UBC Medical Journal Guide to Authors

The University of British Columbia Medical Journal (UBCMJ) is a student-driven academic journal with a goal to engage students in dialogue in medicine. Our scope ranges from original research and review articles in medicine to medical trends, clinical reports, elective reports and commentaries in the principles and practice of medicine. We strive to maintain a high level of integrity and accuracy in our work, to encourage collaborative production and cross-disciplinary communication, and to stimulate critical and independent thinking.

We have a goal of establishing ourselves as one of the leading student-driven publications in Canada and internationally, and expect high quality from our submissions. We accept submissions in all areas of medicine, including but not limited to research, reviews, case reports, medical history, ethics, medical anthropology, epidemiology, public health, and international health.

Submission Guidelines

Articles are submitted online via OJS, our online submissions system. The author must create an account on our Online Submission System and “Start a New Submission”. If the authors are unsure of the suitability of their article for a particular section, please contact the appropriate Section Editor (see last page for “Correspondence”).

Author Eligibility

Authors must acknowledge and declare any sources of funding or potential conflicting interest, such as receiving funds or fees by, or holding stocks and benefited financially from, an organization that may profit or lose through publication of the submitted paper. Declaring a competing interest will not necessarily preclude publication but will be conducive to the UBCMJ’s goal of transparency. Such information will be held in confidence while the paper is under review and will not influence the editorial decision. If the article is accepted for publication, the editors will discuss with the authors the manner in which such information is to be communicated to the reader. UBCMJ expects that authors of accepted articles do not to have any undisclosed financial ties to or interest in the makers of products discussed in the article.

In the interest of full transparency, no current members of the UBCMJ staff will be permitted to publish in the journal, except for those officially invited in a staff writer capacity to author a news piece or editorial. This policy is intended to limit the potential for conflicts of interest. All former members of the UBCMJ staff are exempted from this policy, as they will not have involvement in the workings of the journal at the time of their submission.

Article Originality

Authors must declare that all works submitted to the UBCMJ contain original, unpublished content and have been referenced according to the appropriate academic style. Written content which displays excessive similarity to previously published works, including works written by the submitting authors, will not be published by the UBCMJ. This policy is consistent with the UBC policy on plagiarism (please see 2.2) and with the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals. Figures or images may be re-published in the Journal, with permission, for illustrative purposes. The UBCMJ editorial staff reserves the right to request revisions, to deny publication or to require retraction of submitted or published work that contains clear violations of this policy.

Ethics

The UBCMJ expects that research involving human participants or animal subjects will adhere to the appropriate national standards for research ethics, such as those set out in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans and the Canadian Council on Animal Care Guidelines.

Researchers should also have received approval from the appropriate institutional review board and the approved protocol must be documented in the text of the manuscript. Further documentation of this approval may be requested by the UBCMJ Editors. Research reports that contain any information which could potentially be used to identify a patient, including images or written descriptions, must also be accompanied by documentation confirming that the patient has consented to publish the report.

Formatting Criteria

Formatting should conform strictly with the ICMJE Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, also known as the Vancouver Style. Manuscripts not conforming to the UBCMJ style will be returned with a request for revision. Manuscripts should be submitted as Microsoft Word 97-2003 documents and written in clear, grammatical English, with 12-point font and double-spaced formatting. Articles should be written in a manner that conveys professionalism and is appropriate for a journal suitable for the quality and calibre of our publication. Manuscript pages must be numbered consecutively with the title page constituting page 1. We expect authors to include continuous line numbers on their manuscripts (see detailed instructions here) and remove all identifying information from the manuscript (include from file information tags) prior to submission for review.

All articles should be submitted by the primary author and should contain the following:

Cover Letter

A cover letter should be included in the online submission as a separate document to the manuscript, under “Supplemental Files”.

The cover letter should include:

  • A statement indicating that the paper is being submitted for consideration for publication in the UBCMJ.
  • The name of the section to which the article is to be submitted (Academic Research, Reviews, Commentaries, Case and Elective Reports, Global Health) and up to 5 key words (MESH headings) describing the article.
  • The address, email, and telephone for primary correspondence.
  • Each author’s full name, relevant degrees obtained, professional/institutional affiliations, and if a medical student, medical school class and site (example: VFMP 2010).
  • A statement indicating that all of the authors are aware of, and agree to, the content of the manuscript and that authorization has been given in the form of a consent form to use any information conveyed by either personal communication or release of unpublished experimental data.
  • 3 recommendations for faculty or professional reviewers to expedite the review process. While this is not required to complete the submission, this step is pivotal to our review process. Authors must suggest reviewers that will be able to critically appraise all aspects of the paper. (Please be aware that reviewers will sign a statement of disclosure indicating any potential conflicts of interest in reviewing the manuscript).

Manuscript

No author identifying information should appear in any place within the manuscript. Identifying information may compromise the double-blind peer review process. Author information appearing anywhere in the manuscript may cause the manuscript to be returned for further editing.

Title Page

The title page should constitute the first page of the manuscript and include only the title of the manuscript.

Abstract

The abstract should provide a comprehensive, accessible summary of the material presented in the article and should avoid abbreviations. All submissions require abstracts with the exception of News, Letters to the Editor, and Research Letters. Please refer to the specific submission criteria below for abstract word limits.

Organization

The article should be clearly organized with an appropriate introduction, development, and conclusion. Longer articles should consider incorporating subheadings for more appropriate formatting.

Tables, Figures, and Graphics

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to use any tables, graphics, or figures adapted from other sources. All tables, figures and graphics must be submitted as separate files.

All tables must be accompanied by a table number as referenced in the text, along with a title and caption. The caption should adequately describe the contents of the table and must explain all abbreviations used. No vertical lines may be used. We accept the following file formats for tables:

  • Adobe Acrobat PDF
  • Microsoft Word (Word 97-2003 Document)

Each figure or graphic should be submitted as a separate file which is named according to its reference in the text (e.g., figure1.jpeg, figure2.gif, etc.). Figures should be digitally-rendered; freehand-drawn figures, scanned figures and direct SPSS output will not be accepted.

Figure captions must be included at the end of the manuscript with indications as to which image file it corresponds to. The caption should describe the figure and explain all abbreviations used. We accept the following image formats:

  • JPEG 300 dpi or higher, minimum compression
  • GIF 300 dpi or higher (NOT accepted for photographs)
  • TIFF (photos only, no text, minimum 300 dpi)

Images must be grayscale or CMYK (no RGB).

References

Authors are responsible for the accuracy of references cited within the manuscript. References should follow the order in which they appear in the text. References must adhere to the Vancouver style. In-text references should be indicated by numbering within parentheses placed AFTER punctuation marks where applicable (e.g., Diane Wu and Pam Verma, UBC medical students,(1) started the new UBCMJ in 2009.(2)).

Authors must provide all relevant information when submitting journal articles, including both the full name and abbreviated version of the journal title. Unpublished articles and informal communication should also be cited in concordance with the Vancouver style. Manuscripts are limited at 50 references and authors are encouraged to cite the most recent references where appropriate. Abstracts do not need to be referenced.

Refer to the ICMJE guidelines or to the NLM Style Guide, 2nd Edition for more information on the Vancouver Style.

Some examples:

Piper P, Powell SS, and Peters J. Pickled Peppers. NEJM 2001 Feb 31;765(1):897-905.
Piper, P. Pickled Peppers [Online]. 2008 Sept 7 [cited 2009 Jun 13]; Available from:  http://www.peppers.com/peppers.html.

Drug Names

Both generic and trade names should be provided for all drugs, with the generic name in lower-case and the commercial name in parentheses and with a first letter in upper case. Drugs not yet available in Canada should be so noted.

Specific Submission Criteria

Academic Research

Research articles report student-driven research projects and succinctly describe findings in a manner appropriate for a general medical audience. The articles should place findings within the context of current literature in their respective disciplines.

Full Length Articles should not exceed 3000 words excluding abstract, figures, tables, and references. Accepted manuscripts may be shortened for the print edition of the UBCMJ with complete versions of the article appearing online. Research should be divided into the subheadings INTRODUCTION, MATERIALS AND METHODS, RESULTS, DISCUSSION, ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS (if any), REFERENCES, DISCLAIMERS (if any). An appropriate Discussion section should include an explanation of the findings in the context of the existing literature, provide a thorough overview of the study’s limitations, and provide brief statements outlining the study’s implications. Subheadings within sections are encouraged if they facilitate presentation of the material. Each full length article must include a structured abstract in the format of OBJECTIVE, METHODS, RESULTS, AND CONCLUSION not exceeding 250 words.

Research Letters summarize research of a shorter length and depth. These do not require extensive elaborations regarding methods or results. Research letters should not exceed 800 words with a maximum of 2 figures or tables. No abstract is required for research letters.

Disclosure Agreements
If in your manuscript you acknowledge anyone for a contribution that goes beyond administrative assistance, you must obtain written permission from that person to publish his or her name. It is required that all co-authors and other contributors sign a disclosure agreement that accompanies the submission. It is expected that all authors have read and understood the UBCMJ Copyright Policy prior to submission.

Case and Elective Reports

Case Reports describe patient encounters in a clinical or public health setting. The case should provide a relevant teaching point for medical students, either by describing a unique condition OR by presenting new insights into the diagnosis, presentation or management of a more common condition. Each case report should include an abstract, a brief introduction that provides background information pertinent to the case, a history of the presenting problem, a discussion of relevant signs, symptoms, diagnostic tests and potential treatment options, and a clear rationale for the ultimate diagnosis and treatment plan. A subsequent discussion should briefly review the pathophysiology of the condition and relevant aspects of its presentation and history. The abstract should not exceed 250 words and the article should not exceed 1500 words (excluding the abstract).

Patient consent
Case report submissions must include documentation of the patient’s consent to publish. It is expected that the patient will have been provided with a final draft of the article and informed of the possible risks to his or her right to confidentiality.

A template form to be used by the authors to obtain documented consent is provided on our website. The patient’s consent form should be retained by the authors, and a document confirming that consent has been obtained must be signed by the authors and provided to the UBCMJ before publication. Please do not provide the patient’s name or signature directly to the UBCMJ.

It is expected that the author has read and understood the UBCMJ’s consent policy prior to submission.

SOAP note
In addition to the standard submission criteria, case reports are encouraged to include a brief (200 word maximum) inset summarizing the findings in the form of a standard medical history SOAP note (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan).

Elective Reports aim to increase student exposure to a variety of medical specialties and training opportunities both locally and internationally. Reports give a specific description of the scope of practice of a medical specialty and/or training program, and recall the student’s impressions and reflections during and upon completion of the elective. They should highlight the student’s clinical experiences and the unique features offered by the program. The abstract should not exceed 250 words and the article should not exceed 1000 words (excluding the abstract).

Reviews

The purpose of this section is to discuss academic literature and current biomedical research. Reviews provide an overview of a body of scientific work or a medical trend. Reviews may outline a current medical issue or give insight into the principles of practice of a clinical field. Authors may choose to review the etiology, diagnosis, treatment, or epidemiology of a specific disease. Articles may also provide a survey of literature dealing with philosophy or social sciences. Each article must include an abstract not exceeding 250 words. The full length article should not exceed 1750 words (excluding abstract).

News and Letters

Abstracts are not required for News and Letters submissions. There are three main types of submissions:

  1. News Articles highlight current events in the field of medicine as well as significant medical Articles should not exceed 500 words.
  2. Feature Interview articles are meant to highlight the successful careers of different medical professionals who have contributed significantly to their field. Advice for medical students interested in pursuing a career in the field should also be included. Articles should not exceed 500 words.
  3. Letters to the Editor are meant for readers to express their opinion in response to any articles published in past issues of the UBCMJ. Limit of 250 words.

Commentaries

The aim of this section is to provide a platform for intellectual dialogue on topics relevant to the study and practice of medicine. Articles submitted to this section should correspond to one of the following descriptions outlined below. A 75-100 word abstract is required; this is not included in the word counts described below:

  1. Subjective pieces relevant to medical studies, life as a future physician, or the current social context of medicine. Commentaries may draw on personal experiences to convey the writer’s perspective. Articles should not exceed 1000 words.
  2. An article that highlights the significance of an interesting research study or area from a clinical perspective. If focusing on an article, the author should summarize the research methodology and findings, critically evaluate the experimental design, suggest future experiments, and discuss current research trends in that field. Articles should not exceed 1000 words.
  3. Book Reports are brief reports that feature a non-fiction or fiction work and explain its significance and context in the practice and study of medicine. Book reports should highlight key viewpoints and facts presented in the book in an objective fashion, and explain the relevance of the book to the principles of medical practice. The manuscript should include in its heading the book name, author, year of publication, number of pages, and printing Articles should not exceed 800 words.

Global Health

Abstracts not exceeding 75-100 words are required for this section. Abstracts are not included in the word counts listed below.

This section deals with specific experiences or issues in global health; these generally fit into the WHO definition of global health as “the health of populations in a global context that transcends the perspectives and concerns of individual nations.” Articles should reflect on current or historical issues of international relevance. Articles submitted to this section should correspond to one of the following formats:

  1. Editorials are well-researched submissions that outline a current or historical global health issue or expose and explore aspects of global health subject that can relate to such topics as ethics, principles, practice, and new developments in global health. Articles should not exceed 1200 words.
  2. Commentaries are subjective, pieces of personal reflection upon a global health related issue. These submissions draw on personal experiences to convey the writer’s perspective, yet still adhere to a high standard of writing style. Articles should not exceed 1000 words.
  3. Dispatches are brief articles that offer a perspective on a specific global health experience. They can range from a straightforward description of what occurred to a more artistic point of view on an experience, such as using it as a metaphor for other issues, linking the experience to arts and humanities, or any other unique analysis of global health experience. Articles in this section should not exceed 300 words.

Review Process

Submissions will be initially reviewed by the relevant Section Editors as part of an initial screening process. Those articles selected for further review will be sent as anonymous manuscripts to reviewers: one faculty member, clinician, or professional expert and one or two medical students, all of whom will have experience or expertise in the field of the submission. The results of the review process will then be consolidated by the Section Editors, who will make a decision as to recommending the manuscript for publication. A committee of the Editors-in-Chief, Managing Editors, and Section Editor will determine if the article is accepted as well as what revisions are required. The editors reserve the right to edit manuscripts, overrule the decision of a peer reviewer, fit articles into available space, or suggest further changes to ensure conciseness, clarity, and consistency of the journal. Articles may be accepted for publication, accepted with revisions, or rejected for the current issue.

Authors will be required to authorize publication of the manuscript in its final format prior to its appearance in the journal. Should an article be returned for revisions, authors will have two weeks upon return of the paper to make the necessary changes and return the corrected paper to the corresponding Section Editor.

Revised copies of the manuscripts should be uploaded onto the OJS under “Editor Decision”. Should a paper be rejected, the authors will be notified as to the decision and be encouraged to re-submit after considering and responding to all the reviewers’ comments and making corresponding changes in the revised manuscript. The re-submitted manuscript will be considered a new submission and will be subject to the standard review process of the UBCMJ.

Deadlines

The UBCMJ works on a very tight review and production schedule. Due to the large number of submissions expected, and in order to expedite the review process, it is strongly suggested that authors submit their manuscript as early as possible prior to the submissions deadline. Earlier submissions are more likely to undergo review for the intended edition. Articles that cannot be reviewed for the current issue due to volume will be reviewed in the next cycle of submissions with priority status.

** Please note that views expressed in this journal do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the Faculty of Medicine or any organizations affiliated with this publication. They are solely the authors’ opinion and are intended to stimulate academic dialogue.

Correspondence

For any questions related to your submission, please contact the appropriate Section Editors. Thank you.

Academic Research  (academic@ubcmj.com)
Case and Elective Reports (reports@ubcmj.com)  Reviews (reviews@ubcmj.com)
News and Letters (news@ubcmj.com) Global Health (global.health@ubcmj.com) Commentaries (commentaries@ubcmj.com)