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Acupuncture in Medicine is a scientific and clinical acupuncture journal aimed at Western-trained doctors and health care professionals. The journal’s policy is to use current knowledge of neurophysiology, anatomy and pathology to interpret the clinical effects of acupuncture, i.e the Western medical approach. Discussion of traditional acupuncture concepts are acceptable only where they have been used as the rationale for acupuncture point selection (in which case reporting should be objective in line with the STRICTA guidelines) or where the concepts are themselves the subject of the research. It is unacceptable to use traditional ideological explanations that are not evidence-based to interpret the mechanisms of action or clinical effects of acupuncture.

Editorial policy

Acupuncture in Medicine adheres to the highest standards concerning its editorial policies on publication ethics, scientific misconduct, consent and peer review criteria. To view all BMJ Journal policies please refer to the BMJ Author Hub policies page.

Articles are published under an exclusive licence (or non-exclusive licence for UK Crown and US Federal Government employees) and authors retain copyright. Articles can also be published under a Creative Commons licence to facilitate reuse of the content; please refer to the Acupuncture in Medicine Copyright Author Licence Statement.

Research ethics

Acupuncture in Medicine applies the highest levels of rigour concerning research ethics, which cover both the prospective independent approval of the research (by local ethics review committee or institutional review boards) and the conduct of the research (evidenced by adherence to appropriate guidelines and local and/or national regulation). It is a mandatory requirement that all clinical trials must have been prospectively registered in an approved online registry prior to recruitment of the first patient in order to be considered for publication.

Describing acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture treatment should be described according to the current STRICTA recommendations. Their basic principle is to ensure that the treatment can be replicated exactly by others and to facilitate a more objective assessment of the “dose” of acupuncture treatment; see:

  • White A, Cummings C, Barlas P, et al. Defining an adequate dose of acupuncture using a neurophysiological approach – a narrative review of the literature. Acupunct Med 2008; 26(2): 111-120.
  • MacPherson H, Altman DG, Hammerschlag R, et al. Revised STandards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials of Acupuncture (STRICTA): extending the CONSORT statement. Acupunct Med 2010; 28: 83-93.

Classical acupuncture points should be detailed according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) convention. Each point is identified by two capital letters followed by a number. The following abbreviations should be used: LU, LI, ST, SP, HT, SI, BL, KI, PC, TE, GB, LR, GV, CV. It is acceptable to use the Chinese name once only once (at point of first mention in the text) and thereafter only the short form should be used. The title and abstract should only feature the abbreviated form. The exception to this rule is extra points, which should only be referred to by their Chinese name to avoid confusion. All Chinese words (names of points or the term de qi, which is acceptable as a description of characteristic needling sensation) should be italicised. See:

  • Jenkins M. A new standard international acupuncture nomenclature. Acupunct Med 1990; 7(1): 21-3.

Animal studies

Acupuncture in Medicine is willing to accept reports of research involving laboratory animals only if they are fully satisfied that the research has been conducted ethically. Our minimum standard is that currently required of animal research in the UK, which is closely regulated by the Animals Scientific Procedures Act 1986, updated 2012 and integrated with the principles of the “the 3Rs”: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement. Evidence of adherence to all three principles must be demonstrated before we will consider a manuscript for publication. In addition, the conduct of the research (including but not limited to husbandry, anaesthesia and euthanasia) must comply with international guidelines for animal welfare such as the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals which is endorsed by the Institute of Laboratory Animal Research. All animal research should be reported according to the ARRIVE guidelines.

Assuming that the minimum standards for consideration have been reached, the subsequent peer review process will involve critical evaluation of the validity, necessity and authors’ justification of the study, and will typically ask these questions:

  • Are the benefits of the research on human health clear i.e. would it matter if this result was not known?
  • Could the information provided by the study have been obtained by any other methods?
  • Was the number of animals used the absolute minimum necessary?
  • Was pain, suffering and distress (if any) reduced to the minimum possible?

Article publishing charges

During submission, authors can choose to have their article published open access for 1,000 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors). There are no submission, page or colour figure charges.

For more information on open access, funder compliance and institutional programmes please refer to the BMJ Author Hub open access page.

Submission guidelines

Please review the below article type specifications including the required article lengths, illustrations, table limits and reference counts. The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements, contributions and references. Manuscripts should be as succinct as possible.

For further support when making your submission please refer to the resources available on the BMJ Author Hub. Here you can also find general formatting guidelines across BMJ and a formatting checklist.


These are commissioned only articles.

Word count: up to 1000
Abstract: not required
Tables/illustrations: up to 2
References: up to 15

Original research

Papers will report either clinical trials or laboratory studies that are likely to have clinical relevance or make a significant scientific advance including both primary and secondary (systematic reviews) research. The journal will consider articles with an emphasis on:

  • Acupuncture (penetration of the body’s surface by one or more needles), which encompasses manual acupuncture (MA), electroacupuncture (EA) or a combination of both (MA+EA). See Langevin HM, Schnyer R, MacPherson H, et al. Manual and electrical needle stimulation in acupuncture research: pitfalls and challenges of heterogeneity. J Altern Complement Med 2015; 21(3): 113-128.
  • Reports of related techniques that are non-penetrating (including, but not limited, to transcutaneous electrical acupuncture point stimulation (TEAS), moxibustion, acupressure and laser acupuncture) may be acceptable in selected circumstances if deemed to be of significant clinical or academic interest.

Original papers should use the following headings: INTRODUCTION, METHODS, RESULTS and DISCUSSION in capitalised bold font. A maximum of two Subheadings may be used in the Methods, Results and Discussion in non capitalised bold and italic font respectively. Please note that declamatory subheadings are not allowed. The discussion section should include a statement of the principal findings, identification of the particular strengths and weaknesses of the study, reflection on possible explanations and implications of the research for clinical practice and policy-making, recognition of unanswered questions and recommendations for future research. Clinical trials, systematic reviews and animal experiments should be reported in accordance with the CONSORT, PRISMA and ARRIVE guidelines, respectively.

Word count: up to 4000 words (includes main text, references, acknowledgements and figure legends).
Abstract (structured): up to 250 words
Tables/illustrations: up to 5 tables/figures
References: up to 40

Education and practice

These articles are concerned with the provision or practice of acupuncture within a medical or allied clinical context. Their aim is to improve the theoretical understanding or practical application of acupuncture. Narrative review articles will generally fall into this category. This section also includes miscellaneous articles such as those presenting new hypotheses or discussing research methodology. Articles should use a conventional scientific approach, as those that simply describe traditional theory or practice are not acceptable. Authors should make it clear which statements are based on evidence and which constitute opinion.

Word count: up to 2500 words
Abstract (structured): up to 250 words
Tables/illustrations: 2
References: up to 25


This section contains substantial reports of patients’ responses to acupuncture, usually in the form of a case series or audit. Reports may for example describe the response to acupuncture among patients with one particular condition, or using a particular type of acupuncture. Conclusions, if any, should be cautious because of the lack of controls.

Case series are often descriptions of a group of similar patients identified retrospectively based on clinical observation arising in routine practice, rather than addressing a research question.

Case report

Acupuncture in Medicine is now directly accepting case reports which are deemed relevant and of significant interest to the research community.

You must have signed informed consent from patients (or guardians) before submitting to Acupuncture in Medicine.  Please use the BMJ Consent Form, available here in multiple languages. Please anonymise the patient’s details as much as possible, e.g., specific ages, ethnicity, occupations. For further details on patient consent and confidentiality, please see the BMJ author guide.

Word count: up to 2000 words
Abstract (structured): up to 250 words
Tables/Figures: up to 3
References: up to 20


Letters to the editor are welcome and online access to letters is free. Letters may relate to an article in a previous issue, or may describe a case report, or may report a small study. Online access to letters is free.

Word count: up to 700
Tables/illustrations: up to 2
References: up to 5
Review: letters are subject to editorial review


Audits are usually retrospective and typically describe the effects of treatment on a series of patients and present the results combined, not individually. Reports may for example describe the response to acupuncture among patients with one particular condition, or using a particular type of acupuncture. Conclusions, if any, should be cautious because of the lack of controls.


We welcome obituaries of outstanding members of the BMAS who have contributed particularly to the development of Western medical acupuncture, or non-members who are internationally renowned for their work in the field, accompanied by a high resolution colour photograph.

Word count: up to 500 words

Book and Media Review

Whilst some book and media reviews are commissioned, the journal welcomes the submission of both scientific and fiction reviews.

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.).
In the case of fiction books, reviewers should strive to highlight themes in the book that are relevant to the journal and professional practitioners.

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


The BMJ Publishing Group journals are 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 BMJPG 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.

For further information on criteria that must be fulfilled, download the supplements guidelines.

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