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Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases seeks to publish significant scientific advances which are likely to impact on clinical practice within the medium term. Articles illustrating basic mechanisms and their application to clinical material will be welcomed. The journal aims to cover all areas of rheumatology and has two main sections for original research articles – one for clinical and epidemiological research and one for basic and translational research. The priorities are originality and excellence. We aim to ensure a fair and independent peer review system and to publish articles which follow the highest ethical standards concerning research conduct.

There are several international editions of Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases produced by local publishers in specific countries. If accepted for publication, authors should be aware that their paper may be selected for inclusion in one or more international editions of the journal, either in English or translated into another language.

Submission guidelines

For guidelines on submission and editorial policies for Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases please refer to the BMJ Author Hub. Here you will find information on planning your research through to submitting and promoting your research.

Open Access

Authors can choose to have their article published Open Access for a fee of £1950 (plus applicable VAT).

General guidelines

  • The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements and references
  • Supplementary material (e.g. additional tables, figures and text files) can be published online only and isn’t included in the word count
  • If you are not a native English speaker there is a professional editing service available
  • Authors may find it useful to consult our pre-submission checklist
  • Papers reporting on animal studies should follow the ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) guidelines
  • Manuscripts based on work previously presented at a conference and published as a conference abstract should state this in the Acknowledgements section and the full reference to the published abstract should be included

Statistical analysis

  • Describe statistical methods with enough detail to enable the reader to judge its appropriateness for the study and to verify the reported results.
  • When possible, quantify findings and present them with appropriate indicators of measurement error or uncertainty (such as confidence intervals). Avoid relying solely on statistical hypothesis testing, such as P values.
  • Distinguish prespecified from exploratory analyses, including subgroup analyses.

NEW: For further information on common statistical errors to avoid, please read the article published by ARD’s Statistical Advisor, Stian Lydersen.

Tables and graphs

Tables and graphs are extremely important elements in scientific communication. Specific guidelines are below.
NEW: To help you, ARD’s Graphical Advisor, Professor Maarten Boers, has created a few brief videos on how to prepare and present tables and graphs in your manuscript.

  • Consider if the data or message being presented is best conveyed to the reader in a graph rather than in any other form
  • Ensure that the message is easy to visualise and understand, and kept in context
  • Avoid graphical forms that distort the data or are prone to misinterpretation
  • Choose your graph type carefully for best visual clarity, and avoid chart ‘art’
  • Ensure data symbols and lines can be easily distinguished i.e. more prominent than axis lines, use solid greyscale or colour lines rather than pixellated/dashed lines
  • In bar or column graphs or boxplots, use solid greyscale or colour fills rather than patterned fills
  • Avoid non-essential grids, background shading, explanatory text and legends inside the graph
  • Keep axis titles and labels brief
  • Aim to fill the frame to avoid large areas of white space

Figures will be published in full colour in print and online at no charge to the authors, if colour figures are supplied.

  • Consider if the data or message being presented is best conveyed to the reader in a table rather than in any other form
  • Ensure that the data are easy to read and understand, and kept in context
  • Use categories and sub-categories effectively to highlight patterns in the data
  • Keep table titles, labels and footnotes brief
  • Avoid excessive precision in scaling in order to avoid cluttering the table

Video abstracts

We welcome video abstracts to accompany accepted research articles. These allow authors to personally talk through their work beyond the restrictions of a formal article to improve the user’s understanding. Note that we will not ask you to consider submitting a video abstract until your paper has been accepted. Please do not try to upload a video abstract upon initial submission of your manuscript.

There are many tutorials online which can guide the production of a video abstract, using widely and often freely available software. Windows Movie Maker and Apple iMovie are the most common examples. Examples of video abstracts are available from The BMJ and ARD’s YouTube channel. Below are a few guidelines for making a video abstract. Authors may also want to ask their institution’s press/media office for assistance.

  • Video abstracts should not last longer than 4 minutes.
  • The content and focus of the video must relate directly to the study that has been accepted for publication, and should not stray beyond the data. We recommend that you follow the same structure as the paper itself i.e. briefly outline the background/context of the study, present your research objective, outline the methods used, present the key results and then discuss the implications of the outcomes.
  • The presentation and content of the video should be in a style and in terms that will be understandable and accessible to a general medical audience. The main language should be English, but we welcome subtitles in another language. Please avoid jargon that will not be familiar to a wide medical audience, and do not use abbreviations.
  • Authors usually talk directly into the camera and/or present a slideshow, but we encourage the use of other relevant visual and audio material (such as animations, video clips, still photographs, figures, infographics). If you wish to use material from previously published work or from other sources, please obtain the appropriate permissions from the relevant publisher or copyright owner.
  • If the video shows any identifiable living patients and/or identifiable personal details, authors need to demonstrate that consent has been obtained. If a patient consent form was provided for the related article, there is no need to provide this again for the video.
  • Please use the compression parameters that video sharing sites use. Often these are standard options from your editing software. A comprehensive guide is available from the vimeo website.

Videos are too large to email so will need to be uploaded to BMJ’s account on the Hightail website. Please include the journal’s name and your manuscript ID number in the message field – this will enable us to match your video to your paper. Your video needs to be received by the time that you return the corrections for your article proof, at the very latest. Please note that if you do not correctly label your video or if you miss the deadline, this may cause delays in publication of both your article and the video.

All video abstracts will be assessed for suitability by the editorial team and publication is not guaranteed. In some cases editors may request edits to the video.

Video abstracts are embedded within the research article online and also published separately on the journal’s YouTube channel. They are published under the same copyright terms as the associated article.

Article types

Original research articles – extended reports

These represent a substantial body of laboratory or clinical work. Extended reports should not exceed 3000 words; articles that exceed this word limit may be returned for revision before peer review. Additional data may be presented as supplementary information, which will be published online only should the article be accepted (this can be in any format: text, tables, images, videos, etc.). Extended reports should be presented in the following sections:

Abstract: No more than 250 words, summarising the problem being considered, how the study was performed, the salient results and the principal conclusions under subheadings ‘Objectives’, ‘Methods’, ‘Results’, and ‘Conclusions’.

Keywords: No more than 5. These should be given beneath the Abstract and in the box provided in the online submission process.

Introduction: Brief description of the background that led to the study (current results and conclusions should not be included).

Methods: Details relevant to the conduct of the study. Wherever possible give numbers of subjects studied (not percentages alone). Statistical methods should be clearly explained at the end of this section.

Results: Work should be reported in SI units. Undue repetition in text and tables should be avoided. Comment on validity and significance of results is appropriate but broader discussion of their implication is restricted to the next section. Subheadings that aid clarity of presentation within this and the previous section are encouraged.

Discussion: The nature and findings of the study are placed in context of other relevant published data. Caveats to the study should be discussed. Avoid undue extrapolation from the study topic.

Acknowledgments and affiliations: Individuals with direct involvement in the study but not meeting the criteria for full authorship may be acknowledged. The source of financial support and industry affiliations of all those involved must be stated.

References: No formal limit, but usually below 50. Please see References for further style guidance.

Tables and figures: Maximum 6 tables and/or figures. Please see general guidance above and Figures/illustrations for further information

Original research articles – concise reports

The format is identical to that of an Extended Report (see above) and should include an Abstract, Keywords, Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion.

Word count: up to 1500 words.

Abstract: up to 200 words.

Tables/illustrations: Maximum 3 tables and/or figures.

References: up to 20.

Review articles

Although these are usually commissioned, authors are invited to discuss directly with the Editor possible topics for review.

Word count: the length will be indicated by or will be discussed with the Editor, but will usually be less than 3000 words.

Abstract: up to 250 words.

Tables/Illustrations: Maximum 6 tables and/or figures

References: to be discussed with the Editor

Recommendations and criteria articles

Recommendations for management of rheumatic diseases or new disease criteria are published in a separate section of the journal.

Word count: the length will be indicated by or will be discussed with the Editor, but will usually be less than 3000 words.

Abstract: up to 250 words.

Tables/illustrations: Maximum 6 tables and/or figures.

References: to be discussed with the Editor


The aim of an Editorial is to stimulate thought (often with more questions than answers) rather than review the subject exhaustively. Editorials are usually linked to one or more articles published in the same issue. Personal opinion and comment are perfectly legitimate since the Editorial is not anonymous, though of course such opinion needs to be reasonable and backed up by appropriate evidence.

Word count: up to 1200-1500 words.

Illustrations/Tables: Maximum 2 tables and/or figures.

References: up to 30


The aim of a viewpoint article is to communicate personal opinions and interpretation of available scientific data within a certain area. The viewpoint article can for example provide an interpretation of data that is relevant for clinical practice or clinical decision making or present a research agenda within a specific area based on available evidence.

Word count: up to 1200-1500 words

Illustrations/Tables: Maximum 2 tables and/or figures

References: up to 30

Letters to the editor

Short clinical or laboratory observations (eg preliminary or confirmatory data) may be presented as a Letter to the Editor. Letters are not divided into sections, while instructions for references, tables, and figures are the same as for full length articles. Case reports may be published as a letter if the case is of exceptional importance and interest.

Word count: up to 500 words.

Abstract: not required.

Tables/Illustrations: Maximum 2 tables and/or figures.

References: Maximum 10.
Letters to the Editor undergo the same review process as full length papers.

eLetter correspondence

Letters in response to articles published in ARD are welcomed and should be submitted electronically as eLetters via the journal’s website. Contributors should go to the abstract or full text of the article in question. In the right hand column on the article webpage is a section entitled ‘Responses’. Click on ’Submit a response’ and complete the online form.

Letters relating to or responding to previously published items in the journal will be reviewed by the Editor and shown to the authors of the original article, when appropriate.

eLetters will not be included in the print edition of the journal, but will be published online only.


Journals from BMJ are willing to consider publishing supplements to regular issues. Supplement proposals may be made at the request of:

  • The journal editor, an editorial board member or a learned society may wish to organise a meeting, sponsorship may be sought and the proceedings published as a supplement.
  • The journal editor, editorial board member or learned society may wish to commission a supplement on a particular theme or topic. Again, sponsorship may be sought.
  • BMJ itself may have proposals for supplements where sponsorship may be necessary.
  • A sponsoring organisation, often a pharmaceutical company or a charitable foundation, that wishes to arrange a meeting, the proceedings of which will be published as a supplement.

In all cases, it is vital that the journal’s integrity, independence and academic reputation is not compromised in any way.

When contacting us regarding a potential supplement, please include as much of the information below as possible.

  • Journal in which you would like the supplement published
  • Title of supplement and/or meeting on which it is based
  • Date of meeting on which it is based
  • Proposed table of contents with provisional article titles and proposed authors
  • An indication of whether authors have agreed to participate
  • Sponsor information including any relevant deadlines
  • An indication of the expected length of each paper Guest Editor proposals if appropriate

For further information on criteria that must be fulfilled, download the supplements guidelines.

Plagiarism detection

BMJ is a member of CrossCheck by CrossRef and iThenticate. iThenticate is a plagiarism screening service that verifies the originality of content submitted before publication. iThenticate checks submissions against millions of published research papers, and billions of web content. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting

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