BCMJ replies

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 51, No. 9, November 2009, Page 385 Letters

Thank you for continuing to hold our feet to the fire on the environmental impacts of our publication. The need for a bag comes down to the fact that we earn about 16% of our income from the advertising we sell and enclose in the bag. But the savings to BCMA members is actually much greater. 

The BCMA sends out much of its mail as enclosures in the BCMJ bag, and the Journal is sent by publications-class mail, which is far cheaper than first class. If we dispense with the bag, the BCMA would lose that savings in postal costs; in other words, their distribution costs would skyrocket.

We do encourage commercial advertisers to put their ads right into the publication, and, of course, when we have no enclosures we eliminate the need for the bag.

Degradable, biodegradable, and compostable plastic bags are indeed controversial. Their questionable ability to degrade as promised, the fact that they contaminate conventional plastic bag recycling streams (by adding less-stable stock), and their sometimes-vegetable source (diverting from food production) have all been used as arguments against them.

The Journal could be mailed in paper envelopes, but that would be unpopular with our advertisers, be more expensive, and carry a heavier environmental burden than plastic.

When we can, we will send the BCMJ without a bag. When we must use a bag, the best option may be conventional, recyclable plastic bags. The bags can be reused for a variety of purposes and then recycled. Reclaimed plastic can be turned into hundreds of useful products, so we encourage you to find a place to recycle your bags. 

The Recycling Council of British Columbia has a handy Recyclepedia—an online tool in which you enter the name of your area and the material you wish to recycle and it gives you a list of local options (www.rcbc.bc.ca). A number of retailers now accept plastic bags for recycling, including London Drugs, Safeway, and Save-On-Foods.

—Jay Draper
Managing Editor

Jay Draper. BCMJ replies. BCMJ, Vol. 51, No. 9, November, 2009, Page(s) 385 - Letters.

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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