The managing editor replies

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 50, No. 1, January February 2008, Page 12 Letters

The BCMJ does not presume to give advice on ecological issues; “Go green: 10 steps to an eco-friendly office” was provided to the journal by the BCMA’s Environmental Health Committee—but we are glad that it spurred your letter to us.

In some happy cases, going green saves money, but it seems that, as my fridge repairman recently said to me, “I’m sorry—you are not lucky.” Nearly every one of your suggestions will cost more money than the current process, or would cause a drop in our revenues. While we would be proud to be the most Earth-friendly medical journal in the world, we need to be assured that BCMA members are prepared to pay more for their journal to make it so.

Paper. We switched to 30% post-consumer recycled paper in mid-2007, at an additional cost of about $4000 per year—only about 50 cents per member, so not a difficult choice to make. Magazine industry standard is 10% post-consumer fibre, so at 30% we are actually at the leading edge. We have found two nearby sources for similar paper: Gray’s Harbor Paper in Washington and West Linn Paper in Oregon. While we would prefer to use a BC source, there isn’t one.

The BCMJ is printed by Mitchell Press (Vancouver) on a machine called a web offset press, and has always been printed on coated paper. Coating gives paper that slightly shiny look and smooth finish, and makes the colors printed onto it more vibrant. It is also the source of the clay you mention. We are not aware of any evidence that clay makes the paper more difficult to recycle. The problem is that the web offset press cannot print on coated paper with a recycled content greater than 30% because the paper cannot withstand the rigors of this type of press.

However, we may be able to do without coated paper. We are going to test uncoated paper, and if we’re happy with it, we will consider spending the $15000 more per year. 

Ink. Regarding vegetable-based inks, the good news is that the printing industry made that switch about 10 years ago. There is no source of such ink in Western Canada—there are plants in Vancouver that mix it, but all the manufacturing is done on the East Coast.

Polybag. The BCMJ currently earns about $50000 per year from advertising that is stuffed into the polybag that the journal is mailed in. One might argue that’s only saving each member $6.50/year, but the BCMJ, being the only regular mailing members receive from the BCMA, is also the distribution route of choice for BCMA mailings—the pocket calendar, annual member guide, fee guide, annual report, and so on. 

When those items go into the BCMJ’s second-class polybag mailing, there are huge cost savings versus first-class mail. Your suggestion of stitching materials into the journal is impractical, expensive, and would make the journal a lumpy and unappealing document. Instead, we are investigating biodegradable bags.

We take our environmental res­ponsibility seriously and are working on solutions to do better. We welcome suggestions and feedback—particularly with regard to increased costs, as we also take our responsibility of frugality seriously. Unfortunately we are not lucky, and the two responsibilities conflict.

—Jay Draper
BCMJ Managing Editor

Jay Draper. The managing editor replies. BCMJ, Vol. 50, No. 1, January, February, 2008, Page(s) 12 - 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

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

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