Policies

BMJ Open Science is part of the movement to improve transparency and trust in research. To achieve this we have several forward-thinking policies relating to data, research credit and transparency in place.

Open data
Data sharing FAQs
Open materials and methods
Strengths and limitations 
CRediT
Preprints
Publication and research ethics
Animal studies


Open data

BMJ Open Science promotes data sharing and has an 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.

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.

Data sharing FAQs

What data do I need to share?

We ask that the minimum data required to reproduce the results presented in the associated article should be made available. This may be raw or processed data and examples include (but are not limited to) gene sequences, microarray data, spreadsheets, survey results, interviews, etc. Please use open file types where possible e.g. CSV rather than XLSX.

We request that all code needed to reproduce the results are made available. We encourage deposition in a publicly available repository, such as GitHub or Code Ocean, which will provide a persistent link. This should be referenced in the text and included as part of the Data Availability Statement.

We strongly encourage analysis methods that utilize a command line, as this captures every step of an analysis. However, if code is not available (for example, the analysis was completed within a point and click system, such as GraphPad), then in addition to a detailed description of the analysis, files generated with point and click systems should be made available and be deposited in general repositories such as those detailed below.

Where can I deposit my data?

Data should be deposited in a recognised, subject-specific repository, which provides a persistent identifier (e.g. a DOI or accession number), such as GenBank or OpenNeuro, where relevant and available.

There are also a number of recognised, general repositories in which to deposit data, for example, DRYAD, OSF, FigShare and Zenodo. FAIRsharing and re3data.org provide a useful list of repositories.

Can I upload data as supplementary information?

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.

Can I embargo my data?

We acknowledge researchers’ rights to reasonable first use of data and so we are happy to support an embargo of the data up to the point of publication. However, the data must be seen by the Editors and referees prior to acceptance of the article and the author must undertake to make the data publicly available prior to publication of the article.

Data availability statement

Upon submission you will be asked to choose from the following data availability statements:

  • Data are available in a public, open access repository
  • There are no data in this work

You will be also be asked to add in the name of the repository(/ies) containing the data and the associated persistent links to the data. The Data Availability Statement will automatically be placed at the end of the article for you.

The following choices are to be used only in exceptional circumstances, as agreed with the Editor, and should include a full description of why the data are not available.

  • Data are available upon request
  • Data obtained from a third party
  • No Data Are Available

How to cite data?
Please follow the Datacite advice when citing datasets in reference lists and use the following format:
Creator (Publication Year). Title. Version. Publisher. ResourceType. Identifier
All data should be cited, where appropriate, in the text of the article.

Open Science Foundation (OSF) Open Data Badges

If you have made your data publicly available and our Editors are satisfied that you have shared sufficient information in the data for an independent researcher to reproduce the reported results then you will receive an OSF Open Data badge.

The criteria to be awarded 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.

Enforcement of the policy

All articles should have associated publicly available data, unless an exception has been granted. Editors check that the data are available but we do not currently perform peer review on that data. In the event of embargo, data must still be made available to the reviewers/editorial team prior to review. Authors must agree to make the data publicly available no later than the time of online publication.


Open materials and methods

To encourage the replicability and reproducibility of the literature we encourage  that the materials and methods used to be made publicly available.

Materials

BMJ 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.

Methods

We encourage authors to deposit laboratory protocols in protocols.io or other recognised repositories, where they will be assigned their own DOIs. Please cite this DOI both in your Methods section and as a reference at the end of the article.


Strengths & limitations of the study

We ask authors to write up to five 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.

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.


Preprints

BMJ Open Science fully supports and encourages authors to post articles in a preprint service, institutional or subject repository or a scientific social sharing network. 

Upon submission to a preprint server, authors are sometimes asked to choose a licence, for example, CC BY or CC BY NC. At BMJ Open Science we place no restrictions on the licence chosen when posting a preprint version of work. In addition, as part of our commitment to transparency, we will also point from our articles to any preprint version that we are made aware of, so long as it has a persistent identifier (e.g. a DOI).  

For more information on author self archiving and rights to reuse content – which are dependent on the licence you have obtained – please refer to the BMJ author self archiving and permissions policies page.


Publication and research ethics

BMJ Open Science and its Editorial Board adheres to the highest standards concerning its editorial policies on publication ethics, scientific misconduct, consent and peer review criteria. The journal follows guidance produced by bodies that include the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).To view all BMJ Journal policies please refer to the BMJ Author Hub policies page.

We take seriously all possible misconduct. If an Editor, author or reader has concerns that a submitted article describes something that might be considered to constitute misconduct in research, publication or professional behaviour they should forward their concerns to the journal. The publisher will deal with allegations appropriately.


Animal studies

All material published in BMJ Open Science must adhere to high ethical standards concerning animal welfare.

Manuscripts will be considered for publication only if the work described:

  • Follows international, national and institutional guidelines for the humane treatment of animals and complies with relevant legislation.
  • Has been approved by the ethics review committee at the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted where such a committee exists;
  • For studies involving non-human primates, demonstrates that the standards meet those of the NC3Rs primates guidelines

Before acceptance of a manuscript, to verify compliance with the above policies, the authors must:

  • Confirm that legal and ethical requirements have been met with regards to the humane treatment of animals described in the study;
  • Specify in the Materials and Methods section the ethical review committee approval process and the international, national, and/or institutional guidelines followed.

The Editor retains the right to reject manuscripts on the basis of ethical or animal welfare concerns. Papers may be rejected on ethical grounds if the study involves unnecessary pain, distress, suffering or lasting harm to animals, or if the severity of the experimental procedure does not appear to be justified by the value of the work presented. We ask if the work would be likely to gain approval in Europe under the European Directive 2010/63/EU ‘protection of animals used for scientific purposes’.

Manuscripts describing animal research must include a justification for the use of animals, and for the particular species used. It should also provide details of animal welfare, including information about housing, feeding and environmental enrichment, a description of steps taken to minimise suffering, humane endpoints, and method of euthanasia. If the study has any implication for the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement), these should be discussed in enough details so that readers can implement the 3Rs in similar experiments

Assuming that the minimum standards for consideration have been reached, peer reviewers will be encouraged to consider the following:

  • Are the benefits of the research on human health clear?
  • Could the information provided by the study have been obtained by any other methods?
  • Were the optimum number of animals used to address the research question?
  • Was pain, suffering and distress (if any) reduced to the minimum possible?