Submission Guidelines

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Anyone is welcome to submit content to ScienceBasedMedicine.org, regardless of credentials. We’ll publish anything we think is interesting, relevant, scientifically sound, and, of course, well-written. (The less editing we need to do, the better.) The volunteer editorial staff looks at all promising submissions: an informal peer-review process that has two steps, a screening step and a “rough and ready” peer review process in which at least three of our editors evaluate the submission.

Submit your article by email directly to David Gorski ([email protected]), the managing editor. If he thinks it’s got any potential, he’ll distribute it to the editorial staff for further consideration. Please note that none of us are paid, and most of us have demanding day jobs, which means that, more frequently than we would like, the process is not as fast as we would like. (For instance, if Dr. Gorski is working against an NIH grant deadline, you might not hear for a while, because trying to keep his lab afloat trumps his extracurricular activities on SBM.) Try to be patient. If your post is time-sensitive (e.g., about a current medical story that will be of much less interest if it’s not published quickly), please let us know. We make no guarantees, but we’ll try to speed the process along.

Be relevant

Like all publications, SBM gets many irrelevant submissions. We urge you to read our content before submitting. If you haven’t read at least a dozen of our posts, you almost certainly will not “grok” what we are about. Remember, SBM is not a general medical blog. Perfectly good submissions providing medical information (e.g., guidelines on how to manage diabetes; suggestions for exercise or diet; listicles on how to improve your sleep, etc.) that would be just fine in a more general medical blog will damned near certainly be rejected by Dr. Gorski at the screening step and never even make it to our informal peer review by three editors. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that general medical posts are not what SBM is about and not what we publish.

Seriously, it’s amazing, amusing, and frustrating just how many apparently earnest submissions we receive that are not just a “bad fit” or wrong for SBM, but sometimes totally at odds with our values; e.g., pitches from CAM practitioners looking to promote their practice, articles extolling the usefulness of acupuncture, etc. If that’s what your post is about, don’t waste your time or, more importantly to us, ours.

Most relevant posts that we reject are usually rejected for poor quality of writing and/or thinking.

Style guidelines and format

Being a blog, SBM has a lot of flexibility in its editorial style, and room for personality and humor, as you will see if you actually follow the suggestion above to read our content. The main requirements are intellectual rigor and engaging writing: Make a well-reasoned, science-based point about health care in a blog post that is enjoyable to read, and it has a good chance of being published. (This excludes clickbait — no listicles or infographics, please!) You’ll get extra points for good scholarship and referencing, but it’s not necessarily required, depending what you’re writing about.

We accept posts in Microsoft Word files for your initial submission because of ease of reading and distribution. However, if we accept your post, we really don’t like Word files for the final version to be posted because when Word files are converted for WordPress they generally produce atrociously ugly HTML that takes fixing. That’s why we much prefer either plain text with basic HTML markup as needed and the links already embedded, the better to spare our intrepid copy editor who prepares submissions for posting the pain and strain of going through your text and manually inserting links and adding HTML tags as needed for bold, italics, and other formatting. The closer to being able to be just cut and pasted into WordPress your text is, the better we like it. Our copy editor will work with you to convert your text to an acceptable format.

Originality

We publish only original content. Guest contributors are welcome to re-publish elsewhere after articles have been available on SBM exclusively for one week. Authors retain copyright to their posts but, as a condition of our posting it, provide us with permission to publish on our site indefinitely. That permission may be revoked at any time. However, if we publish something of yours and you later revoke our permission to publish, the editorial staff here are likely to look a whole lot less favorably on any future submissions you might send our way.

Link placement and sponsored posts

Please do not submit content that contains a promotional link. We have never published a submission that was motivated by link placement, and we probably never will. We also do not accept sponsored posts—ever. So don’t bother even asking.

Posts from political or advocacy organizations

Finally, we at SBM are very protective of our reputation for integrity, scientific rigor, and freedom from undisclosed conflicts of interest. We are also very careful about not letting our platform be used for political or marketing purposes. That is not to say that we are apolitical. Certainly we advocate for policies and laws based on rigorous science, and we are not shy about opposing laws to make vaccine mandates harder to obtain, to license pseudomedical specialties like naturopathy or require that insurers reimburse their services, or to call for the abolition of, for instance, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. However, we do strive to remain as nonpartisan as possible. We also strive not to promote (or be perceived as promoting) any specific company, product, or service. Consequently, if you represent or are even affiliated with a partisan political organization, don’t bother. If you represent an organization that the editors deem to be promoting bad science or pseudoscience (e.g., the Discovery Institute and its promotion of evolution denial) or promoting science denial based on industry interests (e.g., the Heartland Institute and its denial of climate science), don’t bother. Your post will be rejected at the screening step. The same is true if you represent a company and we deem that your post is more about promoting your product than contributing to the mission of this blog.

Conclusion

None of this is to unduly discourage relevant and potentially deserving submissions; it is rather to discourage irrelevant, poor quality, and marketing-based submissions. We’re always on the lookout for new talent, and we know we have areas where we really need to beef up our expertise (e.g., women’s health, mental health). If you’re in one of those areas, you’re more likely to be published. Even if you’re not, none of us is getting any younger. We’d really love to recruit the next generation of medical skeptics to carry on the legacy of SBM after we can no longer do so.

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