ithenticate.com.

Reader responses, questions and comments to published content is welcomed by BMJ Paediatrics Open; these should be submitted electronically via the journals website. Post-publication peer review is encouraged via rapid responses. Please find further details on how to publish a response and the terms and requirements.


Reporting patient and public involvement in research

BMJ encourages active patient and public involvement in clinical research as part of its patient and public partnership strategy. To support co-production of research we request that authors provide a Patient and Public Involvement statement in the methods section of their papers, under the subheading ‘Patient and public involvement’.

We appreciate that patient and public involvement is relatively new and may not be feasible or appropriate for all papers. We therefore continue to consider papers where patients were not involved.  Please note that this practice is only applicable for  Original Research Articles, Study Protocols, and Original Research Letters.

The Patient and Public Involvement statement should provide a brief response to the following questions, tailored as appropriate for the study design reported (please find example statements here):

  • At what stage in the research process were patients/the public first involved in the research and how?
  • How were the research question(s) and outcome measures developed and informed by their priorities, experience, and preferences?
  • How were patients/the public involved in the design of this study?
  • How were they involved in the recruitment to and conduct of the study?
  • Were they asked to assess the burden of the intervention and time required to participate in the research?
  • How were (or will) they be involved in your plans to disseminate the study results to participants and relevant wider patient communities (e.g. by choosing what information/results to share, when, and in what format)?

If patients were not involved please state this.

In addition to considering the points above we advise authors to look at guidance for best reporting of patient and public involvement as set out in the GRIPP2 reporting checklist.

If the Patient and Public Involvement statement  is missing in the submitted manuscript we will request that authors provide it.

Article transfer service

BMJ is committed to ensuring that all good quality research is published. Our article transfer service helps authors find the best journal for their research while providing an easy and smooth publication process. As part of this service, once authors agree to transfer their manuscript all versions, supplementary files and peer reviewer comments are automatically transferred; without the need to resubmit or reformat.

Authors who submit to Archives of Disease in Childhood and are rejected will be offered the option of transferring to BMJ Paediatrics Open.

Please note that the article transfer service does not guarantee acceptance but you should receive a quicker initial decision on your manuscript.

Contact the Product Owner of BMJ’s Article Transfer Service for more information or assistance.

Data sharing

BMJ Paediatrics Open 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.

ORCID

BMJ has long supported the use of ORCID by integrating ORCID into our submission systems. BMJ Paediatrics Open mandates ORCID iDs for all submitting authors; this is published on the final article to promote discoverability and credit. Co-authors and reviewers are strongly encouraged to also connect their ScholarOne accounts to ORCID.

We are also working with ORCID to recognise the importance of the reviewer community. Reviewers are able to share their activity by connecting their review to their ORCID account to gain recognition for their contributions.

As BMJ Paediatrics Open is an open peer-reviewed Journal, information about the Journal, review, and article will be uploaded (title, DOI, URL, etc) into the reviewer’s ORCID record. Records are uploaded once a final decision or revision has been made on the article. Please find more information about ORCID and BMJ’s policy on our Author Hub.


Rapid responses

A rapid response is a moderated but not peer reviewed online response to a published article in BMJ Paediatrics Open; it will not receive a DOI and will not be indexed. Find out more about responses and how to submit a response.

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 paperWe encourage authors to ensure that research articles are written in accordance with the relevant research reporting guideline.

Original research

Word count: up to 2,500 words
Structured abstract: up to 300 words
Tables/Illustrations: maximum 8 tables and/or figures
References: up to 40 (Systematic reviews that include >25 papers will be allowed more references. We suggest number of included papers + 15)

Word counts may exceed this at the discretion of the editor, but please be aware that exceeding the recommended limit will impact upon the paper’s ‘readability’.

All submissions must contain a box summarising what the article adds to the literature so that readers can gather an overview of the article before reading it. This should be divided into two sections, each with 1-3 sentences and should have the headings:

  • What is known about the subject – followed by a maximum of 3 brief statements (no more than 25 words per statement)
  • What this study adds – followed by a maximum of 3 brief statements (no more than 25 words per statement). Avoid saying ‘This is the first study…’

Research submissions should have a clear, justified research question.

All articles should include the following:
  • The article title should include the research question and the study design. Titles should not declare the results of the study.
  • The abstract of an experimental or observational study must clearly state in sequence, and in not more than 250 words, (i) the main purpose of the study, (ii) the essential elements of the design of the study, (iii) the most important results illustrated by numerical data but not p values, and (iv) the implications and relevance of the results.

We require a structured abstract of up to 300 words. This can either be BackgroundMethodsResultsConclusions or:

  • Objective: clear statement of main study aim and major hypothesis/research question
  • Design: e.g. prospective, randomised, blinded, case control
  • Setting: level of care e.g. primary, secondary; number of participating centres. Generalise; don’t use the name of a specific centre, but give geographical location if important
  • Patients: numbers entering and completing the study; sex and ethnic group if appropriate. Clear definitions of selection, entry and exclusion criteria
  • Interventions: what, how, when and how long (this can be deleted if there were no interventions)
  • Main outcome measures: planned (i.e. in the protocol) and those finally measured (if different, explain why) – for quantitative studies only
  • Results: give numerical data rather than vague statements that drug x produced a better response than drug y. Favour confidence intervals over p values, and give the numerical data on which any p value is based.
  • Conclusions: primary conclusions and their implications, suggest areas for further research if appropriate. Do not go beyond the data in the article
  • Where applicable, trial registration: registry and number (for clinical trials and, if available, for observational studies and systematic reviews)

The following headings should be used for original research:

  • Introduction: introduction to the clinical problem and the research question being studied.
  • Methods: should be as in the original protocol for the study, which should be submitted as a supplementary file. Where there have been deviations from the protocol, this needs to be justified.
    Methods should also include a patient participation statement. If the study involved a questionnaire, please either add this as a supplementary file or reference it, if previously published.
  • Results: should include all the relevant findings. Summarise any data presented in tables. Do not repeat all the information in the tables.
  • Discussion: we recommend, but do not insist, that the discussion section is no longer than five paragraphs and follows this overall structure (you do not need to use these as subheadings): a statement of the principal findings; strengths and weaknesses of the study; strengths and weaknesses in relation to other studies, discussing important differences in results; the meaning of the study: possible explanations and implications for clinicians and policymakers; and unanswered questions and future research. Avoid stating ‘This is the first study…’
  • A funding statement: preferably worded as follows. Either: ‘This work was supported by [name of funder] grant number [xxx]’ or ‘This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors’. You must ensure that the full, correct details of your funder(s) and any relevant grant numbers are included.
  • A competing interests statement: see this advice from the BMJ on what to include.
  • Articles should list each author’s contribution individually at the end; this section may also include contributors who do not qualify as authors. Please visit the ICMJE website for more information on authorship.
  • Any checklist and flow diagram for the appropriate reporting statement, e.g. STROBE (see below).
  • Patient consent form: any article that contains personal medical information about an identifiable living individual requires the patient’s explicit consent before we can publish it. We will need the patient to sign our consent form, which requires the patient to have read the article. This form is available in multiple languages.
  • Please provide a data sharing statement such as: “Technical appendix, statistical code, and dataset available from the Dryad repository, DOI: [include DOI for dataset here].

Following the lead of The BMJ and its patient partnership strategy, BMJ Paediatrics Open is encouraging active patient involvement in setting the research agenda. As such, we require authors of Original Research Articles to add a Patient and Public Involvement statement in the Methods section. Please see more details above.

Authors are encouraged to submit figures and images in colour – there are no colour charges.

BMJ Paediatrics Open does not routinely publish single centre audits but will consider them for publication when the study has genuine implications on wider practice.

Reporting Guidelines

The guidelines listed below should be followed where appropriate. Please use these guidelines to structure your article. Completed applicable checklists, structured abstracts and flow diagrams should be uploaded with your submission; these will be published alongside the final version of your paper.

(for reporting of randomised controlled trials: please use the appropriate extension to the CONSORT statement, including the extension for writing abstracts)

for reporting qualitative research

for reporting of diagnostic accuracy studies

for reporting of systematic reviews

for reporting of systematic review and meta-analysis protocols

for reporting of meta-analyses of observational studies

for reporting protocols for RCTs

for reporting Web-based surveys

for reporting of health economic evaluations

The Equator Network (Enhancing the Quality and Transparency Of health Research) provides a comprehensive list of reporting guidelines.

Supplementary and raw data can be placed online separately from the text, and we may request that you separate out some material into supplementary data files to make the main manuscript clearer for readers.

Protocol

Word count: up to 2,500 words
Abstract: up to 300 words
Tables/Illustrations: maximum 8 tables and/or figures
References: up to 40

All submissions must contain a box summarising what the article adds to the literature so that readers can gather an overview of the article before reading it. This should be divided into two sections, each with 1-3 sentences and should have the headings:

  • What is known about the subject – followed by a maximum of 3 brief statements (no more than 25 words per statement)
  • What this study hopes to add – followed by a maximum of 3 brief statements (no more than 25 words per statement)

Publishing study protocols enables researchers and funding bodies to stay up to date in their fields by providing exposure to research activity that may not otherwise be widely publicised. This can help prevent unnecessary duplication of work and will hopefully enable collaboration. Publishing protocols increases transparency, which makes it easier for others (editors, reviewers and readers) to see and understand any deviations from the protocol that occur during the conduct of the study.

Protocols should report planned or ongoing studies. If data collection is complete, we will not consider the manuscript. For systematic reviews, the search must not have been performed. The journal will consider protocols for any study design, including observational studies and systematic reviews.

The SPIRIT (Standard Protocol Items for Randomized Trials) statement (see here for details) is an evidence-based tool developed through systematic review of a wide range of resources and consensus. It closely mirrors the CONSORT statement and also reflects important ethics considerations. We encourage investigators to adhere to the SPIRIT recommendations when drafting their protocols.

The PRISMA-P (preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis protocols) is a new reporting guideline. An article stating the guideline checklist has now been published (see here for details). The PRISMA-P checklist contains 17 items considered to be essential and minimum components of a systematic review or meta-analysis protocol. Systematic review authors and assessors are strongly encouraged to make use of PRISMA-P when drafting and appraising review protocols.

Various other resources exist that list the ingredients of an authoritative trial protocol, e.g. the UK Dept of Health/Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Toolkit and the US National Institutes for Health provide advice on how to structure a trial protocol. BMJ Paediatrics Open will consider for publication protocols for any study design, including observational studies and systematic reviews.

We strongly encourage you to register your study. Prospective registration is mandatory for any clinical trials. Acceptable registries for trials are listed here. We recommend Prospero for registration of systematic reviews.

The journal will consider publishing without peer review protocols that have formal ethical approval and funding from a recognised, open access advocating research-funding body (such as those listed by the JULIET project). Please provide proof that these criteria are met when uploading your protocol. Any protocols that do not meet both these criteria will be sent for external peer review.

General BMJ policies apply (see above) on manuscript formatting, editorial policies, licence forms and patient consent (where applicable to study designs). Protocols should include, as a minimum, the following items.

Protocols should have the following structure:

  • Title: this should include the specific study type, e.g. randomised controlled trial and make clear that the article reports a protocol.
  • Abstract: this should be structured with the following sections: Introduction; Methods and analysis; Ethics and Dissemination. Registration details should be included as a final section, if appropriate.
  • Introduction: explain the rationale for the study and what evidence gap it may fill. Appropriate previous literature should be referenced.
  • Methods and analysis: provide a full description of the study design, including the following: how the sample will be selected; interventions to be measured; the sample size calculation (drawing on previous literature) with an estimate of how many participants are needed for the primary outcome to be statistically, clinically and/or politically significant; what outcomes will be measured, when and how; a data analysis plan.
  • Ethics and dissemination: ethical and safety considerations and any dissemination plan (publications, data deposition and curation) should be covered here.
  • Full references
  • Authors’ contributions: state how each author was involved in writing the protocol.
  • Funding statement: preferably worded in one of two ways: ‘This work was supported by [name of funder] grant number [xxx]’ or ‘This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors’.
  • Competing interests statement

Following the lead of The BMJ and its patient partnership strategy, BMJ Paediatrics Open is encouraging active patient involvement in setting the research agenda. As such, we require authors of Protocols to add a Patient and Public Involvement statement in the Methods section. Please see more details above.

Review

All submissions must contain a box summarising the key messages so that readers can gather an overview of the article before reading it.

Key messages – followed by a maximum of 5 brief statements (no more than 25 words per statement)

Reviews should provide a balanced account of all aspects of a subject related to paediatrics or child health. The pros and cons of any contentious or uncertain aspect should be described.

Systematic Reviews should be submitted as Original Articles. See Original Articles author guidance. PRISMA guidelines should be followed and a checklist submitted.

Additional information may be placed on the website as a data supplement.

Word count: up to 3,000 words
Abstract: up to 300 words
Tables/Illustrations: maximum 8 tables and/or figures
References: up to 40

Editorial

Editorials commissioned by the editorial team fall into two general categories: comment on particular research papers and comment on wider child health.

We welcome the submission of Editorials commenting on child health issues in any part of the world. All Editorials undergo external transparent peer review. Editorials need to be evidence-based and balanced. See published Editorials as examples

Word count: up to 1,200 words
No abstract
No Tables/Illustrations
References: up to 5

Original research letter

Original research letters are appropriate for studies with a single research question. The research letter should contain one paragraph for each of the following (without subheadings: Introduction; Methods; Results; Discussion). Additional paragraphs are allowed, as long as the word count is not exceeded. Please note that the editorial process for research letters is the same as for original articles; i.e. open peer review.

Following the lead of The BMJ and its patient partnership strategy, BMJ Paediactrics Open is encouraging active patient involvement in setting the research agenda. As such, we require authors of Original Research Letters to add a Patient and Public Involvement statement to their letter. Please see more details above.

Word count: up to 600 words
Tables/Figures: maximum 2 tables and/or figures
References: up to 6
Abstract: 100 words unstructured abstract

Young voices

The Young voices section articles are commissioned and are for either individual young people or their organisations to voice their experiences of accessing healthcare and concerns relating to health and wellbeing. They are short pieces (650 words) and include My suggestions consisting of 3 bullet points with advice for health professionals.

Please contact the Editor-in-Chief Imti Choonara to discuss ideas.

Word count: up to 650 words
Tables/Figures: n/a
References: n/a
Abstract: n/a

Supplement

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.

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