Re: November 2015 cover image

I was very disappointed to see the BCMJ adopting a caduceus car key fob on the cover of the November 2015 issue. Using the caduceus as a symbol of medicine is a very common American solecism that I had hoped would be less seen in Canada. The caduceus is the winged staff with two entwined snakes that is associated with Hermes, the messenger of the gods (and also Mercury). It is also the ancient astrological symbol of commerce (which many might cynically think is very appropriate as a symbol of North American medicine!). The true symbol of medicine is the staff or rod of Aesculapius (Asclepius)—a rod with a single entwined snake and no wings. It is, of course, on the badge of the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Canadian Army Medical Corps.
—Victor Black, MD

Victor Black, MD,. Re: November 2015 cover image. BCMJ, Vol. 58, No. 1, January, February, 2016, Page(s) 7-8 - 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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