BMJ Open Science: bringing the science back into medicine

By Trish Groves, @trished

BMJ Open Science is keen to see your research and to help the world to see it at its best and without restrictions. If you want to publish your work in a place that will reach both scientific and medical audiences, and will meet your funders’ open access mandates, do submit your work

The editors welcome all kinds of preclinical and translational research that are closely aligned to, and can help to inform, medicine: including neuroscience, genetics, regenerative medicine, drug discovery, endocrinology, and many more fields. As Editor-in-chief Dr Emily Sena explains, research questions must be important (though not necessarily novel) and pertinent to human health in a preclinical or translational setting, and methods must be sound and fully reported.

In many ways this online, innovative, open access journal BMJ Open Science takes publisher BMJ right back to its roots in 1840. Back then medicine was much less siloed and many clinicians were also scientists.

BMJ began nearly 180 years ago with the launch of The BMJ (called, until 1857, The Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal). The first issue included an original article reporting – in pigeons and hens – ‘Experiments on the functions of the pneumogastric nerve, and on the internal branch of the accessory’ by Professor Arnold of Zurich. Then, in 1847 James Simpson published in The Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal this seminal report of his self-experimentation with chloroform. Its full pdf on PubMed is short, sweet, and definitely science-y. And in 1900 Patrick Manson, ‘medical adviser to the Colonial Office’ and lecturer at the London School of Tropical Medicine, published in The BMJ his ‘Experimental Proof of the Mosquitomalaria Theory’, reporting correlations of his own fever and the presence in his blood of malarial parasites after controlled self-exposure to mosquitoes.

In 1917, The BMJ was joined by its first sister journal for specialists, The British Journal of Ophthalmology. It, too, published basic science, such as on the blood pressure in the eye and its relation to chamber pressure (and, indeed, BJO still publishes laboratory science.) Since then BMJ has grown considerably and we now publish more than 60 peer reviewed journals, including many other leading international journals for specialists such as Gut, Heart, and Thorax [and no, they’re not all anatomically named].

BMJ Open Science continues BMJ’s long tradition of innovation. From its earliest days The BMJ’s editors were advocates and campaigners, for example on social issues that went far beyond the usual borders of scholarly publishing. For many years our journals, online learning, and collaborations with methodologists (for example, by contributing to development of research reporting guidelines such as the CONSORT Statement) have aimed to build capacity for better research and better peer review. And, while The BMJ was the first major general medical journal to provide Open Access , BMJ Open Science now takes openness (and advocacy for it) to another level with “all the #openscience!”.

With your contributions BMJ Open Science aims to bring science back into medicine, helping clinicians (and many others) worldwide to fully understand, reproduce, use, reuse, and build on it. The journal will help you to report and disseminate your research with the same rigour and transparency that BMJ has for so long championed, studied, and implemented for clinical and public health research.


Trish Groves is Director of academic outreach at BMJ and Editor-in-chief of BMJ Open.
Competing interests: I am employed by BMJ and am Editor-in-chief of another of BMJ’s open access journals, BMJ Open. I am an advocate for open science.