Why submit your research to the BMJ?

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39057.516250.80 (Published 04 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:4
  1. Trish Groves, deputy and research editor (tgroves{at}bmj.com)
  1. 1 BMJ, London WC1H 9JR

    Because we offer a free high quality service, open access, no word limits, and global reach

    If you're more used to rejection than acceptance letters, you may not believe it when editors say that medical research is becoming a sellers' market. But it's true, at least for investigators “selling” robust and interesting research studies. Medical journals—whether online or print, or both—are falling over themselves and each other to attract research articles, and are becoming bolder about approaching authors who have research articles to publish. Step by step, medical publishing is becoming as much a service industry for authors as an educational and academic service for readers.

    What journals offer authors, however, isn't always obvious to researchers choosing a journal. Authors do not want to waste time by sending their research articles to the wrong journal, so the first thing they want to know is whether the editors will be interested in their work. Pure academic interest isn't enough for BMJ editors or most importantly for readers, who mainly comprise doctors—whether they're practising clinical medicine, working in public health, developing and implementing health policy, or working mostly as researchers. We aim to provide our readers with articles that will help them to make better decisions.

    The BMJ is definitely the right journal for studies on the day to day decisions doctors make with their patients. These studies may be randomised controlled trials of treatments and other clinical interventions for patients with common diseases, studies on diagnostic tests, basic clinical observational studies,1 qualitative studies that help to explain why and how doctors and patients do things, and systematic reviews of all of these study types. The doctors we aim to reach with these articles work in many different settings and countries; most are specialists in hospitals, community units, and clinics or family doctors in primary care. Importantly, the BMJ has a dedicated primary care editor2 and is still the only high profile general medical journal that publishes original research from and about primary care every week. The team also includes editors working in clinical practice and research, two of whom are based in the United States.

    Decisions about public health and epidemiology can be just as important as clinical decisions; sometimes even more so. So the BMJ is also the place for research—much of it observational—that will clearly help to set priorities for public health and to change policy. We give high priority also to studies that provide focused and robust evidence on how and why to offer services and specific types of care to patients, through health services research and qualitative research.

    If you're a researcher with an original article that may fit well in the BMJ, what can we offer you in return? The BMJ offers high international visibility for your work, with immediate free and open access to the full text of all research articles once published, with no charges to authors or readers; immediate transfer of the full text to PubMed Central and the abstract to PubMed, CrossRef, and ISI; unlimited space for online publication with no fixed word limits (we prepare a shorter version for readers of the print edition); rapid decision times with full online publication of accepted research articles as soon as the authors have approved the proofs; copyright retention by author; high impact and visibility; accompanying editorials and commentaries to attract general readers and put research into context for them; and much more (box).

    What the BMJ offers researchers

    Rapid decision and publication times
    • Fast track appraisal for articles of exceptional importance and urgency

    • Online first publication

    • Immediate transfer of all articles to PubMed Central, complying without delay with the policies of the US National Institutes of Health,3 the UK Medical Research Council,4 the Wellcome Trust,5 and other funding bodies in making publicly funded research available to all

    High impact factor
    • 9.023 in 2005

    • Highest impact of any journal publishing original primary care research every week

    Convenience and control
    • No author or page charges

    • Efficient, high quality, open peer review by at least two reviewers

    • Meticulous copy editing of all articles and professional editing of abridged versions

    • Authors can track their manuscripts through the peer review process after submission at http://submit.bmj.com

    After publication authors can
    • Retain copyright

    • Post the full text of their articles on their own or their institution's websites

    • Email their original BMJ research articles to anyone

    • Track hits to their research articles on bmj.com

    • Be alerted by email when their research article is cited by any of the 1000 journals hosted online by Highwire Press

    • Be alerted by email when someone sends a rapid response to their article

    • Receive a copy of the print BMJ containing their article, on request

    • Be paid 10% of net receipts from sales of reprints and translations of their article (on orders in excess of £1500 (€2225; $2965) and for up to five years after publication)

    High visibility among clinicians, researchers, and policy makers internationally
    • Free and open access to all BMJ research articles

    • Large international clinical audience, with nearly one million unique users of bmj.com each month

    • Reaches more than 106 000 clinicians in the United Kingdom

    • Most frequently cited journal in the UK press

    • Dedicated press office to maximise accurate reporting to media

    Highly attractive to readers
    • Original research is set in its clinical or health policy context by strong commissioned material

    • Research articles are published in both full and abridged versions

    • BMJ ensures high ethical standards and transparency regarding authors', editors', editorial board members', and peer reviewers' activities and interests

    • Readers can use and interact with BMJ articles through bmj.com

      • Providing continuing peer review and debate through rapid responses

      • Signing up for email alerts when articles on their favourite topics are published

      • Turning illustrations from articles into PowerPoint slides

      • Saving links to articles from BMJ and any of the BMJ journals in personal folders

    • Full details are at Resources for authors at bmj.com

    This autumn we streamlined our editorial process for research articles to give a more personal service to authors, by ensuring that one editor takes each article through from start to finish. And at any time you can track your article's progress through the editorial process at our manuscript website (http://submit.bmj.com). The BMJ's team of research editors aims to read 98% of newly submitted research articles within two working days. If your article is potentially suitable for the BMJ that editor will ask a senior colleague to approve it and, if that succeeds, he or she will send your article to two expert peer reviewers who will sign their reports (the BMJ uses open peer review).

    The next step for your research article, if it is still in the running after peer review and assessment by the BMJ's clinical epidemiology editor, is full appraisal at our weekly manuscript meeting. A statistician, an external editorial adviser, your paper's editor, and the BMJ research team will read and discuss your article's importance, originality, and scientific quality and the editor will make the final decision.

    If your research article is of exceptional clinical importance and urgency or warrants urgent publication for reasons of public policy, we will gladly consider fast tracking it. We aim to publish accepted fast track articles within four weeks. We undertake that two editors will read each fast track article on the first day of submission; two reviewers will report on it within 48 hours; and it will go to the next weekly manuscript meeting for a decision. We ask authors to revise and resubmit within 48 hours (though this is negotiable).

    Competition is tight for BMJ research articles; we accepted just 4.9% of them last year. If we are convinced that the BMJ is not the right journal for your research article we may read and reject it within the first hour of submission. We hope that you will appreciate the immediate attention we give to your work and our efforts not to waste your time or delay submission elsewhere. We aim to reach a final decision within two weeks on 95% of articles that we do not send for external peer review and in six weeks for 95% of those that we do send to reviewers. On publication the details of each article are transmitted to PubMed, Crossref, and ISI so that the article immediately appears in the main bibliographical databases. We also send the full text of all published research articles immediately to PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine's full text archive, which makes it fully accessible without delay. This means that the BMJ immediately fulfils the requirements of the US National Institutes of Health,3 the UK Medical Research Council,4 the Wellcome Trust,5 and other funding bodies in making publicly funded research available to all. The full text of BMJ research articles is indexed by Google; we expect other large search engines to follow suit soon.

    As well as speedy decision times and open access, we know that authors want space to publish their work. The BMJ no longer sets fixed limits for the length of research articles, and we will give you as much room as you need to report your research online at bmj.com in sufficient detail. For the print BMJ we will produce an abridged version of your research article, with your approval, to encourage and help readers to engage with and understand it.6

    Whether you're a researcher, a reader, or both the BMJ is your journal. We want you to find it indispensable.


    • Competing interests: None declared.


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