Resources for authors

What does The BMJ publish?

The BMJ's mission is to lead the debate on health, and to engage, inform, and stimulate doctors, researchers and other health professionals in ways that will improve outcomes for patients. We aim to help doctors to make better decisions.

To achieve these aims we publish original research articles, review and educational articles, news, letters, investigative journalism, and articles commenting on the clinical, scientific, social, political, and economic factors affecting health. We are delighted to consider articles for publication from doctors and others, and from anywhere in the world.

We can publish only about 7% of the 7000-8000 articles we receive each year, but we aim to give quick and authoritative decisions. For all types of article the average time from submission to first decision is two to three weeks and from acceptance to publication eight to 10 weeks. These times are usually shorter for original research articles. We reject about two thirds of all submissions without sending them for external peer review, but many authors tell us they appreciate quick decisions that allow them to submit their work elsewhere without delay.

We also audit the performance of The BMJ's research articles, using a wide range of indicators to assess their impact on readers and their dissemination to the wider world.

Open access

All research papers in The BMJ are published with open access. Moreover, The BMJ immediately fulfils the requirements of the US National Institutes of Health, the UK Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and other funding bodies by making the full text of publicly funded research freely available to all on bmj.com and sending it directly to PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine's full text archive.

The BMJ's default licence for open access publication of research is the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial licence (CC BY-NC 4.0). But where the funder requires it the author can select the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence during the submission process (funders who mandate CC BY include the Wellcome Trust, RCUK, and MRC).
To support open access publishing we ask authors of all research papers to pay an open access fee of £3000 (excluding VAT) on acceptance of their paper. We offer discounts and waivers for authors of unfunded research. Consideration of research articles is not related to ability to pay the fee, and we ask authors not to discuss with editors any issues concerning payment at any stage of the peer review process. Any communications related to fees are handled by administrative staff not involved in decisions about manuscripts.

The BMJ occasionally publishes other types of (non-research) article arising from work from funded by a funder who mandates open access publication, and the above policy applies to these too.

For articles not published with open access, The BMJ's publication licence allows each author to post their article's URL (provided above) on either their own or their employer's website, thereby giving users free access to the full text of the article on bmj.com. Authors will need to use the toll free link to ensure visitors have free access to the article.

Alternatively, authors can post the full text of their published article on their own website or their employer's website.

Open peer review

We ask reviewers to sign their reports and declare any competing interests on any manuscripts we send them. Reviewers advise the editors, who make the final decision (aided by an editorial manuscript committee meeting for some articles, including original research).

For research papers The BMJ has fully open peer review. This means that every accepted research paper submitted from September 2014 onwards will have its prepublication history posted alongside it on thebmj.com (read more in this editorial).

This prepublication history comprises all previous versions of the manuscript, the study protocol (submitting the protocol is mandatory for all clinical trials and encouraged for all other studies at The BMJ), the report from the manuscript committee meeting, the reviewers’ signed comments, and the authors’ responses to all the comments from reviewers and editors.

Who else advises the editors?

The editors receive invaluable support and advice on policy and practice from the BMJ's international advisory board and The BMJ''s ethics committee.

Authors' responses to postpublication feedback from readers

The corresponding author of every article in The BMJ receives an automated email when the paper is published online, and an automated reminder whenever a rapid response (eletter) is posted to the article on bmj.com. Given that authors have an academic duty to respond to substantive criticism of their work, The BMJ expects authors to post their own rapid responses on bmj.com in reply to any such substantive comments, and editors may send reminders about this.

Advice on writing, laying out, and submitting articles

For fully detailed advice please follow the links in the index on the right of this page. The main points, however, are here:

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