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The importance of reviewers – 2015

23 Dec, 15 | by Emma Gray


The peer review process is central to scholarly research, a critical part of the publishing process and a method of quality control for the scientific community. While peer review can seem like a daunting, never-ending task at times, without it journals would not survive and continue to publish the important, accurate findings they do today.

At BMJ Open, we rely on our large bank of reviewers to help us ensure that the papers we publish are useful and of good quality. A good review can often require a great deal of work, and the continued success of the journal in the past year would not have been possible without the help of reviewers who provided us with their time, expertise and detailed comments. Our transparent, open peer review process is part of our aim to provide a home to sound medical research, making as much research available to the scientific community as possible while still upholding the BMJ’s core standards for research conduct.

It is important to recognise the contribution that reviewers make to the journal, and the essential nature of their work. BMJ Open would like to thank all those reviewers who have worked with us this year – we hope that you will continue to work with us in the year ahead! We are pleased to be able to continue with our reviewer discount of 25% for reviewers who submit manuscripts to us within 12 months of completing their review, and we would like to remind you that CME points are available for those who submit detailed comments within the given timeframe. Existing reviewers for the journal are encouraged to update their profiles on our submission system with their areas of expertise, so we can more easily allocate you appropriate papers – and, of course, we always encourage new reviewers to come forward and join our growing bank of referees.

We look forward to seeing what the next 12 months will hold for BMJ Open. With our fifth birthday on 23rd February 2016, we hope that the journal will continue to go from strength to strength, with the help of our reviewers and authors.

Thank you to our reviewers – 2014

18 Feb, 15 | by Fay Pearson

After a very busy year at BMJ Open, in which over 1100 papers were published, we would like to say a big thank you to all of our reviewers who contributed in 2014. All that we achieved last year would not have been possible without the help of the many referees who gave thorough and detailed reviews which are essential to our decision making process. The comments and evaluations provided by our reviewers allow us to maintain the quality and scientific validity necessary to the continued success of BMJ Open.

Since its conception BMJ Open has been tirelessly dedicated to provide a home for all properly conducted medical research from all disciplines and therapeutic areas. Our rigorous and transparent peer review process has been crucial to achieving this aim, because of this, we are pleased to be able to continue to offer the 25% reviewers discount to those who submit manuscripts within 12 months of completing their review and also give CME accreditation for the submission of timely and thorough comments.
The BMJ Open team is truly thankful for the continued hard work and support of our peer reviewers and we look forward to the year ahead.

Open Access Week: the next generation

20 Oct, 14 | by sjohar

Open Access Week, a global event now entering its eighth year and running from the 20th – 26th October, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research. BMJ Open takes a closer look at this year’s theme as announced by The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) – “Generation Open”. As explained by SPARC, this theme represents the role of the next generation of Open Access advocates, and also what impact any changes within scholarly publishing have upon the careers of scholars and researchers.

So why do we still need an annual Open Access Week? For a long time, establishing the rules and even the definition of Open Access remained an absolute necessity. The radical departure from traditional publishing models meant that early Open Access advocates had to face legitimate questions over the funding and sustainability of this business model, and address the possibility of its misuse (for example, in so-called ‘vanity publishing’). Such questions do, to a point, remain. Educating the publishing community about Open Access, however, has led to so much support that ideas including Open Access Week (and the Open Access Button) were able to flourish and garner a significant following of their own, enabling future generations to better inform others and build upon these foundations. In fact, the team behind the simple genius of the Open Access Button, where being unable to access a research article because of a paywall can be reported on, are/were largely students – how’s about that for ‘Generation Open’?!

At BMJ Open we welcome submissions from students as well as more established authors. We fully support Open Access Week and as such we’ve created a special landing page with some of our most read Open Access content and are offering a 15% discount on article publishing charges on all our fully open and hybrid titles between the 20th October and the 20th November.

Similarly, the shift by many publishers to Open Access continues unabated with hundreds of Open Access journals launched each year by several global publishers offering gold, green and hybrid Open Access options. Importantly, can and will government and institutional policy reflect this to also benefit future researchers who wish to make their work fully accessible? Well, policies introduced within the last few years are on their side. Relatively recent Open Access mandates from organisations such as Research Councils UK (with grant funding for gold Open Access) and the US government (with mandated deposition in public repositories, i.e. green Open Access) will no doubt be continually revised or perhaps even superseded to accommodate the needs of funders, researchers and publishers.

So, as we enter Open Access Week, what will the future hold for Open Access? Will the benefits still need espousing? Will we even need ‘advocates’ or will the foundations of the movement be so ingrained upon future researchers that the days of defending Open Access be reduced to just memories of a different era? Given initial, and, arguably, continuing scepticism, the fact that we are looking to the next generation of scholars to steer the Open Access movement forward is an achievement in itself. The future milestones they will reach and the innovations they will deliver have not yet been determined. Maybe the foundations will be laid at this year’s Open Access Week, but we wait with anticipation for where the next generation of Open Access leaders will take us.

And we will be ready to support them.

Thank you to our reviewers – 2013

16 Jan, 14 | by sjohar

Peer review is a fundamental part of publishing. Perhaps nowhere more so than in the open access field, which is often more scrutinised than other traditional publishing routes. Recognising this, the BMJ Open team would like to thank all 2725 peer reviewers who refereed for the journal in 2013 – your advice and considered remarks were essential in ensuring the quality and scientific validity of our articles.

At BMJ Open, we are pleased to have several policies in place that highlight the importance of peer review. For example, our open peer review policy allows complete transparency over the history of an article, and gives credit to specific referees through the disclosure of their names and the publication of their comments. We also provide reviewers with a 25% discount on the article-publishing charge of any manuscript they subsequently submit as an author and give CME accreditation for the submission of timely and thorough comments.

BMJ Open appreciates the support and hard work of all the peer reviewers who gave their valuable time in contributing to the journal throughout 2013. We hope to work with you again and look forward to forging new relationships in 2014. Given our continued success since our launch, we cannot wait to see what this forthcoming year will bring.

2012 year in review

11 Jan, 13 | by Richard Sands, Managing Editor


2012 was a hugely successful year for BMJ Open. We published four times as many papers as in 2011. Credit for this must go, first and foremost, to the hundreds of reviewers who have given their time to assess manuscripts. We are also grateful that so many authors have chosen to publish with us.

2013 has begun promisingly with the news that Thomson Reuters are now tracking BMJ Open for inclusion in the Web of Science. Indexing begins soon.

We received over 1200 submissions in 2012 and published 654 papers, making a total so far of over 800 papers published since launch. Seventy-nine 2012 papers were protocols, helping promote the transparency in research that comes from publishing research plans in advance of the work being carried out.

Authors from 74 countries submitted their work to us and we accepted papers from 49 countries. Twenty-six studies now have associated datasets in the Dryad repository. The majority of these submissions came straight to BMJ Open. However, authors whose work is turned down by another BMJ Group journal can transfer it to BMJ Open, along with any peer reviewers’ reports, and many have chosen to take advantage of this. We now also have a panel of dedicated statistical reviewers to help expedite review of those papers where a statistical assessment is required.

So we are confident that our proposition – open peer review, open data, open access – is popular with authors, many of whom have published more than once in BMJ Open. Many reviewers, after first-hand experience of the review process from that side, have subsequently submitted papers too.

In September 2012 we launched the BMJ Open Editions – six channels to showcase BMJ Open papers from the key areas of dermatology, HIV/Aids, infectious diseases, neurology, obstetrics & gynaecology and oncology

As our scholarly profile grows, so does our public profile. BMJ Open papers have featured regularly in the news during 2012, and we will be posting about that separately. Of particular note, though, was a paper published in February by Kripke, Langer & Kline, on mortality and cancer risks associated with specific currently popular hypnotics. This paper received almost 50 000 full-text and PDF downloads in 2012 and was the most downloaded paper of the year. All articles have usage statistics available online.

This paper received widespread media coverage and some robust online responses. We would love to see more of this kind of debate in 2013. We welcome e-letters or less formal comment and we always encourage authors to respond. Many of the comments we have received have been perceptive and passionate and one or two have led to us publishing corrections and even to the posting of further data in Dryad – post-publication peer review in action.

2012 was a watershed year for open access, and while it is strongly supported by high-profile grant-awarding institutions, many researchers do not have this backing and cannot pay article-processing charges (APCs). They may be working in countries with severely limited resources, students/early-stage researchers without access to institutional funds, unaffiliated or simply working without a grant.

Despite relying on APCs to run the journal, we still welcome all research and in 2012 waived the publishing fee for over 100 papers. This amounts to over £120 000 of APCs waived. By subsequently submitting papers, many of our reviewers were able to take advantage of the reviewer discount we offer as well.  

Thank you again to our reviewers for their hard work, our authors for placing their trust in BMJ Open, and our editorial board for their support. We look forward to continuing to work with you and many new colleagues in 2013.

Special offer for Second Global Symposium on Health Services Research authors

15 Jun, 12 | by Richard Sands, Managing Editor


The Second Global Symposium on Health Services Research will take place in Beijing in October/November 2012.

We are delighted to announce that if you are a researcher whose work has been accepted for presentation at the symposium then you can receive a 25% discount on article-processing charges if you submit your manuscript to BMJ Open before 6 July 2012.

Just mention in your covering letter that your work has been accepted for presentation at the symposium and include the acceptance letter as a supplementary file.

Acceptance by BMJ Open will still be subject to satisfactory peer review. Full fee waivers remain available to authors where needed.

Review for BMJ Open

2 Nov, 10 | by Richard Sands, Managing Editor

Keep your analytical skills sharp, receive public acknowledgement of your efforts and save money on publication charges!

BMJ Open is now reviewing articles for publication. Peer reviewing is a good way to hone your analytical skills and to get a ‘first look’ at forthcoming research. Our system of open peer review – publishing reviewers’ comments – provides public acknowledgement of your input. It is also helpful if you need to demonstrate your reviewing activity for continuing professional development purposes.

You can register as a reviewer at our submission site; once you have registered, drop us an email and let us know.

In recognition of your support, as a BMJ Open reviewer you will receive a 25% discount on article processing charges if you are the corresponding author of a paper submitted to the journal within a year of returning your review.

Our instructions for reviewers are here.