This procedure applies to complaints that relate to content, procedures or policies that are the responsibility of BMJ or our editorial staff. Complaints may provide an opportunity and a spur for improvement, and so we aim to respond quickly, courteously, and constructively. The procedure outlined below aims to be fair to those making complaints and those complained about.


Defining ‘complaint’

Complaints must relate to content or a procedure that was the responsibility of BMJ or our editorial staff. We define a complaint as:

  • anything defined as a complaint by the complainant and
  • anything we believe goes beyond an expression of disagreement with a decision and identifies a perceived failure of process or severe misjudgement.

If you believe that your article has been rejected unfairly, please follow our appeals procedure.


Making a complaint

Complaints should be directly emailed to and will be dealt with confidentially. This email address is solely for complaints as defined above – any other issues should be directed to

Complaints at BMJ are coordinated by a central team with individual complaints handled by the most appropriate staff member, with the opportunity for escalation if they cannot be resolved.

  • All complaints will be reviewed initially by our complaints team.  
  • This team will direct the complaint to the relevant member of the editorial or publishing staff and escalate if required.
  • In the case that this initial response is felt to be insufficient, the complainant can request that their complaint is escalated to a more senior member of the team.
  • If the complainant remains unhappy, complaints may be escalated to BMJ’s Editorial Director, whose decision is final.
  • If a complainant remains unhappy after what the Editorial Director considers a definitive reply, the complainant may complain to an external body (see below).

Complaints not under the control of BMJ or BMJ’s editorial staff will be sent to the relevant head of department within BMJ Publishing Group.

Complaints sent to the BMJ Chairman or Chief Executive Officer, or to the BMA or affiliated society officials, will usually be referred to the relevant journal’s Publisher or Editor in chief.


Complaint timeframes
  • All complaints will be formally acknowledged within three working days.
  • If possible a full response will be made within two weeks. If this is not possible, an interim response will be given within two weeks. Further interim responses will be provided until the complaint is resolved.
  • Where we consider a complaint to be vexatious or the result of a coordinated campaign, we reserve the right to reply outside of the suggested time frames, and on some occasions we may not respond to all complainants individually.


External bodies

If a complainant remains unhappy after a reply considered definitive by the Editorial Director, the complainant may complain to an external body, when that body has relevant oversight.

Committee on Publication Ethics

COPE publishes a code of practice for editors of scientific, technical, and medical journals. It will facilitate the resolution of disputes with member editors, journals and publishers but only once a journal’s own complaints procedures have been exhausted.  

Prescription Medicines Code of Practice

This can be referred to for anything related to a published advertisement for a prescription medicine.


Complaints about advertisements

Should you wish to complain about an advertisement you have seen in a BMJ journal, please contact the advertiser. If there is no response you can contact your national regulator, such as the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority.

You are also welcome to contact BMJ by emailing Generally, this will result in one of four outcomes:

  1. We may confirm that the advertising complies with our guidance and does not require any changes.
  2. We may ask the advertiser to change the wording of the advertisement before carrying it again.
  3. We may refuse to carry advertising for the product in future.
  4. We may escalate the complaint with the advertiser or with the relevant advertising standards authority.