Guidelines on submitting members' obituaries
The Royal College of Psychiatrists would like to pay tribute to the life and work of members of the specialty who have died. If you would like to record the life of a College member who was a colleague, friend, or family member, please do submit an obituary to appear on the College website. You don't need to be a member of the College yourself. The College welcomes collaboratively written obituaries.
Summary of what we need from you
- Your name and your relation the subject of the obituary
- Their full name and if you have it, their College membership number
- Confirmation from you that you have the family's permission to write the obituary, if you are not a family member
- A photograph of the Member,
- An obituary of approximately 500 words, in electronic form, which complies with the guidance below.
Advice on what to include
Opening lines should command the attention of the reader and the best obituaries start with a summary or a condensed version of the achievements of the person you're writing about.
Ideally the rest of the obituary will be an interesting, accurate and honest summary of the highlights of the person's career and of their character.
Please try to avoid listing the person's achievements in a CV style.
Please do include in the piece if you'd like to:
- details of the subject's family background, including place of birth, date of birth, name of parents
- education (schools, universities, medical schools, fellowships etc)
- junior posts
- war service / National Service
- definitive consultant appointments
- writing, research including significant papers / books
- membership of local, regional, national and international organisations
- names of wives, husbands, civil partners and children.
We'd encourage writing to include anecdotes and personal recollections as these can be an effective means of capturing the spirit of the person.
Please include references of sources at the end of the obituary.
Advice on writing an obituary
- Pubmed lists journal references.
- The British Library includes a comprehensive catalogue of books published in the UK; for US-published books see the Library of Congress catalogue for Australian books see the Australian National Library catalogue
- The British Medical Journal (www.bmj.com) publishes obituaries every week.
- Obituaries published in The Independent (www.independent.co.uk), The Daily Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk) and The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk) are available free online: to access The Times obituaries you will need to pay a subscription (www.thetimes.co.uk).
- It is always worth searching online for the name of the deceased to find other resources (www.google.com).
- Local and regional papers sometimes publish obituaries. These are very variable, but some areas are better served than others: see The Camden New Journal, The Oxford Mail etc.
- You may want to check Who’s Who if your subject had a high profile. This is a yearly publication, and it may be worth checking previous editions. These may be available at your local public library. (Some local authorities also provide access to Who’s Who online for their library members.)
- It may be useful to contact the archives department of the hospital where the subject held their major appointment.
We'll check that the person in question is or has been a member of the College. We will check and correct any spelling mistakes we spot.
Obituaries in the BJPsych Bulletin
As well as providing an obituary for the College website, you may also wish to consider providing one to BJPsych Bulletin.
The BJPsych Bulletin, one of the College journals publishes, at the editor’s discretion, obituaries of Fellows and Members who have made a significant contribution to the specialty at national and/or international level.
If you would like the psychiatrist who has died to be considered for an obituary in the BJPsych Bulletin, please refer to the guidelines (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin/information/instructions-contributors) for further details.
Please do contact us if you need further clarification or advice via firstname.lastname@example.org.