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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.

Editorial policy

Practical Neurology adheres to the highest standards concerning its editorial policies on publication ethics, scientific misconduct, consent and peer review criteria. The journal follows guidance produced by bodies that include the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).To view all BMJ Journal policies please refer to the BMJ Author Hub policies page, including information about our Editors’ roles and responsibilities. 

We take seriously all possible misconduct. If an Editor, author or reader has concerns that a submitted article describes something that might be considered to constitute misconduct in research, publication or professional behaviour they should forward their concerns to the journal. The publisher will deal with allegations appropriately.

Copyright and authors’ rights

Articles are published under an exclusive licence or non-exclusive licence for UK Crown employees or where BMJ has agreed CC BY applies. For US Federal Government officers or employees acting as part of their official duties, the terms are as stated in accordance with our licence terms. Authors or their employers retain copyright. Open access articles can be reused under the terms of the relevant Creative Commons licence to facilitate reuse of the content; please refer to the Practical Neurology Author Licence for the applicable Creative Commons licences. More information on copyright and authors’ rights.

When publishing in Practical Neurology, authors choose between three licence types – exclusive licence granted to BMJ, CC-BY-NC and CC-BY (Creative Commons open access licences require payment of an article processing charge). As an author you may wish to post your article in an institutional or subject repository, or on a scientific social sharing network. You may also link your published article to your preprint (if applicable). What you can do with your article, without seeking permission, depends on the licence you have chosen and the version of your article. Please refer to the BMJ author self archiving and permissions policies page for more information.


Preprints foster openness, accessibility and collaboration by allowing authors to make their findings immediately available to the research community and receive feedback on an article before it is submitted to a journal for formal publication.

BMJ fully supports and encourages the archiving of preprints in any recognised, not-for-profit server such as medRxiv. BMJ does not consider the posting of an article in a dedicated preprint repository to be prior publication.

Preprints are reports of work that have not been peer-reviewed; Preprints should therefore not be used to guide clinical practice, health-related behaviour or health policy. For more information, please refer to our Preprint policy page.

Article transfer service

BMJ is committed to ensuring that all good quality research is published. Our article transfer service helps authors find the best journal for their research while providing an easy and smooth publication process. If authors agree to transfer their manuscript, all versions, supplementary files and peer reviewer comments are automatically transferred; there is no  need to resubmit or reformat.

Authors who submit to Practical Neurology and are rejected will be offered the option of transferring to another BMJ Journal, such as BMJ Open.

Please note that the article transfer service does not guarantee acceptance but you should receive a quicker initial decision on your manuscript.

Contact the Product Owner of BMJ’s Article Transfer Service for more information or assistance.

Peer review

Articles submitted to Practical Neurology are subject to peer review. The journal operates single blind peer review whereby the names of the reviewers are hidden from the author; usually two external reviewer reports are obtained before an Original research or Review article is accepted for publication. Manuscripts authored by a member of a journal’s editorial team are independently peer reviewed; an editor will have no input or influence on the peer review process or publication decision for their own article. 

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!).

For more information on what to expect during the peer review process please refer to BMJ Author Hub – the peer review process.

BMJ requests that all reviewers adhere to a set of basic principles and standards during the peer-review process in research publication; these are based on the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Please refer to our peer review terms and conditions policy page.

BMJ is committed to transparency. Every article we publish includes a description of its provenance (commissioned or not commissioned) and whether it was internally or externally peer reviewed.

Plagiarism is the appropriation of the language, ideas or thoughts of another without crediting their true source and representation of them as one’s own original work. 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. BMJ runs manuscripts through iThenticate during the peer review process. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting

Overall considerations


For most papers authorship is straightforward. However, the number of authors on some of shorter papers types, such as case reports or image of the moment, has been increasing. For such short reports we would normally expect only one junior and one senior author from the lead department with single authors from collaborating departments where appropriate. Other members of the team can be acknowledged. ICMJE recommendations.

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.

Language and Style

Papers should follow ‘Practical Neurology House Style’.

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.

Article processing charges

During submission, authors can choose to have their article published open access for 2,300 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors). There are no submission, page or colour figure charges.

For more information on open access, funder compliance and institutional programmes please refer to the BMJ Author Hub open access page.

Rapid responses

A rapid response is a moderated but not peer reviewed online response to a published article in Practical Neurology; it will not receive a DOI and will not be indexed. Find out more about responses and how to submit a response.

Submission guidelines

Please review the below article type specifications including the required article lengths, illustrations, table limits and reference counts. The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements, contributions and references. Manuscripts should be as succinct as possible.

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.

For further support when making your submission please refer to the resources available on the BMJ Author Hub. Here you will find information on writing and formatting your research through to the peer review process. We encourage authors to ensure that research articles are written in accordance with the relevant research reporting guideline.

You may also wish to use the language editing and translation services provided by BMJ Author Services.

Core article types


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.


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.

Clinical audit

This section summarises a neurological audit, preferably one that is tried and tested. This section should raise the profile of neurological audit by ensuring that we audit conditions to similar standards, and also to save us from ‘reinventing the wheel’ each time we plan an audit.  The essential ingredients are a list of the standards against which to audit, references including the sources of these standards, and some data on recent application of these standards in an audit.
Maximum 600 words, plus a table listing the standards audited. Ideally, the software used for the audit should be made available on the website for others to use.

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 10 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, 10 references and up to 4 high quality photographs. The editors may request a Key Messages box be added to the submission when appropriate.

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 10 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 10 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 (taken from the main reference list).

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 (taken from the main reference list).

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.

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.

Book club

Unlike a conventional book review, we encourage reports from book club meetings in neurology departments. The book should be relevant to neurology and neurologists, but of broader interest too. The report needs to include any important practical messages for clinicians from the book and must make the reader want to order a copy immediately.
Maximum 600 words and a high resolution image file of the book cover.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A 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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

Today’s ward round

These articles include a picture or video and short piece of text outlining a clinical question. The answer to the question, along with an explanation will be included on the page overleaf.

Page 1
Up to 250 words to include the clinical question
Picture or video with legend

Page 2 (on reverse side of page 1)
Up to 500 words giving answer and explanation
2-3 key points –
1 suggestion for additional reading.

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.


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.

Inhouse 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.


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.