Due editorial diligence

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 43, No. 9, November 2001, Page 492 Editorials

The BCMJ occasionally receives letters from members who are upset with something they have read in the Journal, noting an incorrect fact, an inaccurate statistic, or some other (usually) legitimate complaint. The authors of these letters invariably ask how and why we published the piece without doing our due editorial diligence. The vast majority of these complaints, it turns out, are directed at material that the BCMJ Editorial Board has no editorial control over.

The BCMJ is an association journal that sells print space to the WCB and the College’s Medical Library Service and, as a service to the association, prints the reports of several important BCMA committees that were previously printed in the now-defunct BCMA News. Other than for normal copy editing and proofreading, the members of the Editorial Board and the BCMJ editorial staff do not control this content.

I am not sure how, either philosophically or practically, this situation could be changed without completely eliminating these unreviewed pieces from the Journal. By doing this I think we would be doing a disservice to the members by removing often important information from an inexpensive, extremely well-read communication vehicle. In addition, the BCMJ would be eliminating a revenue source, and I’m sure many members would be upset at having to pay more in membership dues to eliminate these rare problems.

The BCMJ has a scientific core that comes to print after full editorial review, and I hope we have always done our jobs before you receive the information. The Editorial Board also reviews letters to the editor, the Back Page and Premise features, and the Medical Student column.

On the other hand, read reports from BCMA committees, other agencies, the AIDS Update feature, editorials, and Pulsimeter items critically because the BCMJ Editorial Board has not reviewed them and cannot guarantee that any kind of critical review has been done by anyone other than the author. 

I am gratified that members feel strongly enough about what their journal is printing to write and complain. I encourage you to write to us about any aspect of this publication that you like or dislike. In fact, some of you will be asked directly for your opinion in an upcoming telephone survey on the BCMJ, and I hope you will take a few minutes to answer the questions so we can ensure the Journal continues to meet your needs.


James A. Wilson, MD. Due editorial diligence. BCMJ, Vol. 43, No. 9, November, 2001, Page(s) 492 - Editorials.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

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