A Review of BMJ Case Reports
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Deedra J. Walton, MLS, D-AHIP
Head of Electronic Resources
Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library
University of Central Florida College of Medicine


BMJ Case Reports, owned by BMJ Publishing Group, is a valuable collection of peer-reviewed case reports in all areas of medicine from around the world. Since its debut in November 2008, over 16,000 cases, written by authors from more than 100 countries, have been published.1 Focused on helping physicians,1 BMJ Case Reports is a general educational resource for healthcare professionals in all stages of their careers. Cases accepted for publication must be interesting and present valuable clinical or educational lessons.2 Emphasis is placed not on rare cases, but on common cases that present in unusual ways, cases that present diagnostic, ethical, or management challenges, or cases that explore lessons learned from errors.3 Global health cases have been accepted for publication since 2013. These cases focus on care provided to patients from vulnerable communities in the world, or serve as a platform for authors to share a story about global health problems they have encountered.3 Images, accompanied by a brief description and an educational message are also accepted.2

BMJ Case Reports covers a variety of clinical and nonclinical specialties, including anesthesia, cardiology, diagnostics, dentistry, emergency medicine, global health, intensive care, nursing, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, surgery, ethics, health economics, health informatics, medical education, medical management, public health, and others.

BMJ Case Reports is only published online and cases are continually added to the website. It offers a simplified manuscript preparation process designed to help healthcare professionals who have never published before. The majority of content is contributed by users in the United States, the United Kingdom, and India.1 BMJ Case Reports accepts 50% of the cases submitted, with the number of submissions equally divided between individual and institutional subscribers.1,4 To submit a case report, the corresponding author must be a fellow. All published cases are indexed in Medline/PubMed and full text is available in PubMed Central after a 2-year embargo.4


A basic search engine on the BMJ Case Reports homepage allows users to type in keywords and get results. The results list displays the title of the case report, authors, date of publication, DOI, partial abstract, as well as links to the full case report abstract, full text, PDF, and request permissions page. The advanced search options allow users to limit results by specialty and article type; the sex, age, ethnicity of the patient; and the region in which the patient was treated.

In addition to the search box, there are a variety of other ways to access content from the homepage. At the top of the page, there are links to cases published in the last seven days and to the weekly archives of all of the content. In the middle of the page are links to global health case reports, cases reported in the news and the editor’s choice case reports. A browse articles section allows users to quickly find cases with videos or by type or specialty. Near the bottom of the page, tabs display recently published cases, most read articles last month, subject specialty, and the BMJ Case Reports blog. The blog, focused primarily on global health, has contributions from a rotating group of 4th-year medical students. BMJ Case Reports advertises for student applicants for the 6-month rotation. Most of the student bloggers are from the United Kingdom.1

BMJ Case Reports does not have an impact factor because case reports are not often cited.5 However, BMJ Case Reports does keep track of usage statistics and altmetrics, both of which may be found on the summary and full-text case report web pages. The article usage statistics link is found under the services drop down menu to the right of the article. The article usage statistics center displays the abstract, full text, and PDF downloads by month and year, and the total downloads since publication. If available, the altmetrics for the article is located at the bottom of the summary and full-text pages. Clicking on the “see more details” link takes users to the altmetric.com web page for the case report, which shows in more detail the online attention and activity the case report is receiving. Additionally, institutional subscribers may request from BMJ Case Reports the reports accepted and rejected for publication by their students and healthcare providers. Readers may rate articles by clicking on the “like or dislike” feature. The “rate the article” feature is found to the right and/or at the bottom of the article. Readers may also click on the “tell us why you like/don’t like this article” link to submit a letter to the editor.

BMJ Case Reports has simplified the manuscript preparation process to help users who have never published before. Authors are required to submit using Word templates found on the “instructions for authors” web page. Templates are available for full case reports, global health reports, and images. Using the templates provides a submission checklist for authors and ensures that case reports are written in the same easy-to-read format.2 Authors are required to obtain signed informed consent from the patient or the patient’s guardian before submitting a case report, and are encouraged to include their patient’s perspective in case reports. All submissions are screened using iThenticate, and peer-reviewed by one to two external reviewers and the BMJ Care Reports editor, deputy editor, or associate editor.2

Business Model

BMJ Case Reports has a unique business model. Subscribers are called fellows and the subscription fee is called a fellowship fee. The annual fellowship fee for an individual is £204, or around $273 using the current exchange rate. Payment of the fellowship fee grants fellows access to all the content on the website, and the right to submit as many cases as they would like in a 12-month period. The average is 1.5 submissions per fellow.1 Fellows also may reuse any BMJ Case Reports content, including images, for personal use and teaching without requesting permission. Individual fellowships are nontransferable and nonrefundable.

Institutional fellowships are available for libraries. The subscription fee is based on student FTE. All students, residents, researchers, faculty, staff, and other healthcare professionals affiliated with the subscribing institution enjoy the same privileges as an individual fellow without having to pay the individual fellowship fee.

Both fellows and institutional fellowships are assigned a fellowship code. Each fellow is assigned a unique code that must accompany case reports submitted for publication. Institutional fellowships are assigned one unique fellowship code, which is shared by the affiliated members of the institution. The library is usually the keeper of the institutional fellowship code and gives the code to the submitting author after verifying the author’s affiliation with the institution.

BMJ Case Reports added an open access publication option 18 months ago.1 The open access fee is £250, or $335 using the current exchange rate, in addition to the fellowship fee and payment is made only if the report is accepted for publication.2 BMJ Case Reports averages 10-12 open access submissions a month.1


BMJ Case Reports is a valuable collection of peer-reviewed case reports in all areas of medicine. It has grown tremendously since its launch in 2008, and has published over 16,000 cases. With a focus on education, each case report contains learning points users can incorporate into their daily practice. Its unique business model and simplified manuscript preparation process offers publishing opportunities to healthcare professionals who may not have published before.


  1. Phone interview with Janet O’Flaherty, publisher of BMJ Case Reports. June 6, 2018.
  2. BMJ Case Reports. Instructions for authors. http://casereports.bmj.com/site/about/guidelines.xhtml#whatcases. Accessed April 13, 2018.
  3. BMJ Case Reports. Writing and publishing a case report. https://www.bmj.com/company/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/BMJ-Case-Reports-4pp-A4-Leaflet-2-2.pdf. Accessed April 13, 2018.
  4. BMJ Case Reports. Submission, peer review, and publication process. http://casereports.bmj.com.ezproxy.med.ucf.edu/site/about/BMJ%20Case%20Reports%20submission%20and%20review%20process%20(2).pdf. Accessed June 11, 2018.
  5. BMJ Case Reports. About BMJ Case Reports. http://casereports.bmj.com/site/about/. Accessed June 1, 2018.
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