Editorial policy

Sexually Transmitted Infections 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. Sexually Transmitted Infections selects original papers on the basis of their likely appeal to its readership. Papers we select for publication will:
  • Be of interest to practitioners, policy makers, trainees and researchers wishing to keep themselves up to date in the field of clinical, epidemiological, sociological and laboratory aspects of STIs and HIV.
  • Be clearly and correctly expressed. Many of our valued contributors do not speak English as their first language. If you feel unsure of your competence in English, please show your paper to a colleague who speaks English, preferably a native speaker, before making your submission.
  • Be intelligible to our broad international readership. Do not assume familiarity with cultural or institutional facts that are specific to the place in which the research is undertaken.
  • Please explain any details that are likely to cause confusion or misunderstanding for readers from other cultural backgrounds.
Papers are considered on the basis that they are submitted solely to this journal and do not duplicate material already published, or submitted in another manuscript. In cases of doubt, and whenever material from the same study/dataset has been submitted or published elsewhere, please mention this to the editor in your cover letter, and explain the relationship between the manuscripts and how they differ. Please also submit the published material in a supplementary file for editors and reviewers along with your manuscript. We recognise that there may be a need to report the same methods for multiple studies. If this is the case, please consult text recycling guidelines, and consider what repeated information can be given by referring to another manuscript, or in online only supplementary material. The journal supports the People First Charter and encourages the use of person-centered language in submitted manuscripts. Authors are recommended to follow the UNAIDS Terminology Guidelines.

Plan S compliance

Sexually Transmitted Infections is a Plan S compliant Transformative Journal. Transformative Journals are one of the compliance routes offered by cOAlition S funders, such as Wellcome, WHO and UKRI. Find out more about Transformative Journals and Plan S compliance on our Author Hub.

Copyright and authors’ rights

Articles are published under an exclusive licence or non-exclusive licence for UK Crown employees or where BMJ has agreed CC-BY applies. For US Federal Government officers or employees acting as part of their official duties, the terms are as stated in accordance with our licence terms. Authors or their employers retain copyright. Open access articles can be reused under the terms of the relevant Creative Commons licence to facilitate reuse of the content; please refer to the Sexually Transmitted Infections Author Licence for the applicable Creative Commons licences. More information on copyright and authors’ rights.
When publishing in Sexually Transmitted Infections, authors choose between three licence types – exclusive licence granted to BMJ, CC-BY-NC and CC-BY (Creative Commons open access licences require payment of an article processing charge). As an author, you may wish to post your article in an institutional or subject repository, or on a scientific social sharing network. You may also link your published article to your preprint (if applicable). What you can do with your article, without seeking permission, depends on the licence you have chosen and the version of your article. Please refer to the BMJ author self archiving and permissions policies page for more information.


Preprints foster openness, accessibility and collaboration by allowing authors to make their findings immediately available to the research community and receive feedback on an article before it is submitted to a journal for formal publication. BMJ fully supports and encourages the archiving of preprints in any recognised, not-for-profit server such as medRxiv. BMJ does not consider the posting of an article in a dedicated preprint repository to be prior publication.
Preprints are reports of work that have not been peer-reviewed; Preprints should therefore not be used to guide clinical practice, health-related behaviour or health policy. For more information, please refer to our Preprint policy page.

Article transfer service

BMJ is committed to ensuring that all good quality research is published. Our article transfer service helps authors find the best journal for their research while providing an easy and smooth publication process. If authors agree to transfer their manuscript, all versions, supplementary files and peer reviewer comments are automatically transferred; there is no need to resubmit or reformat. Authors who submit to Sexually Transmitted Infections and are rejected will be offered the option of transferring to another BMJ Journal, such as BMJ Public Health or BMJ Open.
Please note that the article transfer service does not guarantee acceptance but you should receive a quicker initial decision on your manuscript. Contact the Transfer Editor at

Word count and supplementary material

The stated word count should apply to the main text only, excluding the title page, abstract, tables, figures, references and compulsory end statements. Manuscripts that significantly exceed the maximum permitted word count for the article type may be returned to the author for immediate revision prior to editorial review. Additional information, such as questionnaires, additional data tables, or detailed aspects of laboratory methods which would be of interest only to a specialist, may be published as online only supplementary material. Any such supplementary material must be uploaded as a Supplementary File for Review and should be clearly referenced in the main text. The publication of supplementary material is at the discretion of the Editor and should not be considered a substitute for presenting a clear, complete manuscript within the word limit.

Research checklists

The EQUATOR Network is an excellent resource for reporting guidelines for a wide range of study types and contains many useful resources for authors. BMJ requires compliance to the following reporting guidelines. Please upload the relevant completed checklist for your study type with your submission, and label it "Research checklist". If no relevant checklist is available for your study type, this can be indicated on the submission form.
CONSORT statement - Required for all randomised controlled trials PRISMA statement - Required for all systematic reviews PRISMA-ScR statement - Required for all scoping reviews EVEREST statement - Required for all economic evaluations STARD statement - Required for all diagnostic research papers STROBE statement - Required for all observational studies STROBE-RDS statement - Required for Respondent-Driven Sampling Studies SQUIRE statement - Required for all quality improvement studies Word versions of the STROBE checklists are available below:

Abstracts in other languages

For publications originating from countries where English is not the primary language, authors will be encouraged also to supply the abstract of their paper in their native language. This will be requested upon acceptance and published online only as a supplementary file alongside the English version. Authors should be aware that the translated abstract will not be copyedited or typeset and BMJ takes no responsibility for any errors in the non-English version.

Video abstracts

We welcome video abstracts to accompany accepted research articles. These allow authors to personally talk through their work beyond the restrictions of a formal article to improve the user’s understanding. Note that we will not ask you to consider submitting a video abstract until your paper has been accepted. Please do not try to upload a video abstract upon initial submission of your manuscript. Guidance on video abstracts is available on the BMJ Author Hub.
All video abstracts will be assessed for suitability by the editorial team and publication is not guaranteed. In some cases, editors may request edits to the video. Video abstracts are embedded within the research article online and also published separately on the journal’s YouTube channel. They are published under the same copyright terms as the associated article.

Article processing charges

During submission, authors can choose to have their article published open access for 3,245 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors). Publishing open access has multiple benefits including wider reach, faster impact and increased citation and usage. Authors can also choose to publish their article in colour for the print edition - instead of the default option of black and white - for 436 GBP. There are no submission, page or online-only colour figure charges.

Waivers and discounts

If authors choose to publish their article open access, an APC waiver may be available. Before applying for an APC waiver please consider: (1) Does your institution have an open access agreement with BMJ? If it does, then this may cover all or part of the APC for your article. Check BMJ’s open access agreements page to find out whether your institution is a member and what discounts you may be entitled to. (2) Have you received funding from a funder with an open access mandate or policy that covers paying APCs? If so, BMJ expects that the APC will be paid in full. If neither (1) nor (2) above apply then consider (3) Are all the authors of your article based in low-income countries*? If so, you are eligible to apply for a full or partial waiver from BMJ.
Visit our author hub to learn more about our waivers policy and how to request one. Please note that regardless of the funding situation, authors can still choose to publish with us at no cost, and articles will be made available to our subscribers. *This list is reviewed annually and is based upon HINARI Core Offer Groups A and B, and the World Bank Country and Lending Groups.

Data sharing

Sexually Transmitted Infections adheres to BMJ's Tier 3 data policy. We strongly encourage that data generated by your research that supports your article be made available as soon as possible, wherever legally and ethically possible. All research articles must contain a Data Availability Statement. For more information and FAQs, please see BMJ's full Data Sharing Policy page.


Sexually Transmitted Infections mandates ORCID iDs for the submitting author at the time of article submission; co-authors and reviewers are strongly encouraged to also connect their ScholarOne accounts to ORCID. We strongly believe that the increased use and integration of ORCID iDs will be beneficial for the whole research community.
Please find more information about ORCID and BMJ’s policy on our Author Hub.

Rapid responses

A rapid response is a moderated but not peer reviewed online response to a published article in Sexually Transmitted Infections; it will not receive a DOI and will not be indexed. Find out more about responses and how to submit a response.

Peer review process

Articles submitted to Sexually Transmitted Infections are subject to peer review. In most instances we aim for two external opinions (and often additional statistical assessment) for reasons of fairness and science. The journal is not prepared to compromise on this stance. The journal operates single anonymised peer review whereby the names of the reviewers are hidden from the author; Manuscripts authored by a member of a journal’s editorial team are independently peer reviewed; an editor will have no input or influence on the peer review process or publication decision for their own article. For more information on what to expect during the peer review process please refer to BMJ Author Hub – the peer review process. BMJ requests that all reviewers adhere to a set of basic principles and standards during the peer-review process in research publication; these are based on the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Please refer to our peer review terms and conditions policy page.
BMJ is committed to transparency. Every article we publish includes a description of its provenance (commissioned or not commissioned) and whether it was internally or externally peer reviewed. During the submission process, authors must not suggest reviewers who are current or recent colleagues of themselves or their co-authors. For more information about suggesting reviewers please visit our Author Hub. Plagiarism is the appropriation of the language, ideas or thoughts of another without crediting their true source and representation of them as one’s own original work. 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. BMJ runs manuscripts through iThenticate during the peer review process. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting

Submission guidelines

Please review the below article type specifications including the required article lengths, illustrations, table limits and reference counts. For further support when making your submission please refer to the resources available on the BMJ Author Hub. Here you will find information on writing and formatting your research through to the peer review process and promoting your paper. You may also wish to use the language editing and translation services provided by BMJ Author Services.

General guidance for Original Research or Short Reports

General guidance Some types of research study that we frequently publish are:
  • Controlled trials (randomised or not randomised);
  • Observational studies;
  • Diagnostic accuracy studies;
  • Basic science;
  • Qualitative research;
  • Service improvement or quality improvement reports, which may include audits;
  • Economic evaluations;
  • Modelling studies;
  • Systematic reviews
Your paper should be well organized and clearly structured. Your introduction (and your abstract) should contain a clear statement of the objectives of the study and the major hypothesis tested or research question posed. Make sure that the messages of your abstract are in agreement with the messages in the body of the article. Please include the key messages of your article after your abstract using the following headings. This section should be no more than 3-5 sentences and should be distinct from the abstract; be succinct, specific and accurate.
  • What is already known on this topic - summarise the state of scientific knowledge on this subject before you did your study and why this study needed to be done
  • What this study adds - summarise what we now know as a result of this study that we did not know before
  • How this study might affect research, practice or policy - summarise the implications of this study
This will be published as a summary box after the abstract in the final published article. Your methods section should contain, in all cases, information about:
  • design – including, where appropriate, such factors as prospective, randomisation, blinding, placebo control, case control, crossover, sample size calculation, a statement of the primary outcome and whether a protocol is available;
  • setting – including, where appropriate, the level of care (e.g. primary/secondary, and the number of participating centres). Be general rather than give the name of the specific centre, but give the geographical location if this is important ;
  • participants – including, where appropriate, numbers eligible and enrolled in the study, sex, and ethnic group. Give clear definitions of how participants were selected, of entry and exclusion criteria.
In the case of trials the methods section should also contain information regarding interventions – what, how, when, and for how long.
Statistics should include, at the very least: For a cohort study:
  • Absolute event rates over time (e.g. 10 years) among exposed and non-exposed groups;
  • Absolute risk difference;
  • Relative risk (RR) or hazard ratio (HR) for strength of association between exposure and outcome;
  • Where multivariable analyses have been conducted, report both the crude and adjusted analyses, with 95% confidence intervals.
For a case control study:
  • Odds ratio (OR) for strength of association between exposure and outcome.
For a study of a diagnostic test:
  • Sensitivity and specificity;
  • Positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV).
For clinical trials:
  • Absolute event rates among experimental and control groups;
  • Relative risk reduction (RRR);
  • Number needed to treat or harm (NNT or NNH) and its 95% confidence interval (or, if the trial is of a public health intervention, number helped per 1,000 or 100,000).
The discussion section must be well structured, and should include the following elements:
  • A brief statement of your principal findings;
  • An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your study;
  • A discussion of these strengths and weaknesses in relation to the strengths and weaknesses of comparable studies;
  • A summary of the meaning of your study, offering possible explanations of your findings and their relevance for clinicians and policymakers;
  • A consideration of unanswered questions and the possibilities for future research;
  • The take home message for readers.
Statement of ethics approval We require every research article submitted to include a statement that the study obtained ethics approval (or a statement that it was not required and why), including the name of the ethics committee(s) or institutional review board(s), the number/ID of the approval(s), and a statement that participants gave informed consent before taking part. Find out more about BMJ policies on Research Ethics on our Author Hub.

Original research

You should consider presenting your findings as a full length original research article in the following situations:
  • where the research is generalizable and of widespread significance;
  • where your work provides a stand-alone contribution to the literature;
  • where the findings relate to a substantial piece of research, and not only a pilot or preliminary investigation.
Research reviews that systematically synthesise evidence (e.g. Systematic reviews, Meta-analysis, Scoping reviews, Mixed methods reviews, etc) should be submitted as Systematic review.
Word count: up to 3000 words Abstract: up to 300 words, structured under the headings: Objectives, Methods, Results, Conclusions Tables/figures: up to 4 References: up to 30 Please include the key messages of your article after your abstract using the following headings. This section should be no more than 3-5 sentences and should be distinct from the abstract; be succinct, specific and accurate.
  • What is already known on this topic - summarise the state of scientific knowledge on this subject before you did your study and why this study needed to be done
  • What this study adds - summarise what we now know as a result of this study that we did not know before
  • How this study might affect research, practice or policy - summarise the implications of this study
This will be published as a summary box after the abstract in the final published article.

Systematic review

Systematic reviews address a discrete and clearly formulated research question. They use systematic methods to identify, select, and critically appraise the relevant research, and to collect and analyse data, providing a summary answer to the research question. Statistical methods (meta-analysis, meta-regression) are typically used to analyse and summarise the results. Authors should follow the appropriate systematic review guideline for the included study designs. PRISMA is the one most commonly used. Please state the guideline followed, submit the relevant checklist and provide the reference. Authors are encouraged to submit the review protocol as an online link or as part of a supplementary file for online publication. Scoping reviews take a systematic approach to collate, appraise and synthetise knowledge on a topic or question. The purpose of scoping reviews is to map a body of literature, identify knowledge gaps, and clarify concepts. They differ from systematic reviews as their purpose is to provide an overview of the available research evidence, rather than a summary answer to a discrete research question. However, like systematic reviews, scoping reviews must use rigorous and transparent methods. They are typically reported using the PRISMA extension for scoping reviews. Scoping reviews may be helpful precursors to systematic reviews. Review articles should include a key messages box to highlight the rationale for undertaking the review, the main findings, the implications and limitations of the findings, and any remaining areas of uncertainty and research need. Additional material, including references in excess of the maximum, can be submitted as a supplementary file for online publication. Most Systematic and Scoping reviews are commissioned; unsolicited reviews are considered but should be discussed with the Editor prior to submission.
Word count: up to 3500 words Abstract: up to 300 words Tables/figures: up to 6 References: up to 50

Short report

You should consider presenting your findings as a short report in the following situations:
  • where the research, though interesting, is of mainly local significance;
  • where your findings provide a largely additional or complementary perspective on existing research;
  • where these findings correspond to a still early and relatively incomplete stage in the development of your project.
Word count: up to 1500 words Abstract: up to 300 words, structured under the headings: Objectives, Methods, Results, Conclusions Tables/figure: limited to 1 References: up to 10


Narrative review Narrative or literature reviews summarise and provide a critique of the published literature about a selected topic, addressing a general or specific question. They are usually not systematic in the material used and may or may not consider the quality of the published evidence. The conclusions are qualitative. The review should describe the methods used to search for and select material and provide a fair and comprehensive overview of the topic and highlight the implications, knowledge gaps and future research needs. Review articles should include a key messages box to highlight the rationale for undertaking the review, the main findings, the implications and limitations of the findings, and any remaining areas of uncertainty and research need. Additional material, including references in excess of the maximum, can be submitted as a supplementary file for online publication. Most narrative reviews are commissioned; unsolicited reviews are considered but should be discussed with the Editor prior to submission.
Word count: up to 3500 words Abstract: up to 300 words Tables/figures: up to 6 References: up to 50


Unsolicited educational articles are welcomed. They should address our broad international and multidisciplinary readership, which includes clinicians, health services researchers, epidemiologists and policymakers. They will be subject to internal and external peer review and editorial suggestions, to ensure clarity and relevance to our audience.
Word count: up to 1500 words Tables/figures: up to 3 References: up to 12

Case report

We occasionally publish individual case reports, if - only if - they convey an important learning point for our community of clinicians (e.g. cases involving a new manifestation of a disease, or important diagnostic or management issues). It is vital, if you are seeking publication in STI, that you make absolutely clear in your covering letter, as well as in the case report itself, why you see the lessons of the case to be important for other people's practice. In cases of submitted case reports that the editorial committee to be of insufficient importance for publication, we would often advise submission to BMJ Case Reports. Please note that patient permission is required for the use of images (see electronic submission system for consent form).
Your case report needs to be well structured and should contain the following elements:
  • Background – why you think the case is important;
  • Presentation – presenting important features; medical/social/family history;
  • Investigations – if relevant;
  • Differential diagnosis – if relevant;
  • Treatment – if relevant;
  • Discussion – including a very brief review of similar published cases;
  • Learning points (in the Key Messages box).
Word count: up to 750 words Abstract: up to 150 words Tables/figures: limited to 1 References: up to 10


Letters are used to report original data that are interesting but do not warrant an original research article or short report. At the discretion of the Editor, additional information may be published online as supplementary material. If applicable, like any other manuscript, letters should reference any other publications from the same study population and describe the relationship between the two publications; a letter can only be published if it adds significantly to what is already published on the same study population. We do not simply re-publish material that has already appeared in a conference abstract book.
Word count: up to 750 words Tables/figures: limited to 1 References: up to 10


The Correspondence section is used for reporting very short items of research or brief case reports.
Word count: up to 300 words (or 150 words if accompanied by one small table or figure) Tables/figures: usually none References: limited to 2


Responses to articles published in STI are welcomed and should be submitted online via the journal’s website. Contributors should go to the abstract or full text of the article in question and click on the ‘Responses’ tab. Responses relating to previously published items in the journal will be reviewed by the editor. They may be sent to the authors of the original article, who will be invited to reply. Responses are moderated but not peer reviewed; they do not receive a DOI and are not indexed.
Word count: up to 600 words Tables/figures: none References: maximum 10

BASHH column

The purpose of this column is to make readers aware of the work and activities of BASHH and to discuss developments of health policy, education etc. within the UK and how they will/might affect the specialty of GU medicine. These are commissioned only papers.
Word count: up to 750 words including references


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, please refer to our supplements page. 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