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Editorial policy

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.

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.

BMJ’s pre-submission checklist

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:

Planning your research
Writing your paper
Choosing a journal
Submitting your paper
After submitting
Promoting your paper
Open Access
Reviewing manuscripts

Triple Blind Review

Please read this section carefully before submitting your paper.

BMJ Quality & Safety operates triple-blind peer review which requires authors to submit an anonymous version of their manuscript file.

The manuscript file should be anonymous and should NOT include:

  • Any author names (including file path in the document footer)
  • Author institution details
  • Author contact details
  • Acknowledgements
  • Competing interests (if declared)
  • Ethics approval statements that refer to your institution

Please ensure that tracked changes are switched off if previously used. The file will automatically be converted to PDF once uploaded through the submission system and will be available to the reviewers.

If the file is not completely anonymised, your manuscript may be returned to you. If you have any questions about triple blind review please do not hesitate to contact the

Please do NOT remove, redact or in any way anonymise references in the manuscript, including to citations your own previous work. We realize that an astute reviewer will be able to figure out who you are if you refer to your previous work, but reviewers often need to see citations supporting statements in your manuscript, especially ones that relate to the methods or help interpret your findings.

Open Access

Authors can choose to have their article published Open Access for a fee of £1950 (plus applicable VAT).

We do not offer refunds for Open Access once articles have been published.

Article types and word counts

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

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: Those 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. Guidance and forms are available from EQUATOR. If these are not applicable to your research please state the reason in your cover letter.

The Problem With…

Articles discussing widely recommended but deceptively difficult strategies for improvement and pervasive problems that seem to resist solution. See the launch editorial describing the spirit of the series for further information and contact the before writing up a specific topic.

Word count: 1000-2000 words
Tables/Figs: Typically no more than 2
References: Typically fewer than 23
Must include a series of bullet points at the end of the article explaining what it adds to the area of knowledge


Essays presenting opinions or considering controversial issues related to patient safety or healthcare quality.

Word count: up to 2000 words
Tables/Figs: no more than 2
References: fewer than 20

Systematic Reviews

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 fewer
Structured abstract: 275 words or fewer
Tables/Figs: up to 5
Detailed search strategies and other supplementary materials will be considered for inclusion as online-only appendices.

Narrative Reviews

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 to confirm the suitability of the topic and ensure that it does not overlap too substantially with another review already in preparation.

Word count: up to 3000 words

Research and Reporting Methodology

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

Short Reports

Shorter reports of original research or implementation efforts , similar to Research Letters in major general medical journals.

Word count: 750 words or less
Tables or Figures: no more than 2
Note: 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.

Innovations in Education

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.

Book Reviews

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
Tables/Figs: no more than 2
References: fewer than 20 (for each manuscript in the Point-Counterpoint pair)

Quality Improvement Reports

Authors of improvement reports are strongly encouraged to consult the SQUIRE guidelines(Standards for Quality Improvement Reporting Excellence ) regarding the format and content.


The BMJ Publishing Group journals are willing to consider publishing supplements to regular issues. Contact with a brief outline of the proposal and to find out potential costs. The topic must fall within the scope of interest for the journal and meet the usual standards for the journal, as well as its conflict of interest policy.

For further information on criteria that must be fulfilled, download the supplements guidelines.

Plagiarism Detection

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

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