Authors

Our commitment to reproducibility
Our commitment to transparency & credit
Article types & manuscript preparation

BMJ Open Science has open access (CC BY), open peer review and has an open data policy.  There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) to publish in the journal but this has been waived during the launch period. Please review our policy guidelines before submitting.

We publish all preclinical and translational research that is closely aligned to medicine. We are keen to receive articles in the areas of neuroscience, genetics, regenerative medicine and lots more.

Submit an article here

We believe that advances in modern technology can help to ensure the transparency, integrity, and reproducibility of biomedical research. Thus we have worked with a cutting-edge technology provider, River Valley Technologies, to develop an easy to use submission system that allows for a novel discussion function between our Editors and peer reviewers. It easily integrates with relevant third party sites enabling tangible benefits for our authors. You can log in to our submission system with your ORCID identifier and can submit to BMJ Open Science through bioRxiv. We would love to hear your feedback on the ReView system, so please use the feedback function on the site or contact the editorial office.


Our commitment to reproducibility

BMJ Open Science is encouraging a number of initiatives that will help the work that we publish be reproducible.

Penelope pre-submission manuscript checking
Before submitting your manuscript, consider checking it with Penelope, an online tool that checks the completeness of scientific manuscripts and gives immediate feedback to authors. It has been customised to BMJ Open Science guidelines to help you prepare for submission. Penelope was developed by Penelope Research in collaboration with the EQUATOR Network.


Protocols.io
We encourage authors to deposit laboratory protocols in protocols.io, where they will be assigned their own persistent digital object identifiers (DOIs). Please cite this DOI both in your Methods section and as a reference at the end of the article. This inititave helps to ensure that your work is linked, discoverable, and reproducible.

Research Resource Identification Initiative (RRIDs)
BMJ Open Science is pleased to be part of the Resource Identification Initiative, a project aimed at clearly identifying key biological resources used in the course of scientific research. This project helps address concerns of reproducibility by providing unique searchable identifiers, Research Resource Identifiers (RRIDs), for critical reagents and tools. RRIDs can be used to link readers to external resources, and they also enable search engines to return all papers in which a particular antibody, organism, or tool was used. We see these as important steps toward ensuring reproducible methods and providing critical data to help researchers identify suitable reagents and tools. We encourage authors to include RRIDs in their manuscripts.

To find a RRID visit here and enter your search term(s). Once you have located an RRID, please insert “RRID:” plus the identifier in the appropriate location in the manuscript. For example:

  • Antibodies: “Sections were stained with a rabbit polyclonal antibody against ERK1 (Abgent Cat# AP7251E, RRID: AB_2140114).”
  • Cell Lines: “Subjects include the following cell line: CLS Cat# 300384/p699_HeLa_S3, RRID:CVCL_0058.”
  • Genetically modified organisms: “Subjects in this study were Fgf9Eks/Fgf9+ mice (RRID: MGI_3840442)…”
  • Software tools: “…terminals were mapped with a computer-assisted mapping program (Neurolucida, v 10; MicroBrightField RRID:nif-0000-10294).”


Reporting guidelines
As part of our commitment to reproducibility, we encourage authors to upload relevant reporting checklists as supplementary material. You can find a number of appropriate checklists, such as ARRIVE, at EQUATOR and MERIDIAN.

We particularly encourage compliance with the Landis 4 criteria: randomisation, blinding, sample size calculation, and inclusion/exclusion criteria (doi:10.1038/nature11556), where appropriate. We ask all authors upon submission the following questions. We are keen to be transparent about any limitations of methods used and non-compliance will not necessarily determine the article’s outcome.

Randomisation
Please describe how samples/animals were allocated to experimental groups. If randomisation was not described please explain why this was not possible or was not appropriate.

Blinding
Please describe whether investigators were blinded to group allocation during the experiment and/or analysis. If blinding was not performed please explain why it was not possible or was not appropriate.

Sample size calculation
Please describe how sample size was determined. If a sample size calculation was not performed please explain why it was not possible or was not appropriate.

Inclusion/exclusion
Please describe any a priori inclusion/exclusion criteria and any data exclusions with reasons.


Strengths & limitations of the study
We ask authors to write up to 5 bullet points that describe the study’s strengths and limitations, paying particular attention to the criteria above. These will be published in the article. An example of these might be as follows.

  • The study protocol has been peer-reviewed and published in an open access journal.
  • We modelled stroke in spontaneously hypertensive rats to more closely mimic the human disease, in which hypertension is a common comorbidity.
  • We a priori defined our inclusion criteria, report a sample size calculation, randomised animals to group, and blinded treatment allocation during the study and outcome assessment.
  • We assessed structural but not functional outcomes.
  • This study involved a single laboratory and the findings have not been independently replicated.


Our commitment to transparency & credit

BMJ Open Science applies open science principles to preclinical and translational research that is close to medicine. We help to achieve transparency through the following initiatives.

Open access
All of our articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-4.0 licence) allowing users to copy, distribute and adapt the works, so long as the work is cited and changes are indicated.

Open, consensus peer review
We operate an open peer review policy and all reviewers names will be published alongside their review. Review packages will be given a DOI and uploaded as a supplement to the article. Our novel peer review technology allows Associate Editors to start a discussion with reviewers once the reviews are in so that they can come to a consensus, in the case of conflicting reviews. This discussion will also be published as part of the review package. While this may take slightly longer for authors to receive a decision, we believe it will give authors more constructive decisions, with clearer instructions required for any revision required. We hope that this will reduce time in revision.

Open data
We mandate that the data used in the study be made publicly available, with details on how to access. Please see our data policy for more information.

Open methodologies
We encourage authors to make all materials and methods sections open, and support protocols.io and RRIDs (see above) to help with this.

ORCID integration
We fully support ORCID as a way to connect researchers, articles, and institutions. Our peer review system allows authors to log in with their ORCID identifiers, and we require that the corresponding author has an ORCID identifier when submitting a revision.

BMJ Open Science‘s peer review system is also integrated with ORCID. Reviewers will be able to attach their review (with its DOI) to their own ORCID profile allowing reviewers to gain recognition for their review at the journal. For full reviewer guidelines, please see here.

Our editorial board support ORCID!

Author contribution – CRediT
To ensure transparency in authorship and to assign credit where it is due, we are proud to use CASRAI’s CRediT taxonomy. We ask the corresponding author to assign one of the following roles to each co-author.

  • Conceptualization
  • Data curation
  • Formal analysis
  • Funding acquisition
  • Investigation
  • Methodology
  • Project administration
  • Resources
  • Software
  • Supervision
  • Validation
  • Visualization
  • Writing – original draft
  • Writing – review & editing

It is also possible to select whether the author was a Lead, Equal, or Supporting contributor to each of the above fields. The choices made here will form the Author Contribution Statement that is compulsory for all submissions.


Open Science Framework badges
To acknowledge open practices in BMJ Open Science we are awarding badges to articles that meet criteria set out by the Open Science Framework. We are happy to highlight these open practices with a community-based, open initiative, rather than using a closed award system.

The criteria to be award a badge can be found here:

Researchers who take steps to reduce bias by specifying in advance how data will be collected and analysed may be eligible for awards of up to $1000 as part of the Center for Open Science’s Preregistration Challenge.

We hypothesise that badges will help to encourage open practices, but we appreciate that more research is required to know if there’s a causal effect, and how big that effect may be, if any. We are supportive of such studies being undertaken.


Article types & manuscript preparation

Research

At BMJ Open Science, we divide our research articles into three types: confirmation studies, exploratory studies, and meta-research. This distinction values the differences in study designs, threats to validity, and the inferences specific to each research type. Further reading about how we came to these article types is in Kimmelman et al, 2014, PLOS Biology (doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001863) and Mogil et al, 2017, Nature (doi:10.1038/542409a). Each article type is described in full below.

All research articles must have a clear and justified research question and follow an IMRAD format (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion).

Please include in your article:

  • Title Page: include authors and affiliations including ORCID identifiers.
  • A structured abstract (max. 250 words) including objectives, methods, results and conclusions
  • Introduction: a clear statement of the main study aims and major hypothesis/research question
  • Methods: details of the design, the subjects included, the Research Resource Identifiers (RRIDs) for critical reagents and tools , the main methods employed, clearly defined primary/secondary outcomes (where appropriate). Please also include your protocols.io DOI if appropriate.
  • Results: the main findings with 95% confidence intervals, if appropriate.
  • Conclusions: primary conclusions and implications. Do not go beyond the data.
  • A separate ‘Strengths and limitations of the study’ section, containing up to 5 bullet points briefly stating the methodological strengths and limitations of the study paying particular attention to the Landis 4.
  • Full references
  • Data availability statement
  • Authors’ contributions as per the CRediT taxonomy.
  • Funding statement
  • Competing interests statement


Confirmation studies 

Confirmation studies are hypothesis-testing preclinical research studies. In addition to a clear and justified research question, confirmatory studies should be conducted and reported to the highest level of rigour.

Confirmatory primary research studies have two features:

    • The study must have been pre-registered in a protocol format, a registered report (see below for further details) or in a registry. This must be publicly available.
    • They must adhere to the highest levels of rigour in design, analysis and reporting. Where
      appropriate, studies must be randomised, blinded, state how they decided the number of animals included to ensure power, and describe exclusions. We encourage authors to refer to the Experimental Design Assistant for guidance with experimental design. Reporting must comply with the appropriate reporting guidelines for the study type (e.g. you may use ARRIVE guidelines for in vivo studies).


Exploratory studies

Exploratory studies (hypothesis-generating) are exploratory investigations that seek to generate robust pathophysiological theories of disease or intervention efficacy. These studies may be published alongside confirmation studies but must clearly be delineated as exploratory or submitted as stand-alone studies. The design, analysis and reporting of these studies will be held to the same high standard as confirmation studies but typically are not pre-registered, are not required to present a priori power calculations and do not necessarily use well-established techniques. Where no a priori power calculations have been provided, inferential statistics (e.g. p-values) are not appropriate and should not be presented; however, descriptive statistics (e.g. averages ± variances/confidence intervals) are appropriate and encouraged.


Meta-research

Meta-research studies that investigate research and provide an evidence-base for improvement and/or decision-making, including systematic reviews, are eligible for submission. They must address research questions relevant to preclinical research. We require pre-registration (e.g. via PROSPERO, OSF) or publication of a protocol prior to submission of the final article. Pre-registration or protocols must be publicly available and completed before completion of data collection.

BMJ Open Science will consider other types of primary research that is directly relevant to the design, conduct, reporting or publishing of preclinical research.

Registered reports

Registered Reports are a form of empirical article in which the methods and proposed analyses are pre-registered and reviewed prior to research being conducted. Data collection must not have begun. See here for more details.

Study protocols

BMJ Open Science will consider for publication protocols for any study design, including observational studies and systematic reviews. Protocol manuscripts should report planned or ongoing research studies. If data collection is complete, we will not consider the manuscript. For protocols of preclinical systematic reviews, we encourage reference to de Vries et al. (2015). We strongly encourage you to register your protocol. We recommend the Open Science Framework, or Prospero for systematic reviews. Protocols for studies that require ethical approval, such as some in vivo studies, are unlikely to be considered without having received that approval.

Reviewers will be instructed to review for clarity and sufficient detail. The intention of peer review is not to alter the study design. Reviewers will be instructed to check that the study is scientifically credible and ethically sound in its scope and methods, and that there is sufficient detail to instil confidence that the study will be conducted and analysed appropriately.


Methods papers

BMJ Open Science will consider primary research studies that describe novel methods or significant improvement in standard research techniques of preclinical research close to medicine. Methods papers should provide researchers with new tools required to improve the validity of their research. Methods papers have the same IMRAD format, and the design, analysis and reporting of these studies will be held to the same high standard as original research articles. Step-by-step protocols required to allow replication of the methods must be deposited in a public and permanently available community-recognised repository (Dryad, Figshare).


Data descriptor articles

BMJ Open Science will consider data descriptor articles of preclinical studies or studies relevant to preclinical research. These articles should describe scientific data to facilitate data-sharing and reuse; their focus is to enable others to reuse data rather than presenting new hypotheses, analyses or interpretations. Descriptor articles combine traditional narrative content with curated structured metadata. Data descriptor articles should include detailed descriptions of the methods used to collect the data and technical analyses to support the quality of data acquisition. Peer review evaluates the rigour with which experiments were conducted during data acquisition. Data must be stored in public and permanently available community-recognised repositories (e.g. Dryad, Figshare).

  • Data descriptor articles should include the following:
  • Title Page: include authors and affiliations
  • Abstract (max. 250 words)
  • A separate ‘Strengths and limitations of the study’ section, containing up to 5 bullet points briefly stating the methodological strengths and limitations of the study
  • Introduction and summary
  • Methods: details of the design, the subjects included, the main methods employed and any inclusion/exclusion criteria
  • Data records
  • Technical validation: include descriptive statistics
  • Usage notes: describe any code or software required for data reuse
  • Full references
  • Authors’ contributions
  • Funding statement
  • Competing interests statement

Reporting & conduct guidelines

Reporting and conduct guidelines within scope will be considered. We encourage reporting guidelines to be developed in accordance with Moher et al. (2010).


Review articles and position papers

These articles are usually commissioned or invited; however, authors are invited to discuss possible topics for submission directly with the Editor.

Plagiarism detection

BMJ is a member of CrossCheck by CrossRef and iThenticate. iThenticate is a plagiarism screening service that verifies the originality of content submitted before publication. iThenticate checks submissions against millions of published research papers, and billions of web content. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting www.ithenticate.com.

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