Submit a Theme Issue


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. We recommend that anyone interested in coordinating a theme issue write a letter to the BCMJ editor-in-chief outlining proposed article 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 four or more articles, the theme issue may be split into two consecutive issues of the BCMJ, each accompanied by a guest editorial.

Guest editors should consider soliciting articles from authors outside Vancouver and Victoria and include articles relevant 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 most months, and receives manuscripts to be reviewed and discussed at the following month-end meeting. Please ensure your manuscripts are submitted by the Wednesday before a meeting. 

Normally, at least 6 months elapse between the time manuscripts 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 manuscripts at least 6 to 9 months before the desired 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 before writing.

Each author must complete the online “Author Form" for each manuscript.

All materials for the theme issue—manuscripts, guest editorial(s), and author forms—must be submitted together. An incomplete theme issue will not be reviewed. After the Editorial Board has reviewed the submitted materials, the editor-in-chief will write to the guest editor detailing the Board’s decision. Some revisions are normally requested, which the guest editor coordinates.

Once revisions have been completed, the guest editor submits the revised materials and the BCMJ editor-in-chief reviews the revisions and makes a publication decision. Normally the guest editor will then receive a letter from the BCMJ's editorial and production specialist with a proposed publication date, along with any final minor revision requests. 

After the theme issue is accepted

Once the theme issue is accepted and scheduled for publication, you will begin to work with the BCMJ’s associate editor. Articles will be copyedited into BCMJ style. The editors will make changes to improve clarity and to conform with the publication's requirements, and seek clarification where necessary via a query letter to you.

The theme issue is then designed, and page proofs are emailed to you. You should distribute the articles to their respective authors for proofreading and then check them yourself before returning them to the BCMJ.

As the publication date approaches, there are usually a few final questions to resolve, so you should ensure you or a trusted co-author are available by telephone and email in the month before publication.

Once the issue is published, you may be called upon by journalists to comment on the subjects raised in the articles. Media enquiries are handled by Doctors of BC’s media relations manager.

Special requirements for theme issues

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

Guest editorial. This is usually written by the person who coordinates the theme issue. However, if the guest editor is not a physician, we suggest that the editorial be co-written with a physician contributor. The guest editorial introduces the theme issue. It may be an overview of the articles, 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.

Photo. A head-and-shoulders photo of the guest editor is published with the guest editorial and should be included with the initial submission.

The front page. The front page of each article should include:

  • The ordinal number of the article.
  • A proposed title.
  • Each author’s name as they want it to appear in the publication.
  • Each author’s degrees and accreditations, normally beginning with MD or MB.
  • Each author’s practice information and academic affiliations, sufficient for a brief author note.
  • The mailing address, email, and telephone number for the corresponding author and one co-author (as a backup).

Overview of a guest editor’s responsibilities

  • Provide deadlines/schedules to authors.
  • Provide the BCMJ’s Guidelines for Authors to authors.
  • Ensure authors complete the BCMJ “Author Form" online.
  • 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 manuscripts, ensuring:
    • Each manuscript contains an abstract.
    • Canadian and BC statistics/studies are used whenever possible.
    • References are in the style detailed in the Guidelines for Authors.
    • All tables and figures are cited in the text and included with the manuscripts.
    • The series contains no unnecessary repetition.
    • The series contains no gaps of logic or content.
    • The series contains no contradictions.
    • Terminology and abbreviations are consistent across the series.
    • There is a caption for each figure and a title for each table.
    • All figures are clear, sharp, and at least 300 dpi.
    • 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 manuscripts.
  • Review page proofs of all articles once typeset.

Contact us

Editor-in-chief: Caitlin Dunne, MD

Managing editor: Jay Draper; 604 638-2814

Associate editor: Joanne Jablkowski; 604 638-2858

Editorial and production specialist: Tara Lyon; 604 638-2815