Intended for healthcare professionals

Christmas past: who read what, where, when, and for how long?

The BMJ’s Christmas issue is now a well established tradition. Its mix of quirky comment articles, features, and peer reviewed research was perhaps best described in a 2012 New York Times article as “lighthearted but rigorous.”

A 2014 paper, “The Darwin Awards: sex differences in idiotic behaviour” (720,296 page impressions in its first 12 months) is a contender for the most popular BMJ Christmas article ever.

The online success of this paper made us think about how much time spend readers spend digesting Christmas BMJ articles.

In 2014, for example, there were 1,656,465 online views of Christmas papers. If you multiply this figure by the average time spent on the website, this equates to 11 years, 4 weeks, 22 hours, 38 minutes and 30 seconds* of readers’ time

This infographic from our data visualisation supremo Will Stahl-Timmins show how this breaks down:

When we looked at who is reading these articles, it seems that most of the world is in on the Christmas tradition (even a few in countries where the festival is not widely celebrated).

Reading the articles is one thing, but if you’re really in the Christmas mood, perhaps you’ll write one?  Where do our authors come from? Are most from the UK? Are authors from the Antipoedes over-represented?

The answers to these questions were revealed when we delved into ScholarOne, our manuscript system submission system.

It looks as if the UK is still more festive (357 submissions) but Australia is next on the list (57). Have a look to see where your country comes in.

Finally – given all the time spent reading and writing, how good is a Christmas article to your career? We’ve written about the tyranny of publication, but it seems that entertainment and education aren’t mutually exclusive


Top 10 most cited BMJ articles – as told to us by Web of Science

2000: The Ghost of Christmas Past: health effects of poverty in London in 1896 and 1991


2008: Mortality on Mount Everest, 1921-2006: descriptive study


2009: Perceived age as clinically useful biomarker of ageing: cohort study


2009 In praise of the physical examination


2010: Reading between the Lines On the impossibility of being expert


2011: The assault on universalism: how to destroy the welfare state


2009: Afterlife Silent virtuous teachers: anatomical dissection in Taiwan


2009: Effect of listening to Nellie the Elephant during CPR training on performance of chest compressions by lay people


2012: When managers rule


2010: Beauty sleep: experimental study on the perceived health and attractiveness of sleep deprived people


*according to google analytics, so pinch of salt needed

If you’re in the mood for more Christmas fayre, check out our archive below