Complaints procedure

This procedure applies to complaints about the policies, procedures, or actions of The BMJ's editorial staff. We welcome complaints as they provide an opportunity and a spur for improvement, and we aim to respond quickly, courteously, and constructively. The procedure outlined below aims to be fair to those making complaints and those complained about.


Our definition of a complaint is as follows:

  • The complainant defines his or her expression of unhappiness as a complaint;
  • AND

  • We infer that the complainant is not simply disagreeing with a decision we have made or something we have published (which happens every day) but thinks that there has been a failure of process - for example, a long delay or a rude response - or a severe misjudgment.
  • The complaint must be about something that is within the responsibility of The BMJ's editorial department - content or process.

How to make a complaint

The best way to reach us is by email. Complaints should ideally be made to the person the complainant is already in contact with over the matter being complained about. If that is not appropriate please email

Whenever possible complaints will be dealt with by the relevant member of the editorial staff. If that person cannot deal with the complaint he or she will refer it to a section editor or the executive editor.

Complaints that are not under the control of The BMJ's editorial staff will be sent to the relevant heads of department.

Complaints about editorial matters that are sent to the chairman of the BMJ Board, to the chief executive of BMJ (the publishing group), or to BMA officers, and officials will usually be referred in the first instance to the editor (and invariably if they relate to editorial content, for which the editor is wholly responsible).

All complaints will be acknowledged within three working days.

If possible a full response will be made within four weeks. If this is not possible an interim response will be given within four weeks. Further interim responses will be provided until the complaint is resolved.

If the complainant is not happy with the resolution he or she can ask for the complaint to be escalated to the individual's manager or to the executive editor.

If the complainant remains unhappy, complaints should be escalated to the editor, whose decision is final.

If a complainant remains unhappy after what the editor considers a definitive reply the complainant may complain to an external body (see below).

External bodies

If the complainant has exhausted the internal processes and is still unhappy he or she can complain to one of the following bodies:

The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice

For anything related to a published advertisement for a prescription medicine.

Copies of the Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry, the Code of Practice Review and the Annual Report are available from:
Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority
London SW1A 2DY
Tel: +44 (0)20 7930 9677
Fax: +44 (0)20 7930 4554

The Committee on Publication Ethics

COPE publishes a code of practice for editors of scientific, technical, and medical journals It will consider complaints against editors but only once a journal's own complaints procedures have been exhausted.