IJM House Style

 

The Essentials

 

Please write in a clear, direct, and active style.

 

The IJM is an international journal, and many readers do not have English as their first language.

 

Our preferred dictionaries are

 

  • Chambers 21st Century Dictionary for general usage
  • Dorlands for medical terms.

 

Punctuation

 

No full stops in initials or abbreviations.

 

Minimal commas, but use commas before the "and" and "or" in lists:

The bishops of Durham, Canterbury, Bath and Wells, and York were invited.

Use commas on both sides of parenthetical clauses or phrases, and with commenting clauses.

 

Know the difference between defining clauses (no comma) and commenting clauses (commas needed):

Medical staff who often work overtime are likely to suffer from stress.

Medical staff, who often work overtime, are likely to suffer from stress.

Use commas before "and," "or," "but" in two-sentence sentences (when the coordinate conjunction joins two main clauses):

Half received drug treatment, but their symptoms did not resolve more quickly.

We would make an omelette, or you could go and get a takeaway.

Note that when a comma is used, both main clauses must have a subject:

The patients stopped smoking, and they felt better for it.

The patients stopped smoking and felt better for it.

Minimal hyphenation - use hyphens only for words with non-, -like, -type, and for adjectival phrases that include a preposition (one-off event, run-in trial). Not using hyphens will help you to avoid noun clusters (see below).

 

Quotation marks - please use double, not single, inverted commas for reported speech. Full stops and commas go inside quotation marks:

She said, "We will."

No exclamation marks, except in quotes from other sources.

 

Reference numbers go after commas and full stops, before semicolons and colons.

 

Minimal capitalisation. Use capitals only for names and proper nouns. Don't capitalise names of studies.

 

Grammar

 

Write in the active and use the first person where necessary.

 

Try to avoid long sentences that have several embedded clauses.

 

Sex: avoid "he" as a general pronoun. Make the nouns (and pronouns) plural, then use "they"; if that's not possible, use "he or she".

 

Nouns and verbs should agree:

The data are; None is...

Organisations and groups of people take singular verbs:

The government is; The team has researched...

Avoid noun clusters:

"Patient in coronary care unit" rather than "coronary care unit patient."

Watch out for "danglers" (unattached participles and misrelated clauses):

Joining the service in 1933, his first post was... (the post didn't join the service)

Joining the service in 1933, he was first posted to... (this is correct)

Spelling

 

English, not American:

 

  • aetiology
  • oestradiol
  • anaemia
  • haemorrhage
  • practice (noun)
  • practise (verb)
  • Foetus and fetus are both acceptable in English: the IJM uses fetus.

 

Use s-spellings:

 

  • minimise
  • organisation
  • capitalisation

 

Use English spellings for place names:Lyons, not Lyon; see Whitaker's Almanac or Times Gazeteer.  We allow minimum use of abbreviations because they're hard to read and often the same abbreviation means different things in different specialities and contexts.

 

Technical terms

 

Drugs should be referred to by their approved non-proprietary names, and the source of any new or experimental preparations should be given.

 

Scientific measurements should be given in SI units, except for blood pressure which should be expressed in mm Hg.

 

Numbers under 10 are spelt out, except for measurements with a unit (8mmol/l) or age (6 weeks old), or when in a list with other numbers (14 dogs, 12 cats, 9 gerbils).

 

Raw numbers should be given alongside percentages, and as supporting data for p values.

Proof corrections

 

These should be kept to a minimum and should be clear and consistent. If you need to justify corrections to the proofs, please do so in a covering letter, not on the proof.

 

References

 

These should be numbered in the order in which they appear in the text. At the end of the article the full list of references should follow the Vancouver style.

 

Ref: Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Med Educ. 1999; 33(1):66-78

 

Please give the names and initials of all authors (unless there are more than six, when only the first six should be given followed by et al).

 

The authors' names are followed by the title of the article; the title of the journal abbreviated according to the style of Index Medicus; the year of publication; the volume number; and the first and last page numbers.

 

References to books should give the names of any editors, place of publication, editor, and year. Examples:

 

21 Soter A, Wasserman SI, Austen KF. Cold urticaria: release into the circulation of histamine and eosinophil chemotactic factor of anaphylaxis during cold challenge. N Engl J Med 1976;294:687-90

 

22 Osler AG. Complement: mechanisms and functions. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1976.

 

Information from manuscripts not yet in press, papers reported at meetings, or personal communications should be cited only in the text, not as a formal reference.

 

Authors should get permission from the source to cite personal communications.

 

Authors must verify references against the original documents before submitting the article.

 

Electronic citations

 

You may know of other websites that will interest people reading your article. If you know the web addresses (URLs) of those sites, please include them in the relevant places in the text of your article. If we accept your article we will insert hotlinks in the electronic version so that people using bmj.com can jump directly from your article to those related sites.

 

Illustrations and photographs

 

Please try to provide informative and relevant photographs, figures, or other illustrations when you're submitting articles to the IJM, especially in these sections: clinical review, short reports and work in progress, education and debate, and Public Health Review. We're also happy to consider good pictures for letters, editorials, and original research papers although we won’t always have room for images in these sections. If you cannot provide pictures with your article, perhaps you can suggest some for our picture editor to find.

 

You must seek the patient’s written consent to publication in the IJM if there is any chance that he or she may be identified from a picture, from its legend or other accompanying text. Patients are almost always willing to give such consent. We no longer publish pictures with black bands across the eyes because bands fail to mask someone’s identity effectively.

See Using pictures in the IJM

Our policy on obtaining consent for publication of pictures of patients is a subset of our general policy on any confidential material that arises from the doctor-patient relationship. See Patient confidentiality and consent to publication

 

This policy also reflects the UK General Medical Council’s rules on publishing confidential clinical material. However, the GMC does not insist on separate permission to publish what the GMC calls the “recordings” listed below, provided that, before use, the recordings are effectively anonymised by the removal of any identifying marks (writing in the margins of an x ray, for example):

 

  • Images taken from pathology slides
  • X rays
  • Laparoscopic images
  • Images of internal organs
  • Ultrasound images

 

When such an image is accompanied by text that could reveal the patient’s identity through clinical or personal detail, however, the IJM does need the patient’s signed consent to publication.

Please use our consent form at www.ijmjournal.org.uk  for any image that does need consent to publication or, indeed, for the text of any article that might lead to identification such as a case report, paper, personal view, filler, or letter. Please print out the form, add the paper’s title and IJM number, ask the patient or next of kin to sign the form and then send or fax it to us or scan it and upload it to www.ijmjournal.org.uk  as a supplemental file to your article.

 

We can use an image that has been published before only if it has no copyright or if the copyright holder has given us permission for its use on www.ijmjournal.org.uk , in the print IJM and in associated publications such as local editions of the IJM and IJM books. If you would like to use in a IJM article an illustration that has already been published elsewhere in a journal or book please ask the publishers to give permission. Most will agree as long as the IJM credits the original publisher, although some will charge you a reproduction fee.

If an image has no copyright, please tell us the precise details of where you obtained it and who gave you permission to use it in the IJM. Please note that many medical illustration departments expect to be acknowledged. If images come from your colleagues you will need to seek their written permission and check whether the photographs have been published previously in other books and journals.

 

If you are using line drawings or tables that have been taken from or adapted from published papers, then you are responsible for getting the publisher's permission to republish or adapt them. We would then publish such an image with a legend saying something like "Adapted with permission from...[ref]" or "Reproduced with permission of the American Academy of Sciences from xxx et al[ref]".

 

We’re happy to use works of art when appropriate but it can be difficult and expensive for us to publish: copyright clearance is often particularly slow, use may be restricted by limited licences, and some artists will not permit their work to appear on websites. Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work (including a photograph) lasts in the UK until 70 years after the death of the author. Given the complexities of copyright clearance for such artwork, please let us do it and give us plenty of warning if you would like to include such images in your article.

If you find the ideal picture on a website, we will still have to clear copyright. And, although the image may look right on your computer screen, it may not be good enough to print. Pixel strengths for screen use (72 dots per inch) and those required for good quality printing (300 dots per inch) are worlds apart. This means that we will have to find and request a high resolution version.

 

If you have found or produced pictures or other figures to illustrate your article please submit them to our online editorial office at www.ijmjournal.org.uk  (the web page cannot open without the password) along with your manuscript. The Benchpress system used by our online office will convert your manuscript to a PDF and will accept most common word processing formats, although it prefers Word and PDF. It cannot deal with files using OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) technology to display information or embed files. Nor can Benchpress cope with multi-page PowerPoint files (.ppt); it will only accept one slide per file.

 

Benchpress accepts image files in these formats: GIF, TIFF, EPS, JPEG. Image strengths should, ideally, be at least 300 dots per inch; those below 200 dots per inch may produce fuzzy images in print. Please supply image files at least 100% of the intended printed size. We are unable to enlarge images by more than 5% from the original size supplied without a corresponding loss of quality. Please provide for each image a few words of text to explain its content (the legend) and say where it came from (the credit).

 

Your images will be converted to PDFs and appended to your manuscript file. If your images are included within your manuscript file you do not need to upload them separately. And if your image files are in a format that our system cannot handle, please insert them into your manuscript (after the main text and reference list): this should solve the problem.

When submitting figures such as graphs, scattergrams, and histograms please provide the numerical data on which they are based. We may decide that data presented in a histogram would be clearer and more useful in a table. The IJM redraws all technical figures and line drawings, so please supply these in a clear enough format for our artist to follow.

We will not change any feature, person, or situation in an image with the intent to deceive by altering appearance or activity. Nor will we enhance or alter a clinical picture except to remove extraneous and distracting parts of the image. Journals have been cropping images in this way for decades, since long before the advent of digital photography. We do not enhance radiographs because they are not enhanced in real clinical practice. This means, however, that we will often have to decline to publish radiographs. They do not tend to reproduce well in print unless they are of very high resolution and quality.

We do sometimes alter non-clinical images, and our guidelines on this are listed below. And, very occasionally, we alter clinical images that we are using primarily as art rather than information, for example on the IJM’s cover. When we have altered an image in any of these ways, we state this in the legend or cover note. If the colours in an electron micrograph, scintillogram, thermal image, or other clinical image has been enhanced or changed, please explain this in the legend.

Why we sometimes alter images in the IJM

 

  • to enhance colour, sharpness and texture without altering the intention or meaning of the image
  • to enhance text within the image to make it readable
  • to remove irrelevant text from an image that confuses the view or meaning of the image
  • to remove irrelevant features that detract from the image such as an arm appearing at the side of the photo or a lamp post apparently coming out of someone’s head
  • to delete one or more people from the background if their presence is irrelevant
  • to superimpose a person or other image on a different background to make a collage, not to deceive
  • to alter the image of a person in such a way that the alteration is obvious, is not offensive, and  has a clear purpose (such as putting a modern character in historical costume)
  • to construct any collage from images that we have permission to use in that way

 

These guidelines relate mainly to pictures used in the non-clinical sections of the IJM such as the news or reviews sections.

 

Tables

 

Tables should be simple and should not duplicate information in the text of the paper. Illustrations should be used only when data cannot be expressed clearly in any other way. When graphs, scattergrams, or histograms are submitted the numerical data on which they are based should be supplied; in general, data given in histograms will be converted into tabular form.

 

For tables, Benchpress also accepts most common word processing formats. It cannot, however, handle tables produced using: OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) technology to display information or embed files, Bitmap (.bmp), PICT (.pict), Excel (.xls), Photoshop (.psd), Canvas (.cnv), CorelDRAW (.cdr) and locked or encrypted PDFs. Nor can Benchpress cope with multi-page PowerPoint files (.ppt); it will only accept one slide per file.

 

Other general points

 

We allow minimum use of abbreviations because they're hard to read and often the same abbreviation means different things in different specialities and contexts.

 

Drugs should be referred to by their approved non-proprietary names, and the source of any new or experimental preparations should be given.

 

Scientific measurements should be given in SI units, except for blood pressure which should be expressed in mm Hg.

 

Numbers under 10 are spelt out, except for measurements with a unit (8mmol/l) or age (6 weeks old), or when in a list with other numbers (14 dogs, 12 cats, 9 gerbils).

 

Raw numbers should be given alongside percentages, and as supporting data for p values.

 

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