ISSN 0042-9686
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Scope and editorial policy

1 Content. The Bulletin’s mission is "to publish and disseminate scientifically rigorous public health information of international significance that enables policy-makers, researchers and practitioners to be more effective; it aims to improve health, particularly among disadvantaged populations". The Bulletin welcomes unsolicited manuscripts, which are initially screened in-house for originality, relevance to an international public health audience, and scientific rigour. Manuscripts passing the initial screening are sent for peer review. After the reviews have been received, a decision on the manuscript’s acceptability for publication in the Bulletin is made by the Editorial Advisers. Accepted papers are subject to editorial revision, including shortening of the text and omission of tables and figures if appropriate. The word limits shown below do not include the abstract (where applicable), tables, figures, and references. The principal types of manuscripts are outlined below.

1.1. Unsolicited manuscripts

Research, Policy and Practice, and Lessons from the Field papers must be accompanied by two paragraphs indicating what they add to the literature:

– paragraph 1: a brief explanation of what was already known about the topic concerned;
– paragraph 2: a brief outline of what we know as a result of your paper.

Research. Methodologically sound primary research of relevance to international public health. Formal scientific presentations of not more than 3000 words, with a structured abstract (see below, 2.8) and not more than 50 references; peer reviewed. Reporting of results of studies should follow best practices, as outlined in the following guidelines:

– CONSORT for reports of randomized trials (
– TREND for reports of non-randomized evaluations of interventions (
- STARD for studies of diagnostic accuracy (
– MOOSE for meta-analysis of observational studies ( moose
– QUOROM for systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized trials (
– STROBE for the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology (
– Clinical trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies should follow specific guidelines (available from: All human trials that are phase 2a and above must be registered with a clinical trial registry (see:

Policy and Practice. Reviews, debates, or hypothesis-generating articles; not more than 3000 words, with a non-structured abstract (see below, 2.8) and not more than 50 references; peer reviewed.

Lessons from the Field. Papers that capture experiences and practice gained in solving specific public health problems in developing countries, with a structured abstract (see below, 2.8); not more than 1500 words and not more than 15 references, with no more than one Table and one Figure.

Perspectives. Views, hypotheses, or discussions (with a clear message) of an issue of public health interest; up to 1500 words, no more than 6 references. Letters. Useful contributions referring to something published recently in the Bulletin; 400–850 words, maximum 6 references. Letters are also edited and may be shortened.

1.2. Commissioned manuscripts

The categories of articles shown below are normally commissioned by the editors. Authors wishing to submit an unsolicited article to be considered for one of these categories should first contact the editorial office (see 2.1 below).

Editorials. Authoritative reviews, analyses, or views of an important topic, related to the month’s theme or a topical subject; not more than 800 words, maximum 12 references.

Commentaries. Explanatory or critical analysis of an individual article; not more than 800 words, maximum 12 references.

Public Health Reviews. Evidence-based review articles that focus on an important aspect of a particular disease or public health policy. Not more than 3000 words with a non-structured abstract (see below, 2.8) and not more than 50 references; peer reviewed.

Round Tables. Consist of a base article on a controversial subject of current public health importance (not more than 2000 words, with an abstract) and a debate on it by about four discussants, who are invited to contribute not more than 500 words each.

Public Health Classics. A landmark public health article or publication is reproduced, accompanied by a commentary of up to 1500 words.

Reviews of Books & Electronic Media. Reviews of a book, web site, film, play, CD-ROM, etc., of public health interest; 400–800 words, no references.

2 Ethical issues. The World Health Organization publishes the results of research involving human subjects only if it has been conducted in full accordance with ethical principles, including the provisions of the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki (as amended by the 52nd General Assembly, Edinburgh, Scotland, October 2000; see: and the additional requirements, if any, of the country in which the research was carried out. Any manuscript describing the results of such research that is submitted for publication must contain a clear statement to this effect, specifying that the free and informed consent of the subjects or their legal guardians was obtained and that the relevant institutional or national ethical review board approved the investigation. The Bulletin is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE; see: Issues involving publication ethics may be referred to this Committee by the editors.

3 Competing interests. A competing interest arises when a professional judgement concerning a primary interest (such as patients’ welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain or personal rivalry). We ask all authors to disclose at the time of submission any competing interests that they may have. Examples of types of competing interests may be found at:

4 Funding. Authors should declare sources of funding for the work undertaken, affirm that they have not entered into an agreement with the funding organization that may have limited their ability to complete the research as planned, and that they have had full control of all primary data.

5 Reprints. Reprints of contributions are not produced; a print copy of the issue will be sent to the corresponding author of each contribution, and a PDF file can be supplied on request or may be downloaded from the Bulletin web site (

Preparation and submission of manuscripts

1 Correspondence. Manuscripts should be submitted to the Bulletin of the World Health Organization via our submissions web site (, where full information is given. Queries about online submissions should be sent to the following email address: Authors who experience difficulties in using the online submission system should seek assistance by contacting the Editorial Office, Bulletin of the World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland (fax: +41 22 791 48 94; email:; or through our web site:

2 Uniform requirements. Papers should be prepared in accordance with the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals established by the Vancouver Group (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, ICMJE). The complete document, updated October 2005, is available at

3 Languages. Papers should be submitted in English. The Bulletin is published in English; the abstracts and MeSH descriptors of main articles are translated into Arabic, French and Spanish. Authors who have difficulty in preparing their manuscript in English should contact the Editorial Office for advice.

4 Authorship. Authors should give their full names and the name and address of their institutions. In accordance with the "Uniform requirements" (see above, 2.2), each author should have participated sufficiently in the work being reported to take public responsibility for the content; each author should provide a description of his or her contribution to the work being reported. The full postal and email address of the contacting author will be published unless otherwise requested.

5 Licence for publication. If a manuscript is accepted for publication, the author(s) will be asked to sign a statement granting exclusive licence for publication to the World Health Organization. A copy of the statement is available at Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to reproduce in their articles any material enjoying copyright protection. The letter granting such permission should be sent to the Editorial Office.

6 Automatic links. All links inserted by the automatic reference and footnote facilities of word-processing software must be removed before the manuscript is submitted. The use of footnotes is discouraged.

7 Tables and Figures. Tables and Figures should be used only if they enhance understanding of the text. In the text, Tables and Figures should be numbered consecutively (e.g. Table 1, Fig. 1). They should be presented with clear, concise titles at the end of the text and not incorporated or embedded into it. Abbreviations or acronyms should be avoided but if used must be explained. Graphs or Figures, which should be presented in two-dimensional and not pseudo three-dimensional "perspective" format, should be clearly drawn and all the data identified.

8 Abstracts. Abstracts, which should be clearly written and serve as an "appetizer", should be provided for the following types of articles: Research, Policy and Practice, base articles for Round Tables, Public Health Reviews, and Lessons from the Field The abstract, which should not exceed 250 words, appears in English at the beginning and is translated into Arabic, French and Spanish for publication at the end of the article. Accuracy of the translations is the responsibility of the Bulletin. For Research articles the abstract should be structured: Objective, Methods, Findings, Conclusion. For Lessons from the Field articles the abstract should be structured: Problem, Approach, Local setting, Relevant changes, Lessons learned.

9 Keywords. Authors should not provide keywords when submitting the manuscript. For accepted articles the WHO library will index the papers using descriptors from the medical subject headings (MeSH) list of Index Medicus (US National Library of Medicine, NLM) The Arabic, French and Spanish equivalents will also be included.

10 Bibliographic references. Authors are responsible for the accuracy of all references, which should be verified at: these are not checked by the editors. References should be numbered consecutively as they occur in the text (in superscript roman type, preferably at the end of a sentence) and listed in numerical order at the end of the text. The Bulletin adheres closely to the Vancouver style of references (see html, updated October 2005). The first six authors of a work should be named, followed by ", et al." if there are more than six.

11 Maps. Use of maps should be avoided, but should their use be necessary authors are requested to use the relevant UN-approved maps, which can be downloaded from:

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