How to get papers accepted by BJSM & other editors’ secrets…

In the November WarmUp (editorial, for those not familiar with BJSM jargon!) I promised to explain why BJSM has to reject many good papers. The simple answer is that 1000 doesn’t got into 180. Without giving away crucial trade secrets to our friendly competitors, I can share with you that BJSM receives close to 1000 submissions per year. And as those of you inclined toward accounting and other obsessive-compulsive pursuits will have noticed, we have 80 pages per issue. And some of those pages are already accounted for. So you can see we can publish only about 15 average length articles.

To help authors get rapid decisions, 40-60% of submissions are evaluated by a couple of editors and returned rather rapidly to authors. The research area might not be in BJSM’s scope — it does not mean that the research isn’t good. But given that only 15-20% of submissions can be accepted, BJSM needs to focus on the 500 or so papers that will provide the final 180. Clearly peer-review is not an exact science. There is no algorithm for ‘rapid rejection’. I don’t claim it is ‘objective’ in the way that the Olympic 100m final result is adjudicated. But as authors, all the editorial team appreciates the hard work that goes into papers; we have all had many papers rejected and we all have had differences of opinions with editors. An imperfect system but a better one has not yet caught on.

Focusing on the positive, how can you maximise your chances of review and publication?
A few quick tips on how to get papers accepted by BJSM:

  1. Choose an interesting area of research.
  2. Highlight the innovation in your research in a 3-paragraph introduction if you can. Most great papers need only 3 paragraphs to explain why the project was done.
  3. A catchy (but honest) title is better than a boring title.
  4. Emphasise the clinical relevance in your discussion – why will this research make a difference to clinical practice, policy, or to coaches?

We like randomised controlled trials, systematic reviews, meta-analyses. But that’s not all. See recent issues for interesting cohort studies. Cross-sectional studies and retrospective surveys, broadly speaking, obtain a lower priority than their counterparts that provide higher on the levels of evidence. Not rocket science.

As a BJSM and blog reader I thank you for considering BJSM and for giving us a chance. We know from the e-data that are now readily available that BJSM is widely downloaded and clicked-upon. We encourage you to give us a try as both an author and a reader. And as I have said consistently, feedback and debate is welcomed. BJSM aims to be the leading resource for new knowledge and debate in the broadly defined field of clinical sports medicine. Our target audience is physicians and physiotherapists who work in musculoskeletal medicine and exercise, as well as physiologists, scientists and public health authorities who believe that physical activity is the most powerful single health modality that a person can readily adopt.

Enjoy this issue.

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