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BMJ Leader is an international, peer-reviewed, online only journal that publishes articles in the field of healthcare leadership. With a focus on original research and reviews, the journal is a place of discussion and debate for the many disciplines that make up leadership in the health services.

Editorial Policy

BMJ Leader 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.

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.

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 BMJ Leader Author Licence for the applicable Creative Commons licences.

As the author you may wish to post your article in a PrePrint service, institutional or subject repository or a scientific social sharing network. For more information on author self archiving and rights to reuse content – which are dependent on the licence you have obtained – please refer to the BMJ author self archiving and permissions policies page.

Peer review

Articles submitted to BMJ Leader are subject to peer review. The journal operates single blind peer review whereby the names of the reviewers are hidden from the author; this is the traditional method of reviewing and is the most common. 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

Article processing charges

BMJ Leader is a subscription journal and all articles are free to publish. During submission, authors can choose to have their article published open access for 1,250 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.

Data sharing

BMJ Leader adheres to BMJ’s Tier 2 data policy. We strongly encourage that data generated by your research that supports your article be made available as soon as possible, wherever legally and ethically possible. We also require data from clinical trials to be made available upon reasonable request.

To adhere to ICMJE guidelines, we require that a data sharing plan must be included with trial registration for clinical trials that begin enrolling participants on or after 1st January 2019. Changes to the plan must be noted in the Data Availability Statement and updated in the registry record. All research articles must contain a Data Availability Statement. For more information and FAQs, please see BMJ’s full Data Sharing Policy page.

Video abstracts

We welcome video abstracts to accompany accepted research articles. These allow authors to personally talk through their work beyond the restrictions of a formal article to improve the user’s understanding.

Note that we will not ask you to consider submitting a video abstract until your paper has been accepted. Please do not try to upload a video abstract upon initial submission of your manuscript.

There are many tutorials online which can guide the production of a video abstract, using widely and often freely available software. Windows Movie Maker and Apple iMovie are the most common examples. Examples of video abstracts are available from The BMJ. Below are a few guidelines for making a video abstract. Authors may also want to ask their institution’s press/media office for assistance.

    • Video abstracts should not last longer than 4 minutes.
    • The content and focus of the video must relate directly to the study that has been accepted for publication, and should not stray beyond the data. We recommend that you follow the same structure as the paper itself i.e. briefly outline the background/context of the study, present your research objective, outline the methods used, present the key results and then discuss the implications of the outcomes.
    • The presentation and content of the video should be in a style and in terms that will be understandable and accessible to a general medical audience. The main language should be English, but we welcome subtitles in another language. Please avoid jargon that will not be familiar to a wide medical audience, and do not use abbreviations.
  • Authors usually talk directly into the camera and/or present a slideshow, but we encourage the use of other relevant visual and audio material (such as animations, video clips, still photographs, figures, infographics). If you wish to use material from previously published work or from other sources, please obtain the appropriate permissions from the relevant publisher or copyright owner.
  • If the video shows any identifiable living patients and/or identifiable personal details, authors need to demonstrate that consent has been obtained. If a patient consent form was provided for the related article, there is no need to provide this again for the video.
  • Please use the compression parameters that video sharing sites use. Often these are standard options from your editing software. A comprehensive guide is available from the vimeo website.

Videos are too large to email so will need to be uploaded to BMJ’s account on the Hightail website. Please include the journal’s name and your manuscript ID number in the message field – this will enable us to match your video to your paper. Your video needs to be received by the time that you return the corrections for your article proof, at the very latest. Please note that if you do not correctly label your video or if you miss the deadline, this may cause delays in publication of both your article and the video.

All video abstracts will be assessed for suitability by the editorial team and publication is not guaranteed. In some cases editors may request edits to the video.

Video abstracts are embedded within the research article online and also published separately on the journal’s YouTube channel. They are published under the same copyright terms as the associated article.


BMJ Leader mandates ORCID iDs for the submitting author at the time of article submission; co-authors and reviewers are strongly encouraged to also connect their ScholarOne accounts to ORCID. We strongly believe that the increased use and integration of ORCID iDs will be beneficial for the whole research community.

Please find more information about ORCID and BMJ’s policy on our Author Hub.

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.

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

If your article is accepted you can take advantage of BMJ’s partnership with Kudos, a free service to help you maximise your article’s reach.

Authors are encouraged to include their Twitter handles in their profiles on the submission system should they wish to engage with the editorial team on Twitter post-publication

I. Opinion:


II. Original research:

Research paper
Brief Report

III. Review:


IV. Leadership in the Mirror:

Leadership in the Mirror

V. Translating Research and Evidence:

Translating Research and Evidence

VI. The Learning Zone

The Learning Zone

VII. Supplements:



Editorials are usually commissioned by the Editor. However, we welcome suggestions for possible topics and authors. Authors wishing to submit an editorial are advised to seek the advice of the Editor in advance of submission.

Word count: 1000 words maximum
References: should not normally exceed 15


Commentaries are opinion based papers underpinned by reference to published literature. They are usually commissioned by the Editor. Authors wishing to submit a commentary are advised to seek the advice of the Editor in advance. We encourage suggestions that focus on current controversies or rapidly developing areas of research.

Word count: 3000 words maximum
Tables/Illustrations: should not normally exceed 3
References: should not normally exceed 25

Research paper

Full length original research papers should follow the basic structure of abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, references, and tables and figures as appropriate. Supplementary and raw data can be placed online separately from the text, and we may request that you separate out some material into supplementary data files to make the main manuscript clearer for readers.

Word count: up to 3500 words
Abstract: Structured, up to 300 words
Tables/Illustrations: maximum 8 tables and/or figures
References: up to 40

Brief report

Work suitable for submission as a brief report will generally fall into one of two categories:

(i) reports of innovative and original work in leadership and leadership development, or
(ii) small scale original research studies, protocols or preliminary studies

Word count: no more than 1500 words
Abstract: Structured, 200 words
Tables/Illustrations: up to one of each
References: should not normally exceed 15


Reviews aim to gather and interpret the existing evidence base. Authors wishing to submit a review are advised to seek the advice of the Editor in advance.

Word count: 4000 words maximum
Tables/Illustrations: should not normally exceed 5
References: should not normally exceed 40

Leadership in the Mirror

Leadership in the Mirror submissions are pieces that involve people’s personal reflections relating to leadership and management in healthcare. We aim, in this journal, to prioritize publishing narrative essays that are novel and useful to the journals’ readership. Readability — strong and engaging writing — is also essential. Please see here for a fuller description of the aims and scope for this article type.

Word count: up to 3000 words
References: Should not normally exceed 15

Translating Research and Evidence

Translating Research and Evidence submissions are short pieces that communicate findings from existing research in a way that makes it accessible to both practicing healthcare leaders and to researchers interested in issues relating to healthcare leadership. The aim of this submission type is to communicate the findings of existing research to a new audience of researchers and practitioners that is specifically interested in healthcare leadership and management. Please see here for a fuller description of the aims and scope for this article type.

Word count: up to 3000 words
Tables/Illustrations: should not normally exceed 3
References: Should not normally exceed 25

The Learning Zone

The published literature on leadership is vast and sprawling, but within it are some pervasive and important ideas that have had a significant influence the way we conceive and think about the subject.

In each issue of BMJ Leader we examine key leadership concepts, theories and models summarising them in simple and straightforward language, and wherever possible, highlighting their application to the healthcare context.

The Learning Zone is written with the general journal readership in mind but may be of particular interest to clinicians and managers undertaking educational programmes that require them to apply theory to practice.  These may include undergraduate and masters courses in healthcare leadership and management, or those on leadership development programmes.

Articles will be both invited and commissioned and include the following key features:

Word count: 800 to 15,00 words
Title: clearly describing the topic, and easily searchable
‘In practice’: an insert box of up to 200 words applying the concepts under discussion
‘Express checkout’: the article summarised in less than 100 words

Each edition will be accompanied by a podcast interview and a Twitter chat in which those leading in health and care will be invite to reflect on how the ideas discussed in the Learning Zone play out in their own working life and practice.

We welcome suggestions from readers wishing to contribute to this section. Please contact Tim Swanwick, Associate Editor, BMJ Leader at with your proposal.


The BMJ Publishing Group journals are willing to consider publishing supplements to regular issues. Supplement proposals may be made at the request of:

  • The journal editor, an editorial board member or a learned society may wish to organise a meeting, sponsorship may be sought and the proceedings published as a supplement.
  • The journal editor, editorial board member or learned society may wish to commission a supplement on a particular theme or topic. Again, sponsorship may be sought.
  • The BMJPG itself may have proposals for supplements where sponsorship may be necessary.
  • A sponsoring organisation, often a pharmaceutical company or a charitable foundation, that wishes to arrange a meeting, the proceedings of which will be published as a supplement.

In all cases, it is vital that the journal’s integrity, independence and academic reputation is not compromised in any way.

For further information on criteria that must be fulfilled, download the Supplement Guidelines.

When contacting us regarding a potential supplement, please include as much of the information below as possible.

  • Journal in which you would like the supplement published
  • Title of supplement and/or meeting on which it is based
  • Date of meeting on which it is based
  • Proposed table of contents with provisional article titles and proposed authors
  • An indication of whether authors have agreed to participate
  • Sponsor information including any relevant deadlines
  • An indication of the expected length of each paper Guest Editor proposals if appropriate