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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.

Editorial policy

BMJ Quality & Safety adheres to the highest standards concerning its editorial policies on publication ethics, scientific misconduct, consent and peer review criteria. To view all BMJ Journal policies please refer to the BMJ Author Hub policies page.

Articles are published under an exclusive licence (or non-exclusive licence for UK Crown and US Federal Government employees) and authors retain copyright. Articles can also be published under a Creative Commons licence to facilitate reuse of the content; please refer to the BMJ Quality & Safety Copyright Author Licence Statement.

Triple blind peer 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.

Article publishing charges

During submission, authors can choose to have their article published open access for 1,950 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors). There are no submission, page or colour figure charges.

For more information on open access, funder compliance and institutional programmes please refer to the BMJ Author Hub open access page.

Submission guidelines

Please review the below article type specifications including the required article lengths, illustrations, table limits and reference counts. The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements, contributions and references. Manuscripts should be as succinct as possible.

For further support when making your submission please refer to the resources available on the BMJ Author Hub. Here you can also find general formatting guidelines across BMJ and a formatting checklist.

For research articles of any type, authors are recommended to look at the EQUATOR network to identify any reporting guidelines that are relevant to their article. Particular guidelines that might be relevant to papers submitted to BMJ Q&S include the various SQUIRE (quality improvement reports), STROBE (observational studies), COREQ (for interviews and focus groups), SUNDAE (patient decision aids), and the specific CONSORT statement extensions for different types of randomised controlled trials commonly seen in improvement science (cluster RTCs, stepped wedge trials, pilot and feasibility trials, and others).

Original article

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.

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.

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.

The problem with…

This series covers widely known topics, tools or concepts that are also commonly misunderstood or misapplied. The launch editorial describes the idea behind the series and provides examples. Past articles in the series include:

  1. Anhoj J, Hellesoe AB. The problem with red, amber, green: the need to avoid distraction by random variation in organisational performance measures.
  2. Card AJ. The problem with ‘5 whys’
  3. Macrae C. The problem with incident reporting
  4. Peerally MF, Carr S, Waring J, Dixon-Woods M. The problem with root cause analysis
  5. Reed JE, Card AJ. The problem with Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles

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

We previously had recommended to authors that they contact us before writing any potential manuscript for this series in order to vet the topic. We wanted to avoid having authors prepare a paper which, if it did not work out with us, might have no other likely home. However, for the majority of suggested topics, even if they do not quite work for this series, they could work as a Viewpoint. So, if you are unsure if your topic fits this series, simply submit it as a viewpoint and just mention in your cover letter that you had wondered about its suitability for ‘The problem with…’  series. We will never reject or review unfavourably any manuscript simply because it might have been better pitched as a different article type. If a Viewpoint receives favourable reviews but we think it would work better for ‘The problem with’ series, we will simply say so in a decision letter inviting revision.


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 review

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 Review

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.

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 report

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.

Word count: up to 2000 words
Tables or Figures: sometimes have 1 table or figure
References: up to 20

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. 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.

Word count: up to 1500 words
References: up to 20


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 review

Authors should contact the editor (at ) before writing a book review.

Word Count: between 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

Point counterpoint

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 report

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. 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.

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

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