Write for the Student BMJ
Our articles are written by medical students, junior doctors, experts and journalists. We are always looking for authors to contribute new ideas and cover topics on our editor’s list.
If you’re new to writing or not sure what you want to write about, start by writing a letter in response to one of our articles and sending it to us: student.bmj.com. The best responses will be published in our termly print edition.
Send us a pitch first
- For News & Views, Careers, Junior doctor survival kit or Applying to Medical School articles us please fill in this pitch form.
- For education articles (such as Practical Skills, Clinical Reviews, Picture Quizzes) please fill out our education proposal form. Any authors writing for this section should complete our declaration of interests form at the time of submitting their proposal
We aim to make a decision within one month of receiving a pitch submission. Completed articles will not be prioritised unless they have been 'pitched' to the editorial team first.
Writing and submitting the article
If the editorial team like your idea, you will be given further instructions and asked to produce a first draft and complete a declaration of interests form.
Making a final decision on your article
You will receive a decision within one month whether we wish to pursue publication. Please note that some articles will require peer review and this process can take several weeks. There is no guarantee of publication and the editor reserves the right to reject articles if they do not match the criteria for publication, even if this view does not accord with the views of advisers or reviewers. Articles that are accepted are likely to require revision.
After acceptance and final submission
The article will be edited and prepared for online publication. It is down to the editor’s discretion when publication is scheduled. If an article is particularly timely it may be prioritised. Most articles are scheduled for publication within two months of acceptance.
For general editorial enquiries, or to register your interest in being commissioned to write for us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips on getting an article accepted
- Pick items on the editor’s list and consult the editorial team first
- We publish Student BMJ termly (January, April and September). Choose topics that are timely or fit in well with our next termly print issue. (e.g. If our next issue is September, content for freshers will would be suitable)
- Check that we haven’t published something similar in the last two years
- Have a clear idea which section and subsection that you would like to write for
- Make it clear who your article is aimed at, why the subject is of relevance to them and that it offers a clear and practical message. What can medical students learn from your article? (the pitch form will help you with this)
- Make sure there is balance (showing both sides of an argument, the pros and cons) in articles such as Life, Briefings and Careers articles
- Include short interviews with students and doctors that cover their experience for Life, Briefings, Careers and Applying to Medical School articles
- Ask your peers or an expert to review your idea before submission
- Make sure patient consent has been obtained (where required)
We do not accept*
- Articles on rare diseases
- Dissertations or essays
- Elective reports
- Original research
- Reviews of products
- Reviews of new drugs or therapies
*Pitches submitted on these topics will not receive a reply
News & views
Life (between 750-1250 words)
These articles look at topical or controversial issues in medicine and aim to capture challenges and trends in both studying and practising medicine. Previous articles include: The reality of being transgender in medicine, The quiet doctor, and What will your student loan cost you over your lifetime? Authors should interview and quote key people involved, such as first hand witnesses or experts from organisations linked to the topic. More technical topics might need expert co-authorship. Facts need referencing. For further advice on writing a Life article, read How to write a good feature.
Briefings (up to 1250 words)
This article aims to interpret major health and medical topics in the news that medical students should know about. The aim is to bring readers up to speed with anything from changes in the NHS, to changes in the law, professional identity, ethical dilemmas, or a shift in practice. Authors should cover the what, when, why and how of subjects, as well as include a summary box on ‘what we know and don’t know yet.
Views (up to 650 words)
Use this article as an opportunity to get on your soapbox to have a rant or share your experience of something that has incensed or motivated you as a medical student. The best personal view pieces make a single strong, novel, and well argued point. They are also often topical, insightful, and attention grabbing. Make sure that what you write is fair and based on verifiable facts. Reflective pieces are not accepted. Previous examples include: Medical schools should stop cherry picking league table data, We should value competency over empathy, and I’m a doctor and I have a mental illness.
People (up to 750 words)
A Q&A format of 6-8 questions that aims to understand the motivations, challenges and views of medics who practise in interesting and unusual areas of medicine or have had an unusual career. For this article we look for entertaining interview subjects who will give candid and insightful responses. Please send a minimum of eight questions to us before starting your interview. A short biography and a headshot photo (at least 1MB) of the interviewee must be included upon submission. See previous examples here.
All articles in this section require a consultant co-author and prospective authors should fill out our Education proposal form so our team can consider your idea further.
All recommendations provided to readers about management and treatment should reference up to date guidelines and evidence.
Practical skills (between 1200 - 1800 words)
These articles range from anything from how to prepare for a ward round, how to insert a chest drain, how to interpret a chest radiograph and to how to scrub up for theatre. The articles help prepare students for life on the wards and provide practical instructions. Step by step articles, with images, work particularly well. Skills should be something that a student should be expected to perform competently by the time they qualify, or demonstrate knowledge of in exams and/or clinical settings.
Clinical review (up to 1800 words)
This article should cover topics that you cannot find in a textbook or are poorly covered at medical school. It should provide a clear, evidence based account of the topic which focuses on the key questions and problems students encounter at their level of training. Common questions covered are: in who/how does the condition commonly present?, What to ask in the history? (inc red flags), What to look for on examination?, What further tests and investigations are required? and What to tell the patient? Previous examples include: Disclosure of sexual violence, Sleep disorders, and A guide to neonatal jaundice.
Picture quizzes (750 words)
Picture quizzes are based on a clinical image that would be educational for students and junior doctors. We only cover common conditions or cases that relate to our specialties list (please refer to our list in the main navigation of the website). You should include four questions with long and short answers. The questions should be similar to the types of questions you will expect to be asked on the wards or in your OSCE and exams. Common questions can include 'What does the picture show and what is the differential diagnosis?, What tests would you order?, What is the management of this condition?'. An expert co-author is mandatory, and you need to obtain the patient's informed consent to publication. Please contact us to request the consent form (email@example.com). You must supply high resolution images. Please see our guidance on the use of images.
Junior doctor survival kit (1500 words)
This section is for final year medical students to make the transition to junior doctor as smooth as possible. Our ‘You’ve been bleeped’ series aims to cover common on call bleeps you will be expected to manage. You can view our author template here. Other articles in this section include how to perform jobs or make decisions that junior doctors are expected to carry out.
Career planning (up to 1500 words)
These articles aim to give readers ideas and practical tips on how to boost their CV. Ranging from articles on: What to include in a medical CV and Prepare and deliver an effective presentation, What’s the right time to intercalate? and Writing a medical case report. We also publish articles offering advice about how to survive medical school; whether it is how to strike a good work-life balance or how to cope with challenging situations you face on the wards. Some topics will require an expert co-author.
Electives (up to 1500 words)
A section dedicated to planning your elective, from how to fund it, how to get the most out of it, and how to have a safe and ethical elective. We do not publish elective reports but if there is an important learning point from organising your elective, we are interested in hearing about it. See previously published articles here.
Foundation programme (up to 1500 words)
What you need to know as a final year medical student applying for and starting the UK Foundation Programme. Past topics have included: how to rank your training deaneries to passing the situational judgement test. See previously published articles here
Applying to medicine
We also offer opportunities to write for Student BMJ about applying to medical school. We want to give the insider’s guide on what it really takes to get a place. Please check our website and the articles we have already published before submitting an idea. Articles tend to be between 750-1500 words. The areas we cover are:
Advice on what things you need to think about when weighing up whether medicine is the right path for you.
Advice on where and how to get it, what you should get from the experience and how to reflect on it.
Tips on what to include and things to avoid.
Did you do particularly well in the UKCAT, BMAT or GAMSAT? Share your tips with our readers.
How to approach panel and MMI interviews, common types of questions applicants are asked and how to answer them.
Gaining a place at medical school can be extremely competitive. Share your advice on what you did if you didn’t get in first time around. How did you make the most of your year out?
Other important information
If patients are identifiable to themselves or others, in images or text, you need to give us their full consent to publication. Having consent to interview or examine a patient or to read his or her clinical notes is not enough: we need to see every patient's written consent to have information about them published in the Student BMJ.
To obtain consent please ask all patients to sign the form at http://resources.bmj.com/bmj/authors/checklists-forms/patient-consent-form
We follow the BMJ's requirements. See http://journals.bmj.com/site/authors/editorial-policies.xhtml and http://resources.bmj.com/bmj/authors/editorial-policies/copy_of_patient-confidentiality
You may remove some or all of a patient's identifyings details from a Student BMJ article to make them feel less exposed, but we will still need to see their written consent to publication. Do not change the personal details of patients to try to disguise them: this is bad scientific practice because it could mislead readers.
We also need patients' written consent to publication of all pictures of patients, including radiographs, scans, and clinical photos of any part of the body or anything else relating to a specific patient's clinical story.
The United Kingdom has strict libel laws. You can be sued for libel "if you lower someone's standing in the eyes of his or her peers".
To defend itself against an accusation of libel, a publication has to prove that the statement it published was true, that it was published without malice, and, where possible, was in the public interest.
If an allegation turns out to be false (based on incorrect facts), we will find it hard to defend, so fact checking is imperative. But we may have a small chance of defending ourselves if the allegation has been shared fully with the "accused" and he or she has had a chance to respond, and if that response has been forwarded unedited to us.
Here are a few musts for authors of articles which criticise people or organisations:
- Ensure that you check all your facts.
- Ensure that all articles are balanced.
- If you are publishing an allegation against someone, you must give the accused a chance to reply. When you approach the accused, you must reveal in detail what your allegations are, so that he or she can have a chance to answer them in full. If, for example, you are going to claim that a hospital employed a doctor who was not properly qualified, and it did not investigate complaints against that doctor, you must put all the allegations in full to the hospital management, so that it has the chance to answer each and every one of the allegations. It is no defence to say that an allegation has already been published elsewhere. If an allegation about a doctor or a drug company has appeared in a newspaper in Spain, for example, we cannot rely on that fact to defend ourselves. Firstly, that local newspaper might have got the facts wrong; secondly, the libel laws might be different in that country. So although the doctor or company might not have sued in that location, he or she could come after the BMJ in the UK.