Your paper’s journey
When you have submitted your manuscript successfully the next step is peer review.
Types of peer review
BMJ mainly operates the following types of peer review:
- Open peer review: Reviewer and author are known to each other. These journals publish the reviewer comments and previous versions of the manuscript alongside the accepted paper.
- Single blind peer review: The names of the reviewers are hidden from the author. This is the traditional method of reviewing and is the most common.
- Double blind peer review: Both the reviewer and the author are anonymous to each other.
- Triple blind peer review: The handling editor, reviewer and author are anonymous to each other.
Each journal offers a different type of peer review, so please check on their individual websites for details.
Peer review process
This is a basic outline of the process, each journal has its own characteristics and so procedures and policies vary from title to title. If you are unable to find the answer to your question, our editorial team will be on hand to offer assistance throughout the peer review process. Contact details for the editorial team are on the journal’s Help page. You can also check the status of your manuscript at any time by logging into the journal’s submission site.
- The Editor (and if appropriate the Associate Editors) will evaluate the manuscript for scope, fit, quality, originality, interest for the readership, etc. It will then be sent out for external peer review or rejected if it does not meet the criteria.
- When the required number of reviews have been received (usually two) the Editor(s) will consider the experts’ opinions and make an initial decision to accept, reject, or request a revision.
- If the decision is for revision, the author will be given sufficient time to review comments and revise their manuscript.
- When submitting the revision, the author must ensure their response and revised manuscript correctly addresses each of the reviewers’ and/or Editors points (BMJ will require a tracked changes version).
- The revised manuscript will be re-evaluated by the original handling editor, who will either make an immediate decision or send the manuscript for further peer review prior to making a decision. Editors may request multiple manuscript revisions.
Please read the below for more information about next steps if your manuscript is rejected.
If you believe that your article has been rejected unfairly please submit an appeal (rebuttal) letter via your Author Center on the journal’s online submission system. Do not try to submit a revised version of your article at this stage.Appeals must be submitted within 30 days of the rejection decision.
Appeals will only be considered if all specific points of the reviewers’ and editors’ comments are addressed in the rebuttal letter, and decisions will only be reversed if the editors are convinced that the decision was a serious mistake, or if the reviewers made errors of fact or showed evidence of bias. Appeals against editorial fit or the journal not being the right journal for the article are unlikely to be considered. If it is thought that the appeal is warranted, the article, reviewers’ comments, and author’s response will be reviewed internally by the editorial team. The editor will decide whether to invite a resubmission, send it to another external reviewer, or uphold the original decision. In all cases, the editor’s decision is final.
Transfer your manuscript
If a manuscript is rejected at any stage of the process, the author can opt to submit it to another BMJ journal. Authors can elect to have their manuscript transferred upon initial submission. If the manuscript is rejected, authors will have 5 days to change their mind before the manuscript is transferred; they will be contacted by the editorial office to confirm that they still wish this transfer to take place.
Provided the author wants to continue, all versions of the manuscript, any supplementary files and peer review comments will automatically be transferred on the author’s behalf.
Once the transfer has been completed, the author will be asked to confirm the submission. The editor of the journal may choose to have the article reviewed again or make a decision based on any previous reviews. There is no guarantee of acceptance.
Click here to find out more about our list of journals.
Once your manuscript has been accepted, all correspondence will be sent to the email address of your corresponding author.
This is what to expect:
- The editorial office will give a final check of your manuscript.
- Your manuscript will go to our production team to prepare your proof.
- You’ll get an email with:
- Timeline for your proof
- Contact email for the production editor
- Link to Publishing At Work, where you can track your article’s status.
- Your article will go through three stages before your proof (approximately 10-15 days after acceptance, or after payment for Open Access):
- Clean up
- Copy editing
- You’ll receive a link where you can download your PDF proof. In the same email, you’ll also be able to view a locked PDF with track changes to see what changes went through the copy editing stage.
- Using annotation tools in the PDF, you can make changes and answer any questions that came up in the copy editing stage
- Within 2 working days of downloading your PDF proof, it will need to be sent back to the production editor. Let the production editor know if you won’t be able to make this deadline.
- Any changes you highlighted will be addressed by the production editor
- Your article will be published within 4-5 working days, unless extensive changes are required.
- After online publication, we’ll send you a toll-free link to your article if it’s not Open Access. For print journals, your article will be on the Online First page until it can be placed in a print issue.
Tracking your article in Publishing At Work
Publishing At Work (PAW) is our production system where you can track your article’s status. To start using this tool, you’ll make an account on PAW using the same email you used on ScholarOne.
Once you’re logged into PAW, you’ll see a list of articles on which you’re an author and their production stages in blue, underlined text. As it is a tracking system, you won’t be able to view or download the articles.
Paying for Open Access or colour printing
BMJ is partnered with a third-party payment collection company, Copyright Clearance Centre (CCC), who have an ecommerce system called RightsLink.
If you’re paying an Open Access or colour printing charge, CCC will send you an email with a link to RightsLink. Keep an eye out for it, and check your spam if it hasn’t arrived. If you don’t receive the email within 2 days of your article going to production, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request it.
If you’ve agreed to pay Open Access or colour printing charges, CCC will send you regular, automated reminders until payment is made.
- You do not have to be the corresponding author to pay the fee (eg: a member of your finance or admin team can process this on your behalf).
- As this is a new system, you will need to create an account on RightsLink as your ScholarOne account details won’t be transferred across.
- On RightsLink, you will be able to de-select Open Access or colour fees if you have not opted for either of these at submission.
- You have two payment options:
- Debit/credit card
- Create an invoice to be paid by card, cheque or bank transfer/wire
- When creating an invoice, you will have the option to add in a Purchase Order number as a reference, or add a tax number if applicable.
- If you have selected the invoice option, it will be generated overnight and emailed to you the next day.
All material accepted for publication in any BMJ journal is under embargo until it is published online. This means that until then it shouldn’t be distributed to third parties or discussed with the media, For more information please refer to our Publication embargo policy page.
If your article is selected for press release (either issued by BMJ or in consultation with BMJ) a different policy applies; for more details on the press release process see ‘How we work with the media’.
If the journal you submitted to is indexed in Medline or PubMed Central your article will be deposited in PubMed approximately 2-3 weeks after publication for a fully open access (OA) journal, or 12 months for a hybrid journal (mix of OA and non-OA articles).
If you don’t choose OA, you can self-deposit the final accepted paper (not the typeset version) 12 months after print publication, unless the journal is online only.
Please note that not all article types are PubMed indexed, such as meeting abstracts and book reviews. Please get in touch with the editorial team if there is an issue with the indexing of your manuscript.
Once your article is published online, readers will be able to leave comments. Use the toolbar on the side of your online article to set up alerts when:
- A response is published
- Your article is cited
- A correction is posted
You can also use that toolbar to:
- Request permissions
- Share your article
- View usage statistics
While we aim to complete the peer review process as quickly as possible, please bear in mind that reviewers give their time voluntarily. There may be occasions where several reviewers are invited before the required number can be arranged, or when a reviewer fails to deliver a review and the invitation process needs to start again. The average time to first decision is published on each journal’s website.
BMJ is committed to transparency. Every article we publish includes a description of its provenance (commissioned or not commissioned) and whether it was internally or externally peer reviewed. Articles described as ‘internally peer reviewed’ will have been assessed by one or more of the journal’s editors.