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Instructions for reviewers

BMJ Open aims to provide a service to authors and the research community by making as much research available as possible, provided that it meets the BMJ's high standards of research conduct and ethical procedure.

In recognition of reviewers' support, any reviewer that returns a full review, on time, can receive a 25% discount on article publishing charges for a paper for which they are the corresponding author, if submitted within 12 months of completing the review.

Open peer review
BMJ Open uses fully open peer review, meaning that:

  • reviewers are required to sign reviews with their name, position and institution
  • any competing interests should be declared
  • reviews will be published online alongside the authors' original versions and replies to the reviewers' comments.

Open peer review does not mean that reviewers should contact authors directly, or that authors should contact reviewers. All queries should be directed through the BMJ Open//editorial.bmjopen{at}bmjgroup.com. Reviewers should contact the editorial office confidentially should the need arise in the case of, for example, a concern over a matter of publication ethics.

The role of reviewers
If we need your help with appraising a manuscript we will email you and ask you to accept or reject the reviewing invitation through our submission site.

We ask reviewers to help us to ensure that any studies published in BMJ Open were conducted properly, are scientifically credible, reported according to the appropriate guidelines (e.g. CONSORT for clinical trials) and ethical. All research in BMJ Open is published with open access. We do not ask reviewers to judge on importance or breadth of appeal.

The managing editor is responsible for the final decision to accept or reject a manuscript, based on the reviewers' comments.

We welcome feedback from our reviewers. If you have any comment you want to make, either on a manuscript you have reviewed and our decision on it or on our review process in general, we would be pleased to hear from you.

To become a BMJ Open reviewer
We need a constant supply of new peer reviewers. If you would like to volunteer, please register at our ScholarOne Manuscripts submission and review site. This process will automatically add your name, contact details and expertise to our database of reviewers. Do let us know once you have registered.

Guidance for peer reviewers
All unpublished manuscripts are confidential documents. If we invite you to review an article and you choose to discuss the manuscript with a colleague, please remind them of the confidential nature of the paper and acknowledge their input in your review. Please do encourage colleagues to register as reviewers also.

BMJ Open uses an open form of peer review, meaning that authors will know who has reviewed their work. You will also be asked to give your name and position, and any relevant competing interests, in your report on any article we send you. Therefore, please do not make any comments that you do not wish the author to see.

If you have any serious concerns about a manuscript from a publication ethics perspective - for example if you believe you have encountered a case of plagiarism - you can contact the editorial office in confidence. In the event that we do not accept an article we would like to pass on constructive comments that might help the author to improve it.

Writing your review
When you provide your review via our online editorial office we will ask you to declare any competing interest that might relate to the article.

Before writing your review you may find it helpful to browse our instructions for authors, available here.

We ask authors to provide article summaries and to upload appropriate reporting statements - these should aid in the reviewing process.

We do not need you to comment on the work's importance to general readers. Please do consider it for scientific reliability and ethical conduct, using the criteria below.

Completing the review will involve answering yes/no to a list of questions, with space available for comment where needed. These questions will cover areas of scientific credibility, methodology, statistics, references, presentation of data and standard of written English, and research and publication ethics.

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