Authors


Why publish in BMJ Open Science?

    • Prestige: The journal is instantly recognised through the BMJ brand making it a credible source of high-quality content.
    • Quality Assurance: Our dedicated Editor-in-Chief and international editorial team use their years of experience and expertise to ensure all articles reach the highest quality possible.
    • Broad scope: The journal’s scope is broad and covers a whole range of preclinical and translational biomedical research. This ensures a wide readership and allows your work to have an even bigger reach.
  • All results valued: Your research will be assessed against scientific and ethical criteria only and not judged for novelty or impact. Whether your results were positive, negative or inconclusive will not influence acceptance.
  • Open science: Open access to your work means higher readership, increased citations and greater visibility. OSF badges are awarded to recognise data sharing, open materials, or study pre-registration.
  • Compliance with open access mandates: Fully compliant with open access mandates, including NIH, UKRI and Wellcome Trust.

BMJ Open Science is an open access journal which uses open peer review, the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence and has an open data policy.  There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) to publish in the journal.

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



Article processing charges

BMJ Open Science is an open access journal and levies an Article Publishing Charge (APC) of 1,800 GBP (+ any applicable VAT). There are no submission, colour or page charges. APCs for Registered Reports led by PhD students are currently waived. 

As one of the founding members of the HINARI Access to Research in Health Programme, we provide free access to all of our journals, and journals archive to local, not-for-profit institutions in low income countries. In addition, we appreciate that some authors do not have access to funding to cover publication costs and we offer waivers through our Open Access Waiver Fund. We will accept part payment where only limited funds are available, and we offer waivers to authors in exceptional circumstances, on request.

Waivers and discounts

BMJ journals offer waivers for the full Article Processing Charge (100% discount of the APC) where all authors are based in low-income countries. See full waiver list*.

Requests for waivers should be made before or during initial submission**. If an article reports funding from a funder with an open access mandate or policy that covers paying APCs, BMJ expects that the APC will be paid.

Visit our author hub to learn more about our waivers policy and how to request one.

You might be eligible for institutional funding. A number of institutions have open access agreements with BMJ which can either cover the whole cost of open access publishing for authors at participating institutions or can allow authors to receive a discount of the Article Processing Charge (APC).

Visit BMJ’s open access agreements page to find out whether your institution is a member and what discounts you may be entitled to.

*These lists are based on the HINARI Core Offer Groups A and B, and the World Bank Country and Lending Groups, downloaded in July 2021. They will be updated annually.
**Please note that applications for waivers or discounts should be made during initial submission and not after an article has been accepted. Editors are not involved in this process and the ability to pay has no bearing on editorial decisions. Payment will not be required unless your article is accepted. Accepted articles will not be published until payment has been received. BMJ does not refund APCs once paid.


Licence

As an open access journal, BMJ Open Science adheres to the Budapest Open Access Initiative definition of open access. Articles are published under an exclusive licence or non-exclusive licence for UK Crown employees or where BMJ has agreed CC BY applies. For US Federal Government officers or employees acting as part of their official duties, the terms are as stated in accordance with our licence terms. Authors or their employers retain copyright. Such open access articles can be reused under the terms of the relevant Creative Commons licence to facilitate reuse of the content, please refer to the BMJ Open Science Author Licence. More information on copyright and authors’ rights.

All articles published in BMJ Open Science are published with a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY). This is the required licence of most major biomedical research funders. Authors will need to agree to one of our licences to publish during submission.


Preprints

Preprints foster openness, accessibility and collaboration by allowing authors to make their findings immediately available to the research community and receive feedback on an article before it is submitted to a journal for formal publication.

BMJ fully supports and encourages the archiving of preprints in any recognised, not-for-profit server such as medRxiv. BMJ does not consider the posting of an article in a dedicated preprint repository to be prior publication.

Preprints are reports of work that have not been peer-reviewed; Preprints should therefore not be used to guide clinical practice, health-related behaviour or health policy. For more information, please refer to our preprint policy page.


Open peer review

BMJ Open Science uses open peer review. This means that the reviewers will know who wrote the article and the reviewers’ identities will be disclosed to you when an editorial decision is made. We also publish the peer review comments alongside any article we publish under the same licence (CC BY).

Read more information about reviewing for BMJ Open Science.

Plagiarism is the appropriation of the language, ideas or thoughts of another without crediting their true source and representation of them as one’s own original work. 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. BMJ runs manuscripts through iThenticate during the peer review process. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting www.ithenticate.com.


Data sharing

We have a strict, forward-thinking open data policy. This means that the data underlying the findings in your article should be made publicly available no later than when the article is published.

Data files may not be uploaded as supplementary material. Data hidden in supplementary files are not easily discoverable, do not have unique permanent identifiers, and are not protected in perpetuity, unlike the article.

In exceptional circumstances, where there are restrictions on the availability of data, the Editor may agree to publish an article without publicly available data so long as the location, availability, and reason for restriction of the data is made clear in the article. A request for an exception must be made at submission or by contacting our editorial office in advance if you think you cannot comply with our policy.

The journal follows the TOP (Transparency and Openness Promotion) guidelines and promotes the FAIR data principles.

Read more about our data sharing policies.


ORCID

BMJ Open Science mandates ORCID iDs for the submitting author at the time of article submission; co-authors and reviewers are strongly encouraged to also connect their ScholarOne accounts to ORCID. We strongly believe that the increased use and integration of ORCID iDs will be beneficial for the whole research community.

Please find more information about ORCID and BMJ’s policy on the BMJ Author Hub.


Improve your article before peer review

BMJ Open Science encourages a number of initiatives to help the work that we publish be reproducible.

Penelope pre-submission manuscript checking

Before submitting your manuscript, consider checking it with Penelope, an award-winning 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.


Reporting guidelines

As part of our commitment to reproducibility, we encourage authors to upload relevant reporting checklists as files for editors. You can find appropriate checklists, such as ARRIVE, at the EQUATOR and MERIDIAN sites.

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 are keen to be transparent about any limitations of methods used and non-compliance will not necessarily determine the article’s outcome.

When submitting an article you will be asked about the following:

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.


Rapid responses

A rapid response is a moderated but not peer reviewed online response to a published article in BMJ Open Science; it will not receive a DOI and will not be indexed. Find out more about responses and how to submit a response.

Article types & manuscript preparation

Please review the below article type specifications including the required article lengths, illustrations, table limits and reference counts. We do not impose a world limit on submissions of any article type (only for the abstract which is 250 words and this is included in the instructions for authors). Authors should be as concise as possible and as long as necessary, to allow clear and comprehensive descriptions of the study and its findings.

For further support when making your submission please refer to the resources available on the BMJ Author Hub. Here you can also find general formatting guidelines across BMJ and a formatting checklist.

Please make sure you also read our specific BMJ Open Science editorial policies page, where you will find information on open data, materials and methods; formatting; author credit; and research ethics.

Original 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
  • Please include a ‘Strengths and limitations of this study’ section after the abstract. This section should be no more than 5 bullet points relating specifically to the methods – not the results of the study. This will be published as a summary box after the abstract in the final published article.
  • 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, and clearly defined primary/secondary outcomes (where appropriate). Please also include your protocols.io DOIs if appropriate.
  • Results: the main findings with 95% confidence intervals, if appropriate.
  • Conclusions: primary conclusions and implications. Do not go beyond the data.
  • 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 investigate research itself and provide an evidence base for improvement and/or decision-making, including systematic reviews. 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 report

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.  Read more about the guidelines for submitting a Registered Report. Authors can also submit a Registered Report from the Peer Community in Registered Reports initiative.

Please include a ‘Strengths and limitations of this study’ section after the abstract. This section should be no more than 5 bullet points relating specifically to the methods – not the results of the study. This will be published as a summary box after the abstract in the final published article.

Protocol

BMJ Open Science will consider 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, will not 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.

  • Title: should include the word “protocol” or clearly reflect that the article is reporting a protocol.
  • Abstract: this should be structured with the following sections. Introduction; Methods and analysis; Ethics and dissemination. Registration details should be included as a final section, if appropriate. Abstracts for meta-research should be structured as follows: Objective (explain why you are doing the research); Search strategy (types of study to be included and which sources will be searched); Screening and annotation; Data management and reporting.
  • Please include a ‘Strengths and limitations of this study’ section after the abstract. This section should be no more than 5 bullet points relating specifically to the methods – not the results of the study. This will be published as a summary box after the abstract in the final published article.

Methods

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 (e.g. Dryad, Figshare).

Please include a ‘Strengths and limitations of this study’ section after the abstract. This section should be no more than 5 bullet points relating specifically to the methods – not the results of the study. This will be published as a summary box after the abstract in the final published article.


Data descriptor article

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)
  • 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

Please include a ‘Strengths and limitations of this study’ section after the abstract. This section should be no more than 5 bullet points relating specifically to the methods – not the results of the study. This will be published as a summary box after the abstract in the final published article.


Reporting and 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 and Position papers

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

Supplements

The BMJ Publishing Group journals are willing to consider publishing supplements to regular issues. Supplement proposals may be made at the request of:

  • The journal editor, an editorial board member or a learned society may wish to organise a meeting, sponsorship may be sought and the proceedings published as a supplement.
  • The journal editor, editorial board member or learned society may wish to commission a supplement on a particular theme or topic. Again, sponsorship may be sought.
  • The BMJPG itself may have proposals for supplements where sponsorship may be necessary.
  • A sponsoring organisation, often a pharmaceutical company or a charitable foundation, that wishes to arrange a meeting, the proceedings of which will be published as a supplement.

In all cases, it is vital that the journal’s integrity, independence and academic reputation is not compromised in any way.

For further information on criteria that must be fulfilled, download the supplement guidelines

When contacting us regarding a potential supplement, please include as much of the information below as possible.

  • Journal in which you would like the supplement published
  • Title of supplement and/or meeting on which it is based
  • Date of meeting on which it is based
  • Proposed table of contents with provisional article titles and proposed authors
  • An indication of whether authors have agreed to participate
  • Sponsor information including any relevant deadlines
  • An indication of the expected length of each paper Guest Editor proposals if appropriate

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