Instructions for Authors
BMJ Quality & Safety has a specific policy on quality improvement reports that are considered to be exempt from ethics review.
For guidelines on policy and submission across our journals, please click on the links below:
Patient consent forms
Submission and production processes
BMJ Quality & Safety (formerly Quality & Safety in Health Care) is a leading international peer review journal in this growing area of quality and safety improvement. It provides essential information for those wanting to reduce harm and improve patient safety and the quality of care. The journal reports and reflects research, improvement initiatives and viewpoints and other discursive papers relevant to these crucial aims with contributions from researchers, clinical professionals and managers and experts in organisational development and behaviour.
The journal covers:
- the development and integration of quality and safety initiatives into routine practice.
- experience of improving practice in all sectors of health care services.
- the influence of management and organisational learning on the quality and safety of clinical care.
- the views of consumers and their role as promoters of improved quality and safety in health care.
- research relevant to health care quality and safety from a wide range of relevant sources including non-medical domains
BMJ Quality & Safety aims to contribute actively to the debate about the quality and safety of health care by exploring subjects and ideas (from both routine clinical and managerial practice and research) which concern and inform this debate and which focus on real benefits to patients.
The journal attempts to handle the review process and publication as expeditiously as possible. The review process is usually completed within 4 weeks (mean 20 days), but can take longer in some instances.
Authors can choose to have their article published Open Access for a fee of £1950 (plus applicable VAT).
Article types and word counts
- Original articles
- Systematic reviews
- Narrative reviews
- Research and reporting methodology
- Short reports
- Innovations in Education
- Book reviews
- Quality Improvement Reports
- Guidelines for reporting more extensive quality research
The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements and contributions and the references. For non-native English speakers we now offer a professional editing service.
Original Articles report research and studies relevant to quality of health care. They may cover any aspect, from clinical or therapeutic intervention, to promotion, to prevention. They should usually present evidence indicating that problems of quality of practice may exist, or suggest indications for changes in practice, or contribute towards defining standards or developing measures of outcome. Alternatively, they should contribute to developing approaches to measuring quality of care in routine practice. The journal is interprofessional and welcomes articles from anyone whose work is relevant, including health professionals, managers, practitioners, researchers, policy makers, or information technologists.
Word count: 3000-4000 words
Structured abstract up to 275 words in length
Tables/Illustrations: up to 5 tables or illustrations; appendices that present additional methodological details or other relevant materials that may be of interest to readers can also be included with the intention of aiding peer reviewers or providing them as online material for interested readers.
Research checklists should be uploaded during the submission process. If these are not applicable to your research please state the reason in your cover letter.
Essays presenting opinions or considering controversial issues related to patient safety or healthcare quality.
Word count: up to 2000 words, with no more than 2 Tables/Figs and fewer than 20 references
Systematic reviews, whether qualitative or quantitative (i.e., meta-analyses) should conform to the same guidelines outlined above for Original Research (Word count: 3000-4000 words or less, structured abstract of 275 words or less, and up to 5 Tables/Figs). Detailed search strategies and other supplementary materials will be considered for inclusion as online-only appendices.
We will consider narrative reviews of general topic areas within patient safety , as opposed to structured, systematic reviews that address the effectiveness of specific interventions. E.g., an overview of the state of the science in teamwork training or assessments of patient safety culture. Narrative reviews can also address methodological topics, such as the use of ethnographic methods in patient safety research or a primer on run charts.
Authors considering writing a narrative reviews are advised to email the Editor (
Word count: up to 3000 words
Articles that aim to advance research methodology or reporting standards related to patient safety and quality improvement.
These articles are distinct from Primers or How to type articles on meant to provide a useful resource for general readers
(such reviews fall under the Narrative Review category above)
Word count: 3000 words or less
Shorter reports of original research or implementation efforts , similar to Research Letters in major general medical journals.
Word count: 750 words or less with no more than 2 Tables or Figures - can be up to 1000 words if only 1 (or no) Table/Figure
Editorials commenting on articles published in the same issue of the journal are written or commissioned by the editors. Guidelines will be discussed in advance with invited authors, but generally the word length will be less than 2000 words, have no more than 20 references, and sometimes have 1 Table or Figure.
Articles that describe innovative approaches to imparting trainees or practitioners with concepts or tools related to quality improvement or patient safety. Articles that report a robust evaluation can have the same format as Original Research. Less ambitious reports should be less than 1500 words and have fewer than 20 references. For shorter reports, note that the literature already contains numerous descriptions of curricula for students and trainees. To be of interest, the curriculum and, or the evaluation should include some relatively novel element.
Biographical essays on important figures relevant to quality improvement or patient safety (as in the "Heroes and Martyrs" series, which now falls within this category), as well as other essays on important events or developments in the history of measuring or improving healthcare quality and patient safety.
Word Count: up to 3000 words.
Authors should contact the editor (at) before writing a book review. The length should generally be 750-1000 words.
Letters in response to articles published in the BMJ Quality & Safety are welcome and should be submitted electronically via the website. Contributors should go to the abstract or full text of the article in question. At the top right corner of each article is a "contents box". Click on the "eLetters: Submit a response to this article" link. Some letters in response to an article may be published in the print version of the journal.
Letters relating to or responding to previously published items in the journal will be shown to those authors, where appropriate.
Word count: up to 600 words.
References: up to 5.
These are pairs of commentaries directly debating two sides of an issue or opinions or presenting differing perspectives on the same topic. They are typically invited, but we will consider suggestions from candidate authors. To suggest a topic for this series, briefly outline the topic to be discussed, including the two perspectives on the topic, and identify the lead author of the two pieces.
Word count: up to 2000 words, with no more than 2 Tables/Figs and fewer than 20 references (for each manuscript in the Point-Counterpoint pair).
BMJ Quality & Safety has a specific policy on quality improvement reports that are considered to be exempt from ethics review.
These have the same general guidelines as Original Research in terms of word length, but please note the detailed recommendations for content and formatting below.
Outline of problem, e.g.
- What was the problem that was identified for study (problem definition)?
- How was it identified?
- Why was it a priority?
- What were the stated objectives of audit?
Outline of context (local and wider), e.g.
- Relevant details of local hospital/practice, etc
- Local internal organisation and structures relevant to the problem
- Wider context of the problem
Outline of staffing arrangements, e.g.
- How staff work together.
Assessment of problems
Detail of the approach taken with justification, eg
- Criteria based audit/critical incident/routine monitoring/TQM tools and techniques.
Criteria, standards or guidelines developed, eg
- Who set them and how they were developed?
- Were they considered ideal or realistic?
Measurement of problem, eg
- How was this done?
- Who did the assessment?
- How was it analysed?
Results of assessment/measurement
How results were used to understand the problem, eg
- How results were put into local context
- Implications for improving the quality of care
- Implications for change
Strategies for quality improvement/change
Feeding back information to relevant staff, eg
- How this was done?
- Why was this approach chosen?
- Who was included?
- What was their responses?
Mechanism for change, eg
- What course of action was taken and why?
- Was this justified by the results and context?
- Discussion of ease of change versus likely effectiveness
- Who was/would be affected by change
Lessons and messages
- What changes occurred?
- If changes did not occur - why not?
- What were the benefits of patients?
- Lessons and messages - for your organisation
- Lessons and messages - for other organisations
- Were benefits sustained?
The SQUIRE guidelines (Standards for QUality Improvement Reporting Excellence) provide a framework for reporting formal, planned studies designed to assess the nature and effectiveness of interventions to improve the quality and safety of care. It may not always be appropriate or even possible to include information about every numbered guideline item in reports of original studies, but authors should at least consider every item in writing their reports. Although each major section (that is, Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion) of a published original study generally contains some information about the numbered items within that section, information about items from one section (for example, the Introduction) is also often needed in other sections (for example, the Discussion).
Please also see our article 'Publication guidelines for quality improvement in health care: evolution of the SQUIRE project' 2008;17:Suppl 1
The BMJ Publishing Group journals are willing to consider publishing supplements to regular issues. Supplement proposals may be made at the request of:
- The journal editor, an editorial board member or a learned society may wish to organise a meeting, sponsorship may be sought and the proceedings published as a supplement.
- The journal editor, editorial board member or learned society may wish to commission a supplement on a particular theme or topic. Again, sponsorship may be sought.
- The BMJPG itself may have proposals for supplements where sponsorship may be necessary.
- A sponsoring organisation, often a pharmaceutical company or a charitable foundation, that wishes to arrange a meeting, the proceedings of which will be published as a supplement.
In all cases, it is vital that the journal's integrity, independence and academic reputation is not compromised in any way.
When contacting us regarding a potential supplement, please include as much of the information below as possible.
- Journal in which you would like the supplement published
- Title of supplement and/or meeting on which it is based
- Date of meeting on which it is based
- Proposed table of contents with provisional article titles and proposed authors
- An indication of whether authors have agreed to participate
- Sponsor information including any relevant deadlines
- An indication of the expected length of each paper Guest Editor proposals if appropriate
For further information on criteria that must be fulfilled, download the supplements guidelines (PDF).
BMJ is a member of CrossCheck by CrossRef and iThenticate. iThenticate is a plagiarism screening service that verifies the originality of content submitted before publication. iThenticate checks submissions against millions of published research papers, and billions of web content. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting www.ithenticate.com.
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