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Journal Processes

Tips for authors – what does BJSM accept?

17 Apr, 11 | by Karim Khan

BJSM has a mission to provide clinically-relevant material for clinicians in the broad field of sport and exercise medicine. BJSM aims to serve member societies such as BASEM (UK), AMSSM (US), ACSP (Australia and New Zealand), SASMA (South Africa) SSPTA (Switzerland) and ECOSEP (Europe). Will your paper be of interest to those readers? Because we receive 1000 papers annually, and can only publish about 8-10 original submissions in each of our 16 issues annually, our acceptance of original submissions is limited to around 150 per year – say 10-15%.

Thus, to help authors, we only send 40% of submissions out for external peer review. The editor and deputy editors (Khan, Pluim, Cook) screen papers for (i) relevance to our field and (ii) study design. Papers that are unlikely to be of interest to the target audience and those with a design that is open to biased conclusions are redirected to authors rapidly so they can be submitted elsewhere. Thus, recent acceptances show fewer cross-sectional studies. Case series and case reports are not part of BJSM anymore but the BMJ has its own Case Reports journal ‘BMJ Case Reports’ which is proving wildly popular.

We appreciate that many ‘publishable’ papers cannot fit inside our small envelope but fortunately there are many good journals in our field. We are always delighted to see papers that didn’t make it through our filter show up in associated sports medicine and physiotherapy journals. And one paper we rejected was resubmitted to BMJ and got published there! Great news! Peer review has limitations and has more than an element of subjectivity.

Clinical relevance, superior quality study designs where appropriate. Studies that clinicians can build on or that influence policy. BJSM is aiming for impact – in the true sense of that word!

Thanks for considering BJSM and keep those high-quality submissions coming!

Editor’s Note

13 Oct, 08 | by Karim Khan

As mentioned in the Warm Up in the November issue, BJSM receives nearly 1000 submissions a year. Given that we only have budget to print about 15 papers a month, it means that only about 10% of ‘original submissions’ can be accepted. It doesn’t seem fair to authors or reviewers to send all these papers to peer review – most authors prefer a fast rejection over a slow one. Thus, our policy is to reject 40% of papers at the editorial board level. This means that about 600 papers go for review per year and of those about 1/3 will be published.

This means a paper might report fine research but be passed over for BJSM. Priority areas for BJSM are papers that are of interest to clinicians including family doctors, sports physicians, physiotherapists and public health and policy staff. We love papers that will change what clinicians and sports scientists do. Randomized trials, systematic reviews and large, longitudinal cohort studies are, of course, very much in demand. Basic science needs to have a clear, short-run, clinical implication to be accepted.

As active researchers and clinicians, the editorial team appreciates the hard work that goes into every research study. However, we also have a responsibility to shape BJSM for its readership – and we do not apologise for that.

Is it time for BJSM to go to open review?

24 Feb, 08 | by Karim Khan

Right now BJSM has double blind review — we ask authors to anonymize their papers, reviewers’ names are shrouded in secrecy. BJSM is the only BMJ publication that has this policy.

Is it time to adopt BMJ approach and have open review? Do you believe the evidence that ‘big name’ authors have papers accepted more readily? Do you believe that there are personal and corporate pressures that influence reviewers? Fiona Godlee, editor of BMJ commented on this in 2002.

Let us know on the blog as we reconsider this policy at BJSM.

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