Our history

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  • Our history
  • Timeline

    The Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal established

    The same year the world's first postage stamp, Penny Black, launches. The journal was sent to all members of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association, forerunner of the BMA.

    The Journal was renamed The British Medical Journal in 1857. Every week, The BMJ continues to be sent to BMA members.

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    James Simpson reports the discovery of chloroform in the Journal.

    Its successful use during the birth of Queen Victoria’s 8th child boosted its acceptance.

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    Early peer review at The BMJ

    Ernest Hart, pictured to the right of the fireplace above, spoke at a meeting of the American Medical Editors Association and advocated a system of peer review. Hart was a lone pioneer in this respect and peer review was not widely used in medical journals until after the second world war

    Image courtesy of Wellcome Library, London.

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    Link between Anopheles mosquito and malaria published in The BMJ

    Sirs Patrick Manson and Ronald Ross, considered by many to be the father of tropical medicine, published much of their work on malaria in The BMJ between 1894 and 1898.

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    The BMJ publishes MRC streptomycin trial

    One of the earliest randomised controlled trials. It led to an interest in statistical and research methods that endures to this day and has spread beyond The BMJ to inform the thinking behind evidence-based tools.

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    British Journal of Ophthalmology (BJO) formed

    The BJO was the first specialist journal published by BMJ.

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    Doll and Bradford Hill publish first report on smoking and lung cancer in The BMJ

    Richard Doll and Austin Bradford-Hill changed history when they released four subsequent reports of their study of doctors’ mortality in relation to their smoking habits.
    By 1960 The BMJ was urging control of cigarette consumption; it stopped carrying advertisements for cigarettes in 1957.

    View our video 'Richard Doll: The Man Who Quit Smoking.'

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    Declaration of Helsinki

    The BMJ editor Hugh Clegg chaired the committee of the World Medical Association that produced the first draft of the Declaration of Helsinki (published in The BMJ in 1962). This work arose out of the revelations at the Nuremberg trials about the medical experiments of Nazi doctors.

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    The BMJ launches itself into cyberspace

    The first general medical journal to go online. By 1998 was publishing its free full text of all BMJ articles and had startedRapid Responses' online letters pages.
    Their popularity has remained to this day, with The BMJ receiving and publishing over 100 responses a week.

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    BMJ Clinical Evidence started

    Evidence-based overviews of the benefits and harms of common treatments built on the work of the Cochrane Collaboration. Its content underpinned the development of award-winning BMJ Best Practice in 2009.

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    BMJ Learning launched

    More than 10 years later, these popular online courses continue to be used by nearly a million healthcare professionals worldwide. With practical examples and interactive videos, BMJ Learning is available in 11 languages and accredited in 20 countries.

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    BMJ co-founds Hinari

    Hinari provides free medical and health journals to institutions in the developing world.

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    "Too Much Medicine"

    This themed issue highlighted the damage caused by overdiagnosis and overtreatment. "Too Much Medicine" has become an ongoing campaign for The BMJ.

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    Hybrid business model for online access

    The BMJ kept research open access but started to charge for non-research content. We introduced author fees in 2010.

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    Climate and Health Council

    The BMJ set up a carbon council to highlight the health impacts of climate change.

    In this same year, we acquired BMJ OnExamination, a popular and leading online revision provider for undergraduate and postgraduate medical exams worldwide.

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    Tamiflu and open data campaign

    A Cochrane review and BMJ Investigation into the anti-influenza drug Tamiflu sparked a worldwide campaign for access to hidden clinical trial data.
    The BMJ Awards launched: annual celebration and commendation of the work of the best healthcare teams from the frontline who often go unnoticed.

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    BMJ apps launched

    BMJ’s first apps focused on child health, depression, and diabetes in December 2010. In January 2011 they were quickly followed by The BMJ, the first major medical journal available on an iPad app.

    Our presence remaining strong in the digital arena with the BMJ Best Practice app scooping the Silver Award for best App at the 2017 Communicator Awards.

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    MMR investigation

    A series of BMJ investigations about the MMR vaccine scare led a BMJ editorial to conclude that the 1998 Lancet paper that started the scare was “an elaborate fraud.”
    Meanwhile, BMJ Open launched as an online, author-pays, open access journal
    Its online publishing process is based on open peer review, including access to the pre-publication history, and continuous publication. In 2013 three more Open journals were launched.

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    The Patient revolution

    The BMJ launched an initiative to champion partnership between doctors and patients in healthcare and research.

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    BMJ Americas Hub opens its door

    With offices located in the United Kingdom, India, China and the Americas, we serve the entire international medical community.

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    Launch of BMJ's eLearning programme

    Research to Publication launches in partnership with University College of San Francisco, making improved research quality and acceptance rates possible for early career academics.

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    International Society of Knee Surgery, Arthroscopy and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine (ISAKOS)

    This partnership means we are the publisher of two new society journals: American Federation for Medical Research’s (AFMR) Journal of Investigative Medicine (JIM) and The Journal of Joint Disorders and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine (JISAKOS).