Submit a Theme Issue

Guidelines for guest editors of BCMJ theme issues

A theme issue in the British Columbia Medical Journal is a collection of articles on a single topic coordinated by a guest editor. Guest editors are usually, but not always, physicians. It is recommended that the potential guest editor write a letter to the BCMJ editor outlining proposed topics and authors.

Theme issues usually comprise three to eight articles of about 3000 words each, plus a guest editorial of 500 to 1000 words. If there are more than five articles, the theme issue will be split into two consecutive issues of the BCMJ and two guest editorials will be needed.

Guest editors should consider soliciting articles from authors outside Vancouver and Victoria, and include articles of specific relevance to physicians outside the urban centres. It isn’t necessary that all articles be either long or academic. One or more short pieces on community services or allied health workers in the subject area, for instance, can complement academic reviews.

Time frames

A theme issue can take a year or more to compile. The BCMJ Editorial Board meets on the last Friday morning of the month, and all papers go out for review at that time. Please ensure your papers are submitted by the Wednesday prior to the meeting. Papers are discussed and a decision is made at the following month-end meeting.

Normally, at least 6 months elapse between the time all papers are received by the Editorial Board and the publication date. Guest editors who want the theme issue to be published in a specific month are advised to submit the finished articles at least 6 to 9 months before the anticipated publication date.

Submission and review process

Supply all authors with the BCMJ’s Guidelines for Authors. The guidelines contain important information that all authors should review prior to writing.

Each paper must be accompanied by the BCMJ’s “Authorship, copyright, disclosure, and consent” form. All materials for the theme issue—all papers, the guest editorial(s), and the Author Form—must be submitted together. An incomplete theme issue will not be sent out for review. Submit one copy of everything to the BCMJ office by email for review by the Editorial Board. After the Editorial Board has reviewed the papers, the editor will write you a letter (sent by email) detailing the Board’s decision. Some revisions are normally requested, which the guest editor coordinates.

Once revisions are complete, the guest editor resubmits them and the BCMJ editor reviews the revised papers and makes a final decision. Normally you will receive a letter by email detailing any final minor revisions along with a proposed publication date from the BCMJ’s production coordinator.

After papers are accepted

Once the theme issue is accepted and scheduled for publication, you will begin to work with the BCMJ’s managing editor. Articles will be copyedited into BCMJ style. The editors will make changes to improve clarity and bring the papers into stylistic conformity with our publication’s requirements.

The theme issue is then designed, and page proofs are emailed to you. Individual authors’ papers should be distributed to them for proofreading and should be checked by you before they are returned to the BCMJ.
As the issue date approaches there are usually a few final queries to resolve, so you should ensure you are available by telephone and email in the month prior to publication.

Once the journal is published, you may be called upon by members of the media to comment on the issues you raise in your BCMJ articles. Media enquiries are handled by the Doctors of BC’s media relations manager.

Enhancing your series online

Once articles are accepted and edited, they will be posted on the BCMJ’s open access website contains enhanced online features such as video and patient information sheets. Consider whether your theme issue could be enhanced by a 5-minute or shorter procedural video, or by a 1- or 2- page patient information sheet related to your theme that physicians could print from and provide to their patients.These online enhancements should be discussed at the initiation of the theme issue.

Special requirements for theme issues

Authors must follow all the normal requirements detailed in the BCMJ Guidelines for Authors; however, there are a few additional elements for a theme issue, as follows:

This is usually written by the person who compiled the theme issue. However, if the guest editor is not a physician, it is suggested that the editorial be co-written with a physician contributor. A black-and-white head-and-shoulders photo of the guest editor(s) is published with the guest editorial and should be included with the complete submission. The guest editorial introduces the theme issue. It may be an overview of the papers, a historical survey of the subject from a BC perspective, or a discussion of the work of an institution. The editorial may be any length, but normally it runs between 500 and 1000 words.

The front page of each paper should include the ordinal number of the paper; proposed title; author’s name as he or she wants it in the publication; author’s degrees and accreditations, normally beginning with MD or MB; author’s practice information and academic affiliations, sufficient for a brief author note; addresses for mail/courier, email, and telephone numbers for the author and one co-author (as a backup).

  • Guest editorial:
  • The front page:


Guest editor’s responsibilities

  • Provide deadlines/schedule to authors.
  • Provide the BCMJ’s Guidelines for Authors to authors.
  • Provide and ensure authors complete the BCMJ Author Form.
  • Keep in touch with authors. If they don’t hear from you for a few months, they may assume that the project has been abandoned.
  • Write the guest editorial(s).
  • Review all papers.
  • Ensure each paper contains an abstract.
  • Ensure Canadian and BC statistics/studies are used whenever possible.
  • Ensure references are in the style detailed in the Guidelines for Authors.
  • Ensure all tables and figures are cited in the text and included with the papers. Tables must be submitted electronically as Word or Excel files.
  • Ensure the series contains no unnecessary repetition.
  • Ensure the series contains no gaps of logic or content.
  • Ensure the series contains no contradictions.
  • Ensure terminology and abbreviations are consistent across the series.
  • Ensure there is a caption for each figure and a title for each table.
  • Ensure all figures clear, sharp, and at least 300 dpi.
  • Ensure written permission has been obtained for any element that is being reprinted or adapted from another publication, and that a copy of the permission is included with the original submission.
  • Suggest an order for the papers.
  • Review page proofs of all articles once typeset.