Updated ICMJE Guidelines Released (December 2015)

In December 2015, new ICMJE released new guidelines. Aside from some minor editorial changes, these guidelines have updated information on predatory journals, duplicate publication, ORCID and the discussion section of manuscripts.

Predatory Journals

Predatory Journals are journals that claim to be medical journals, but do not function as such. The ICMJE recommends authors check the reputation of the journals to which they submit their manuscripts. This advice echoes that of the World Association of Medical Editors, which has further guidance on how to select appropriate journals for publication of scholarly research.

Duplicate Publication

Duplicate and prior publication has always been a difficult are of publication ethics. The ICMJE requires prior publication is always disclosed. This includes and prior publication that includes the release of information into the public domain. The new guidelines provide some clarity around information published as a result of a public health emergency. Such publication should not jeopardise future publication within a scholarly journal.


The Open Research and Contributor Identification (ORCID) is a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes a researcher from every other researcher. Increasingly, journals used the ORCID as a means of digitally identifying authors. A non-profit organisation administers ORCID, and it is supported by a number of publishing houses. In the updated ICMJE guidelines, the ICMJE encourages the listing of author’s ORCIDs.


ICMJE has revamped the elements required in the discussion section of a paper. Importantly, it notes that findings should be put in context with the “totality” of the relevant evidence. This should ensure that authors conduct a thorough literature review to examine where their research fits with other research in the area.

WriteSource Medical welcomes the clarity provided by the updated ICMJE guidelines. Copies of the new guidelines, and an annotated set comparing them to the 2014 guidelines are on the ICMJE website.