Editor Roles & Responsibilities

BMJ Journals are published by BMJ, a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Medical Association. All BMJ journals follow the guidelines on editorial independence produced by the World Association of Medical Editors and the code on good publication practice produced by the Committee on Publication Ethics, the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, and checklists and advice for good research reporting of the EQUATOR network.

BMJ’s relationship with our Editors’

The role of the Editor is to produce the best journal possible for readers of the journal and in this BMJ will use its reasonable endeavours to provide Editors with necessary support.

As journal owners, BMJ encourages editorial freedom and agrees to fully support editorial decisions and potentially controversial expressions of opinion by the Editors provided they are evidence based. In turn, our Editors agree to abide by BMJ’s policies and procedures.

At the time of their appointment all Editors are supplied with a written agreement that clearly states their rights and duties, authority, the general terms of their appointment, and mechanisms for resolving conflict.

BMJ also asks our Editors to commit to upholding and maintaining our Code of Conduct at all times. The purpose of our Code is to ensure that we, and all those with whom we collaborate closely, work well together towards our shared vision of a healthier world. In order to achieve this vision, it is vital that our Editors remain true to our company values, and take a shared responsibility for protecting our trusted reputation and rich heritage.

All BMJ journals explicitly state their governance and relationship to BMJ as a publisher (as well as disclose any owning or co-owning societies where relevant) on the journal’s ‘About’ page.

Editorial freedom

BMJ abides by the ‘WAME (World Association of Medical Editors) statement on editorial freedom, duties and responsibilities’, which defines editorial freedom as Editors holding full authority over all editorial content for their journal and the timing of publication of that content. BMJ therefore does not interfere in the evaluation, selection, scheduling, or editing of individual articles either directly or by creating an environment that strongly influences decisions.

Our Editors base their editorial decisions on the validity of the work and its importance to the journal’s readers, not on the commercial implications for the journal, and all our Editors are free to express critical but responsible views about all aspects of medicine without fear of retribution, even if these views conflict with the commercial goals of BMJ as the publisher.

Editors for BMJ Journals are supported by an independent editorial advisory board who assist the Editor on editorial policy and content as well as help the editor establish and maintain editorial policy. Our Editors agree to seek and engage a broad and diverse array of authors, reviewers, editorial board members and readers.


We understand that manuscripts submitted to journals are privileged communications that are the author’s private, confidential property, and authors may be harmed by premature disclosure of any or all of a manuscript’s details. As such, BMJ Editors, and all editorial and publication staff, are required to keep all information about a submitted manuscript confidential, sharing it only with those involved in the evaluation, review, and publication processes. Editors may confidentially share manuscripts to Editors of other BMJ Journals as part of BMJ’s Article Transfer Service in order to see if a manuscript may be more suited to another BMJ Journal and therefore saving authors’ time.

Editors therefore will not share information about manuscripts, including whether they have been received and are under review, their content and status in the review process, criticism by reviewers, and their ultimate fate, to anyone other than the authors and reviewers. Nor will they discuss content publicly prior to acceptance and publication.

BMJ Editors agree to defend the confidentiality of authors and peer-reviewers (names and reviewer comments) in accordance with ICMJE policy. Editors agree to take all reasonable steps to check the facts in journal commentary and to adhere to best journalistic practices.

Editors will not publish or publicise peer review comments without permission of the reviewer and author. For our journals with mandatory open peer review, permission is provided by submitting your review to the journal. If a journal’s policy is to anonymise the reviewers identity, that identity will not be revealed to the author or anyone else without the reviewer’s expressed written permission.

Confidentiality may have to be breached if an allegation of dishonesty or fraud is made, but Editors agree to only notify authors or reviewers if they intend to do so and confidentiality must otherwise be honoured.

Confidential information will not be used for an Editor’s own purposes, and Editors will take all reasonable steps to ensure that such information is not used inappropriately for the advantage of others. In cases of breach of confidentiality by those involved in the peer-review process, Editors agree to contact the involved parties and follow up on such cases until they are satisfactorily resolved.

Peer review and timeliness

Editors agree to ensure that reviewer comments are properly assessed and interpreted in the context of their declared conflicts of interest.

Articles authored by a member of a journal’s editorial team are independently peer reviewed; an editor will have no input or influence on the peer review process or publication decision for their own article.

Editors will do all they can to ensure timely processing of manuscripts. If a journal has no intention of proceeding with a manuscript, Editors will endeavour to reject the manuscript as soon as possible to allow authors to submit to a different journal.

Competing interests

BMJ Editors agree to ensure all editorial decisions are based on the relevance of a manuscript to the journal and on the manuscript’s originality, quality, and contribution to evidence. They agree to ensure that those decisions will not be influenced by commercial interests or conflicts of Interest.

BMJ is committed to ensuring the independence and integrity of our content. As such, prior to appointment, all of our Editors are required to disclose any conflicts of interest in accordance with the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors uniform declaration of competing interests. For BMJ-appointed Editors all declarations of interest are published on the editorial board page of the relevant journal. We do not not generally publish the declarations of interest forms for our Associate Editors; however, all Associate Editors must agree and adhere to BMJ’s competing interests policy.  

BMJ updates all declarations of interest statements annually and if any new conflicts arise in the interim then these will be included to ensure full disclosure. More information on what we require from our editors is available in this form.

For more information on competing interests and authorship see: https://authors.bmj.com/policies/competing-interests/