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Tobacco Control - Instructions for Authors

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

Editorial policies

Scope and editorial priorities

The principal concern of Tobacco Control is to provide a forum for research, analysis, commentary, and debate on policies, programmes, and strategies that are likely to further the objectives of a comprehensive tobacco control policy. In papers submitted for review the introduction should indicate why the research reported or issues discussed are important in terms of controlling tobacco use, and the discussion section should include an analysis of how the research reported contributes to tobacco control objectives.

Papers firmly anchored to a strategic policy and programme context are more likely to be accepted for publication. As the journal seeks to reach an international readership, authors should consider whether their intended submissions address issues or themes, which are likely to be of interest to researchers working in other nations. Overly parochial issues, which contain few lessons for tobacco control policy outside a paper's local context, are unlikely to be given high priority. The manuscripts editors will generally not give high priority to:

  • Studies of smoking prevalence and its correlates . These are best suited to national journals. Few people living outside a country are interested in whether that country has 30% or 35% of smokers.
  • Knowledge, attitudes, behaviour (KAB) studies of particular population groups or health professionals. Again, these are better suited to national journals or to health professional speciality journals. Few people in other countries are likely to be interested in (for example) whether nurses in a regional hospital are interested in helping patients quit. National studies, and those taking such studies into original areas are of more interest.
  • Reports that evoke unanimous "so what?" responses from the editors. These are papers with findings that seem to hold no obvious importance for changing policy or practice in tobacco control. They often display methodological finery, but don't take us anywhere important or interesting.
  • Opinion pieces where the opinions are unoriginal, poorly argued, naïve or disregard for important ethical issues in favour of sloganeering.
  • Papers that show the authors have never opened Tobacco Control and do not understand its primary focus on tobacco control rather than on tobacco and its use and health consequences. We are interested in such papers, but only if their authors address the implications of their findings for tobacco control.
  • Papers with glaringly obvious, fatal methodological problems.
  • Papers on subjects that require highly technical or discipline-specific language unlikely to be understood by the majority of readers.
  • Papers which are replications of already well-established findings or offer little new information.
  • Local studies where the implications for the journal's international audience are unclear.
  • Reports written for governments or local health authorities that someone thought might be given a quick make-over and submitted as a journal paper.

Tobacco industry funded work

Tobacco Control will not consider for publication papers reporting work funded, in whole or in part, by a tobacco company or tobacco industry organization. Nor will the journal consider papers by authors who accept tobacco industry funding, including funding for research costs, for all or part of any author’s salary, or other forms of personal remuneration. For further information, please read this editorial giving the reasoning behind the journal’s policy. Failure to declare competing interests at submission, or when an article is commissioned, can result in immediate rejection of the paper. If a competing interest comes to light after publication, Tobacco Control will issue a formal correction to or retraction of the whole paper, as appropriate.

Material previously published online

Tobacco Control is willing to consider papers based wholly or in part on material previously published online. However authors should consider an editorial on this subject: Prior publication on the web: new journal policy. The editor retains the customary right to make changes in style and if necessary to shorten, with the approval of the author(s), material accepted for publication.

Fast tracking

Under special circumstances where a paper’s findings have immediately relevant policy implications warranting urgent publication, manuscripts may be fast tracked ahead of the normal queue of papers. Should you feel that you have good reasons why this is true for your paper, please detail these in a cover letter, explaining the importance of your work for the field and the reason you feel it is of sufficient importance to be handled urgently. This request does not guarantee that the editors will agree, and only a few papers a year will be expedited on this basis, but it may help the editors to evaluate the paper’s importance in the current context.

Terms

Papers on electronic cigarettes should use the term ‘electronic cigarettes’ on first use, after which the abbreviation 'e-cigarettes' may be used. Papers on other nicotine delivery systems may continue to use the term ‘electronic nicotine delivery systems’ followed by the abbreviation 'ENDS' after first use.

Research reporting guidelines

BMJ requires compliance to the following reporting guidelines. Please upload the relevant completed checklist for your study type with your submission, and label it "Research checklist". If no relevant checklist is available for your study type, this can be indicated on the submission form.

CONSORT statement - Required for all randomised controlled trials
PRISMA statement - Required for all systematic reviews
EVEREST statement - Required for all economic evaluations
STARD statement - Required for all diagnostic research papers
STROBE statement - Required for all observational studies
SQUIRE statement - Required for all quality improvement studies

Guidance and forms are available from EQUATOR

Open Access

Authors can choose to have their article published Open Access for a fee of £1950 (plus applicable VAT).

Colour figure charges

During submission you will be asked whether or not you agree to pay for the colour print publication of your colour images. This service is available to any author publishing within this journal for a fee of £250 per article. Authors can elect to publish online in colour and black and white in print, in which case the appropriate selection should be made upon submission.

Revised manuscripts

When uploading a revised manuscript, authors should also include a separate manuscript file highlighting the tracked changes to show the editors the difference from the previous version. The tracked changes document should be uploaded as a supplementary file.

Article types and word counts

The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements and contributions and the references. Please include the word count of your manuscript on the title page.

For non-native English speakers who do not have a native English-speaking co-author, a professional editing service is offered. If a native English speaker is an author on the paper, they should take responsibility for careful copyediting of themanuscript prior to submission.

Authors may find it useful to consult our pre-submission checklist.

Research papers

Articles reporting research may be full length or brief reports. Papers should generally be a maximum of 3500 words in length, excluding tables, references, abstract and 'What this paper adds'. Exceptions may occasionally be made to this, particularly in the case of review articles, qualitative research and tobacco industry document research, but in general shorter papers will be more competitive for publication. The editors will consider the merits of the case for longer papers on a case-by-case basis, but papers longer than 5000 words will not be considered. Authors are strongly encouraged to observe the recommended length limitations, as excessive length may disadvantage an otherwise acceptable paper given the space limitations of the journal.

Authors should include a section entitled 'What this paper adds', which summarises the key messages from the research as follows:

  • What is already known on this subject. In two or three single sentence bullet points please summarise the state of scientific knowledge on this subject. Be clear and specific, not vague.
  • What important gaps in knowledge exist on this topic.
  • What this study adds. In one or two single sentence bullet points give a simple answer to the question 'What do we now know as a result of this study that we did not know before?'. Be brief, succinct, specific, and accurate.

Word count: generally up to 3500 words
Tables/Illustrations: up to 5
References: no limitation, but please use references only as needed

This article type is subject to internal and external peer review.

Brief reports

Brief reports are shorter versions of original articles, should not exceed 1500 words, and may include one table or figure.

This article type is subject to internal and external peer review.

Letters (original research)

Research letters intended for publication should be a maximum of 500 words, 10 references, and one table or figure. [Those responding to articles published in the journal should be submitted as described below under Correspondence.]

Research letters should not duplicate information given in the text of an article. They should have a title, a brief methods section, results and a discussion.

This article type is subject to internal and external peer review.

Special communications

Special communications are papers that do not report original research data but which provide a discussion, analysis, or review of a particular subject. In general these should be 3500 words or less, with shorter contributions advantaged in consideration of space limitations.

This article type is subject to internal and sometimes external peer review.

Review articles

Review articles provide a review of the literature, usually concerning a particular subject, country, or geographical region. Review manuscripts, including meta-analyses, should include an abstract with the following headings: objective, data sources, study selection, data extraction, data synthesis, and conclusions Authors submitting review manuscripts and reports of the results of meta-analyses should prepare an abstract of no more than 250 words under the following headings:

  • Objective - The abstract should begin with a precise statement of the primary objective of the review. The focus of this statement should be guided by whether the review emphasises factors such as cause, behaviour, intervention, population, or prevention. It should include information about the specific population, intervention, exposure, and test or outcome that is being reviewed.
  • Data sources - A succinct summary of data sources should be given, including any time restrictions. Potential sources include experts or research institutions active in the field, computerised databases and published indexes, registries, abstract booklets, conference proceedings, references identified from bibliographies of pertinent articles and books, and companies or manufacturers of tests or agents being reviewed. If a bibliographic database is used, the exact indexing terms used for article retrieval should be stated, including any constraints (for example, English language or human subjects).
  • Study selection - The abstract should describe the criteria used to select studies for detailed review from among studies identified as relevant to the topic. Details of selection should include particular populations, interventions, outcomes, or methodological designs. The method used to apply these criteria should be specified - for example, blind review, consensus, multiple reviewers. The proportion of initially identified studies that met selection criteria should be stated.
  • Data extraction - Guidelines used for abstracting data and assessing data quality and validity (such as criteria for causal inference) should be described. The method by which the guidelines were applied should be stated: for example, independent extraction by multiple observers.
  • Data synthesis - The main results of the review, whether qualitative or quantitative, should be stated. Methods used to obtain these results should be outlined. Meta-analyses should state the major outcomes that were pooled and include odds ratios or effect sizes and if possible, sensitivity analyses. Numerical results should be accompanied by confidence intervals, if applicable, and exact levels of statistical significance. Evaluations of screening and diagnostic tests should address issues of sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratios, receiver operating characteristic curves, and predictive values. Assessments of prognosis should include summarisations of survival characteristics and related variables. Major identified sources of variation between studies should be stated, including differences in treatment protocols, co-interventions, confounders, outcome measures, follow up, and dropout rates.
  • Conclusions - The conclusions and their applications should be clearly stated, limiting generalisation to the domain of the review. The need for new studies may be suggested.

Word count: by negotiation, but generally 5000 words or less (excluding tables, figures and references)

This article type is subject to internal and external peer review.

Commentaries

Commentaries are opinion pieces, which are generally 1000 to 1500 words in length.

This article type is subject to internal and sometimes external peer review.

News analysis

News articles should be sent by email to the marita.hefler{at}sydney.edu.au?subject=TC%20news%20article%20suggestion. Submissions from, or concerning, developing countries are particularly welcome. We encourage the inclusion of appropriate, high-quality illustrations to accompany news articles.

NB. If you don't own the copyright to the illustrations(s), please provide full details of their origination. 

Ad watch

Ad Watch is a section of the journal where tobacco advertising and promotional techniques, campaigns, and strategies are profiled and analysed. The text of these articles may be brief (letting the pictures "speak for themselves") or may be more in-depth.

Word count: typically less than 500 words.

Industry watch

Articles appearing in this section review, analyse, and comment on tobacco industry activities and strategies.

Word count: usually less than 500 words.

Advocacy in action

The objective of the section, which will be limited to one article per issue is to encourage people working in tobacco control advocacy to write up accounts of advocacy episodes in which they have been engaged in such a way that readers would gain new insights into strategic thinking about advocacy planning, what was done and achieved by a course of action or campaign, and what was learnt from it. All articles should address the following questions:

  • What did you set out to do?
  • Why is this important to tobacco control?
  • What are the actions and reactions (What you did and how the other side reacted)?
  • What did you achieve (or fail to achieve)?
  • Are there any lessons for advocates?

The maximum word count is 2000 words, plus references.

This article is subject to internal and sometimes external peer review

Perspectives

Features two divergent views on a tobacco control issue. These articles are usually commissioned, but unsolicited manuscripts may also be submitted.

This article type is subject to internal peer review; sometimes additional commentaries are commissioned.

Covers and cover essays

Ideas and contributions for covers of Tobacco Control should be sent to libby.smith{at}ucsf.edu?subject=TC%20cover%20idea. Covers should be colourful and creative, with a tobacco control theme, and should require minimal or no text to be understood by an international audience. Original artwork, anti-tobacco posters, photographs, and cartoons may all be considered. Material with an international flavour is particularly desirable. High resolution images are required.

NB. If you don't own the copyright to the illustrations(s), please provide full details of their origination.

Cartoons (The Lighter Side)

The Lighter Side reproduces anti-tobacco cartoons. Ideas and submissions should be sent to bfreeman{at}health.usyd.edu.au?subject=The%20Lighter%20Side. Written permission to reproduce the cartoon should be obtained from the artist, publication, or company holding the copyright, and should be submitted with the cartoon. Parodies, satires, and other humorous material may also be submitted for this section. 

Correspondence

Comments arising from recent articles published in Tobacco Control are welcomed and should be submitted electronically via the website. Contributors should go to the abstract or full text of the article in question. In the right hand column on the article webpage, click on the "Submit a Response” link and complete the online form. Responses are not peer reviewed, are subject to editing, and if published are permanently linked electronically to the original paper.

Word count: up to 400 words.

Supplements

Tobacco Control is willing to consider publishing supplements to regular issues. Supplement proposals may be made at the request of a group of researchers or the editorial team. In all cases, it is vital that the journal's integrity, independence and academic reputation are not compromised in any way. A guest editor will usually be appointed by the Editor-in-Chief to manage the peer review process. Please note that Tobacco Control does not publish conference abstracts.

Those interested in exploring potential supplements should contact the ruth.malone{at}ucsf.edu?subject=Supplement%20proposal%20for%20TC. The proposal should include a table of contents with provisional article titles and authors, an indication of the expected length of each paper, and the details of the key contact at the sponsoring organisation. For further information, please read BMJ's supplements guidelines (PDF).

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 recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of Tobacco Control.
View free sample issue >>

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