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The following FAQs on open access provide general information on open access and how we can help to promote knowledge and speed up scientific discovery.

What is open access?

Open access refers to the practice of making scholarly research freely and permanently available immediately online, for anyone to access worldwide. Research output can be downloaded, viewed, shared, reused, copied and printed, within the legal requirements. The Creative Commons (CC) licenses allow for this research to be legally reused, built upon and adapted without permission or fees, as long as the author and original source are properly attributed.

BMJ is a pioneering publisher and champion of open access research. We offer a variety of open access services tailored to the needs of authors and institutions. Read more about how we support open access at BMJ.  


Why is open access important?

Open access advances science and improves society as a whole. Immediate and unlimited access to latest research findings leads to accelerated breakthroughs and paves way for new innovations, which in turn results in better lives for humanity.

Open access is pivotal to BMJ’s mission of sharing knowledge and expertise to create a healthier world. We place a lot of importance on increasing the reach and use of what we publish, and we are actively reshaping the way medical research is conducted and disseminated. Find out more about publishing open access with us.


What are the benefits of publishing in an open access journal?

  • Greater impact: open access articles are more likely to be read and cited as they are more discoverable and visible, leading to increased usage and citations.
  • Wider global audience: articles are free to read and access anytime by anyone worldwide, allowing not just researchers but the general public access to research and findings
  • Supports innovation and advances discovery: unrestricted access to output and data allow researchers to build on existing findings and to carry out collaborative research, leading to new initiatives and quicker discoveries.
  • Compliance with open access mandates: open access articles are fully compliant with policies set by major funders, institutions and governments through the use of a Creative Commons licence.

There are many benefits of publishing open access with us. Discover the six reasons to choose open access at BMJ.


What are the different routes to publishing open access?

A number of models have been adopted to make research open access. The main ones are gold and green open access.

  • Gold open access
    > The final version of an article is available freely and permanently online, immediately upon publication via a publisher’s platform
    > Copyright is retained by the authors and most of the permission barriers are removed
    > Articles can be published either in fully open access journals or hybrid journals
    > There is a publishing cost involved, usually paid to the publisher, in the form of an article processing charge (APC) or fulfilled by a third party such as a funder, institution or government.
  • Green open access
    > Referred to as ‘self-archiving’ and involves placing a version of an author’s manuscript into a repository, usually made available after an embargo period. The repository can be institutional or a specialist archive
    > The version that is deposited is dependent on the funder or publisher
    > Copyright is usually retained by the publisher and there are conditions involved pertaining to the reuse of the work deposited and which version can be used
    > No publishing costs are paid
  • Bronze open access
    > Articles are made free to read or download at the discretion of the publisher, however access can be withdrawn at any time
    > Articles can’t be redistributed or reused
  • Platinum/Diamond open access
    > Immediate online access to publications
    > There are no fees involved either to read or to publish. They are usually financed by a university or research organization
    > Copyright is retained by the author and permission barriers to share or reuse are generally removed

At BMJ, there are a number of open access options available to you. You can choose to publish in: The BMJ, or in one of our fully open access journals, transformative journals or hybrid journals.


What are transformative journals?

These are journals committed to the goal of transitioning to fully open research by gradually increasing their open access content in line with the open access growth targets set by cOAlition S.

Read more about BMJ transformative journals.


What are hybrid journals?

These are subscription journals with an open access option that is applied to individual articles. Hybrid journals allow authors to publish their research open access immediately upon payment of an article processing charge (APC).

This option is available for most of our subscription journals. Browse our list of hybrid journals.


What is an Article Processing Charge (APC)?

An article processing charge is a fee paid to a publisher once an article is accepted for publication. It’s charged to authors to make their research available open access in either fully open access or hybrid journals (when an open access publication option is chosen). The fee covers costs associated with peer-review, copy-editing, hosting and promoting the article. An APC is paid for by the author or on their behalf by their institution, funder or sponsor.

Find out more about publication charges at BMJ. Our APCs vary by journal so please refer to the individual journal website for more details.


What is a Creative Commons (CC) licence?

Creative Commons licenses allow individuals and organisations to create content and give permission for others to use under copyright law. There are  a number of CC licences to choose from, however, most of BMJ's journals permit the reuse of articles under CC BY-NC and CC BY licenses.

Read more about open access licences at BMJ.


What is a preprint and why use them?

A preprint is a scholarly manuscript that is shared publicly before peer review. Most preprints are given a unique digital object identifier (DOI) and become a permanent part of the scientific record.  


The benefits of preprints include:

  • Improves the openness and accessibility of scientific findings: preprints enhance collaboration among researchers and document provenance of ideas. They can inform ongoing and planned research through improved openness and accessibility of scientific findings. Importantly, they allow the timely sharing of completed research within the academic community.
  • Allows for feedback and helps authors improve their manuscript: authors are able to make their findings immediately available to the health sciences community and receive feedback on draft manuscripts before they are submitted to journals for formal publication.
  • Leads to increased visibility and impact of an author’s work: most preprints are assigned a DOI which means they are discoverable, citable and indexed by search engines.

BMJ fully supports and encourages the archiving of preprints. In conjunction with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Yale University, BMJ have launched medRxiv, a preprint server for the clinical research community. Read more about preprints at BMJ.


What subject areas does BMJ publish in? 

BMJ publishes over 60 journals in the areas of medicine and allied science. Our main subject areas include Public, Environmental & Occupational Health, Cardiac & Cardiovascular Systems, Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Respiratory Medicine, Paediatrics, Sports & Exercise Medicine, and General & Internal Medicine.


Where can I find a list of BMJ's open access journals?

Browse our list of fully open access journals and select the journal you are interested in for more information.

Contact us

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