Intended for healthcare professionals

Complaints procedure

This procedure applies to complaints that relate to content, procedures or policies that are the responsibility of BMJ or our editorial staff. Complaints may provide an opportunity and a spur for improvement, and we aim to respond quickly, courteously, and constructively. The procedure outlined below aims to be fair to those making complaints and those complained about.

Defining "complaint"

The complaint must relate to content, procedures or policies that are the responsibility of BMJ or our editorial staff. We define a complaint as:

• anything defined as a complaint by the complainant and
• anything we believe goes beyond an expression of disagreement with a decision and identifies a perceived failure of process or severe misjudgement

Making a complaint

Complaints should be directly emailed to, and will be dealt with confidentially. This email address is solely for complaints as defined above - any other issues should be directed to

Complaints at BMJ are coordinated by the complaints team with individual complaints handled by the relevant member of the editorial team and the opportunity for escalation if they cannot be resolved.

• In the case that this initial response is felt to be insufficient, the complainant can request that their complaint is escalated to a more senior member of the team.
• If the complainant remains unhappy, complaints may be escalated to an executive editor and ultimately the editor in chief, whose decision is final.
• If a complainant remains unhappy after what the editor in chief considers a definitive reply, the complainant may complain to an external body (see below).

Complaints that are not under the control of The BMJ's editorial staff will be sent to the relevant heads of department within BMJ Publishing Group.

Complaints sent to the BMJ's chairman or chief executive officer, or to the BMA or affiliated society officials, will usually be referred to the editor in chief.

Complaint timeframes

• All complaints will be formally acknowledged within three working days.
• If possible a full response will be made within two weeks. If this is not possible, an interim response will be given within two weeks. Further interim responses will be provided until the complaint is resolved.
• Where we consider a complaint to be vexatious or the result of a coordinated campaign, we reserve the right to reply outside of the suggested time frames, and on some occasions we may not respond to all complainants individually.

External bodies

If a complainant remains unhappy after a reply considered definitive by the editor in chief, the complainant may complain to an external body, when that body has relevant oversight.

Committee on Publication Ethics

COPE publishes a code of practice for editors of scientific, technical, and medical journals. It will facilitate the resolution of disputes with member editors, journals and publishers but only once a journal’s own complaints procedures have been exhausted.

Complaints about advertisements

Should you wish to complain about an advertisement you have seen in The BMJ or another BMJ journal, please contact the advertiser. If there is no response you can contact your national regulator, such as the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority.

The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice can be referred to for anything related to a published advertisement for a prescription medicine.

You are also welcome to contact BMJ by emailing Generally, this will result in one of four outcomes:

1. We may confirm that the advertising complies with our guidance and does not require any changes.

2. We may ask the advertiser to change the wording of the advertisement before carrying it again.

3. We may refuse to carry advertising for the product in future.

4. We may escalate the complaint with the advertiser or with the relevant advertising standards authority.

Should you wish to send a rapid response/letter for publication about an advertisement carried in The BMJ, you can do so here.