Excerpts from "Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals: Writing and editing for biomedical publication"*

International Committee of Medical Journal Editors

About the uniform requirements

A small group of editors of general medical journals 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 National Library of Medicine, 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 gradually has broadened its concerns to include ethical principles related to publication in biomedical journals.

The ICMJE has produced multiple editions of the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals. Over the years, issues have arisen that go beyond manuscript preparation, resulting in the development of a number of Separate Statements on editorial policy. The entire Uniform Requirements document was revised in 1997; sections were updated in May 1999 and May 2000. In May 2001, the ICMJE revised the sections related to potential conflict of interest. In 2003, the committee revised and reorganized the entire document and incorporated the Separate Statements into the text. The committee prepared this revision in 2005.

* Excerpt reproduced with permission from International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, The ICMJE has not endorsed nor approved the contents of this reprint. This document is updated at least yearly; the latest version is located at <>, which is the appropriate citation for this document. It may be downloaded and reproduced for educational, not-for-profit purposes without regard for copyright.


IV. A. Preparing a manuscript for submission to a biomedical journal

Editors and reviewers spend many hours reading manuscripts, and therefore appreciate receiving manuscripts that are easy to read and edit. Much of the information in journals' instructions to authors is designed to accomplish that goal in ways that meet each journal's particular editorial needs. The guidance that follows provides a general background and rationale for preparing manuscripts for any journal.

IV.A.1.a. General principles

The text of observational and experimental articles is usually (but not necessarily) divided into sections with the headings Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. This so-called "IMRAD" structure is not simply an arbitrary publication format, but rather a direct reflection of the process of scientific discovery. Long articles may need subheadings within some sections (especially the Results and Discussion sections) to clarify their content. Other types of articles, such as case reports, reviews, and editorials, are likely to need other formats.

Publication in electronic formats has created opportunities for adding details or whole sections in the electronic version only, layering information, cross-linking or extracting portions of articles, and the like. Authors need to work closely with editors in developing or using such new publication formats and should submit material for potential supplementary electronic formats for peer review.

Double spacing of all portions of the manuscript - including the title page, abstract, text, acknowledgments, references, individual tables, and legends -and generous margins make it possible for editors and reviewers to edit the text line by line, and add comments and queries, directly on the paper copy. If manuscripts are submitted electronically, the files should be double spaced, because the manuscript may need to be printed out for reviewing and editing.

During the editorial process, reviewers and editors frequently need to refer to specific portions of the manuscript, which is difficult unless the pages are numbered. Authors should therefore number all of the pages of the manuscript consecutively, beginning with the title page.

IV. A.1.b. Reporting guidelines for specific study designs

Research reports frequently omit important information. The general requirements listed in the next section relate to reporting essential elements for all study designs. Authors are encouraged in addition to consult reporting guidelines relevant to their specific research design. For reports of randomized controlled trials authors should refer to the CONSORT statement. This guideline provides a set of recommendations comprising a list of items to report and a patient flow

Appendix 2: Uniform requirements Reporting guidelines [for specific research design]


Type of study


CONSORT randomized controlled trials STARD studies of diagnostic accuracy

QUOROM systematic reviews and meta-analyses

STROBE observational studies in epidemiology MOOSE meta-analyses of observational studies in epidemiology stardstatement.htm Initiatives/MOOSE/moose.pdf Initiatives/MOOSE/moose.pdf diagram. Reporting guidelines have also been developed for a number of other study designs that some journals may ask authors to follow (see Table: Reporting Guidelines). Authors should consult the information for authors of the journal they have chosen.

IV.A.2. Title page The title page should carry the following information:

1. The title of the article. Concise titles are easier to read than long, convoluted ones. Titles that are too short may, however, lack important information, such as study design (which is particularly important in identifying randomized controlled trials). Authors should include all information in the title that will make electronic retrieval of the article both sensitive and specific.

2. Authors' names and institutional affiliations. Some journals publish each author's highest academic degree(s), while others do not.

3. The name of the department(s) and institution(s) to which the work should be attributed.

4. Disclaimers, if any.

5. Corresponding authors. The name, mailing address, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail address of the author responsible for correspondence about the manuscript (the "corresponding author;" this author may or may not be the "guarantor" for the integrity of the study as a whole, if someone is identified in that role. The corresponding author should indicate clearly whether his or her e-mail address is to be published.

6. The name and address of the author to whom requests for reprints should be addressed or a statement that reprints will not be available from the authors.

7. Source(s) of support in the form of grants, equipment, drugs, or all of these.

8. A running head. Some journals request a short running head or foot line, usually of no more than 40 characters (count letters and spaces) at the foot of the title page. Running heads are published in most journals, but are also sometimes used within the editorial office for filing and locating manuscripts.

9. Word counts. A word count for the text only (excluding abstract, acknowledgments, figure legends, and references) allows editors and reviewers to assess whether the information contained in the paper warrants the amount of space devoted to it, and whether the submitted manuscript fits within the journal's word limits. A separate word count for the Abstract is also useful for the same reason.

10. The number of figures and tables. It is difficult for editorial staff and reviewers to tell if the figures and tables that should have accompanied a manuscript were actually included unless the numbers of figures and tables that belong to the manuscript are noted on the title page.

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