We have a paper-short/web-long policy for articles in the research section of the journal. Articles are published in full online, and as one-page summaries in the print version. This page covers the following topics:
- Research articles: online version
- Research articles: print version
- Randomised controlled trials
- Systematic reviews
- Qualitative research
- Guidelines on reporting health research
- Open access publication
- Research Excellence Framework
- Submit an article to BJGP
The title should be a clear description of the topic of the research and the methods and setting used for the study. It should not exceed 12 words.
If you put your name to an article you must fulfil the standard requirements for authorship.
All research articles should have a structured abstract of no more than 250 words. This should be set out with the following headings: Background, Aim, Design and Setting, Method, Results, Conclusion, and Keywords. The abstract will form the basis for the short version of the paper appearing in the print edition of the BJGP so please make use of, but do not exceed, the full word count, so that it contains as much information about your study as possible. In particular please ensure that the most important results are fully reported and that the Conclusion is as specific as possible about the implications of your work for practice and research.
You can include up to six keywords, which should be MeSH headings. Ensure that primary health care, family practice, or general practice are included where appropriate.
How this fits in
Summarise, in no more than four short sentences, what was previously known or believed on the topic and what your research adds, particularly focusing on the relevance to clinicians.
Articles should follow the traditional format of Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion. We recommend that the main text does not exceed 2500 words, excluding tables and figures as described below. Articles may be returned without review if this guidance is ignored.
Generic names of drugs should be used wherever possible. We discourage the use of non-standard abbreviations for medical terms, except where it would otherwise make the text unwieldy.
Footnotes are not included in the main text and will be removed.
This should be a succinct and up to date review of the key publications informing the intellectual background to the study. It does not need to be a systematic review, but should avoid obviously selective citation of the literature. The introduction should lead to the framing of the research question being asked, and this should be clearly stated.
This section should include a description of setting, patients, intervention, the time that the study took place, instruments used to measure outcomes, statistical tests applied, and software used for analysis, stating the version number. It should also include any arrangements for data oversight.
This section should contain all the information required by reviewers and readers to assess the validity of the conclusions. For quantitative studies, the section should include details of the response rates and numbers lost to follow-up, and trials should include a CONSORT flow diagram. For more information, see the specific guidance on research articles below.
Results of statistical analyses should be reported using estimates and confidence intervals whenever possible, to provide indications of magnitude and precision rather than just P-values. Where P-values are presented so that readers can judge the strength of evidence for themselves, the exact figure should be quoted to two significant figures down to P = 0.01. Any figure below this can be quoted to one significant figure down to P = 0.001, below which P < 0.001 will suffice. Examples of presentations are therefore P = 0.087, P = 0.002 but not P = 0.0005.
Structure the discussion using these subheadings:
- Strengths and limitations
- Comparison with existing literature
- Implications for research and/or practice
Authors are expected to adopt this structure unless there are good reasons for not doing so. Additional subheadings can be used if they are likely to help readers understand the article.
Tables and figures
Up to a total of six tables, figures, or boxes are permitted in an article. Close attention should be paid to ensure clear presentation of data. This will normally mean keeping the data in each table (and the number of tables) to the minimum possible. A rough guide would be no more than five columns and rows in each table. The same general rule applies to figures.
We encourage use of graphic representation of data; please ensure that original data are also included for the purpose of redrafting where necessary. Pie charts are discouraged. All figures and tables must have a caption.
At the end of the text and before the references we ask authors to report:
- Funding: name of funding body with reference number where appropriate
- Ethical approval: body giving ethics approval with reference number where appropriate
- Competing interests
Authors should include acknowledgements of all those who have helped with and contributed to the study (including patients) who are not authors of the article. Individuals should only be acknowledged with their express permission.
These are presented in Vancouver style, with standard NLM title abbreviations for journals. References to personal communications in the text should include the date. Do not use automatic formatting features of your software such as footnotes and endnotes to indicate references.
The short version of the paper in the print edition of the BJGP will now be based on the Abstract submitted with the full paper, accompanied by a summary sentence, the How it Fits In box and, if possible an image, which we will ask authors to supply. The full-length version will be posted, as a citable publication, online as soon as possible after acceptance.
References will appear in the online version only.
Authors submitting randomised controlled trials should follow the revised CONSORT guidelines, including a completed CONSORT checklist and flowchart of participants in the trial.
You should also note the difficulty outlined in making statements about an intention-to-treat analysis. We acknowledge that this is a difficult area and ask that authors are candid about handling the data of patients lost to follow-up.
We welcome systematic reviews, with or without meta-analysis (up to 2500 words plus data presented in up to six tables, figures, or boxes) on areas of interest and importance to primary care. They should be written in a style suitable for the BJGP, but should aspire to the quality standards set by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
You may find it helpful to consult the instructions for systematic reviews given on the Cochrane Collaboration website. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses should conform to the PRISMA statement. Reviews should include a structured abstract, a statement of the question that you are attempting to answer, and a description of the search strategy used to answer it. Authors should attempt to synthesise results of primary care research either quantitatively or qualitatively.
Articles describing qualitative research should conform to the guidance set out in: Murphy E, Dingwall R, Greatbatch D, et al. Qualitative research methods in health technology assessment: a review of the literature. Health Technol Assess 1998; 2(16): 1–13.
Illustrative quotes should be included in the results section of the text where the themes are described. Since the quotes are, in a sense, equivalent to the tables and figures of quantitative articles, they should be excluded from the word count. We recommend that the main text does not exceed 2500 words with the quotes removed. To help the process of counting words, it is acceptable to put the illustrative quotes in text boxes when submitting an article for the first time, but you will be asked to move them into the text as part of the revision. The size of these boxes should not exceed two pages of the print journal (1500 words in total).
The EQUATOR Network provides details of all the guidelines on reporting various kinds of research studies including the following:
- RECORD for studies using routinely-collected health data and electronic health records;
- STARD for studies on the evaluation of diagnostic tests; and
- STROBE for observational studies.
The BJGP operates an open access publication policy for research papers. We make accepted papers freely available where the funder of the research has agreed to pay for open access publication, and the authors can claim the Article Processing Charge (APC). Payment of APCs and open access publication do not affect the Journal's usual peer review processes.
Many funders such as the Research Councils, the National Institute for Health Research, the Wellcome Foundation and some major charities now require authors to make their a research available through open access, and the costs of the APCs are included in research funding applications. The APC for the BJGP has been set at £2000 (plus VAT where applicable) and refunds will not normally be issued. Open access not only allows free publication of publicly funded research to everyone, but also enables it to be shared and re-used with minimal restrictions.
Open access articles are published under a Creative Commons licence that allows reuse subject only to the use being non-commercial and to the article being fully attributed. The default license type is CC BY-NC 4.0 license; however, requests for CC BY 4.0 license will be granted if specified. The articles are fully available on publication via the BJGP website and are also sent to PubMed Central, where they are also made fully available. The BJGP also offers open access publication, using the same mechanisms, to any author wishing to pay the APC, irrespective of the source of funding for the research. Please contact us if you would like further information on open access.
The UK Higher Education funding bodies state that outputs accepted from 1 April 2016 must be deposited in an institutional or subject repository and the policy allows repositories to respect embargo periods set by publications. All BJGP content is deposited in PubMed Central on publication of an issue with an embargo period of 12 months (unless published under the Open Access licenses CC BY NC 4.0 or CC BY 4.0). The UK Higher Education funding bodies state that where a publication specifies an embargo period, such as 12 months, authors can comply with the policy by making a ‘closed’ deposit. Closed deposits must be discoverable by anyone with an Internet connection before the full text becomes available to read and download (which will occur after the embargo period has elapsed). If still under embargo at the submission date of the next REF, closed deposits will be admissible to the REF. This means that the BJGP is compliant with the requirements of the REF. In addition to this, as stated under Copyright authors retain the right to post the accepted version of the article on a secure network (not accessible to the public) within their institution, during the 12-month embargo period. After the 12-month embargo period has elapsed the full content can be made publicly available.
Submit your article via the BJGP submission system: BJGP Allentrack. When you register, make sure you enter your email address correctly, otherwise we’ll have no way of contacting you. If your email address changes, remember to update your profile.