Article submission

Thank you for considering The BMJ as the right place for your work. Please ensure that you have prepared your manuscript in line with The BMJ's general requirements for articles and our specific advice on the different article types.

Please do not send articles by post. All submissions should be sent via our online editorial office except letters to the e ditor and obituaries. Please note that some types of article are generally commissioned by the editors rather than spontaneously submitted – including news, features, observations, and some head to head articles, views and reviews.

We do not want to publish articles that overlap substantially with articles published elsewhere. Plagiarism - copying other people's work without permission, citation, and good reason - is a serious form of misconduct which The BMJ will act on. It may also be unacceptable to submit an article that overlaps substantially with your own previous work (whether that work has been published or submitted - to The BMJ or elsewhere): please tell us about this in your cover letter, or in a presubmission inquiry, so that we can judge the degree and nature of overlap. We expect authors to submit, as supplemental files, copies of any previous article that overlaps by more than 10% with their submission to The BMJ .

To learn more about the kind of research articles we give priority to, and what services we offer to authors of research, please read the editorial Publishing your research study in the BMJ?.

As it is not always possible for us to answer all presubmission inquiries, particularly at busy times of the year, we hope that this page will help you decide whether The BMJ is the right journal for your research. Please note that we welcome studies - even with "negative" results - as long as their research questions are important, new, and relevant to general readers and their designs are appropriate and robust.

Please submit letters to the editor as rapid responses. This is the only way to submit a letter to The BMJ: all letters that appear in the print issue of The BMJ and on thebmj.com have arrived initially as rapid responses.

We welcome obituaries for doctors within the first year of their death. Please send your copy as a Word file to obituaries@bmj.com

Fast track peer review process

When research articles are of exceptional clinical importance and urgency, or where there is a public policy reason for urgent publication, we can fast track their internal and external peer review and offer full online publication within four weeks of submission. This formal fast track process is only for original research articles, although we may be able to offer rapid peer review and publication of other article types as appropriate.

Choosing other BMJ Journals

You may want to try submitting your work to one or more of the other BMJ Journals at the same time as The BMJ. To make this easier for you and editors the online editorial office allows you to select - at the point of first submission - up to three BMJ Journals (including The BMJ) to submit your article to in turn. Please check those journals' instructions for authors to ensure that they accept articles like yours, and then put the chosen journals in order of priority. Your manuscript will be automatically transferred to each journal in turn, after rejection, if the editor feels it may be relevant for the next journal. You may also wish to consider submitting to BMJ Open, our online only, open access journal for research articles. This journal currently uses a different submission system, but the editorial office will be happy to help transfer files. Please note that BMJ Open authors are asked to pay article processing charges on acceptance.

Here are some reasons to consider publication in one of BMJ's (the publishing group's) diverse range of specialist journals:

  • Broad worldwide readership.
  • Respected impact factors in each journal’s field.
  • Quick time to first decision (review or reject) – often within 2 weeks of submission.
  • Rapid publication – most journals publish online ahead of print ("online first").
  • Download and share your published article with colleagues.
  • No compulsory submission or page charges.
  • All content published before 2006 FREE.
  • The BMJ makes research articles free from the moment of online publication onwards.
  • Key articles highlighted with linked editorials, commentaries and/or press releases.
  • Indexed by all the major services (eg, PubMed, ISI).
  • Free access to cited articles from any of the journals hosted by HighWire – including 71 of the 200 most frequently cited journals.
  • Easy and efficient online submission system.
  • Money - you will receive a share of significant commercial reprint revenue from your research.

Open peer review

We ask reviewers to sign their reports and declare any competing interests on any manuscripts we send them. Reviewers advise the editors, who make the final decision (aided by an editorial manuscript committee meeting for some articles, including original research).

For research papers, The BMJ has fully open peer review. This means that every accepted research paper submitted from September 2014 onwards will have its prepublication history posted alongside it on thebmj.com.

This prepublication history comprises all previous versions of the manuscript, the study protocol (submitting the protocol is mandatory for all clinical trials and encouraged for all other studies at The BMJ), the report from the manuscript committee meeting, the reviewers’ signed comments, and the authors’ responses to all the comments from reviewers and editors (read more in this editorial).

Editors' duty of confidentiality to authors

The BMJ's editors treat all submitted manuscripts as confidential documents, which means they will not divulge information about a manuscript to anyone without the authors' permission. During the process of manuscript review the following people may also have access to manuscripts:

  • Editors and editorial staff at The BMJ, including medical students on placement and occasional overseas visitors - usually doctors or editors from other journals;
  • External reviewers, including statisticians and experts in trial methods;
  • Members of the journal's editorial committees, comprising the final stage in our peer review process for original research articles;
  • The only occasion when details about a manuscript might be passed to a third party without the authors’ permission is if the editor suspects serious research misconduct.

Open access

Every research article published in The BMJ is immediately accessible on thebmj.com to everyone, at no charge. The full text of all research articles is also sent, without further intervention from the author, 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, the UK Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and other funding bodies to make publicly funded research freely available to all.

To support open access publishing we ask authors of all research papers to pay an open access fee of £3000 (excluding VAT) on acceptance of their paper. We offer discounts and waivers for authors of unfunded research. 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 manuscripts.

Abridging research articles for the print issue

BMJ pico is our one page abridged format for research papers in the print journal, which some authors volunteered to help us pilot. We have designed BMJ pico with evidence based medicine experts to succinctly present the key evidence from each study, to help minimise delay between online and print publication, and to enable us to publish more research in each week’s print issue of The BMJ.

There is no need for authors to prepare a BMJ pico to submit along with their full research article. Authors produce their own BMJ pico, using a template from us, only after the full article has been accepted.

Appeals

Peer review by editors and external reviewers is usually based on a mix of evidence and opinion and may not always lead to the best decision. We welcome serious appeals on research and other scholarly articles and many succeed. For opinion articles, where editorial judgement about readability and engagement weighs most heavily, an appeal is less likely to overturn our decision. Please don't send a revised paper to our online editorial office, however - the first step is to submit there a detailed rebuttal letter. We can consider only one appeal per article.

Editing and proofs

All material submitted for publication must be submitted exclusively to The BMJ. Proofs are sent to authors of all articles except letters, obituaries, drug points, Medicine and the Media, fillers, and Career Focus.

Reprints

We are pleased to provide reprints. We pay authors a total of 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).

Provenance of articles

Who had the idea for the article, and was the article externally peer reviewed? At the end of every accepted editorial, research article, clinical review, practice article, analysis article, feature, and head to head article, The BMJ will add a statement explaining the article's provenance. The options are:

  • Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
  • Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.
  • Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
  • Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.
  • Commissioned, based on an idea from the author; externally peer reviewed.
  • Commissioned, based on an idea from the author; not externally peer reviewed.

Who prompted this submission?

We may ask authors submitting or offering unsolicited articles, particularly reviews and editorials covering topics with related commercial interests, several questions before proceeding. Even if the answers to all of these questions were "yes", we wouldn't necessarily reject the proposal or article. We appreciate that companies can commission some excellent evidence based work and that professional writers can present that evidence in a particularly readable and clear way that benefits readers and learners. We would, however, expect such companies' and writers' contributions to be mentioned in the article. And we would want to know that articles submitted to The BMJ did not overlap by more than 15% with any similar publications or submissions written by the same authors elsewhere. Here are the questions:

  • Has anyone (particularly a company or public relations agency) prompted or paid you to write this article?
  • Would/did a professional writer contribute to the article, and to what extent?
  • Would the article for The BMJ be original, or would it be similar to articles submitted or published elsewhere?

Editorial research

We have an ongoing programme of editorial research, for example we have conducted randomised controlled trials on open peer review and on peer review training. If you do not want your article entered into such a study please let us know by emailing papersadmin@bmj.com as soon as possible. Your decision to participate or not will have no effect on the editorial decision regarding your submission.