Medico-Legal Journal Guidelines for Authors

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For referee guidelines, please visit our referee page.

These instructions comply with the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals formulated by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (for further details, see the ICMJE site).

1. Aims and scope
Medico-Legal Journal provides an official record of the proceedings of the Medico-Legal Society and is dedicated to promoting medico-legal knowledge in all its aspects. As well as providing a record of activity in the Society, the journal includes a unique collection of contributions and speeches from eminent speakers at Society events, and Original Articles.

2. Editorial policy

 All submissions to Medico-Legal journal will be considered for publication on the understanding that they are not under consideration, accepted or already published elsewhere. Authors should confirm this in the covering letter accompanying the manuscript.

Covering letter
The covering letter is important. To help the Editor in his preliminary evaluation, please indicate why you think the paper suitable for publication. If your paper should be considered for fast-track publication, please explain why.

Peer review
All papers submitted for publication undergo peer review.

Ethical approval
All research submitted for publication must be approved by an ethics committee where appropriate and the ethical approval number included in the declarations (see below).

Patient consent
Any article containing identifiable patient information must be accompanied by a statement of consent to publication. If there is any doubt about whether or not information is identifiable, the Editor is happy to discuss this before an article is submitted. Reviewers will also be asked to take careful account of issues relating to patient confidentiality when reviewing articles.
Case studies are not the only kinds of article to which this rule will be applied, but they will be subject to additional scrutiny. Not only should submissions be accompanied by a statement of consent, but the Editor also expects to be informed about the measures that have been taken to anonymise the details that could have led to parties being identified. She also reserves the right to work with the authors to make additional anonymising changes as she or the reviewers see fit. The Editor may also ask authors to remove personal information that, whilst interesting and colourful, does not add to the substance of an article, but does increase the likelihood of parties being identified. The exception to this will be where the patient has indicated in writing that she/he wants to be identified, has read the material, has discussed the consequences of being identified, and has agreed to the disclosure of all the personal information contained in the article.
In order to ensure that valuable and novel issues are aired, the Editor will sometimes consider publishing cases studies that contain potentially identifiable information where it has been impossible or clearly undesirable to seek consent from relevant parties. However, given the strong preference for consent having been sought and obtained, the reasons for not seeking consent must be compelling, and the public interest arguments for publishing the case must be powerful. In cases where consent has not been obtained, the authors must provide a statement from a Medical Director or equivalent that the hospital or medical centre is happy for the case to be published.

Competing interests and other declarations
All authors are required to declare any conflicts of interest when submitting papers for publication. Declarations of funding sources, a guarantor and a statement of contributorship are also required. The guarantor is the person willing to take full responsibility for the article, including for the accuracy and appropriateness of the reference list. This will often be the most senior member of the research group and is commonly also the author for correspondence. For example:
Competing interests: EF is an employee of Globescape
Funding: This research was funded by the University of York
Ethical approval: The ethics committee of the University of York approved this study (GH23335H)
Guarantor: AB
Contributorship: AB and CD researched literature and conceived the study. EF was involved in protocol development, gaining ethical approval, patient recruitment and data analysis. AB wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors reviewed and edited the manuscript and approved the final version of the manuscript
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Sarah Powells for her assistance and guidance in this research

All previously published material must be accompanied by the written consent to reproduction of the copyright holder. An acknowledgement of permission should be included at the relevant point in the paper, and a full reference to the original place of publication should be included in the reference list.

Authors of accepted manuscripts will be required to transfer copyright to the Medico-Legal Society prior to publication.

Only the help of those who have made substantial contributions to the study and/or the preparation of the paper should be acknowledged.

3. Types of articles
Papers Presented to the Society
A unique collection of contributions and speeches from eminent speakers at Society events commissioned by the Editor.

Original Articles
The Journal seeks to further the Society’s aims in education on medico-legal matters by commissioning additional articles on topics as diverse as:

  • Developments in the European Legal Orderes: Implications for the Medical Profession
  • Fairchild and the ‘Guilty Fibre’
  • Fact or Fiction? Verbal and Behavioural Clues to Detect Deception
  • Selecting Participants when Testing New Drugs: the Implications of Age and Gender Discrimination
  • Acute Subdural Haematoma in a Boxer

Potential contributors are invited to submit research articles to the Editor, Mrs Diana Brahams.

Letters to the Editor
Letters arise usually but not exclusively from papers published in this and other scientific journals. These are usually up to 800 words.

Book Reviews
Commissioned by the Editor, Mrs Diana Brahams. Notifications about new books should be sent to the Editorial Office

4. How to submit a manuscript
Potential contributors are invited to submit research articles to the Editor, Mrs Diana Brahams

All submissions must be in English.

Tables and figures may be submitted as separate files, in which case the files should be uploaded in the following order: (1) main text, including title page, abstract and references; (2) tables; (3) figures; (4) covering letter; and (5) supplementary files.

File formats
Text files must be saved in .doc or .rtf format. Other suitable formats include .tif or .jpg for photographic images (minimum 300 dpi), .xls for graphs produced in Excel, and .eps for other line drawings.

5. How to prepare a manuscript
Manuscripts must be submitted using double line-spaced, unjustified text throughout, with headings and subheadings in bold case. Press ‘Enter’ only at the end of a paragraph, list entry or heading.

Title page
The first page should contain the full title of the manuscript, a short title, the author(s) name(s) and affiliation(s), and the name, postal and email addresses of the author for correspondence, as well as a full list of declarations. The title should be concise and informative, accurately indicating the content of the article. The short title should be no more than six words long.

An abstract (unstructured, continuous prose) of no more than 150 words must accompany all article types, excepting Editorials, Letters to the Editor and Book reviews.

Tables must be prepared using the Table feature of the word processor. Tables should not duplicate information given in the text, should be numbered in the order in which they are mentioned in the text, and should be given a brief title.

All figures should be numbered in the order in which they are mentioned in the text. All figures must be accompanied by a figure legend. If figures are supplied in separate files, the figure legends must all be listed at the end of the main text file.

Line drawings should be produced electronically and clearly labelled using a sans serif font such as Arial. Graphs may be supplied as Excel spreadsheets (one per sheet). Other line drawings should be supplied in a suitable vector graphic file format (e.g. .eps)

All photographic images should be submitted in camera-ready form (i.e. with all extraneous areas removed), and where necessary, magnification should be shown using a scale marker. Photographic images must be supplied at high resolution, preferably 600 dpi. Images supplied at less than 300 dpi are unsuitable for print and will delay publication. The preferred file format is .tif.

Only essential references should be included. Authors are responsible for verifying them against the original source material. RSM Press uses the Vancouver referencing system: references should be identified in the text by superscript Arabic numerals after any punctuation, and numbered and listed at the end of the paper in the order in which they are first cited in the text. Automatic numbering should be avoided. References should include the names and initials of up to six authors. If there are more than six authors, only the first three should be named, followed by et al. Publications for which no author is apparent may be attributed to the organization from which they originate. Simply omit the name of the author for anonymous journal articles – avoid using ’Anonymous’. Punctuation in references should be kept to a minimum, as shown in the following examples:

1. Young S, Gudjonsson GH, Needham-Bennett H, Chick K, et al. Service audit of a forensic rehabilitation ward. Med Sci Law 2009;49:291-7

2. Baron DN, McKenzie Clarke H, eds. Units, Symbols, and Abbreviations. A Guide for Authors and Editors in Medicine and Related Sciences. 6th edn. London: Royal Society of Medicine Press, 2008

3. Snowden P. Regional secure units and forensic services in England and Wales. In: Bluglass R, Bowden P, eds. Principles and Practice of Forensic Psychiatry. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1990:1375-86

4. Milliken C, D’Souza G. Ventricular septal defect. (last checked 11 June 2009)

Abbreviations must be defined in full at their first mention in the text. Authors should not create new abbreviations and acronyms. The RSM’s book Units, Symbols and Abbreviations provides lists of approved abbreviations.

All measurements should be expressed in SI units (exception: mmHg for blood pressure).

If preparing statistical data for publication, please read the statistical guidelines.

6. Proofs and eprints
Proofs will be sent by email to the designated corresponding author as a PDF file attachment and should be corrected and returned promptly; corrections should be kept to a minimum.

A PDF eprint of each published article will be supplied free of charge to the author for correspondence; hardcopy offprints may be ordered from the publisher when the proofs are returned.