BMJ Open’s 2013 year in review


2013 was another successful year for BMJ Open. Credit and thanks as always goes to our editorial board and especially our peer reviewers for helping make this happen.

BMJ Open’s status as a global journal was confirmed as we received over 2000 submissions from 89 countries and published papers from 60. We published 962 papers, up 47% from 2012.

The number of BMJ Open papers with datasets made available through the open access data repository Dryad passed 50. We signed an agreement to meet the costs of this on authors’ behalf, meaning that authors can preserve and share their data in a way that makes it open, citable, preserved and discoverable at no cost to them.

In mid-year Thomson Reuters calculated a first impact factor for BMJ Open: 1.583. We blogged at the time about why this matters – and why it doesn’t. BMJ is a signatory to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and the impact factor, nice as it is to have, is only one metric among many that can be found on our site. Journal-level and article-level statistics are provided and Altmetric scores can now be found on articles which have them. These give an idea of the shorter-term impact and reach of an article. See below the abstract of this paper for an example.

We are constantly looking for ways to streamline processes for authors. We are working with institutions and funders to help simplify life for authors through our institutional memberships, which apply across journals from BMJ. This initiative eases the administrative burden around organising payment of article publishing charges (APCs) as well as providing authors with discounts. Our APCs remain the same in 2014 as does our generous waivers and discounts policy, which last year saw us waive over £120k in charges.

2013 was another big year for open access to UK medical research as the Wellcome Trust and the UK research councils announced updated, tougher OA mandates. Needless to say, authors can meet the requirements of these and all other funders when publishing in BMJ Open simply by clicking a button at submission.

BMJ commissioned research into the publishing priorities of biomedical funders and the results of that research were made available through BMJ Open during Open Access Week. It showed that OA remains a high priority for funders but is only one of a number of strategies they use for wider engagement.

Press coverage of BMJ Open articles was substantial again, in particular around papers on plain packaging of cigarettes, with particular attention paid to this first evidence to emerge from Australia’s policy (e.g. BBC coverage).  Several papers on other hot topics in public health such as physical activity (The Guardian) received widespread coverage, as did papers on subjects as diverse as the ‘war on drugs’ (CNN), sudden infant death syndrome (BBC), new drug discovery (BBC)and male pattern baldness (Times of India).  We also introduced podcasts and video abstracts to help promote these papers.

Coverage and volume are encouraging but it remains important that we concentrate on keeping publication standards high. These make a difference to the quality and trustworthiness of the research we publish. We follow the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ recommendations on trial registration and we reject without review any trial report that fails this test. Our view is that publishing trials that don’t meet these standards means publishing articles that are methodologically and ethically unsound. Unfortunately we reject papers because of a lack of registration on a depressingly regular basis. As AllTrials founders, however, we welcome trials that produced so-called ‘negative’ results and we will be blogging more about our commitment to publishing all (properly conducted) trials soon.

In 2013 BMJ Open also introduced a policy, alongside other journals from BMJ, not to consider research funded by the tobacco industry. There’s more on that here.

It was a busy year and all the signs are that it will be an even busier 2014. Thanks again to our reviewers and authors and we look forward to working with you again in the future.



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