ClinMed policies

Editorial independence

The journal has editorial independence from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and decisions regarding the commissioning, selection and dissemination of content are the responsibility of the editor, taking into account peer review and guidance from the editorial board. All articles and other material published by ClinMed reflect the agreed opinions of their authors and should not be taken to represent the policy of the RCP unless this is specifically stated.

Review processes 

Initial checks: The editorial office checks that submitted articles meet the scope of the journal and have followed our requirements in terms of format, word length etc. A manuscript may be returned to the author for changes if the requirements are not met. 

Review by the editor-in-chief: All papers that have passed the initial checks are considered by the editor-in-chief. A large proportion of papers are rejected at this stage if they are out of scope, obviously of poor quality or not of sufficient interest to our readership. The remaining papers undergo some form of additional review as detailed below. 

Double-blind peer review: The articles that pass through that filter then undergo full double-blind peer review. The editor-in-chief assigns the manuscript to an associate editor whose expertise reflects the subject matter. They invite peer reviewers (normally two at any one time) to review the manuscript; the peer reviewers are not aware of the identity of the author(s). The peer reviewers return comments and a recommendation to reject the paper or to accept it in its current form or (usually) with major or minor revisions. The associate editor considers the comments and recommendations and makes an overall recommendation, which is ratified by the editor-in-chief and returned to the authors(s) along with the comments from the reviewers and any additional comments from the associate editor. If the author subsequently returns a revised manuscript, the associate editor may recommend immediate acceptance if the revisions requested were minor and have been satisfactorily addressed, or they may send the article for out for review again (usually to the same reviewers if they said they were willing to re-review). 

Review of commissioned review articles: When a review has been commissioned by the editor-in-chief or by the guest editor of a special issue or CME section, the author will usually be a noted expert in the field and full double-blind review may not be felt to be necessary. The editor-in-chief or guest editor will review it themselves and suggest improvements, and/or may ask a colleague or committee of colleagues to review it without blinding. If in any doubt (and particularly in complex or controversial areas), they will put the paper forward for double-blind peer review. 

Review and selection of case studies and opinion articles: Our case study submissions (lessons of the month, images of the month and acute medical care articles) and opinion articles are reviewed by a small committee, normally comprising the editor-in-chief and another member of the board. They consider all the recently submitted articles in each class as a group and select the most interesting and educational. They may suggest improvements to the authors. If a number of particularly strong articles have been submitted, the runners-up may be held back to be considered among the next batch of submissions.

Review of concise guidance: Our concise guidance articles are summaries of longer guidelines, developed by NICE and other organisations, designed to highlight the aspects of the guidelines that are of most relevance to physicians who may not be specialists in the area. They do not undergo peer review but are reviewed by the concise guidelines lead on the editorial board and the chair of the original guideline group to ensure they provide an accurate reflection of the longer guidance.

Abstract supplements: Clinical Medicine may publish the abstracts of the accepted posters of key RCP conferences in an abstract supplement. These abstracts do not undergo and further peer review, as they have already been assessed by the judging panels appointed by the conference and we wish the supplement to accurately reflect the proceedings of the conference.

Queries and complaints: Appeals or other complaints regarding peer review will be carefully considered and referred to COPE (see below) if unresolved.

Editorial process

All accepted submissions are copyedited by our inā€house editorial team to ensure language is clear and precise, to apply house style and to adjust article length where necessary. Any major queries will be sent to the author to resolve prior to typesetting; however, the majority of author queries are included at the proof stage. We recommend that all authors check and correct the proof, but request that a single set of corrections and copyright release form (see below) are coordinated and returned by one author. Please check the accuracy of all content, in particular the names and affiliations of authors, and the data displayed in figures and tables.

Content that is published online ahead of issue allocation is the finalised version following these processes; no further substantive changes are possible once the article has been published online.

Editorial policies

Authorship: All authors listed must meet all four of the following criteria recommended by the ICMJE:

  • substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work or to the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work
  • drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content
  • final approval of the version to be published
  • 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.

Where all criteria are not met, but an individual has made a significant contribution to the article, they should be acknowledged in an acknowledgements section at the end of the main text.

Copyright: Submission of an article to the journal is taken to imply that it represents original work, not previously published and not under consideration for publication elsewhere. Authors are asked to sign a form transferring the copyright of their articles to the publishers. Copyright covers the distribution of the material in all forms, including but not limited to figures, tables, reprints, photographic reproductions and photocopies.

Protection of research participants: If a study reports human data, the cover sheet should state whether the authors have approval from their local research ethics committee or otherwise conforms to the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki. If possible, individual patients should not be identifiable and non-essential identifying details should be omitted. If a patient is identifiable, informed written consent to publish must be obtained from the patient or from their next of kin if they are not able to consent themselves. Further guidance on the issue of patient identifiability can be found here.

Conflicts of interest: Potential conflicts of interest must be declared on the cover sheet at submission. These include relevant financial, personal, political or intellectual interests. The ICMJE provides a form that can be used to generate your conflict of interest statement.

Corrections and disagreements: Corrections to any published errors or misleading statements are published online. The views of readers who disagree with or would like to expand on published statements can express their opinions as a letter to the editor.

Research misconduct: ClinMed subscribes to the standards published by COPE. Research misconduct includes but is not limited to fabrication of results (making up data), falsification of results (manipulating, changing or omitting data so that the research is not accurately represented in the published article) and plagiarism (appropriating somebody’s ideas, data or words without giving appropriate credit). If the editor-in-chief of the journal suspects research misconduct relating to a submitted or published article or is made aware that others have concerns, they will initiate an investigation. Depending on the outcome of this investigation, the article may be retracted and the authors’ institutions and/or medical registration bodies may be informed.

Policy on web accessibility

We want Clinical Medicine to be accessible to as wide a range of readers and contributors as possible, regardless of disability or impairment. We believe that this is an ongoing process and are constantly seeking to improve in this area.

Our main platform for readers, rcpjournals.org, which is hosted by HighWire, is currently compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. HighWire are currently working on WCAG 2.1 compliance.

Our main platform for authors and reviewers is ScholarOne Manuscripts, which is hosted by Clarivate. A statement on steps Clarivate is taking to improve the accessibility of ScholarOne Manuscripts can be found here. If you have difficulty submitting your manuscript or review via ScholarOne Manuscripts due to a disability or impairment, please contact us at clinicalmedicine@rcplondon.ac.uk and we will be pleased to offer assistance.

The main RCP website, www.rcplondon.ac.uk, offers another portal to some of our content for members and fellows of the RCP. The web accessibility statement for the RCP website is here.

If you would like to pass on any feedback on how the journal could be made more accessible to any group of users, please contact us at clinicalmedicine@rcplondon.ac.uk.