Editorial Policies of The British Student Doctor

Conflicts of Interest

Authors, editors and peer reviewers must abide by the ICMJE guidelines for reporting conflicts of interest. The ICMJE state that “a conflict of interest exists when professional judgment concerning a primary interest (such as patients' welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain). Perceptions of conflict of interest are as important as actual conflicts of interest.”


Financial relationships, personal relationships or rivalries, academic competition, and intellectual beliefs can all lead to such conflicts of interest, and authors, peer reviewers and journal editors must be self-reflective, and honest and transparent when making conflict of interest declarations. This is important to ensure the quality and scientific rigour of research and academic work, and is also crucial in maintaining the reputation of The British Student Doctor as a high quality, transparent and reliable source of knowledge and critical commentary.


The unique editorial position of The British Student Doctor as a student-led journal unfortunately engenders the possibility of a certain potential conflict of interest – that editorial decisions may be influenced by the personal relationships of authors, peer reviewers and editors, as fellow students. In order to ensure the trust of the scientific community, and to mitigate against the risk of editorial bias, it is the explicit position of The British Student Doctor that submissions made to the journal must not be handled by peer reviewers or editors who have a personal relationship with any of the submission’s authors. In the case where an editor or peer reviewer is assigned to a submission authored by a colleague, they must, in all cases, declare this conflict of interest and recuse themselves from the assignment. In the specific case where a section editor must recuse themselves, a section editor from a different section should be brought in to make all editorial decisions regarding that submission. In the case where both Editors-in-Chief/sole Editor-in-Chief have a conflict of interest, the submission should be referred to a member of the faculty advisory board to make the final editorial decision.


In addition, as the editorial team of The British Student Doctor is primarily based at Cardiff University, it is our policy that submissions made to the journal by Cardiff University medical students, where the conflict of interest described above does not exist, should be peer reviewed by at least one non-Cardiff University medical student, in order to ensure institutional neutrality.


All submissions to the journal should be accompanied by a statement of all relevant conflicts of interest of all authors. This statement should include, as per ICMJE guidelines:


  • Authors’ conflicts of interests, as described above.

  • Sources of support for the work, financial or otherwise, including sponsor names along with explanations of the role of those sources if any in study design; collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing of the report; the decision to submit the report for publication; or a statement declaring that the supporting source had no such involvement.

  • Whether the authors had access to the study data, with an explanation of the nature and extent of access, including whether access is on-going.

  • If the authors have no conflicts of interest to declare, then this should be stated.


Peer reviewers should also include a similar statement when submitting their reviews of journal submissions.

Criteria for Authorship

All authors of any manuscript submitted to the journal must fulfil the ICMJE requirements for authorship. All submissions should be accompanied by a statement declaring the individual roles of each author to the creation of the work, with specific reference to the ICMJE’s four criteria:


  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND

  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND

  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND

  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.


In addition, no individual who has the right to be considered as an author of the work should be omitted.

Plagiarism & Academic Misconduct


As an accredited member of COPE, The British Student Doctor strictly follows the Committee on Publication Ethics guidelines on plagiarism and academic misconduct:

As per the COPE guidelines, if plagiarism or misconduct is detected, we reserve the right to notify the author(s) institution. Likewise, in other cases of suspected academic misconduct, the appropriate COPE guidelines will be followed, and this may include contacting the individual’s institution to request an investigation.

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Research Involving Human and Animal Participants

We strictly follow the ICMJE guidelines regarding informed consent and research studies involving human and/or animal participants. As per these guidelines:


All investigators should ensure that the planning conduct and reporting of human research are in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration as revised in 2013. All authors should seek approval to conduct research from an independent local, regional or national review body (e.g., ethics committee, institutional review board). If doubt exists whether the research was conducted in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration, the authors must explain the rationale for their approach and demonstrate that the local, regional or national review body explicitly approved the doubtful aspects of the study. Approval by a responsible review body does not preclude editors from forming their own judgment whether the conduct of the research was appropriate. When reporting experiments on animals, authors should indicate whether institutional and national standards for the care and use of laboratory animals were followed.

Patient Identifiable Information & Informed Consent

Patients have a right to privacy that should not be violated without informed consent. Identifying information, including names, initials, or hospital numbers, should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, or pedigrees unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the patient (or parent or guardian) gives written informed consent for publication. Informed consent for this purpose requires that an identifiable patient be shown the manuscript to be published. Authors should disclose to these patients whether any potential identifiable material might be available via the Internet as well as in print after publication. Nonessential identifying details should be omitted. Informed consent should be obtained if there is any doubt that anonymity can be maintained. For example, masking the eye region in photographs of patients is inadequate protection of anonymity. If identifying characteristics are de-identified, authors should provide assurance that such changes do not distort scientific meaning. 


Patient consent should be written and archived with the authors. Authors must provide The British Student Doctor with a written statement that attests that they have received and archived written patient consent. When informed consent has been obtained, it should be indicated in the published article.


De-identified Case Reports


We often receive the submission of case reports which discuss the presentation and clinical management of patients, generally as the basis of an education or reflection article. In these case reports, generally patient identifying information should be omitted. However, even in de-identified form, patients could potentially be identified from case reports, by friends or family, physicians involved in their care, or by the patient themselves. As such, we generally require even de-identified case reports to be submitted with a signed patient consent form. If patient consent in unable to be collected (i.e. because the patient was seen in the distant past or is deceased), then the case report could be written in a generalised and generic manner focusing on typical presentation of patients with the condition rather than on a specific patient's case. If you require further guidance on this issue, please contact the editorial team.

Interview Articles

We also frequently receive submissions of manuscripts containing interviews with healthcare professionals, academics, medical leaders or other experts. These manuscripts must also be submitted with a signed consent form of the interviewee that they understand that the interview is being recorded and that verbatim or paraphrased quotes from the interview will be published and attributed to them by name. In the case of interviews conducted for research purposes, including those conducted with patients, medical students or healthcare providers (in a research setting), these must always have been collected with ethical approval from a suitable institutional review board and informed consent obtained.

Template Consent Forms

The following template consent forms may be used for recording patient or interviewee consent but are not mandatory:

Patient Consent Form

Interview Consent Form