Five years old and growing

Five years ago today, BMJ Open appeared on the scene. Conceived as a general medical journal to provide authors a fast, transparent route to publication, BMJ Open could have developed in many different ways. Happily it has developed into a journal we’re proud of, and despite its broad scope, it has grown into a journal with a strong identity. Publishing 230 articles in our first year, our growth has been steady and consistent, and we have increased our global presence every year. In 2015 we published over 1,500 articles from 70 countries. We have carved out a niche in qualitative research and the publication of study protocols and articles less likely to be accepted in traditional medical journals. 

Number of accepted papers

Importantly, as exemplified in our use of open peer review and the publication of reviewers’ reports, we have embraced the notion that research should be open and transparent. Just as importantly, we have a strong belief in the importance of sound methodology, asking authors to state clearly, up front, the methodological strengths and limitations of their study. We believe objectivity takes precedence over novelty and require our authors to adhere to the standards of reporting promoted by the EQUATOR network. Through these guiding principles, we have become, in only five years, the world’s largest general medical journal.

Now seems a good time to reflect upon what we have achieved, and where we would like to go. To celebrate, over the next few days we will be highlighting on our blog articles that have gained significant attention, along with articles that demonstrate our unique approach.

But, of course, there is still much work to be done. Looking into the future, we hope to continue down the path we are on, growing and developing, particularly in parts of the world that have historically been underrepresented in the medical literature. Global initiatives, such as BMJ’s China portal, will become increasingly important to us. We also hope to continue our efforts to make data more available and accessible, the importance of which has recently been stressed with the public health emergency surrounding the Zika virus. While we have made strong efforts by fully integrating our system with Dryad, we have only scratched the surface.

Most of all we want to thank the authors, reviewers, and readers who have made it all possible. Please join us in celebrating our first five years!