Publishing model

The BMJ publishes its articles continuously to, so each day there is new content. We then select from among published content to make up a weekly print issue. When the print issue appears (every Friday/Saturday) the PDFs are available on together with links to the online articles that are also contained in that week’s print issue. We are thus ensuring a daily flow of topical content, including up to date research, while also providing (in the print issue) a weekly selection for those readers who prefer to have their content packaged weekly in print.

Each online article has a unique identifier, in place of a page number; this identifier (elocator) should be used when citing any The BMJ article. The form of the citation - eg BMJ 2008;337:a134 - appears on all articles both online and in print, and in PubMed and other indexes.

Open access

After 10 years of providing free access to its peer reviewed research online, The BMJ officially became an open access journal. This coincided with the first international Open Access Day on the 14 October 2008. All research articles are freely available immediately on publication.

The BMJ asks authors to pay a publication fee of £3000 on acceptance of their research article. We have a waiver policy for authors who cannot pay. Consideration of research articles in not related to ability to pay.

Open access enables the free publication to everyone of publicly funded research and its sharing and reuse with minimal restrictions.

In 1998, The BMJ became the first major general medical journal to provide free full text online access to its research articles, to deposit the full text in PubMed Central, and to allow authors to retain the copyright of their articles. Now, The BMJ's processes are in full compliance with international open access policies but with a unique mixed revenue model.

The BMJ's open access articles are all the research articles that we publish (irrespective of who funded the research) and any other article based on work funded by a funding organisation that requires open access publication - that is, requires its grant recipients to deposit publications arising out of the funded work to be deposited in PubMedCentral open access repository.

For these articles we do not require a copyright statement and we publish them under a Creative Commons licence that allows reuse subject only to the use being non-commercial and to the article being fully attributed. The BMJ makes these articles freely available on from the date of publication and at the same time sends them to PubMed Central (see below).

Open access articles can be identified by the Creative Commons copyright statement that appears at the end of the article.

The BMJ also sends these articles, without further intervention from the author, to PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine's full text article archive, where they are made fully available in PubMed's open access subset.

Please see the section of instructions to authors on copyright, open access, and permission to reuse.

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What is continuous publishing?

Publishing all our articles on line as they become ready to publish, without linking them to a specific issue. Some of those articles (initially virtually all of them) will subsequently also appear in a print issue of The BMJ.

Why are we doing it?

Because it provides faster publication for authors and more flexible access for readers.

What does it mean for our readers?

They can go online each day and see what we have published that day. Or they can continue to scan the journal each week, using the online 7 day table of contents. Print readers will continue to receive the print issue.

What does it mean for our authors and their articles?

Faster publication and one, definitive citation. After we have edited your article, we will publish it online before it appears in print.

How does it affect citations?

The citation will be year, volume, elocator (a unique identifier for that article): (BMJ 2008;337:a145) - and this is what will appear in Medline, PubMed, and other bibliographical indexes. We will print this citation on every item we publish, in print and online, and authors will need to use it when they cite The BMJ articles.

How do I find articles?

  • To browse content, scan the homepage and channel pages - which are updated frequently and feature recently published articles.
  • For a more systematic scan of what has been published in the past 7 days - use the online table of contents.
  • To search for articles in a specific section, go to the relevant channel page (Research, Education, News and Views) and use the search box in the second column. Select article type and time period and a list of all articles of that type within the period will be returned. A key word can also be inserted in this search box to narrow the search further
  • Use the advanced search function for searching for specific articles or across all article types by author, title word, keyword or by elocator, doi, or (for older references) volume and page number. However, please note that an article in the print The BMJ may have a different title on When articles appear in print they may have been shortened slightly to fit on page, and their titles may change (particularly in the case of news articles).

How do I find something I read in print?

Use any of the search methods above, but please remember that an article's title may not be identical in print and online. Alternatively, if you know what print issue the article appeared in, go to the print table of contents for that issue (current issue on column 2 on homepage or the print archive page for past issues) and scan the table of contents.

What's different to how we did things in the past?

In the past, most content was published in a weekly issue, to coincide with publication of the print issue and with a citation that derived from the print issue (year, volume, page number). A few articles, notably research, were published "ahead of print," as online first articles with a temporary online citation. But that model assumed they would be published in a subsequent issue and that the definitive citation would derive from that issue. Continuous publication moves away from issue based publishing.

How will I know what's new?

We will highlight new content on the homepage of The BMJ, but for a complete list of all new content look at the 7 day table of contents, which will always include articles published in the past 7 days.

What will happen to the weekly table of contents?

For a complete list of all new content look at the 7 day table of contents. For the print issue, PDFs will be posted on to the site, together with a table of contents to the print issue.

How will I know what has appeared in the print issue?

(See previous answer.) PDFs of the print issue will be posted on to the site, together with a table of contents to the print issue.

How can I access archived articles?

Archives will exist of both tables of contents - the online 7 day tables of contents and the print tables of contents.

What will happen to my email alerts?

The weekly table of contents alert and the online first alert will be merged into a electronic table of contents alert, which will be issued daily or weekly (depending on your preference).

Will I still be able to receive a print issue of The BMJ?

If you are a member of the BMA or a subscriber to the print issue, you will still receive a print issue of The BMJ - and of course will have free access to

How do I cite articles?

The BMJ's citation format is [author(s)] [title of article] [year];[volume]:[elocator] - BMJ 2008;337:a134. The last identifier (a134) is an elocator, which performs the same function for an online article as a page number does in print. Authors who want to cite a The BMJ article - even if they are reading it in print - should use the form BMJ 2008;337:a134. The proper citation for every article appears on the article wherever it is published: BMJ 2008;337:a134

What is an elocator?

The elocator is a unique identifier for an article. It performs the same function for an online article as a page number does in print and in the citation it appears instead of the page number (a134): BMJ 2008;337:a134.

How is Pubmed indexing content?

The National Library of Medicine will include The BMJ's articles in PubMed when they are published online. The citation for an article in PubMed will take the form: BMJ 2008;337:a134. This will be the definitive citation and will not be labelled "Epub ahead of print."

What will this mean for citation counts and impact factor?

We have consulted extensively with both the National Library of Medicine and ISI in deciding on our citation format. The change to continuous publishing and the new citation format should have no effect on citation counts or impact factor.

How do I subscribe to The BMJ?

Currently The BMJoffers subscriptions on a personal user, single institution and consortia institutional basis. You can subscribe to both print and online, or online only.

  • Review purchasing options for personal and institutional subscriptions.
  • Personal print subscriptions provide complete access to the full text of at no extra cost. Locate your customer number on your journal wrapper and activate your free online subscription on the BMJ Journals site.
  • A discounted price is available to institutions on purchases of print and online made at the same time.
  • If you are a BMA member, register for FREE access to at the BMA website.
  • If you belong to an institution, please contact your librarian for details of your institution's access to The BMJ.
  • Certain countries are entitled to free access as part of HINARI. Check our list of eligible countries.
  • For a four week free trial of the online collection, contact our consortia sales.

How can my library subscribe?

For institutional sales please contact your regional sales representative, or our sales office by email or by phone on +44 (0)20 7383 6693.

What is open access?

When we accept your research article we will ask you if you can get funding from your funder to support publication and if you can we will ask you to apply to your funder for the funds to pay our fee. If your research is not funded or the funding has run out you do not have to pay.

Why is The BMJ doing this?

We have introduced this policy as the next step in our efforts to ensure the sustainability of open access publication of research in The BMJ, and we are doing so in the spirit of experimentation. Many research funding organisations, sponsors, and universities now provide grants that cover journals' fees for open access publication, and most other open access journals levy such fees to cover the costs of peer review, journal production, and online hosting and archiving. As The BMJ is providing open access to research and funders are providing fees, it makes good sense for the journal to defray at least some of its publishing costs in this way.

Since when has The BMJ asked for open access fees from authors of research articles?

Since August 2010.

What other scholarly publications use this model?

Well known medical journals that use the "author pays" model include the Public Library of Science (PLoS) journals and those published by BioMed Central. For a general list of open access journals in medicine, many of which ask for fees from all authors, see the Directory of Open Access Journals. The BMJ's model is unusual, however, in that we will expect a publication fee for a research article only when the authors can claim the fee from the funder(s) of that work.

How will it work?

When we accept your paper we will write to you and ask you for a fee of £3000. If you are funded by a funder who supports open access and provides a fee for publication we will ask you to apply for it. If you do this we will ask you to let us know by emailing Once you have told us that you can pay the fee we will send you an invoice. This process is separate from the editorial handling of your paper and nothing you do or don't do will affect the editorial handling of your paper.

What happens if we can't pay?

Nothing. If you do not respond to our request nothing will happen: we will publish your paper anyway.

Won't you give preference to authors who can pay?

No. We will make decisions on papers in exactly the same way as we always have: on the basis of originality, scientific reliability, and usefulness to general clinical readers. We won't even ask for a payment until we have accepted the article. Whether or not you can pay won't affect our behaviour: the paper has already been accepted and will be edited in the normal way.

Will The BMJ disclose whether an author's funder has paid for the research to be published?


Don't you think this new policy might deter people from submitting research to The BMJ?

We neither wish nor intend to deter anyone from submitting research to The BMJ. We appreciate that research - even in high income countries - is often unfunded or may be supported by a patchwork of different resources, and that even those funders who support open access will not always cover extra costs arising downstream from a primary study. So the options for all research authors are either to pay the fee or not to pay it: The BMJ does not have a sliding scale of fees.

What should I do if I want more information about this?

Please refer to our editorial explaining more about The BMJ's "author pays" policies.