Privacy concerns

On 2 October 2001, at about 5:30 p.m., I received a telephone call that appeared on my call display as “unknown number.” The female voice addressed me as “doctor” and used my first and last names. She was representing a telemarketing agency, which had been hired by the BCMA to conduct a readership survey of the BCMJ. My home telephone number is unlisted and “double blocked”—my personal information and telephone number could only have been, (and was), supplied to this company by the BCMA.

I have serious privacy concerns. I am dismayed, extremely disappointed, and angry that my personal information was passed on to a marketing company by the BCMA without my permission—regardless of whatever credentials the BCMA may claim on my behalf of the marketing company! No personal information should ever be passed on to any outside agency without the express permission of the member concerned.

—John Rees, MD 

The BCMA does not sell or release member information to third parties for commercial purposes. However from time to time the association needs to use third-party service providers to conduct BCMA business in areas where it does not have in-house resources or expertise. Typical situations where third-party services are used are:

• The mass faxing of information to members when the association needs to contact every member urgently

• Conducting telephone surveys of members on specific issues

The companies hired are required to sign a privacy agreement guaranteeing that information provided will be used only for the purposes stipulated in the contract.

However, the BCMA recognizes that some members will never want their personal information shared with third-party service providers. If this is the case, you can contact the membership database assistant Lorie Arlitt at or (604) 638-2882 and ask to have a privacy flag added to your record.

It should be noted that the company hired to conduct the readership study is a communications research firm, not a “telemarketing agency” or “marketing company.” Unlike telemarketers, they do not sell anything; rather, they conduct research on behalf of their clients. We have full confidence that members’ private information is secure with this company and that they conduct themselves within the highest ethical standards. Please see page 17 for a report on the research findings.—Ed

John Rees, MD. Privacy concerns. BCMJ, Vol. 44, No. 1, January, February, 2002, Page(s) 8 - 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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