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Selected papers will be published within days of acceptance
ARD Online First is an exciting innovation that will allow publication of selected articles within days of acceptance, and therefore months before they appear in the print version of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. From February 2004 selected articles will appear in the raw manuscript form (not edited or typeset) in a new section on the ARD website (http://www.annrheumdis.com) indicated by the Online First logo (fig 1⇓).
WHY DO WE NEED ONLINE FIRST?
Most medical journals have considerable delays between manuscript acceptance and publication in print, sometimes longer than a year. For practical reasons, at least some of this delay is unavoidable. However, we all agree that important clinical and scientific data should be available as soon as possible, especially where the information may impact clinical care. Advanced online publication goes some way towards meeting this need.
HOW WILL ONLINE FIRST WORK?
During the initial phase, we (the editorial team) will select two or three articles a week for advanced publication. The selection process aims at choosing papers with particular impact for clinicians, patients, and researchers. Authors will be asked for their permission to be part of ARD Online First and they will have an opportunity to proof the manuscript as usual before publication in the journal. The unedited manuscripts will be published weekly; edited, typeset versions may be posted as they become available. The final print version will be stamped with the ARD Online First logo (fig 1⇑) and it will be highlighted on the table of contents within the issue. The ultimate print version will include the date of the initial online publication and all versions will be linked online. All articles are assigned a unique code—digital object identifier (DOI)—and guidance on how to cite the article will appear on the website.
Online First articles will be indexed by PubMed/Medline within days of publication, establishing primacy for the work. They will be searchable through the usual search engines (PubMed, Google, etc) and through ARD Online; search results will default to the most recent version.
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases is the first of the specialist journals published by the BMJ Publishing Group (http://www.bmjjournals.com) to launch an Online First programme (the weekly BMJ started its advanced online publication section in December 2003).1ARD Online First is an experiment and we welcome comments from authors and readers—both positive and critical—so that we can optimise the service and accompanying procedures. If the pilot is deemed a success the programme may be expanded so that most accepted articles are available Online First.
We are confident that this exciting new feature will be valued by all who may profit from ARD, including clinicians, researchers, and, last but not least, patients.