Intended for healthcare professionals

Copyright, open access, and permission to reuse

Copyright for authors

Since January 2000, The BMJ has not asked authors of journal articles to assign us their copyright. Authors (or their employers) retain their copyright in the article. All we require from authors is an exclusive licence (except for UK Crown employees who cannot grant this, an therefore a non-exclusive licence and in the case of US Federal Government officers or employees different copyright requirements apply), that allows us to publish the article in The BMJ (including any derivative products) and any other BMJ products (such as the Student BMJ or overseas editions), and allows us to sublicence such rights and exploit all subsidiary rights.

Exclusive licences

We ask the submitting author to grant on behalf of all authors this exclusive licence (or non-exclusive for UK Crown employees) on behalf of all authors by reading our licence and accepting it on our manuscript submission system and inserting the text below in the manuscript on submission the following statement:

"I, the Submitting Author has the right to grant and does grant on behalf of all authors of the Work (as defined in the author licence), an exclusive licence and/or a non-exclusive licence for contributions from authors who are: i) UK Crown employees; ii) where BMJ has agreed a CC-BY licence shall apply, and/or iii) in accordance with the terms applicable for US Federal Government officers or employees acting as part of their official duties; on a worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free basis to BMJ Publishing Group Ltd (“BMJ”) its licensees.

The Submitting Author accepts and understands that any supply made under these terms is made by BMJ to the Submitting Author unless you are acting as an employee on behalf of your employer or a postgraduate student of an affiliated institution which is paying any applicable article publishing charge (“APC”) for Open Access articles. Where the Submitting Author wishes to make the Work available on an Open Access basis (and intends to pay the relevant APC), the terms of reuse of such Open Access shall be governed by a Creative Commons licence – details of these licences and which licence will apply to this Work are set out in our licence referred to above."

This licence allows authors to use their own articles for their personal and own non-commercial purposes without seeking permission from us (see below). Only if the use is outside of those uses stated below and commercial do we need to know about it.

For certain types of content (e.g. obituaries, features) that are not processed through our ScholarOne submission system, we require authors to enter into a slightly simplified version of our standard author licence, which can be found here.

NIH Employees

Manuscripts authored or co-authored by one or more NIH employees must be submitted with a completed and signed NIH Publishing Agreement and Manuscript Cover Sheet according to NIH’s Employee Procedures.

Permissions and reuse

For authors

Authors may use their own articles for the following non-commercial purposes without asking our permission (and subject only to acknowledging first publication in The BMJ and giving a full reference or web link, as appropriate- please see clause 6.4.3 of our author licence for the exact language to include). For more information please see the exact wording in clause 6.1 of our author licence and our group self-archiving policy for all rights.

• Posting the accepted version of their manuscript (but not the published version of record - unless the article is being published on an open access basis - see below) on their personal website or institutional (non-commercial) website or institutional academic or scholarly repository.

• Making a reasonable number (no more than 100) print copies of the version of record for personal, non-commercial professional use. This includes for the authors own teaching purposes.

• Send a single individual copy of the version of record to colleagues within the authors institution and/or department or co-collaborators on a project for their personal non commercial use (without a fee being charged).

• Republishing part or all of the version of record in a book or other non-peer reviewed publication which is authored or edited by the author (except for multiple contributions in the same book or publication, for which permission needs to be sought).

• Using individual figures or tables or extracts of text (up to 250 words) in other publications published by a third party.

• Using the final version of record article in a course pack or compilation (whether paper or electronic) in the authors’ institution. This does not apply if a commercial charge is made for the compilation or training programme.

• Use a maximum of two figures (including tables) from the article (unless copyright is owned by a third party in which case permission must be sought from the owner) and selected text extracts of less than 100 words or series of text extracts totalling 300 words, for quotation and use for the purpose of scholarly comment, non-commercial research or education use subject to full credit in accordance with our requirements in the author licence.

• Place the authors accepted manuscript (not the version of record in a Scholarly Collaboration Network which has signed up to the STM article sharing principles after an embargo of 12 months from publication of the version of record.

For third parties

Anyone else (other than the author of a particular paper) who wants to reproduce an article from The BMJ needs to ask our permission. We are usually happy to give permission, though in many cases we will charge a fee.

Permission should be sought by following the Request permissions link that appears in the right hand panel on every article, or under its entry in a table of contents. This will take you to the Rightslink electronic request system.

Details about reprints can be obtained here.

Open access

All Research articles published by The BMJ are published by default as open access (irrespective of who funded the research) and reuse is permitted in accordance with the terms of the relevant applicable open access licence. Authors of non-research articles that require open access are encouraged to contact us at Please see below regarding the current fees.

Open Access licences at The BMJ


By default, we publish our Open Access articles under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0). CC BY-NC articles allow the author, and any non-commercial bodies, to reuse the material for non-commercial uses in any other way they choose, subject to being in accordance with the CC-BY-NC licence, without acquiring permission from BMJ. Any reuse must give attribution to the author(s) and the journal and adhere to our requirements in clause 6.4.2 if our author licence. Commercial users or commercial use will require permission from BMJ for any reuse.

CC BY-NC articles can be identified by the following statement that appears at the end of the article:

“This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:”


Articles funded by certain organisations (currently UK Research and Innovation, the Wellcome Trust and NIH) or that that mandate publication with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence are published with this licence. CC BY 4.0 permits reuse for commercial purposes subject to the article being fully attributed (see the requirements in clause 6.4.2 of our author licence).

CC BY articles can be identified by the following statement that appears at the end of the article:

“This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:”

PMC Depositing and Author Archiving

The BMJ also sends all published articles it publishes on an open access basis, (and any expression of concern or retraction or other notices) without further intervention from the author(s), to PubMed Central and its mirror sites, (the National Library of Medicine’s full text article archives), where they are made fully available in PubMed’s open access subset. For all other Works, where the funding body for that Work is identified as a funder here: (“Sherpa Funder”) and that funder requires deposit to PMC and its mirror sites, the Author or its funding body may deposit a copy of the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (but not the Version of Record) in PMC and its mirror sites (and which must include any expression of concern, retraction or other notices) after an embargo period of 12 (twelve) months from the publication date of the Version of Record or earlier if required by the Sherpa Funder.

The PubMed Central open access subset is a subset of the total collection of articles in PubMed Central. These articles “are still protected by copyright but are made available under a Creative Commons or similar license that generally allows more liberal redistribution and reuse than a traditional copyrighted work.” For all research articles published in the BMJ (except those funded by an organisation that mandates CC-BY above), the BMJ author licence allows reuse with attribution of the origin of the article (a full citation) for non-commercial use only. For commercial use our normal permissions policy applies.

Author archiving is permitted in accordance with the terms of our permission needs to be sought and author licence.

Author charges for open access

The full text of every research article published in The BMJ is immediately accessible on through open access viewing, for everyone. The BMJ is committed to keeping research articles open access, with reuse via Creative Commons licences (and default being CC-BY-NC), and to depositing the full text content in PubMedCentral as well as full open access on To support this we now ask authors, submitting from 01/01/23, to pay an open access fee of £5150 / €5975 / $6950 on acceptance of their paper.

We do appreciate that some authors do not have access to funding to cover publication costs, and actively encourage part payment where only limited funds are available. We consider waivers to authors in exceptional circumstances by direct request only, and recommend that all authors discuss open access payment options with their institutions and funders in advance of submission. Discounts and waiver decisions take into consideration any external funding for the research for any contributing authors, and whether authors can contribute from their personal accounts.

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 the publication of manuscripts.

For non-research articles published with open access (under CC-BY-NC) we will ask authors to pay the open access fee, as above.

Open Access Institutional Programme

A number of institutions have joined BMJ’s Open Access Programme, which can either cover the whole cost of Open Access publishing for authors at participating institutions or can allow authors to receive a discount off the Article Publishing Charge (APC). If you would like to learn more about the programme, please visit our Information for Institutions page.

If you are a researcher at the following participating institutions, your APC may be reduced or fully covered through the programme. Please contact your librarian to obtain further information on how to receive a discount or publish free of charge.

Refund policy

We do not offer refunds for Open Access once articles have been published. For further information, contact