Education And Debate

Getting published in the BMJ: advice to authors

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 04 January 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:66


The BMJ aims to help doctors everywhere practise better medicine and to influence the debate on health. To achieve these aims we publish original scientific studies, review and educational articles, and papers commenting on the clinical, scientific, social, political, and economic factors affecting health. We are delighted to receive articles for publication in all of these categories–from doctors and others. We can publish only about a sixth of the 4500 articles that we receive each year, but we aim to give quick decisions.

The BMJ is published weekly and has a circulation of about 115 000, of which 20 000 copies are distributed outside Britain. In addition, local editions reach another 185 000 readers. Material published in the weekly journal may be reproduced in these editions, in the Student BMJ, and on the BMJ's web site on the Internet (

The BMJ's peer review process

The BMJ peer reviews all the material it receives. About half the original articles are rejected after review in house. The usual reasons for rejection at this stage are insufficient originality, serious scientific flaws, or the absence of a message that is important to a general medical audience. We also tend to reject questionnaire surveys with low response rates and articles that simply describe a new treatment, method of organising services, or educational initiative with little attempt at evaluation. We aim to reach a decision on such papers within two weeks.

The remaining articles are sent to one or more external referees selected from a database of about 4000. Once returned, those articles thought suitable for publication are discussed by our weekly “hanging committee” of two practising clinicians, two editors, and a statistician. We aim to reach a final decision on publication within eight weeks of submission.

Revisions are usually requested before publication to take account of criticisms …

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