Peer review process
The BMJ Journals peer review all the material submitted, internally or externally. About half the submissions are rejected without being sent out for external per review on the grounds of priority, insufficient originality, scientific flaws or the absence of message that is important to the readers of the journal. A decision on such papers is taken very quickly, usually within 14 days.
The remaining articles are assigned to one of the Associate Editors who will send it to one or more external reviewers selected from a database of more than 3000 experts. The paper may also be sent to a specialist statistical reviewer.
Reviewers and Associate Editors advise the Editor in Chief who is responsible for the final decision to accept or reject a manuscript.
The Editor can enter into correspondence about papers rejected as being unsuitable for publication. If you believe that we have rejected your article wrongly, perhaps because we have misunderstood its scientific content, please submit an appeal (rebuttal) letter from your author area at our online editorial office. Do not try to submit a revised version of your article at this stage.
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 error of fact or showed evidence of bias. Appeals against editorial fit or the journal not being the right journal for the article will not be considered. If it is thought that the appeal is warranted, the article, reviewers comments, and author response will be reviewed internally by at least two editors who will then 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.
We operate an optional system of open peer review. This means that reviewers can sign their reports if they wish. Open peer review does not mean that authors should contact reviewers directly to discuss their reports; all queries should still be directed through the Editorial Office.
View more information about open peer review
Who had the idea, and was the article externally peer reviewed? At the end of every accepted editorial, review, research article, brief report, case report and response article the journal will add a statement explaining the article's provenance. The options are:
• not commissioned; externally peer reviewed
• not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed
• commissioned; externally peer reviewed
• commissioned; not externally peer reviewed
"Not externally peer reviewed" refers to those articles that have been reviewed internally by a second member of the editorial team.
Peer review for papers submitted by BMJ Journals editorial staff
Editorials and obituaries written by the journal Editor do not undergo external peer review. Original research articles authored by a member of the editorial team are independently peer reviewed; an editor will have no input or influence on the decision of the article.