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Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care - 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

The Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care publishes material on contraception, abortion, menopause, sexual and reproductive health, sexual dysfunction, sexually transmitted infection, clinical practice, and health education and training. We welcome submissions of research, reviews, and articles and commentaries relevant to all health care professionals working in the area of sexual and reproductive health. While it is not currently a requirement, we actively encourage patient involvement in the design, analysis and presentation of research.

All submitted articles are assessed by the Editor-in-Chief. Those considered likely to be of interest to our readers are assigned to an Associate Editor and reviewed externally, usually by at least two independent experts.

Policy decisions regarding content and related matters are made by the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, in consultation with members of the Editorial Board, who actively participate in the peer review process.

Please follow our Instructions for Authors to facilitate the prompt consideration of your article.

Article types and word counts 

The types of articles and maximum word counts are outlined below. Articles that do not conform to these specifications may be returned to the author for revision prior to peer review. Please contact the editorial office in advance of manuscript submission if you feel it is appropriate/valid for your article to exceed the specified maximum word count. 

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


We welcome original, robustly designed/conducted and well-described quantitative or qualitative research, as well as consensus statements and meta-analyses. Original articles should include a structured abstract and key message points, both of which should reflect accurately the content and findings of the study, rather than the opinions of the authors.

The structured abstract should comprise no more than 250 words (additional to the words of the main body of the text) and should be structured under the headings: background/introduction, methods, results, and conclusions (or similar as appropriate). In addition, please supply a text box containing key message points. This should comprise a maximum of three bullet points of no more than 25 words each, highlighting the main new message(s) emerging from the article.

Introduction: The introduction should set the study in context by relating to a brief review of relevant knowledge of the subject. This should be followed by a concise statement of the study´s aims and objectives.

Methods: Please describe clearly the design, setting, participants, intervention, prespecified outcomes, sample size and statistical analysis for your study. Please provide sufficient information so that other researchers can repeat the study. For statistical analyses, please give sufficient details of the experimental design and analysis so that the reader can assess their adequacy and validity.

Results: Please present your results in the form of text, tables and figures as appropriate. Data given in tables and figures should not be repeated in the text. Tables and figures should be cited in the text in numerical order.

Discussion: The interpretation of results should be discussed, observations should be related to relevant studies, limitations of the study acknowledged and the implications of results for future research should be outlined. Results should not be repeated in this section.

Word count: up to 2500 words

Illustrations/Tables: maximum of 4 tables or figures (additional supplementary online-only data permitted)

References: maximum of 30 references

NB. Whilst the journal does not publish short communications, authors are welcome to submit audit reports, pilot studies, preliminary reports of a clinical study, and follow-up reports from previously published papers. These should be written as concisely as possible (the suggested maximum word count is 1500 words, with a maximum of 2 tables or figures and 20 references), they should include a structured abstract and key message points, and ideally should contain the same headings as for research articles.


We welcome systematic reviews, and comprehensive, evidence-based narrative reviews of the literature. In up to 3500 words (excluding text boxes, figures and references) these should provide a clear, up-to-date and evidence-based account of an important topic, with a critical analysis and conclusions. The article should appeal to international readers and those from a variety of relevant disciplines (e.g. primary care, sexual and reproductive health, genitourinary medicine and obstetrics and gynaecology, and possibly others such as infections disease or tropical medicine). Please consider seeking patient input into your article. We may send your manuscript for patient peer review or commission a patient commentary.

Please include a structured abstract comprising no more than 250 words (additional to the words of the main body of the text) with headings appropriate to the content of your review. In addition, please supply a text box containing three or four key message points comprising bullet points of no more than 25 words each, highlighting the most important ‘take home’ messages from the article.

The introduction should be about 100–150 words, and explain what the review is about, why it is important to which relevant specialties, and what it covers. It should specifically answer the question: “Why should I read this review?” In any methods section please outline what sources of information you used to prepare the review, and how you selected what to include. We do not expect you to perform a systematic review, but hope you will consult Cochrane and other systematic reviews. Please include a statement commenting on the overall quality of the supporting evidence.

Evidence-based writing: Throughout the article, please clarify the evidence on which key statements are based, and the strength of this evidence (published trials, systematic reviews, observational studies, expert opinion), for example: "A large randomised trial/a qualitative, focus group based study finds...". Where evidence is lacking or is of poor quality please say so. Please avoid specialist jargon and abbreviations. Please make it clear if your advice is country specific.

Presentation: Please use ‘reader-friendly’ subheadings. Two or three relevant illustrations (e.g. clinical photographs, line drawings and flow chart) should be provided where possible. Additional figures or other material may be published on the journal website in the form of online-only supplementary material. We need informed consent from patients for any material you obtain from patients even if they are not identifiable (including radiographs, histology slides, and so on).

Additional material: Please include a box entitled ‘Additional educational resources’ detailing 2–6 key review articles, particularly Cochrane reviews where these exist, and useful URLs and websites. Please also consider including a box of up to 200 words containing a patient’s personal account. The patient may use his/her full name in the piece or can remain anonymous. We always need to see the patient’s signed consent prior to publication.

Word count: up to 3500 words
Illustrations/Tables: maximum of 4 tables or figures (additional supplementary online-only data permitted)
References: maximum of 50 references

Case report

The journal occasionally publishes individual case reports, but only if they convey an important or novel learning point for our community of health professionals (e.g. cases involving a new manifestation of a disease or condition, or important diagnostic or management issues). It is therefore essential that authors make absolutely clear in their covering letter, as well as in the case report itself, why they see the lessons of the case to be important for their colleagues’ practice.

For those submitted case reports that the editorial panel deem to be of insufficient importance for publication in the journal, resubmission in the form of a Letter to the Editor (see below) is often advised.

Please note that patient consent is required for the use of images/case descriptions.

Word count: up to 1000 words
Illustrations/Tables: maximum of 1 table or figure
References: maximum of 5 references.


Editorials should be based on high-quality evidence, with the sources of that evidence presented. Editorials are sometimes commissioned but we also welcome submissions on topics of importance in sexual and reproductive health care, whether of a clinical, public health or political nature. We welcome editorials from both UK and international authors, however they should be written with a worldwide readership in mind.

Word count: up to 800–1000 words (maximum)
Illustrations/Tables: maximum of 2 tables or figures
References: maximum of 10 references

Personal view

Personal views differ from editorials in that they provide authors with an opportunity to express their own personal views and opinions on a specific topic or theme, which may of course differ greatly from commonly held views and may thus be controversial.

Word count: up to 1000 words
Illustrations/Tables: maximum of 2 tables or figures
References: maximum of 10 references

Better way of working

The journal publishes occasional “Better Way of Working” articles, whose aim is to disseminate service delivery suggestions likely to help readers improve practice. Contributions should be submitted in a ‘question and answer’ format addressing questions such as: Why was change needed? How did you go about implementing change? What advice would you give to others who might be considering a similar course of action? What outcome(s) resulted from the change in practice?

Word count: up to 1200 words
Illustrations/Tables: maximum of 2 tables or figures
References: maximum of 10 references

Letter to the Editor

The journal publishes Letters to the Editor, including short research papers, rapid responses to published papers, and contributions to a controversy or debate. If commenting on material published in the most recent issue of the journal, correspondence should be received within 6 weeks of dispatch of that journal to be in time for inclusion in the next issue. Correspondents should state their qualifications, full contact details and any competing interests.

Word count: maximum of 600 words
Illustrations/Tables: maximum of 1 table or figure
References: maximum of 5 references

Book and media reviews

We welcome submissions of book, journal, film and other media. Their main purpose is to inform and entertain, so good, clear writing is essential.

Whilst some book reviews are commissioned, the journal welcomes the submission of both scientific and fiction book reviews, and other media reviews. To ensure timeliness, normally the book being reviewed should have been published within the previous 6–9 months.

For scientific books, reviewers may wish to consider including the following points in their review: brief background to the subject matter; comments on the readability, accuracy and scope of the contents; the type of reader who would benefit from reading the book (e.g. general practitioner, specialist, nurse, trainee, layperson, etc.). It may also be worthwhile highlighting particularly good (or bad) chapters.

In the case of fiction books, reviewers should strive to highlight themes in the book that are relevant to sexual and reproductive health and/or that may inform professional practice.

The majority of journal reviews are commissioned. To ensure reviews are sufficiently current, prospective reviewers should select relevant journal articles published within the previous 3 months.

Film reviews will ideally be submitted within 3 months of the film’s UK release date. Reviewers should strive to highlight themes in the film that are relevant to sexual and reproductive health and/or that may inform professional practice.

Word count: up to 400 words (although longer reviews are occasionally accepted)
Illustrations/Tables: usually none
References: usually none

Additional charges 


The journal does not charge authors for the publication of colour images.

Open Access

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

Online-only publication

Online-only publication of supplementary data to print articles

It is sometimes the case that the extent of an article, in terms of tables, figures and/or textual material, is in excess of what is feasible to include in the print journal, but it is judged that the article is otherwise worthy of publication and all the material could be of value to some readers. If some of this material could be provided in a separate appendix then, at the Editor-in-Chief’s discretion, the article may be accepted subject to this additional material being published solely online as supplementary material hyperlinked to the full-text version of the article on the journal’s website The supplementary material will not appear in the print journal issue in which the article is eventually published. Authors also need to be aware that supplementary data is not routinely typeset, and therefore it will appear online in essentially the same format in which it is submitted by the author.

Online-only publication of individual articles

The journal’s Editor-in Chief reserves the right to nominate articles for e-publication (i.e. online-only publication). Online-only publication allows the journal to publish a greater number of manuscripts in a timelier manner than is afforded by print publication alone. It also allows the journal to accept papers with greater word counts than can be accommodated in printed journal issues. Online-only articles are fully indexed and are made available as a typeset .pdf file online. The author receives typeset page proofs to check/approve and an order form for reprints in the usual way.

Online-only articles are listed in the print journal’s table of contents, and are highlighted in the ‘In this Issue’ page. Readers are directed to the journal website in order to view the full-text/pdf version of the article. There are advantages in this approach for authors as it means their article will be published online rapidly and usually within 30 days of acceptance. Also, the article is indexed by PubMed and therefore is immediately searchable, accessible and fully citable by journal subscribers and readers worldwide. Online-only articles may also be published Open Access, and are thus available to interested readers, whether or not they subscribe to the journal.


BMJ is 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 BMJ 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.

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

For further information on criteria that must be fulfilled, download the supplement 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

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