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How to engage with the diverse community that is Reddit

30 Aug, 13 | by BMJ

An article in The BMJ on muscular strength in male adolescents and premature death received over 55,000 page views in December 2012. On closer inspection, we discovered that 66% of visits to that particular article had come from Reddit, the social content sharing and news aggregator site. In fact, after tracking down the article on, we found that the article had generated quite a flurry of conversation, with just under 300 comments.

You would be forgiven for thinking that this was a one off, especially given the relevance of the paper to the adolescent users of Reddit. However, another BMJ article seems to have provoked a similar reaction. This study focused on didgeridoo playing as an alternative treatment for sleep apnoea and received a significant 59% of its total traffic from


Honourable hackers

11 Jul, 13 | by BMJ

BMJ hack day’s winning project  – a smartphone app for patients to collect and compute home blood pressure readings – has triggered lots of social media attention and press coverage in titles such as Medical News Today,  Nursing in Practice, and Mobile World Live.

The two other winners – a revision game for medical students to compete with each other using BMJ OnExamination data, and an Open Access Button that creates a “map of frustration” each time a reader hits a journal article paywall, have also generated a fair degree of attention. This BMJ article explains more.

But what of the other 10 projects? Four more idea were deservedly singled out for “honourable mentions” by BMJ chief executive Tim Brooks and his fellow judges.



Microlives: how much life have you lost or gained today?

21 Dec, 12 | by BMJ

David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge, has devised a novel way of weighing the benefits of one health resolution against another, using the concept of ‘microlives’. Instead of measuring habits such as red meat consumption in years lost from the average life, he calculates the effects of daily choices in small units of time, called microlives.

Spiegelhalter divided up the years remaining for a 35-year-old with a typical life span of 80 years into nearly a million 30-minute periods and defined each half-hour as one microlife. He then calculated how various habits may affect the microlives a person has left. more…

Tamiflu open data campaign

9 Nov, 12 | by BMJ

The website Scribd describes itself as the “world’s largest online library,  a place to read, publish, and share written documents.”

In March this year Peter Doshi, a post doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, sent the BMJ a link to a page displaying corresondence with the US Food and Drug Administration, urging it to investigate CellTexTherapeutics Corporation and RNL Bio.

Doshi wondered if the BMJ might be interested in launching a similar online campaign as part of its drive to persuade drug companies to publish the full data from clinical trials. more…

Geo-targeted content: country tagging on

12 Oct, 12 | by BMJ

Eighteen months ago a colleague and I were looking at the online and print BMJ with a view to discovering the ratio of UK to international content. At the time planned changes to both the NHS in England and the US healthcare system were generating a lot of news, comment, and debate.

Colleagues were spending increasing amounts of time in the US, India, and elsewhere, attending conferences and participating in workshops, yielding in rise in article submissions from these countries. This was helped in part by the decision to recruit a European research editor, based in the Netherlands, to complement a similar post based in the US. We also have an education editor based in Sydney. more…

Video games and health: research offers fresh perspective

4 May, 12 | by BMJ

Video games have come under attack by the mainstream media in the past few weeks, with extensive coverage of Anders Breivik’s apparent use of first-person shooter games as training aids before the Utoya massacre. Conversely, health researchers are becoming increasingly aware of the positive attributes of certain computer games.


This week’s most popular BMJ article looks at SPARX; a new cognitive behavioural therapy based computer game for young people with depression.

Researchers from the University of Auckland found that adolescents suffering from depression can benefit just as much from specialised computer therapy as they do from one-to-one therapy with a clinician.

SPARX is an interactive 3D fantasy game, similar to World of Warcraft, where a single user undertakes a series of challenges to restore balance in a virtual world dominated by GNATs (Gloomy Negative Automatic Thoughts).


Ofsted’s Parent View website on Drupal

20 Apr, 12 | by BMJ

The UK schools regulator Ofsted used to employ a team of people who sent questionnaires to parents if their children’s school was undergoing an inspection.

But last year the process was automated with the launch of Parent View, a website that allows parents to fill in the 12 questions online, and update it if their opinion of a school changes over time.

The site updates daily and a school’s results are publicly visible, so parents considering one for their children can find out what other parents think about the quality of teaching, discipline, leadership, track record on tackling bullying etc.

Parent View took less than three months to develop, including user testing. The team who built it on the Drupal open source platform were asked to deliver a secure and scalable website that could handle sudden peaks in traffic and levels of interaction. more… upsets Google

23 Mar, 12 | by BMJ

Two friends of mine are about to buy a domiciliary care business, and over dinner the other week we discussed their website and how effective search engine optimisation can ensure it shows high in any Google search.

Before long we were lamenting Google’s business practices and commercial dominance, something I blogged about in late 2011. I had lots to say about this. Earlier that week I’d returned to work after a week’s holiday and learned that Google had de-indexed, apparently without notice.


Drupal and

25 Nov, 11 | by BMJ

In August 2011 more than 1700 developers converged on Croydon for the four-day DrupalCon, an event that brings together people and products united in their enthusiasm for a freely available open source software that’s powering an increasing number of websites across the world.

“Come for the software, stay for the community” boasts the Drupal UK website, adding “Drupal is free, flexible, robust and constantly being improved by hundreds of thousands of passionate people from all over the world. Join us!” more…

Targeted content for doctors in training

25 Aug, 11 | by BMJ

Doctors in training are an important audience for the BMJ (they are our future readers) and our dedicated portal for junior doctors includes links to the latest articles, learning modules, case reports and forum discussions from doc2doc, BMJ Group’s clinical community.

The site is an unusual one in that it allows the end user to customise which content they see by opening a porfolio of “widgets” showing on the right hand side. These content widgets include the latest research articles from the BMJ and more than 30 specialist journals, and are selected each week by a junior doctor colleague.

There are also a series of widgets showing the latest educational content from across the Group. These include free modules from BMJ Learning, postgraduate exam questions from OnExamination, and one showing the latest Endgames (a BMJ interactive quiz section aimed at doctors in training). Endgames launched three years ago and typically includes anatomy and picture quizzes, statistical question, and a case report.There is also a widget showing latest case reports from the Group’s online Case Reports journal. more…

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