How to submit a guest post

The process

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 using an informal peer-review process that has two steps, a screening step by our managing editor and a “rough and ready” peer review step in which at least three of our editors evaluate the submission.

How to submit a guest post for publication on SBM

Submit your article by email directly to Dr. Gorski ([email protected]), the managing editor. If he thinks it has potential, he will distribute it to the editorial staff for further consideration. Please note that none of the editors are paid for our work on SBM, and most of us have demanding day jobs. That means that, more frequently than we would like, the process is less than optimal and not as fast as bloggers (or 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 in such a case we will try to speed the process along.

Next, here are our guidelines.

No link placement and sponsored posts accepted—ever!

This is listed first, because, if actually followed, it would filter out a lot of noise in our guest post submissions. Do not submit content that contains a promotional link. We have never published a submission that was motivated by link placement, and never will. We also do not accept sponsored posts—ever. So don’t bother even asking. We do not publish advertorials and ignore all inquiries and requests to publish sponsored posts or links.

Be relevant

Like most publications, SBM gets too 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 “get” the zeitgeist of what this blog are about. SBM is not a general medical blog. Perfectly good submissions providing medical information that would be just fine in a more general medical blog (e.g., guidelines on how to manage diabetes; suggestions for exercise or diet; listicles on how to improve your sleep, etc.) will almost certainly be rejected by Dr. Gorski at the screening step and never even make it to our informal peer review. 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 alternately 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

With rare exceptions, publish only original content as guest posts. Guest contributors are welcome to re-publish their contribution to SBM elsewhere after it has been available on SBM exclusively for one week. Authors retain copyright to their posts but, as a condition of our posting it, must provide us with permission to publish on our site indefinitely. Of course, 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.

Guest posts from representatives of companies or advocacy and political 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. Nor do we shy away from pointing out partisan political actors responsible for spreading medical misinformation; e.g., for spreading COVID-19 and antivaccine disinformation during the pandemic.

We also strive not to promote (or be perceived as promoting) any specific company, product, or service. Consequently, if you represent a partisan political organization, your submission will have to clear a higher bar to be accepted. 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) or ideology (e.g., US Right to Know and its anti-GMO stance), don’t even bother. Your post will be rejected at the screening step. The same rule applies if you represent a company and we deem that your post is more about promoting your product or service than about contributing to the mission of this blog. Again, we do not publish advertorials.

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, epidemiology). 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, and two contributors here (Drs. Atwood and Crislip) have already retired. 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.

Author

  • Vancouver science journalist best known for publishing PainScience.com, which is "the SBM of pain and injury medicine." Although Paul grew up believing in anything, Carl Sagan turned him into a skeptic. Paul is also a programmer, a gamer, a science fiction fan, and chases Frisbees more than a Border Collie. Oh, and he was the assistant editor of ScienceBasedMedicine.org for a while (2009-2016).