rss

 

查看本页中文译文
View a Chinese translation of this page >>

Instructions for Authors

For guidelines on policy and submission across our journals, please click on the links below:
Manuscript preparation
Editorial policies
Patient consent forms
Licence forms
Peer review
Submission and production processes

Thank you for writing for Practical Neurology.  Our journal differs from many others, so please read the notes below for advice on submitting your article, preferably before you spend time and effort doing so.

Overall considerations

Check with the editors first
In general, papers in Practical Neurology are commissioned (particularly reviews), as this allows us to plan and balance our content.  You should therefore consider writing to us about your idea before submission. An article already commissioned and not yet available to the readership may already cover your topic.To write to us, please find our contact details on the Editorial Board page here

Experienced clinician authors
Readers of Practical Neurology put a lot of weight on an author’s clinical experience—especially when considering issues where evidence is limited. Less experienced authors should consider collaborating with more experienced clinicians to bring this perspective to their papers.

Not original research
We aim to assemble evidence in an easily digestible form to help neurologists in their clinical practice.  For this reason, and unlike many other journals, we do not publish original research.

Practically focused
Practical Neurology aims to publish papers of practical value to busy clinical neurologists. Reviews need to be evidence-based and practically focused.  Reports of clinical cases must have a clear message that might influence clinical practice. We welcome editorials, opinion pieces, ‘Test Yourself’ articles, fillers, and other article types but every paper does need to emphasise its practical value.

Rarities must have a practical value
Other journals often look for the primacy of a first reported case. We prefer to emphasise conditions and situations that clinicians are likely to encounter in clinical practice and those rare treatable diseases that you would not want to miss. We prefer common to rare and treatable to untreatable.

Reviews are not just reviews
Papers in Practical Neurology should not simply be a summary of a subject that could be gleaned from the literature. Rather they should be a critical and evidence-based review, with comments on the quality of the available evidence, built from the author’s practical experience.  Reviews will often contain advice, based on experience, about what to do in situations not covered by available evidence (with appropriate rationale and caveats).  Papers can be scientific, historical, artistic, political, etc., but must have relevance to clinical neurology.

Write with the reader in mind
Please set out your text to make it attractive and readable. Consider breaking up the text with clinical vignettes; using bullet points, text boxes or diagrams to illustrate points.

Language and Style

See ‘Practical Neurology House Style’. If you are not a native English speaker and would like assistance with your article there is a professional editing service available. 

BMJ's pre-submission checklist

Article Types

Most Practical Neurology articles fall into one of the categories below. We will occasionally publish articles that defy this classification—if they are practical and interesting enough.

Core article types

Editorials
An editorial addresses an issue of relevance to neurologists: therapeutic, political, social, ethical, economic, etc. Editorials must be relevant to our international readership and not simply to neurology in the United Kingdom.
Maximum 800 words and 4 references.

Reviews
There are 2 or 3 major reviews in each issue. These are authoritative, evidence-based, stand-alone articles that are definitive and up-to-date (at least for a while). Ideally, they are based on systematic reviews of the evidence, though they are not in themselves “Cochrane style” systematic reviews. They are firmly directed at the practising neurologist and should be educational rather than dusty guidelines. Where there is no evidence to support a course of action, we should not be shy to say so. When something seems common sense or is based on experience, then again we should not be afraid to say so rather than dress it up in bogus pathophysiology. Whatever else, the reviews are practical in the sense of being useful to the ordinary neurologist seeing ordinary patients in ordinary clinical practice. They should elicit the exchange over coffee: “Have you seen the great review on … in Practical Neurology?” Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 4000 words, no more than 40 references.

Case-based articles

Many of our papers are based on a clinical case or small number of cases.  These can be categorised into one of the following article types, depending on the focus and message of the paper.

A difficult case
We come across these cases all the time in our routine practice. Here we ask a neurologist to describe a real and difficult case, what the problems are, and how it should be managed. The difficulty might be in the diagnosis, management or both. For example, a patient with Guillain–Barré syndrome who does not respond to plasma exchange or intravenous immunoglobulin. These cases should have an instantly recognisable real life feel to them. If necessary, we will get a comment from an expert in the area under discussion. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 2 references.

Clinicopathological conference 
These are taken from—among other places—the Edinburgh Advanced Clinical Neurology Course. They are fairly straightforward verbatim accounts, put together by the contributors. They must have an answer to the diagnosis in the pathology, which might be a biopsy or better an autopsy. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 4000 words and 10 references.

Image of the moment
Here we are looking for attractive, interesting and illuminating clinical photographs, perhaps of a physical sign, a fundus, imaging, etc. These are arranged in a collage above a paragraph or two describing a case, or the disorder.
Maximum 500 words, 2 references and up to 4 high quality photographs.

Neurological rarities
An unkind alternative title is “anorak corner”. The idea here is to succumb to neurologists’ fascination with rarities and to have short articles on diseases that we should know about but may never see. They could be based on real cases with a discussion of pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment. Please remember that, although it is a rare problem, it is important to emphasise its implication for clinical practice.  Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 2 references.

Test yourself
This is a modestly interactive section where a case is presented in several parts, split up by maybe 2–6 questions to do with diagnosis and/or management. After each question there is an answer or comment to guide the reader along, and there might be a brief discussion at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 3 references.

“How to..” and related papers

The title says it all.  These papers are evidence based and practical. 

How to do it
The point is in the title—evidence-based, practical and sensible tips from people who know what they are doing. How they do it, in every day practice, and why they do it that way. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 2000 words and 2-4 suggestions for further reading.

How to understand it
The point is in the title—we are looking for brief articles by experts to explain simply the sorts of things that neurologists should know something about but often don’t—for example: meta-analysis, PCR, Doppler ultrasound.  Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 2000 words and 2-4 suggestions for further reading.

What neurologists need to understand outside their own specialty
Neurologists interact with many other specialists who request tests and do things that can be as mysterious to us as our tests and activities are to them. Here we try and demystify some of the things that are sometimes done on our “neurological” patients. What are they done for? How are they done? What are the risks? What is their usefulness? Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 3000 words and 4 references.

Occasional papers

There are several other paper types that are of interest to practising neurologists.

A paper, book, or conversation that changed my practice
This should have the same effect as a patient that changes practice. We are looking for an account of a paper, book or conversation that was, in some way, a revelation to the author and how it changed the way he or she now does things. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 2 references.

Book reviews
Rather than ask people to review a particular book we will usually review particular topics from time to time under the rubric “Best books in…” for example stroke, or for medical students. But we will do occasional ordinary book reviews as well, if interesting books are sent along.
Maximum 1500 words.

A patient that changed my practice 
Essentially we are looking for cases where the author has learnt something really important that has affected his or her own practice forever more; maybe a mistake or a near miss. Whatever, the case will illuminate some corner of neurology and make us all better physicians. It will have the same attraction as the accounts of legal cases in the journals of the medical defence societies. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 2 references.

Ask the expert 
About 10 clinically relevant questions will be put to an expert in a particular condition and he or she should answer these in a straightforward and practical way. A distinction should be made between answers based on evidence, common sense, anecdote or experience. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 3000 words and 1 reference/question.

From the retired
A slightly facetious—but serious—idea, asking retired neurologists to muse on the past and how it compares with today. Topics of interest might be changes in neurological treatment (arsenic for syphilis), changes in disease understanding (CJD from degeneration to epidemic), changes in patient expectations (paternalism to consumerism), changes in training (osmosis to tick boxes), changes in clinical meetings (hushed reverence to cheeky interruptions), and so on. Was the past as ‘golden’ as it seems now?
Maximum 800 words and 2 references.

Ethical issues
Here we explore contemporary ethical issues, maybe comparing the viewpoints of patients with neurologists and adding in some dimension of international variation in approach. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 2 references.

Guide to guidelines
There is a proliferation of guidelines and we may have occasional articles to guide people through this jungle. Rather than just re-stating the guideline, we are interested in a critical appraisal of how these will pan out in practice.
Maximum 800 words and references only to the guidelines.

Me and my neurological illness
It is incredibly illuminating to hear a patient’s own account of their illness, particularly if they have the insight of an expert, or are in some way well known (media, politician, writer, etc.). We ask people we know who have had, or have, some sort of neurological illness to contribute something to make us all better doctors.
Maximum 800 words and 2 references.

Medicolegal column
It is interesting to have occasional articles on medicolegal issues, both in general (e.g. whiplash injury) and describing individual cases that are illuminating to the general neurologist. We must avoid being parochial; any international variation in law is well worth exploring. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 2 references.

My neurological hobby horse
Here we invite people to write about something in and around clinical neurology that constantly irritates them. A message they have to go and on sending to persuade others of the errors of their ways. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 2 references.

Neuroimaging
These are well-illustrated helpful articles for neurologists on imaging strategies—and the relevant anatomy—for various places (e.g. the carotid bifurcation), diseases (e.g. cerebral vasculitis) or that tell a story in pictures (e.g. tuberous sclerosis). These articles are not for radiologists but for neurologists who may want to look at their own X-rays and who will certainly want to discuss them sensibly with their neuroradiological colleagues. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 3000 words and 8 references.

Neurological letter from….
Our most regular ‘occasional’ paper based on the late Alistair Cook's “Letter from America” where the trick is to pick on some recent event or topic of interest, and discuss it in a light but serious way. The letter will be literary or political rather than scientific. It should appeal to the general reader who might like to know more of neurology and neurological things in other parts of the world. Maybe having read the letter the neurologist might even be tempted to go there. The most successful letters are not a list of how many neurologists and MR scanners there are, or are not, in a particular place but more to do with the practice of neurology, and what makes it interesting or unique in that particular place.
Maximum 800 words, and a photograph or two is an important touch.

Neurological sign
Here we ask people to write about a physical sign (or symptom): what it indicates, how to elicit it, its validity, sensitivity and specificity, observer variation, etc.  Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 4 references.

Today’s ward round 
The idea here is to describe an interesting case, and what the author learned in the discussion about it (from the resident or the nurse) or what the author taught the resident or nurse. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 2 references.

What got me into neurology
Some words on why well-known neurologists got into neurology, who inspired them and when, at what stage in their career? Did they waver in their intent? What turned them on to the specialty? How nearly did they give up? In the UK it is increasingly difficult to get young doctors interested in neurology and so we are trying to get some lessons in what it was that inspired the older generation.
Maximum 400 words, no references, with photo of the person.

Even more occasional articles…

We can occasionally accept papers that are of such interest that their direct practical dimension is subsumed by the elevation in morale that they provide to the practising neurologist.  These will almost always be by invitation only. 

Art and neurology 
An exploration of the relation between art (in its broadest sense, not just painting) and neurology—for example; this might be to do with neurological disorders in great artists. It is particularly important that the author sorts out any copyright issues for the images. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 2 references, highly illustrated.

History of neurology
Occasional short articles on matters of historical interest are always interesting and instructive. We are not just into the dates of Kings and Queens, but want to be more analytical. So, not just when did things happen, but who was responsible, what were the consequences, lessons for the present, etc. We might also consider publishing facsimiles of classic papers (e.g. the first successful carotid operation by Felix Eastcott in the Lancet 1954). Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 2 references.

Literature and neurology 
An exploration of the relation between literature (in its broadest sense, not just novels) and neurology. Please provide a 150-word (maximum) abstract for PubMed, and 4–5 Key Points at the end.
Maximum 1500 words and 2 references.

Fillers

These are short articles designed to fill white space in the paper journal.

Desert island neurology
You are an interesting and well known person, in this case an interesting and well known neurologist, marooned on a desert island. You have nothing to read other than the Bible (or equivalent) and the complete works of Shakespeare (or equivalent), a familiar scenario for those who listen to the BBC programme ‘Desert Island Discs’, which has been running for many decades. There is no Internet access. To help pass the time until you are rescued, which neurology book and which neurology paper would you most like to have with you and why? To read and re-read, to remind you of home and work? Answer this question in less than 200 words in an informative and educational way.
Maximum 200 words

Neurological inheritance
Other than the importance of history taking, what is the most important piece of advice that you have inherited for your practice of neurology (and from whom), and what piece of advice would you pass on to your mentees? Answer this question in less than 200 words in an informative and educational way.
Maximum 200 words.

Neurological web
A part or whole page filler on a useful website for neurologists, describing what it has to offer and how best to use it.
Maximum 800 words.

In house articles

There are some fixtures in the journal written by us, but if you have potentially interesting contributions to these, we should be pleased to hear from you.

Editors’ Choice
Here the editors discuss the journal contents and highlight certain articles for special consideration. 

Carphology
The word means “the movements of delirious patients, as if searching for imaginary objects, or picking the bedclothes” (Oxford Dictionary) (karphos = straw, legein = collect). These are short paragraphs, bits and pieces of this and that, mostly from the general medical journals —for example, snippets of gossip, results of major trials presented at meetings, etc.
Maximum 800 words.

Open Access

Authors can choose to have their article published Open Access for a fee of £1,950 (plus applicable VAT).

Peer review

We referee review articles and a few others where necessary, mostly in house or among the editorial board, unless we need to get additional expert advice. This is not anonymous, indeed we acknowledge the referees at the end of the articles.

Our aim is not to reject your article but to improve on what you have written, to ask you questions if we don't understand something, to make sure the length is right, and to keep our house style consistent. Occasionally it may be necessary to ask a scientific writer to rewrite a manuscript to improve readability. We understand how difficult it can be to write well if English is not your first language (and even if it is in some cases!).

Plagiarism detection

BMJ is a member of CrossCheck by CrossRef and iThenticate. iThenticate is a plagiarism screening service that verifies the originality of content submitted before publication. iThenticate checks submissions against millions of published research papers, and billions of web content. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting www.ithenticate.com.


Free sample
This issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of Practical Neurology.
View free sample issue >>

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.