Medicine, Science and the Law Guidelines for Authors

SUBMIT YOUR ARTICLE ONLINE

For details of benefits offered to RSM Press authors, please visit our benefits page.

For details of our policy on depositing articles in institutional or central repositories, please visit our archiving page.

For details of our policy on open access articles, please visit our RSM Open page.

For referee guidelines, please visit our referee page.

These instructions comply with the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals formulated by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (for further details, see the ICMJE site)

1. Aims and scope
Medicine, Science and the Law is an academic journal that publishes peer-reviewed papers on a wide range of subjects of forensic interest. The journal aims to inform its readers from a broad perspective and demonstrate the interrelated nature and scope of the forensic disciplines. The journal will keep its readers informed of developments and trends through reporting, discussing and debating current issues of importance in forensic practice. Reviews, original research, case reports, viewpoint articles, letters and other relevant contributions are welcome on all forensic subjects and the law relating to forensic medicine and science.

2. Editorial policy
General

All submissions to Medicine, Science and the Law will be considered for publication on the understanding that they are not under consideration, accepted or already published elsewhere. Authors should confirm this in the covering letter accompanying the manuscript.

Covering letter

The covering letter is important. To help the Editor in his preliminary evaluation, please indicate why you think the paper suitable for publication. If your paper should be considered for fast-track publication, please explain why.

Peer review

All papers submitted for publication undergo peer review.

Ethical approval

All research submitted for publication must be approved by an ethics committee where appropriate.

Patient consent

Any article containing identifiable patient information must be accompanied by a statement of consent to publication. If there is any doubt about whether or not information is identifiable, the Editor is happy to discuss this before an article is submitted. Reviewers will also be asked to take careful account of issues relating to patient confidentiality when reviewing articles.

Case studies are not the only kinds of article to which this rule will be applied, but they will be subject to additional scrutiny. Not only should submissions be accompanied by a statement of consent, but the Editor also expects to be informed about the measures that have been taken to anonymise the details that could have led to parties being identified. He also reserves the right to work with the authors to make additional anonymising changes as they or the reviewers see fit. The Editor may also ask authors to remove personal information that, whilst interesting and colourful, does not add to the substance of an article, but does increase the likelihood of parties being identified. The exception to this will be where the patient has indicated in writing that she/he wants to be identified, has read the material, has discussed the consequences of being identified, and has agreed to the disclosure of all the personal information contained in the article.

Competing interests and other declarations

All authors are required to declare any conflicts of interest when submitting papers for publication. Declarations of funding sources, a guarantor and a statement of contributorship are also required.

Permissions

All previously published material must be accompanied by the written consent to reproduction of the copyright holder. An acknowledgement of permission should be included at the relevant point in the paper, and a full reference to the original place of publication should be included in the reference list.

Copyright

Authors of accepted manuscripts will be required to assign copyright to the British Academy of Forensic Sciences prior to publication, and a form for this purpose will accompany the proofs.

Acknowledgements

Only the help of those who have made substantial contributions to the study and/or the preparation of the paper should be acknowledged.

3. Types of articles
Editorials

Articles referring to research published elsewhere in that issue of the journal, or to important events in the specialty. Editorials are usually commissioned. Maximum length 1600 words.

Viewpoint Articles

Articles pertinent to opinion of the author or a group of authors presenting a personal point of view on an area in the forensic disciplines. Subheadings should be used within the article to highlight the content of different sections. Maximum length 4000 words, including abstract, plus 4-5 tables or figures.

Review Articles

Articles of a substantial and topical nature that review current knowledge in forensic science, medicine and the law. Maximum length 6000 words, including abstract, plus 4-5 tables or figures. Subheadings should be used within the article to highlight the content of different sections.

Original Articles

Articles describing sound original research that falls within the scope of the journal. These should be up to 5000 words, including an abstract, and have no more than six figures and tables. The abstract should state the main purposes of the study, the basic procedures used and the most important conclusions drawn. The rest of the article should be structured in conventional style (Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Acknowledgements, References).

Case Reports

Articles describing forensic cases that have significant original observations, are instructive, include adequate methodological details and provide conclusions. These should be prepared in a narrative style and comprise an abstract; a short introduction stating the reasons for reporting the case; the case report including history, investigations and outcomes; and a discussion referring to the relevant literature. Maximum length 2000 words with no more than two figures and tables.

Letters to the Editor

Letters arise usually but not exclusively from papers published in this and other scientific journals. These are usually up to 800 words.

Book Reviews

All book reviews are commissioned. Notifications about new books should be sent to the Editorial Office. Books for review should be sent to the Editor-in Chief, Medicine, Science and the Law, Cameron Forensic Medical Sciences, Clinical Pharmacology, Barts and the London, London EC1M 6BQ, UK.

Events Diary

A listing of forthcoming meetings and conferences, local and international, that are relevant to the specialty. Contributions for this section should be emailed directly to the Editorial Office.

4. How to submit a manuscript
Only manuscripts submitted via the online manuscript submission and peer review site, which can be found at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/msl will be considered for publication.

All submissions must be in English.

Tables and figures may be submitted as separate files, in which case the files should be uploaded in the following order: (1) main text, including title page, abstract and references; (2) tables; (3) figures; (4) covering letter; and (5) supplementary files.

File formats

Text files must be saved in .doc or .rtf format. Other suitable formats include .tif or .jpg for photographic images (minimum 300 dpi), .xls for graphs produced in Excel, and .eps for other line drawings.

5. How to prepare a manuscript
Formatting

Manuscripts must be submitted using double line-spaced, unjustified text throughout, with headings and subheadings in bold case. Press ‘Enter’ only at the end of a paragraph, list entry or heading.

Title page

The first page should contain the full title of the manuscript, a short title, the author(s) name(s) and affiliation(s), and the name, postal and email addresses of the author for correspondence, as well as a full list of declarations. The title should be concise and informative, accurately indicating the content of the article. The short title should be no more than six words long.

Abstract

An abstract (unstructured) of no more than 250 words must accompany all article types, excepting Editorials, Letters to the Editor and Book reviews.

Tables

Tables must be prepared using the Table feature of the word processor. Tables should not duplicate information given in the text, should be numbered in the order in which they are mentioned in the text, and should be given a brief title.

Figures

All figures should be numbered in the order in which they are mentioned in the text. All figures must be accompanied by a figure legend. If figures are supplied in separate files, the figure legends must all be listed at the end of the main text file.

Line drawings should be produced electronically and clearly labelled using a sans serif font such as Arial. Graphs may be supplied as Excel spreadsheets (one per sheet). Other line drawings should be supplied in a suitable vector graphic file format (e.g. .eps)

All photographic images should be submitted in camera-ready form (i.e. with all extraneous areas removed), and where necessary, magnification should be shown using a scale marker. Photographic images must be supplied at high resolution, preferably 600 dpi. Images supplied at less than 300 dpi are unsuitable for print and will delay publication. The preferred file format is .tif.

References

Only essential references should be included. Authors are responsible for verifying them against the original source material. RSM Press uses the Vancouver referencing system: references should be identified in the text by superscript Arabic numerals after any punctuation, and numbered and listed at the end of the paper in the order in which they are first cited in the text. Automatic numbering should be avoided. References should include the names and initials of up to six authors. If there are more than six authors, only the first three should be named, followed by et al. Publications for which no author is apparent may be attributed to the organization from which they originate. Simply omit the name of the author for anonymous journal articles – avoid using ’Anonymous’. Punctuation in references should be kept to a minimum, as shown in the following examples:

1. Young S, Gudjonsson GH, Needham-Bennett H, Chick K, et al. Service audit of a forensic rehabilitation ward. Med Sci Law 2009;49:291-7

2. Baron DN, McKenzie Clarke H, eds. Units, Symbols, and Abbreviations. A Guide for Authors and Editors in Medicine and Related Sciences. 6th edn. London: Royal Society of Medicine Press, 2008

3. Snowden P. Regional secure units and forensic services in England and Wales. In: Bluglass R, Bowden P, eds. Principles and Practice of Forensic Psychiatry. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1990:1375-86

4. Milliken C, D’Souza G. Ventricular septal defect. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/162692-overview (last checked 11 June 2009)

Abbreviations

Abbreviations must be defined in full at their first mention in the text. Authors should not create new abbreviations and acronyms. The RSM’s book Units, Symbols and Abbreviations provides lists of approved abbreviations.

Units

All measurements should be expressed in SI units (exception: mmHg for blood pressure).

Statistics

If preparing statistical data for publication, please read the statistical guidelines.

6. Proofs and eprints
Proofs will be sent by email to the designated corresponding author as a PDF file attachment and should be corrected and returned promptly; corrections should be kept to a minimum.

A PDF eprint of each published article will be supplied free of charge to the author for correspondence; hardcopy offprints may be ordered from the publisher when the proofs are returned.