Editor's Choice Editor's choice

A redesigned bmj.com

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39098.502836.47 (Published 18 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:0
  1. Tony Delamothe, deputy editor, BMJ
  1. tdelamothe{at}bmj.com

    Hot on the heels of a redesigned print BMJ comes a redesigned bmj.com. In the nine years since our last major redesign we've added a host of new features, and the time had come to reduce the clutter and provide more consistent navigation.

    But visitors to the site this week will notice more than just a general tidying up. The big change is that the focus of publication has changed from the weekly print issue to the individual article.

    Until now, most articles had to roll off the printing presses before making their way online. There were exceptions—original research articles published “online first” to maximise their impact and minimise delay; now we're making the exception the rule. By the end of this year we hope that all articles will be published first on bmj.com. No more news stories or editorials published 10 days after the event, or educational articles drifting gently out of date while queuing up to be printed.

    In place of the weekly journal as the main organising principle for articles, we will now allocate articles to one of four “channels” online: research, education, news, comment. The weekly print edition will still be represented prominently online, but the channels will be where to find articles (and the only place to find articles published ahead of print).

    For several years, many research articles, news stories, and obituaries have been available in longer versions online than in print. Throughout the redesigned print journal, readers are now alerted to the possibility that articles have been shortened and are directed to bmj.com for the full version.

    The logical conclusion of this trend is that some articles will appear only on the web, without any print manifestation (other than perhaps a listing in the table of contents). This has already been the case for some news stories (news extra) and most electronic letters to the editor (rapid responses).

    Increasingly, the print journal will become a subset of the electronic journal, an “editor's choice” of everything that's available on bmj.com. Responding to the fact that 92% of the BMJ's 122 000 printed copies are distributed inside Britain, the editor could skew her selection to content of greater interest to UK readers, while the content of the website reflects the international makeup of its 1.2 million visitors a month (two thirds of whom come from outside Britain).

    The recent redesign of the print BMJ (shorter, snappier articles, with more illustrations) depended on the presence of the full versions of articles on bmj.com for those who wanted them. While becoming ever more different, the two versions of the BMJ—print and online—are remaining complementary.

    Once we have established this new model of publishing—online oblivious to print (with articles appearing in print later, shorter, or never)—we will turn our attention to greater user participation in online publishing, as discussed by Dean Giustini in his Christmas editorial on Web 2.0 (BMJ 2006;333:1283-4). As always, we would be delighted to hear what readers think of the new look bmj.com and how we could develop the site further.

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