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Impact of grouping serial journal articles by disease category: analysis of article placement order in ARD 2013–2019
  1. Janine Hill,
  2. Nicola Dalbeth,
  3. Greg D Gamble,
  4. Andrew Grey,
  5. Sarah Stewart
  1. Department of Medicine, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sarah Stewart, Medicine, The University of Auckland, Auckland 1023, New Zealand; sarah.stewart{at}

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Article placement order within journal issues has the potential to influence perceived research importance, with earlier listed articles being more visible and more likely to be downloaded and cited.1 2 In an analysis of serial rheumatology journals published between 2013 and 2018, we reported that certain rheumatic diseases were prioritised within journal issues.1 Articles about rheumatoid arthritis were preferentially ordered at the front of issues, while other diseases including connective tissue diseases, crystal arthritis, paediatric syndromes and pain syndromes were consistently ordered towards the back. This prioritisation was evident in journals with disease-specific tables of contents sections within issues, but was not observed in journals that did not group content by disease category.

Prior to 2019, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases (ARD) did not group articles within each issue by disease category. In the first issue of 2019, ARD announced ‘small but visible structural changes’ in which articles would be grouped within each issue by disease category.3 We set out to determine whether specific rheumatic diseases were prioritised or deprioritised by this change in policy.

We analysed all original research articles published in ARD between June 2013 and December 2019. Each article was coded into one of …

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  • Handling editor Iain McInnes

  • Contributors JH contributed towards acquisition, analysis and interpretation of the data. ND contributed towards design of the study, and acquisition and interpretation of the data. GDG contributed towards design of the study and analysis and interpretation of the data. AG contributed towards design of the study and interpretation of the data. SS contributed towards design of the study, acquisition, analysis and interpretation of the data. All authors were involved in drafting of the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content. All authors approved the final version to be published and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests ND has reported grants or personal fees from AstraZeneca, Horizon, Amgen, AbbVie, Pfizer and Janssen, outside of the submitted work. ND and SS work primarily in the field of gout research (a condition that was analysed in this research project). JH, GDG and AG declare no competing interests.

  • Patient and public involvement statement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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