BMJ Article Transfer Service
How to transfer your manuscript
Providing authors with a quick, easy and smooth submission and peer-review service is one of the most important aspects across all our journals.
We want to be able to find a home for all high-quality and sound science, clinical research in the most suited BMJ journal. We know that receiving a rejection can be disheartening. To prevent this, and the duplication of efforts of authors, editors and reviewers, BMJ Journals have improved the process of transferring manuscripts. In 2021, The BMJ and journals collection helped 1,633 authors rejected from their first-choice journal to be accepted in an alternative BMJ journal.
We now ask all authors to select an alternate journal during the submission process. If a manuscript is rejected at any point during the submission or peer-review process then it will be automatically transferred to the selected alternate journal, together with all its attached files and peer reviews.
BMJ journal editors will now also be able to suggest a more appropriate journal for research they are rejecting, based on the scope of their journal.
Why would you want your manuscript to be transferred?
- Author choice: you have the final say on if and where your manuscript would be transferred
- Increased likelihood of acceptance: the majority of papers are rejected due to the scope of a journal, however, we have more than 70 journals covering a range of specialties as well as BMJ Open that accept all sound science papers.
- Guaranteed quick initial decision: the transfer system automatically pulls across all manuscript files and any peer reviews to the new journal. This means that you do not have to spend time uploading files to a new system and helps the new editor make a quicker initial decision, based on any previous reviews.
- Saving all researchers’ time: we know that, as an author and a researcher, you may also be a reviewer. We understand that your time is very precious so this new process saves both your and the editor’s time (by not having to find new reviewers). It also saves duplication of efforts for researchers who might be asked to review already peer-reviewed manuscripts. In 2020, authors saved, on average, 35 days to receive a decision on their article when they transferred to another BMJ journal compared to if they submitted elsewhere.
- Improving the reach and impact of research: the article transfer service enables authors to publish their work in the most appropriate journal so that it reaches the right audience. In 2020, the authors we helped find a place to publish in our portfolio of journals have achieved an average of 3 citations and an Altmetric Score of 20.
What happens when your manuscript is transferred?
Route 1: Alternate journal
The information below applies for transfer of manuscripts when your paper is rejected and automatically transferred to your selected alternate journal.
Note: if you did not select an alternate journal during submission, the below does not apply.
- You receive the rejection letter from the original journal you submitted to
- After five days, if you have not appealed the decision, the Editorial Production Assistant (EPA) will trigger the transfer to the alternate journal you selected upon submission (again, moving across all of your files, author information and any peer reviews).
- You will receive an email from the submission system of the alternate journal asking you to accept or decline the transfer.3a. If you decline, the transfer will not be completed.3b. If you accept, you will be asked to complete the transfer and resubmission process. This involves completing any journal-specific information, reconfirming your declaration of interests and other ethics checklists, as well as also selecting an alternate journal. The EPA will also be on hand to provide assistance throughout this process.
- Once completed, your manuscript will be passed on to the editorial office of the receiving journal for consideration.
Route 2: Reject with transfer
The information below applies for transfer of manuscripts when the editor of your paper used the reject-with-transfer decision type and suggests an alternate journal for submission.
Note: if you have already selected an alternate journal during the submission process, the editor will take this into consideration. If you would prefer your manuscript to be transferred to your alternate journal choice, please email the EPA.
- You receive the reject-with-transfer letter from the original journal you submitted to. This contains the links to accept or decline the offer of transfer.
- If you decline, the transfer will not be completed. However, if you accept, you will be asked to complete the transfer and resubmission process.
This involves completing any journal-specific information, reconfirming your declaration of interests and other ethics checklists, as well as also selecting an alternate journal. The EPA will also be on hand to provide assistance throughout this process.
- Once completed, your manuscript will be passed on to the editorial office for consideration.
Route 3: Transfer with provisional accept
At The BMJ, we are trialling a scheme for manuscripts that have been peer reviewed and are about to be rejected after committee. The Transfer Editor will share the manuscript with the editor of an appropriate BMJ Journal to try to secure provisional acceptance.
There is no guarantee of acceptance if authors opt-in to this scheme as all BMJ journals are editorially independent, however, whether we can achieve a provisional acceptance for you or not, we aim for this scheme to not add more than 48 hours for The BMJ editor to make their decision.
If we can achieve provisional acceptance for an article in one of our BMJ journals, this not only benefits you as an author (by saving you the time of resubmitting elsewhere and having to go through new rounds of peer review), we also save our editors and additional reviewers’ time by not duplicating efforts.
How the process works:
- A manuscript reaches The BMJ’s manuscript meeting after peer review. Here it may be rejected due to it being just out of scope.
- The Transfer Editor contacts the editor(s) of the best-matched BMJ journal to see if they would like to accept the paper instead. If not, the Transfer Editor will try another journal. If it is accepted,
- The Transfer Editor lets The BMJ editor know a transfer-with-accept letter is sent to the author.
- If the author accepts the offer, they click the link to transfer their paper and all the original files and peer-reviews are moved across to the receiving journal.
- If the authors make suggested changes to their manuscript (as suggested by the original reviews), and reformat their paper to the new journal requirements, it is highly likely that the paper will be accepted.
If the negative editor or reviewer comments from the original journal I submitted to are transferred across to a new journal, will this negatively impact the decision of the receiving journal’s editors?
No, all BMJ journals are editorially independent and although previous editor or reviewer comments will be taken into consideration, the ultimate decision on your transferred paper will be based on the scope and editorial board of the receiving journal. Our editors will expect peer reviews to be critical.
What should I do with my manuscript if I choose to transfer it?
The original manuscript and other files you submitted will be the files that are sent across to the new journal. We recommend that you revise your manuscript according to the editor and reviewer comments of the original journal.
We also recommend that you revise your manuscript to fit the formatting requirements of the journal you have transferred to. Once you have made these amendments, you can ask the EPA to upload these on to the system on your behalf.
Can I appeal a decision on my manuscript and also transfer it to another journal?
No, you can either appeal your decision or transfer your manuscript. You cannot do both as we do not allow papers to be under simultaneous consideration at more than one journal.
If you do wish to appeal the original decision, however, and your appeal is rejected, we do not accept multiple requests to appeal so you may wish to consider transferring your manuscript to another journal after the appeal rejection.
Is there a deadline for when I need to accept my transfer?
No, however, we recommend that you do take longer than one or two weeks. This is especially if you have opted-in to The BMJ scheme – we will have secured a provisional acceptance if you do transfer to another journal. Please note that the links to approve or decline a transfer will expire after 2 weeks. If you wish to transfer your manuscript after this time period, please email the EPA.
Please note: if you select an alternate journal upon submission or if your manuscript is rejected, your manuscript will be automatically transferred after five days. The manuscript will sit in draft until you accept or decline the resubmission to the receiving journal.
Do I have to transfer my manuscript in order to submit to a new journal?
No, you can submit to a new journal, however, we strongly discourage this as the transfer process is specifically designed to reduce the workload of authors, editors and reviewers by automating the uploading of files and peer-reviews.
How do I select an alternate journal?
Scope is the biggest reason a manuscript will be rejected by a journal. Therefore, we suggest you select an alternate journal in the same way that you would have selected the original journal you submitted to, based on the scope and subject area of your manuscript.
Most of our journals have an open access companion journal that will sit within the same subject area as the hybrid journal but will have a wider scope. The decisions will be based more on the science rather than the novelty of a manuscript.
Additionally, we have three journals at BMJ that cover all types of submissions to our entire portfolio.
- BMJ Case Reports, as the name suggests, accepts clinical case reports.
- BMJ Open accepts all sound science clinical papers.
- BMJ Open Science accepts all sound science pre-clinical, basic and translational science papers.
All of our journals are listed here and you can find out more about each individual journal by clicking through to the journal homepage.
If you would still like more information, you can contact the Article Transfer Service Manager.