Hurman Gul writes about his first three months working in BMJ Technology

Looking back if I was to summarise my first 3 months at BMJ, confusion would be the best word to describe it. Moving from one company to another can be a daunting task, a plethora of questions goes through one’s mind. There are the big questions such as; What are my colleagues going to be like? Will I be appreciated? How many holidays do I get in a year? To the trivial questions such as; When do I get paid? Where’s the nearest toilet? What’s the quickest route to the office? While I was finding the answers to these questions and learning more about the technology behind the BMJ’s many products it was a challenging time for the tech department where we saw many departures. Two colleagues left within my first week, followed by another two leaving before the new year. However one thing that reassured me was that everyone was leaving after a few years of employment here, which was a positive sign.

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What we read this week (5 April)

Welcome to Things we read this week, a weekly post featuring articles from around the internet recommended by BMJ Labs.


On the theme of publishers switching to workflow businesses:

  • Lindsay Ellis writes about how Elsevier’s Presence on Campuses Spans More Than Journals and that this has some scholars worried.
    “It just got me thinking,” [Colleen Lyon] said. Elsevier had it all: Institutional repositories, preprints of journal articles, and analytics. “Elsevier, Elsevier, Elsevier, Elsevier, Elsevier.”
  • On a similar theme SPARC’s (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) new report on the transition of some publishers from  moving from content-provision to data analytics and what this might mean for the future of academic publishing:
    “We are at a critical juncture where there is a pressing need for the academic
    community – individually and collectively – to make thoughtful and deliberate
    decisions about what and whom to support – and under what terms and conditions.
    These decisions will determine who ultimately controls the research and education
    process; and whether we meaningfully address inequities created by legacy players
    or simply recreate them in new ways. These decisions will shape libraries’ role in the
    scholarly enterprise, now and for the future.”
  • Whilst the tone and questions might be a little inflammatory Richard Poynder’s questions for eLife raise some interesting questions about the future of open scholarly infrastructure, how it will be funded, and how it will compete against the larger players such as Elsevier.

The robots are definitely coming…

Product management

  • Bar for the ironic start, see tweet below, Adobe’s Experience Festival contained some really good talks on a wide range of digital marketing related topics. Recorded sessions can be found here.

And finally….

Liz Fosslien and Mollie West-Duffy  have spent the last three years studying the science of emotions on the job for our new book, No Hard Feelings. We particularly liked their hierarchy of remote work needs:

More in this MIT Sloan Review article.

What we read this week (29 March)

Welcome to Things we read this week, a weekly post featuring articles from around the internet recommended by BMJ Labs.


Strategy and future thinking

And finally…

  • Nice article from Forbes featuring  Patchwork, a technology platform developed by two NHS doctors, Dr Jing Ouyang and Dr Anas Nader, which helps hospitals better manage demand for NHS temporary staff (locums) which has received funding from BMJ New Ventures.

What we read this week (22 March)

Welcome to Things we read this week, a weekly post featuring articles from around the internet recommended by BMJ Labs.


Open Science and Open data


  • David Caswell from BBC News Labs on Editorial innovation in news and the dangers of assuming that the future of news will be inevitably technical.
  • Harold DeMonaco et al. look at medical innovation by patients arguing a richer set of available medical innovation options will benefit patients, commercial medical caregivers, producers, and society at large.
  • Nesta’s Compendium of Innovation Methods includes information and inspiration about Accelerator programmes, Anticipatory regulation, Challenge prizes, Crowdfunding, Experimentation, Futures, Impact investment, Innovation mapping, People Powered Results: the 100 day challenge, Prototyping, Public and social innovation labs, Scaling grants for social innovations, Standards of Evidence

Other links

BMJ partners with RedLink to offer Remarq® on BMJ Open

RedLink is pleased to announce that BMJ is the latest publisher to offer Remarq, a tool for the research and education communities offering collaboration, annotation, commenting, article sharing, and editorial tools, all on the publisher’s site and utilizing the version of record. Remarq launched earlier this week on BMJ Open, an open access journal dedicated to publishing medical research from all disciplines and therapeutic areas.

Remarq will help BMJ Open achieve its mission of providing transparency in the publishing process, while extending and refining BMJ’s long legacy of engaging users via comments and e-letters.  By supporting editor, author, and reader engagement within the article, Remarq will further the goal of providing relevancy to patients and clinicians.

BMJ has long been a leader in community engagement, whether via their e-letter and Rapid Response program, their patient peer-review initiatives, or myriad other initiatives.” said Kent Anderson, CEO of RedLink. “We’re thrilled to have BMJ Open join the growing biomedical community covered by Remarq.”

“BMJ is delighted to trial the Remarq software, which will allow our authors and readers to engage with journal content in new ways.” said Claire Rawlinson , Publisher, BMJ Journals.

Adrian Aldcroft, Editor-in-Chief of BMJ Open said, “BMJ Open embraces innovation and experimentation in an effort to keep pace with the rapidly changing ways people are conducting and publishing their work. I’m excited to see how our authors and readers engage with Remarq and develop new ways to connect with our journal’s content.”

Press release

What we read this week (15 March)

Welcome to Things we read this week, a weekly post featuring articles from around the internet recommended by BMJ Labs publishing team.



Podcasts are still a hot trend:

Innovation and strategy

  • Professor Gary Pisano at Harvard Business School talks about how to construct a strategy, system, and culture of innovation that creates sustained growth and his new book, Creative Construction in this Innovation Leader interview.
  • Ola Henfridsson and Joe Nandhakumar write about a new strategy tool for the digital age:
    “Digital innovation is at the heart of any strategy in the digital age and to be successful doesn’t stop at a one-off cleverly designed resource. Launching the product or service is just the beginning, it then needs to be attractive enough so it is recombined many times by other users, with new updates and value paths constantly being sought.”

And finally…

The Royal Society of Medicine’s Medical apps: Mainstreaming innovation event is happening on 4 April. The event will examine the growing role that apps play in healthcare delivery. As apps move from concept to practice using cutting-edge technology, demonstrating efficacy becomes increasingly important, resulting in regulatory and legal issues. Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock MP, will talk of the importance of good design in medical apps and how it can improve patient and clinician experience. There will also be a number of presentations from new and established medical start-ups, showcasing the transformative effects these new technologies can have.

What we read this week (22 February)



    • This has nothing to do with publishing but it is a fantastic bit of experimentation to prove a theory.  Why the zebra got its stripes: to deter flies from landing on it
      “While horseflies circled or touched the animals at similar rates, landing was a different matter, with a lower rate seen for zebras than horses. To check the effect was not caused by a different smell of zebras and horses, for example, the researchers put black, white and zebra-striped coats on seven horses in turn. While there was no difference in the rate at which the flies landed on the horses’ exposed heads, they touched and landed on the zebra coat far less often than either the black or white garment.”


  • Great description of how The Telegraph is moving  it’s 500+ journalists and video producers  to Trello in an attempt do away with all the unnecessary administration involved in running a busy office.
    The Telegraph is integrating a better content management system using Trello.
  • For those of us who have trouble working in busy open plan offices perhaps the flipped workplace is the answer?
    “Productive individual work is done outside of the office, on your own time, in your own place, at your own pace. Consequently, the office transforms into a space purely dedicated to meeting people, asking questions, brainstorming, and making unexpected connections.”



  • Dr Matt Morgan would love your help. His first book “Critical” is available to order. It explores intensive care medicine, the patient stories and science behind cutting edge medicine. Have a look here and Here is a sneak preview:“It was a beautiful sunny August evening in Copenhagen as Vivi danced in her garden after returning home from school. She was a happy, twelve-year-old girl, with sandy golden hair and apple-red cheeks. Life was tough since her parents had separated, her mum struggled to make ends meet working as a hat maker. She watched her daughter through the window, dancing bare-foot on the grass as she giggled and smiled to herself. Forty-eight hours later, Vivi was about to die. This is the story of the people, practices and technology which allowed her instead to live.”Even just one person ordering it may make a difference to patients and the wonderful charity that it supports.

What we read this week (15 February)

Welcome to Things we read this week, a weekly post featuring articles from around the internet recommended by BMJ Labs.


In Postcards from a Collective Ecosystem Article 3 Heather Staines and Lisa Hinchliffe discuss if publishers really need platforms or a common infrastructure? I’m always slightly surprised at people’s surprise that large commercial publishers collaborate together given the increasing, number of standards and initiatives that publishers participate in and support. See, for example, the OA Switchboard, a new collaboration designed to enable publishers, academic institutions, and research funders to seamlessly communicate information about open access publications.

Two fairly similar visions of the future were proposed this week including Stern and O’Shea’s “publish first, curate second approach” for the life sciences and Jon Tennant’s vision of how he would like scholarly publishing to develop, which includes the oft discussed question of why can’t you build a journal using GitHub ans Stack Exchange?

Publishing is a complex system and like most complex systems nothing much seems to change until suddenly it does. The shift from curated bundles of subscription journal content towards open access articles is going to shake up academic publishing. Hopefully we wont end up with an all powerful commercial aggregator that calls the shots and mediates what people – see Ben Thompson’s discussion in The Cost of Apple News.

Outside of academic publishing technology is rapidly advancing, Azeem Azhar has a good summary of fuss around OpenAI’s service GPT2, an AI text generator, which the group reckoned was too dangerous to be released publicly. Scroll down to the section called Dept of artificial intelligence. How long will it be before someone submits a journal article written this way and gets it accepted in order to highlight flaws in current publishing systems?

Other links:

Health Tech

The Topol Review on Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future is an interesting glimpse into the near future. Excellent thread on Twitter about the launch event from Andrew Davies.

What we read this week (8 February)

Welcome to Things we read this week, a weekly post featuring articles from around the internet recommended by BMJ Labs.


  • First up are two articles about commenting. The Ringer has a piece about ‘how the New York Times Cooking became the best comments section on the Internet‘ by calling the section Notes. ““The call to action was to leave a note on the recipe that helps make it better. That’s very different from ‘Leave a comment on a recipe.’”  PLOS, on the other hand, are struggling to attract comments. A new study in the Journal of Information Science found “that publishers are yet to encourage significant numbers of readers to leave comments, with implications for the effectiveness of commenting as a means of collecting and communicating community perceptions of an article’s importance.” (H/T: InfoDocket). Perhaps a tweak to the wording asking for notes rather than comments might help?




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