Viewpoints debate

We take a yes/no question and commission two authors. One side argues yes; The other argues no, but they can include caveats.

Authors have up to 900 words with 12 references each and are expected to make evidence based arguments. Authors get a chance to see their opponent's copy at proof stage. 

Our Viewpoints feature is based on the British Medical Journal (BMJ) series.


Introduction: A succinct outline of the thrust of your argument will capture readers’ attention.

Language: We prefer short words, sentences, and paragraphs. Avoid non English terms, technical or scientific language, and jargon. Use the active voice. Don’t assume readers will know about organisations or practices specific to one country.

Tone: As in a serious newspaper or magazine like The Economist: fact based, authoritative, and written in plain English. The best Head to Heads stick to the question, keep the audience in mind, and refer back to the evidence.

Spelling: Check the names of people, places, and organisations and insert “[correct]” in the text

Organisations: Explain briefly what organisations do; Where they are based, if necessary; And whether they are government, charitable, private sector, and so on.

Numbers: Give denominators; Absolute numbers with percentages; And absolute rather than relative risks.

Studies and surveys: The evidence on which key statements are made must be explicit and the strength of the evidence clear (published trials, systematic reviews, observational studies, expert opinion, modelling, surveys, and so on), where appropriate. It is not enough just to cite a reference. Where evidence is lacking or is of poor quality please say so. We expect sentences such as:

  • “Evidence from several large well conducted randomised conducted trials...”
  • “The findings of a small case series suggest...”
  • “Guidelines based on systematic review of observational data advice…”


Verify references against original sources before submission. Cite references in the text, using sequential numbers in square brackets. Each source needs only one reference number; If it is referred to more than once, use the original number again.

  • The study calculated that only 22% of the trials that should have reported their results on the website had actually done so.[1] The FDA’s response to Waxman was obtained. By Nature under freedom of information legislation. [2] …. The BMJ study found that 40% of Industry funded studies reported on time, against 9% of those not solely industry funded.[1]

List references in full at the end of the text, using Vancouver style; For example:

  1. Prayle AP, Hurley MN, Smyth AR. Compliance with mandatory reporting of clinical trial results on cross sectional study. BMJ 2011;344:d7373. [For a BMJ article]
  2. Wadman M. FDA says study overestimated noncompliance with data reporting laws. Nature 2012, doi:10.1038/nature.2012.10549. [For an online first journal article]
  3. Prayle AP, Hurley MN, Smyth AR. Compliance with mandatory reporting of clinical trial results on cross sectional study. N Engl J Med 2011;344:7383.[For a journal article cited with page numbers]
  4. Wadman M. FDA says study overestimated noncompliance with data reporting laws. 2012[For an online document or article without a conventional journal citation]
  5. Wadman M. FDA says study overestimated noncompliance with data reporting Laws. In: Prayle AP, Hurley MN, Smyth AR, eds. Compliance with mandatory reporting of clinical trial results on Wiley, 2011: 93113.[for a book chapter]

Licence to publish: Please confirm this copyright statement in the text of your article:

“The Corresponding Author has the right to grant on behalf of all authors and does grant on behalf of all authors, a worldwide licence to the Publishers and its licensees in perpetuity, in all forms, formats and media (whether known now or created in the future), to i) publish, reproduce, distribute, display and store the Contribution, ii) translate the Contribution into other languages, create adaptations, reprints, include within collections and create summaries, extracts and/or, abstracts of the Contribution, iii) create any other derivative work(s) based on the Contribution, iv) to exploit all subsidiary rights in the Contribution, v) the inclusion of electronic links from the Contribution to third party material wherever it may be located; and, vi) licence any third party to do any or all of the above.”

Competing interests:  If you have a relevant competing interest, please let us know so that we can discuss it before you start. In some cases it may preclude you from writing the piece. You will be required to complete a standard written statement of competing interests prior to publication 

Responding to readers: Viewpoints will invite readers to submit responses via email. The Drinkaware team will post all valid response emails (i.e. those which make an argued response to the debate) to the website in a timely fashion.