Editorial Policies

On this page: Authorship | Communication | Transparency & Ethics | Image Integrity and Standards | Permissions | Pre- and Post- Submissions | Misconduct

The BJC is committed to upholding the integrity of the scientific record. Researchers should conduct their research – from research proposal to publication – in line with best practices and codes of conduct of relevant professional bodies and/or national and international regulatory bodies.

To download our Editorial Policies, please click here


Requirements for all categories of articles should conform to the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals,” developed by the ICMJE (www.icmje.org).

Each author must have contributed sufficiently to the intellectual content of the submission. The corresponding author should list all authors and their contributions to the work. The corresponding author must confirm that he or she has had full access to the data in the study and final responsibility for the decision to submit for publication.

To qualify as a contributing author, each person must meet ALL the following criteria:

  1. Conceived and/or designed the work that led to the submission, acquired data, and/or played an important role in interpreting the results.
  2. Drafted or revised the manuscript.
  3. Approved the final version.
  4. Agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved

Contributions by individuals who made direct contributions to the work but do not meet all of the above criteria should be noted in the Acknowledgements section of the manuscript.  Medical writers and industry employees can be contributors. Their roles, affiliations, and potential conflicts of interest should be included in the author list or noted in the Acknowledgements and/or Authorship section.

The primary affiliation for each author should be the institution where the majority of their work was done. If an author has subsequently moved, the current address may also be stated.

Changes to Authorship

It is the corresponding author’s responsibility to ensure that the author list is correct at the point of first submission. Requests to change the authorship (such as to include or exclude an author, change an author's name or contribution) must be accompanied by a completed Authorship Change Form, which is available from the Editorial Office. New authors must also confirm that they fully comply with the journal's authorship requirements.

Requests for addition or removal of authors as a result of authorship disputes (after acceptance) are honoured after formal notification by the institute or independent body and/or when there is agreement between all authors. Changes to the authorship will not be allowed once the manuscript has been accepted for publication.


Correspondence with the Journal

The corresponding author is solely responsible for communicating with the journal and with managing communication between co-authors.  It is this author's responsibility to inform all co-authors of any matters arising and to ensure such matters are dealt with promptly. Before submission, the corresponding author must ensure that all authors are included in the author list, its order agreed upon by all authors, and that all are aware that the manuscript was submitted. 

After acceptance for publication, proofs are e-mailed to this corresponding author who should circulate the proof to all co-authors and coordinate corrections among them. The corresponding author is responsible for the accuracy of all content in the proof, in particular that names of co-authors are present and correctly spelt, and that addresses and affiliations are current.

Communication with the Media

Material submitted must not be discussed with the media. We reserve the right to halt the consideration or publication of a paper if this condition is broken. If a manuscript is particularly newsworthy, the press release will be sent to our list of journalists in advance of publication with an embargo that forbids any coverage of the manuscript, or the findings of the manuscript, until the time and date clearly stated. Authors whose papers are scheduled for publication may also arrange their own publicity (for instance through their institution’s press offices), but they must strictly adhere to our press embargo and are advised to coordinate their own publicity with our CRUK press office (press@nature.com).

Communication between Scientists

We do not wish to hinder communication between scientists. We ask you to communicate with other researchers as much as you wish, whether on a recognised community preprint server, by discussion at scientific meetings or by online collaborative sites such as wikis, but we do not encourage premature publication by discussion with the press (beyond a formal presentation, if at a conference).

Transparency and Ethics

Competing interests

Competing interests are defined as those that, through their potential influence on behaviour or content, or from perception of such potential influences, could undermine the objectivity, integrity or perceived value of a publication. Whilst financial relationships are the most easily identifiable conflicts of interest (and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal, the authors, and science itself) conflicts can occur for other reasons, such as personal relationships, academic competition, and intellectual passion.

In the interests of transparency and to help readers form their own judgments of potential bias, authors must declare whether or not there are any competing financial and non-financial interests in relation to the work described. This information must be included in both their cover letter and in the Additional Information section of the manuscript. In cases where the authors declare a competing interest, a statement to that effect is published as part of the article. If no such conflict exists, the statement will simply read that the authors have nothing to disclose. For the purposes of this statement, competing interests can include any of the following:

  • Funding: Research support (including salaries, equipment, supplies, reimbursement for attending symposia, and other expenses) by organisations that may gain or lose financially through this publication. The role of the funding body in the design of the study, collection and analysis of data and decision to publish should be stated.
  • Employment: Recent (while engaged in the research project), present or anticipated employment by any organisation that may gain or lose financially through this publication. This includes positions on an advisory board, board of directors, or other type of management relationship.
  • Personal financial interests: Stocks or shares in companies that may gain or lose financially through publication; consultation fees or other forms of remuneration from organisations that may gain or lose financially; patents or patent applications whose value may be affected by publication.
  • Patents: Holding, or currently applying for, patents relating to the content of a manuscript; receiving reimbursement, fees, funding, or salary from an organisation that holds or has applied for patents relating to the content of the manuscript. We do not consider diversified mutual funds or investment trusts to constitute a competing financial interest.
  • A close relationship with, or a strong antipathy to, a person whose interests may be affected by publication of the article.
  • An academic link or rivalry with someone whose interests may be affected by publication of the article.
  • Membership in a political party or special interest group whose interests may be affected by publication of the article, or
  • A deep personal or religious conviction that may have affected what the author wrote and that readers should be aware of when reading the article.

The competing interests statement must contain an explicit and unambiguous statement describing any potential conflict of interest, or lack thereof, for any of the authors as it relates to the subject of the report. Neither the precise amount received from each entity nor the aggregate income from these sources needs to be provided. Professional services include any activities for which the individual is, has been, or will be compensated with cash, royalties, fees, stock or stock options in exchange for work performed, advice or counsel provided, or for other services related to the author’s professional knowledge and skills. This would include, but not necessarily be limited to, the identification of organisations from which the author received contracts or in which he or she holds an equity stake if professional services were provided in conjunction with the transaction.

Examples of declarations are:

  • Competing interests.
    The authors declare no competing interests.
  • Competing interests.
    Dr Caron's work has been funded by the NIH. He has received compensation as a member of the scientific advisory board of Acadia Pharmaceutical and owns stock in the company. He also has consulted for Lundbeck and received compensation. Dr Rothman and Dr Jensen declare no potential competing interests.

Reviewers approached for assessment of submitted articles are also requested to declare conflicts of interest that may impede on their judgement of that article. This includes competing research in the same area that could be negatively affected by publication of the submitted article.

Studies involving humans and animals

Research involving human subjects, human material, or human data must have been performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and must have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee. A statement detailing this, including the name of the ethics committee and the reference number where appropriate, must appear in all manuscripts reporting such research.

For experiments involving human subjects, authors must include with their submission a statement confirming that informed consent was obtained from all subjects.

For primary research manuscripts reporting experiments on live vertebrates and/or higher invertebrates, the corresponding author must confirm that all experiments were performed in accordance with relevant guidelines and regulations. The additional information section of the manuscript must include a statement identifying the institutional and/or licensing committee approving the experiments, including any relevant details regarding animal welfare, patient anonymity, drug side effects and informed consent. Sex and other characteristics of animals that may influence results must be described. Details of housing and husbandry must be included where they are likely to influence experimental results. The BJC recommends following the ARRIVE2.0 reporting guidelines when documenting animal studies.

Clinical Trials

As defined by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), a clinical trial is any research project that prospectively assigns human subjects to intervention and comparison groups to study the cause-and-effect relationship between a medical intervention and a health outcome. A medical intervention is any intervention used to modify a health outcome and includes, but is not limited to, drugs, surgical procedures, devices, behavioural treatments, and process-of-care changes. A trial must have at least one prospectively assigned concurrent control or comparison group in order to trigger the requirement for registration. Non-randomised trials are not exempt from the registration requirement if they meet the above criteria.

All clinical trials must be registered in a public registry prior to submission and the trial registry number must be included in the manuscript and provided on submission. The BJC follows the trials registration policy of the ICMJE (www.icmje.org) and considers only trials that have been appropriately registered before submission, regardless of when the trial closed to enrolment. Acceptable registries must meet the following ICMJE requirements:

  • Be publicly available, searchable, and open to all prospective registrants;
  • Have a validation mechanism for registration data;
  • Be managed by a not-for-profit organisation.

Examples of registries that meet these criteria include:

Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) must adhere to the CONSORT statement (CONsolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) and submissions must be accompanied by a completed CONSORT checklist (uploaded as a related Supplementary Information file).

Cell Line Authentication

If human cell lines are used, authors should include the following information in their manuscript:

  • The source of the cell line, including when and from where it was obtained;
  • whether the cell line has recently been authenticated and by what method; and
  • whether the cell line has recently been tested for mycoplasma contamination.

Further information is available from the International Cell Line Authentication Committee (ICLAC). We recommend that authors check the NCBI database for misidentification and contamination of human cell lines.

Biosecurity Policy

The Editor may seek advice about submitted papers not only from technical reviewers, but also on any aspect of a paper that raises concerns. These may include, for example, ethical issues or issues of data or materials access. Occasionally, concerns may also relate to the implications to society of publishing a paper, including threats to security. In such circumstances, advice will usually be sought simultaneously with the technical peer review process. As in all publishing decisions, the ultimate decision whether to publish is the responsibility of the Editor.

Research Data Policy

BJC adheres to Springer Nature’s Data Policy Type 3. This means that a submission to the Journal implies that the materials described in the manuscript, including all relevant raw data, will be freely available to any researcher wishing to use them for non-commercial purposes, without breaching participant confidentiality. It also means that a Data Availability Statement (see here for more details) is required by the journal.

Sequences, Structures and “Omics”

Papers reporting protein or DNA sequences and molecular structures will not be accepted without an accession number to Genbank/EMBL/DDBJSWISS-PROT, Protein Databank, or other publicly available database in general use in the appropriate field, that gives free access to researchers from the date of publication.

Authors of papers describing structures of biological macromolecules must provide experimental data upon the request of the Editor if they are not already freely accessible in a publicly available database such as ProteinDataBank, Biological Magnetic Resonance Databank, or Nucleic Acid Database.

Image Integrity and Standards

Images submitted with a manuscript for review should be minimally processed (for instance, to add arrows to a micrograph). Authors should retain their unprocessed data and metadata files, as editors may request them to aid in manuscript evaluation. If unprocessed data is unavailable, manuscript evaluation may be stalled until the issue is resolved.

A certain degree of image processing is acceptable for publication, but the final image must correctly represent the original data and conform to community standards. The guidelines below will aid in accurate data presentation at the image processing level:

  • Authors should document all image acquisition tools, key image-gathering settings, image processing software packages and processing manipulations in the Methods section.
  • Images gathered at different times or from different locations should not be combined into a single image, unless it is stated that the resultant image is a product of time-averaged data or a time-lapse sequence. If juxtaposing images is essential, the borders should be clearly demarcated in the figure and described in the legend.
  • Touch-up tools, such as cloning and healing tools in Photoshop, or any feature that deliberately obscures manipulations, is to be avoided.
  • Processing (such as changing brightness and contrast) is appropriate only when it is applied equally across the entire image and is applied equally to controls. Contrast should not be adjusted such that data disappears. Excessive manipulations, such as processing to emphasise one region in the image at the expense of others (for example, through the use of a biased choice of threshold settings), is inappropriate, as is emphasising experimental data relative to the control.

For gels and blots, positive and negative controls, as well as molecular size markers, should be included on each gel and blot – either in the main figure or an expanded data supplementary figure. The display of cropped gels and blots in the main paper is allowed if it improves the clarity and conciseness of the presentation. In such cases, the cropping must be mentioned in the figure legend.

  • Vertically sliced gels that juxtapose lanes that were not contiguous in the experiment must have a clear separation or a black line delineating the boundary between the gels.
  • Cropped gels in the paper must retain important bands.
  • Cropped blots in the body of the paper should retain at least six band widths above and below the band.
  • High-contrast gels and blots are discouraged, as overexposure may mask additional bands. Authors should strive for exposures with grey backgrounds. Immunoblots should be surrounded by a black line to indicate the borders of the blot, if the background is faint.
  • For quantitative comparisons, appropriate reagents, controls and imaging methods with linear signal ranges should be used.

Microscopy adjustments should be applied to the entire image. Threshold manipulation, expansion or contraction of signal ranges and the altering of high signals should be avoided. If ‘pseudo-colouring’ and nonlinear adjustment (for example ‘gamma changes’) are used, this must be disclosed. Adjustments of individual colour channels are sometimes necessary on ‘merged’ images, but this should be noted in the figure legend. We encourage inclusion of the following with the final revised version of the manuscript for publication:

  • In the Methods section, specify the type of equipment (microscopes/objective lenses, cameras, detectors, filter model and batch number) and acquisition software used. Although we appreciate that there is some variation between instruments, equipment settings for critical measurements should also be listed.
  • The display lookup table (LUT) and the quantitative map between the LUT and the bitmap should be provided, especially when rainbow pseudo-colour is used. It should be stated if the LUT is linear and covers the full range of the data.
  • Processing software should be named and manipulations indicated (such as type of deconvolution, three-dimensional reconstructions, surface and volume rendering, 'gamma changes', filtering, thresholding and projection).
  • Authors should state the measured resolution at which an image was acquired and any downstream processing or averaging that enhances the resolution of the image.


If a table or figure has been previously published, the authors must obtain written permission to reproduce the material in both print and electronic formats from the copyright owner, and submit the permission clearance documentation with the manuscript. This follows for illustrations and other materials taken from previously published works not in the public domain. The original source should be cited in the figure caption or table footnote. Permission to reproduce material can usually be obtained through the Copyright Clearance Center.

Pre- and Post-Submissions


Preprint posting is not considered as prior publication and will not jeopardise consideration at the BJC. Preprints will not be considered when determining the conceptual advance provided by a study under consideration at BJC.

The original submitted version of the manuscript (the version that has not undergone peer review) may be posted at any time. Authors should disclose details of preprint posting, including the DOI, upon submission of the manuscript to the journal, and appropriately reference the preprint within the text of the main manuscript or alternatively in the Acknowledgements section.

Preprints should be cited in the reference list as below:

Cheng, D.K., Oni, R.E., Park, Y., Thalappillil, J.S., Ting, H.-c., Prasad, N. et al. Oncogenic KRAS engages an RSK1/NF1 complex in pancreatic cancer. bioRxiv, Preprint posted online 14 September 2020, https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.09.14.295394 (2020).

Upon acceptance in the BJC, if you have posted a preprint on any preprint server, please ensure that the preprint details are updated with a publication reference, including the DOI and a URL to the published version of the article on the journal website.

Conference Abstracts

Conference abstracts presented at, or published as part of, scientific meetings do not preclude consideration for peer review of a full manuscript, but should be declared within the Acknowledgement section detailing the name of the authors, title and meeting date and location. Published abstract should also be cited in the reference list as below:

Collinson, M., Mason, E., Farrin, A., Ashley, L., Richards, S., Brunt, G. et al. Cancer Together with other Chronic Health conditions (CATCH): understanding population characteristics and healthcare resource use in general practice. Br. J Cancer 121 (Suppl 1): S1 (abstract 87) (2019)

Post-Publication – self-archiving

For Open Access content published under a Creative Commons licence, authors can replace the submitted version with the final published version at publication as long as a publication reference and URL to the published version on the journal website are provided.

For articles published under a standard licence, the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (authors’ accepted version of the manuscript) may only be posted 6 months after the paper is published, consistent with our self-archiving embargo. Please note that the Author’s Accepted Manuscript may not be released under a Creative Commons licence. For our Terms of Reuse of archived manuscripts please click here.


The BJC and Springer Nature takes seriously all allegations of potential misconduct. As a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the BJC abides by COPE’s principles on how to deal with potential acts of misconduct, which includes formal investigation of all perceived transgressions. As part of the investigation, the journal may opt to do one or more of the following:

  • Suspend review or publication of a paper until the issue has been investigated and resolved;
  • Request additional information from the author, including original data or images, or ethics committee or IRB approval;
  • Make inquiries of other titles believed to be affected;
  • Forward concerns to the author’s employer or person responsible for research governance at the author’s institution;
  • Refer the matter to other authorities or regulatory bodies (for example, the Office of Research Integrity in the US or the General Medical Council in the UK); or
  • Submit the case to COPE in an anonymised form for additional guidance on resolution.

Please note that, in keeping with the journal’s policy of the confidentiality of peer review, if sharing of information with third parties is necessary, disclosure will be made to only those Editors who the Editor believes may have information that is pertinent to the case, and the amount of information will be limited to the minimum required.

Duplicate Publication

Papers submitted to the BJC must be original and not published or submitted for publication elsewhere. This rule also applies to non-English language publications.

Springer Nature is a member of Similarity Check (formerly CrossCheck), a multi-publisher initiative used to screen published and submitted content for originality. The BJC uses Similarity Check to detect instances of overlapping and similar text in submitted manuscripts. Any suspected cases of covert duplicate manuscript submission/publication will be handled as outlined in the COPE guidelines and the Editor may contact the authors’ institution.


Plagiarism is the practice of an author attempting to pass off someone else's work as his or her own. Whereas duplicate publication, sometimes called self-plagiarism, occurs when an author reuses substantial parts of his or her own published work without providing the appropriate references. If a case of plagiarism comes to light after a paper is published, the Journal will conduct a preliminary investigation, utilising the guidelines of the COPE. If plagiarism is proven, the Journal will contact the author's institute and funding agencies as appropriate. The paper containing the plagiarism may also be formally retracted or subject to correction.

In general, the manuscript should not already have been formally published in any journal or in any other citable form. However, the BJC allows and encourages prior publication on recognised community preprint servers for review by other scientists before formal submission to a journal. The details of the preprint server and/or any accession numbers should be included in the cover letter accompanying manuscript submission and should be appropriately referenced within the main manuscript. Data and analyses of previously published as part of a doctoral thesis under an Open Access licence can be included with appropriate referencing.

Data Falsification and Fabrication

Falsification is the practice of altering research data with the intention of giving a false impression. This includes, but is not limited to, manipulating images, removing outliers or “inconvenient” results, or changing, adding or omitting data points. Fabrication is the practice of inventing data or results and recording and/or reporting them in the research record. Data falsification and fabrication call into question the integrity and credibility of data and the data record, and as such, they are among the most serious issues in scientific ethics.

Some minor manipulation of images is permitted to improve them for readability. Proper technical manipulation includes adjusting the contrast and/or brightness or colour balance if it is applied to the complete digital image (not parts of the image). The author should notify the Editor in the cover letter of any technical manipulation. Improper technical manipulation refers to obscuring, enhancing, deleting and/or introducing new elements into an image. See Image Integrity & Standards above for more details.

Correction and Retraction Process

Content published as Advance Online Publication (AOP) is final and cannot be amended. The online and print versions are both part of the published record hence the original version must be preserved and changes to the paper should be made as a formal correction. If an error is noticed in an AOP article, a correction should accompany the article when it publishes in print. An HTML (or full-text) version of the correction will also be created and linked to the original article. If the error is found in an article after print publication the correction will be published online and in the next available print issue.

Corrections to published articles should be requested by completing this form and submitting it to the Editorial Office. All requests for corrections will be assessed by our Editors to see if they qualify based on the following two criteria:

  1. if the error impacts the indexing of the article; and
  2. if the error impacts the scientific integrity of the article.

Decisions about corrections are made by the Editor (sometimes with peer-reviewers' advice) and this sometimes involves author consultation. Requests to make corrections that do not affect the paper in a significant way or impair the reader's understanding of the contribution (a spelling mistake or grammatical error, for example) are not considered. Updates to the original article are only allowed in exceptional cases.

Corrections will appear as a new article (with its own DOI) and will bi-directionally linked to the original article. Please note the following categories of corrections online versions of peer reviewed content:

  • Correction. Notification of an important error made by the author or journal that affects the publication record or the scientific integrity of the paper, together with the correct information.
  • Retraction. Notification of invalid results. Where a paper is retracted, a statement will be published that includes a full justification for the retraction. The original article will be marked as retracted, but remain available to readers. 
  • Editorial Note of Concern: Where significant issues have been raised, but the outcome of an official investigation is delayed, the editors may publish a note of concern to alert readers. In cases where co-authors disagree about a correction/retraction, the editors will take advice from independent peer-reviewers and impose the appropriate correction, noting the dissenting author(s) in the text of the published version.

If there is suspicion of misconduct, the journal will carry out an investigation following COPE guidelines. Following an investigation, if the allegation raises valid concerns, the author will be contacted and given an opportunity to address the issue. If misconduct is established beyond reasonable doubt, this may result in the Editor implementing one of the following measures:

  • If the article is still under consideration, it may be rejected and returned to the author.
  • If the article has already been published online, depending on the nature and severity of the infraction, either a correction will be published alongside the article or, in severe cases, complete retraction of the article will occur. The reason for the correction or retraction must be given.

In either case, the author’s institution or funding agency may be informed.

In cases where co-authors disagree about a correction or retraction, the Editors will take advice from independent peer reviewers and impose the appropriate measure, noting the dissenting author(s) in the text of the published version.