Editorial policy

Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases adheres to the highest standards concerning its editorial policies on publication ethics, scientific misconduct, consent and peer review criteria. To view all BMJ Journal policies please refer to the BMJ Author Hub policies page.

Plan S compliance

Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases is a Plan S compliant Transformative Journal. Transformative Journals are one of the compliance routes offered by cOAlition S funders, such as Wellcome, WHO and UKRI. Find out more about Transformative Journals and Plan S compliance on our Author Hub.

Copyright and authors’ rights

Articles are published under an exclusive licence or non-exclusive licence for UK Crown employees or where BMJ has agreed CC BY applies. For US Federal Government officers or employees acting as part of their official duties, the terms are as stated in accordance with our licence terms. Authors or their employers retain copyright. Open access articles can be reused under the terms of the relevant Creative Commons licence to facilitate reuse of the content; please refer to the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases Author Licence for the applicable Creative Commons licences”.
When publishing in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, authors choose between three licence types – exclusive licence granted to BMJ, CC-BY-NC and CC-BY (Creative Commons open access licences require payment of an article processing charge). As an author you may wish to post your article in an institutional or subject repository, or on a scientific social sharing network. You may also link your published article to your preprint (if applicable). What you can do with your article, without seeking permission, depends on the licence you have chosen and the version of your article. Please refer to the BMJ author self archiving and permissions policies page for more information. More information on copyright and authors’ rights.


Preprints foster openness, accessibility and collaboration by allowing authors to make their findings immediately available to the research community and receive feedback on an article before it is submitted to a journal for formal publication. BMJ fully supports and encourages the archiving of preprints in any recognised, not-for-profit server such as medRxiv. BMJ does not consider the posting of an article in a dedicated preprint repository to be prior publication.
Preprints are reports of work that have not been peer-reviewed; Preprints should therefore not be used to guide clinical practice, health-related behaviour or health policy. For more information, please refer to our Preprint policy page.

Article transfer service

BMJ is committed to ensuring that all good quality research is published. Our article transfer service helps authors find the best journal for their research while providing an easy and smooth publication process. If authors agree to transfer their manuscript, all versions, supplementary files and peer reviewer comments are automatically transferred; without the need to resubmit or reformat. Authors who submit to the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases and are rejected will be offered the option of transferring to RMD Open or Lupus Science & Medicine. RMD Open is an official journal of EULAR and the open access companion journal to the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. It is indexed by Science Citation Index Expanded, Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, MEDLINE, PubMed Central, Scopus, Embase (Excerpta Medica), DOAJ, and Google Scholar, and covers musculoskeletal disorders, rheumatism and connective tissue diseases, including osteoporosis, spine and rehabilitation. Find out more about RMD Open.
Lupus Science & Medicine is the official journal of the Lupus Foundation of America. It is indexed by Science Citation Index Expanded, Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, MEDLINE, PubMed Central, Scopus, Embase (Excerpta Medica), DOAJ, and Google Scholar, and covers all aspects of lupus and related diseases. Find out more about Lupus Science & Medicine. Please note that the article transfer service does not guarantee acceptance but you should receive a quicker initial decision on your manuscript. Contact the Article Transfer Service Manager for more information or assistance.


Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases mandates ORCID iDs for the submitting author at the time of article submission; co-authors and reviewers are strongly encouraged to also connect their ScholarOne accounts to ORCID.We strongly believe that the increased use and integration of ORCID iDs will be beneficial for the whole research community.
Please find more information about ORCID and BMJ’s policy on our Author Hub.

Competing interests

All authors must download and complete a copy of the ICMJE Conflict of Interest disclosure form and send a copy to the corresponding author. The corresponding author will be required to upload these forms with the manuscript. A summary Competing Interests statement for all authors should also be included in the manuscript itself, which will appear in the published article. If there are no competing interests for any authors, the default statement on the published article will be ‘None declared’.

Data sharing

Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases adheres to BMJ’s Tier 3 data policy. We strongly encourage that data generated by your research that supports your article be made available as soon as possible, wherever legally and ethically possible. All research articles must contain a Data Availability Statement. For more information and FAQs, please see BMJ’s full Data Sharing Policy page.

Reporting patient and public involvement in research

BMJ encourages active patient and public involvement in clinical research as part of its patient and public partnership strategy. To support co-production of research we request that authors provide a Patient and Public Involvement statement in the methods section of their papers, under the subheading ‘Patient and public involvement’. We appreciate that patient and public involvement is relatively new and may not be feasible or appropriate for all papers. However, this must be included in original research submissions. We therefore continue to consider papers where patients were not involved. The Patient and Public Involvement statement should provide a brief response to the following questions, tailored as appropriate for the study design reported (please find example statements here):
  • At what stage in the research process were patients/the public first involved in the research and how?
  • How were the research question(s) and outcome measures developed and informed by their priorities, experience, and preferences?
  • How were patients/the public involved in the design of this study?
  • How were they involved in the recruitment to and conduct of the study?
  • Were they asked to assess the burden of the intervention and time required to participate in the research?
  • How were (or will) they be involved in your plans to disseminate the study results to participants and relevant wider patient communities (e.g. by choosing what information/results to share, when, and in what format)?
If patients were not involved please state this. In addition to considering the points above we advise authors to look at guidance for best reporting of patient and public involvement as set out in the GRIPP2 reporting checklist. If the Patient and Public Involvement statement  is missing in the submitted manuscript we will request that authors provide it.

Clinical trials and observational clinical studies, including extension studies

Manuscripts on clinical trials and observational clinical studies are an important source of information and innovation in the therapeutic arena. Therefore it is necessary to report the respective data in a transparent way to allow readers optimal interpretation of the results and systematic reviews or meta-analyses to be done more easily. To this end, EULAR (partly in collaboration with ACR), has provided a number of frameworks, most importantly for reporting on clinical trials as well as extension studies. These frameworks should guide authors in the preparation of their manuscript and should be regarded as a minimum set of data that need to be reported in the main body of the manuscript or supplementary material. ‘Minimum set’ means that additional data can be reported, provided that the core elements are included. Further, authors should abstain from forcing readers to guess data; in this respect, figures with data points should always include the actual data, either adjacent to the respective data point or in a small table within or beneath the figure, or in supplementary material. In this context, other EULAR or ACR-EULAR criteria and definitions should be considered, such as the RA classification criteria or definitions for treatment targets or other items suggested in EULAR management recommendations, such as for RA and PsA.
For rheumatoid arthritis clinical trials and observational studies, disease should be considered to be in remission/reported as being in remission only if the Boolean-based or index (SDAI/CDAI)–based definition of remission developed by the American College of Rheumatology/European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology has been met. These definitions are summarized in Felson (2011) and Felson (2021). This does not preclude testing other remission definitions, but calling patients as in remission should be in line with ACR/EULAR definitions. The protocol for the clinical trial must either be uploaded as a supplementary file for reviewers or a link to the published protocol should be included in the manuscript. See also BMJ’s policies on trial registration.

Previously presented work

Manuscripts reporting on work previously presented at a conference or meeting should include an acknowledgement of prior presentation and full references to any published conference abstracts. Permission for republication of the abstract may be required from the copyright owner, if copyright in the work has been transferred to a third party.

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. Extra resource: 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. Extra resources: For further information, please read the articles on tables and graphs by ARD’s Graphical Advisor, Professor Maarten Boers, and view the accompanying video series.


  • 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
  • Data points on line graphs or data columns on bar charts should always include the actual data, ideally either adjacent to the respective data point or in a small table within or beneath the figure (if this is not feasible, the data can be included in supplementary material with a reference to this in the figure legend)
  • 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
  • Please include the actual data next to the columns, rows, or data points. For line graphs that have several lines, please include a table below the figure


  • 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
  • Submit tables with line width in single space
  • Try to limit each table to one page. If this is not possible, repeat the header row(s) on the subsequent pages

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. For further information please visit the BMJ Author Hub.
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 processing charges

During submission, authors can choose to have their article published open access for 3,090 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors). Publishing open access has multiple benefits including wider reach, faster impact and increased citation and usage. There are no submission, page charges for any article types.

Waivers and Discounts

If authors choose to publish their article open access, an APC waiver may be available. Before applying for an APC waiver please consider: (1) Does your institution have an open access agreement with BMJ? If it does, then this may cover all or part of the APC for your article. Check BMJ’s open access agreements page to find out whether your institution is a member and what discounts you may be entitled to. (2) Have you received funding from a funder with an open access mandate or policy that covers paying APCs? If so, BMJ expects that the APC will be paid in full. If neither (1) nor (2) above apply then consider:
(3) Are all the authors of your article based in low-income countries*? If so, you are eligible to apply for a full or partial waiver from BMJ. Visit our author hub to learn more about our waivers policy and how to request one. Please note that regardless of the funding situation, authors can still choose to publish with us at no cost, and articles will be made available to our subscribers. *This list is reviewed annually and is based upon HINARI Core Offer Groups A and B, and the World Bank Country and Lending Groups.

Rapid responses

A rapid response is a moderated but not peer reviewed online response to a published article in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases; it will not receive a DOI and will not be indexed. Find out more about responses and how to submit a response.

Peer Review Process

Articles submitted to Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases are subject to peer review. In most instances we aim for two external opinions (and often additional statistical assessment) for reasons of fairness and science. The journal is not prepared to compromise on this stance. The journal operates single anonymised peer review whereby the names of the reviewers are hidden from the author; Manuscripts authored by a member of a journal’s editorial team are independently peer reviewed; an editor will have no input or influence on the peer review process or publication decision for their own article. For more information on what to expect during the peer review process please refer to BMJ Author Hub – the peer review process. BMJ requests that all reviewers adhere to a set of basic principles and standards during the peer-review process in research publication; these are based on the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Please refer to our peer review terms and conditions policy page.
BMJ is committed to transparency. Every article we publish includes a description of its provenance (commissioned or not commissioned) and whether it was internally or externally peer reviewed. During the submission process, authors must not suggest reviewers who are current or recent colleagues of themselves or their co-authors. For more information about suggesting reviewers please visit our Author Hub. Plagiarism is the appropriation of the language, ideas or thoughts of another without crediting their true source and representation of them as one’s own original work. 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. BMJ runs manuscripts through iThenticate during the peer review process. Authors, researchers and freelancers can also use iThenticate to screen their work before submission by visiting

Submission guidelines

Please review the below article type specifications including the required article lengths, illustrations, table limits and reference counts. The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements, contributions and references. Manuscripts should be as succinct as possible. For further support when making your submission please refer to the resources available on the BMJ Author Hub. Here you will find information on writing and formatting your research through to the peer review process and promoting your paper. You may also wish to use the language editing and translation services provided by BMJ Author Services. For manuscripts that focus on clinical trials and observational clinical studies (including extension studies), please review our guidelines before submitting your paper.

Original research

These represent a substantial body of laboratory or clinical work, or a systematic review with or without meta-analysis. Manuscripts 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’. 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. A Patient and Public Involvement statement should also be included in this section - please see more details above. 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. Acknowledgements 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. If the work was previously presented at a conference or meeting this should be acknowledged, with a reference to the published conference abstract. Key messages: Please summarise the key points of your manuscript in a few bullet points under the following headings:
  • What is already known on this topic – summarise the state of scientific knowledge on this subject before you did your study and why this study needed to be done
  • What this study adds – summarise what we now know as a result of this study that we did not know before
  • How this study might affect research, practice or policy – summarise the implications of this study
These will be published as a summary box after the abstract in the final published article. Additional data may be presented in supplementary files, which will be published online only should the article be accepted. These can be in any format (text, tables, images, videos, etc.) but will not be copyedited or typeset and will be published as supplied.
Word count: up to 4000 words Abstract: up to 250 words Tables/illustrations: maximum 8 tables and/or figures References: up to 50


Review articles are usually commissioned, but unsolicited submissions are also considered. Please note that the Editor is unable to respond to pre-submission enquiries. Systematic reviews should be submitted as Original research.
Word count: usually less than 5000 words Abstract: up to 250 words Tables/illustrations: maximum 8 tables and/or figures References: flexible, but usually less than 100

Recommendations and criteria

Recommendations for management of rheumatic diseases or new disease criteria are published in a separate section of the journal.
Word count: usually less than 4000 words Abstract: up to 250 words Tables/illustrations: maximum 8 tables and/or figures References: flexible, but usually less than 100


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 Tables/illustrations: 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 Tables/illustrations: maximum 2 tables and/or figures References: up to 30

Images in rheumatology

Authors are encouraged to submit images for our Images in rheumatology section. The image and accompanying text should be educational and provide some insights into differential diagnosis by clinical means (such as picture of the skin or a joint) or diagnostic imaging means (such as picture of a radiograph, MRI, or similar). The rheumatology image may deal with a rare presentation of a common disease or a common presentation of a rare disease. Since the aim of these articles is to stimulate the reader to think about the case, the title should be ambiguous and not give away the final diagnosis immediately. All images must be accompanied by a signed patient consent form. Each image will be presented in two parts:
  • The first part should contain a very brief (maximum 200 words) riddle/mystery which helps the reader identify the common disease presented in the image without explicitly stating what it is. The text should stimulate the reader to think about what the image shows.
  • The second part (maximum 100 words) should contain the answer.
The quality of the image must be at least 300dpi and in .tif, .jpeg, .gif or .eps format.
Word count: up to 300 words Illustrations: limited to 1 References: up to 3


Short clinical or laboratory observations (eg preliminary or confirmatory data) may be presented as a Letter. Case reports may be published as a letter if the case is of exceptional importance and interest. Letters undergo the same review process as full length papers.
Word count: up to 600 words Abstract: not required Tables/illustrations: maximum 1 table/figure References: maximum 6


Responses to articles published in ARD are welcomed and should be submitted online via the journal’s website. Contributors should go to the abstract or full text of the article in question and click on the ‘Responses’ tab. Contributors will be asked to agree to our response terms and conditions. Responses relating to previously published items in the journal will be reviewed by the editor. They may be sent to the authors of the original article, who will be invited to reply. Responses are moderated but not peer reviewed; they do not receive a DOI and are not indexed. Occasionally ARD publishes selected responses in journal issues, together with the author’s response where applicable. If a response is selected for publication in an issue, the contributor will be notified and asked to upload this to the journal’s submission system as Correspondence. Correspondence articles will receive a DOI and be indexed. The title of your submission should follow this format: ‘Correspondence on “Article title” by “Author(s)”‘.
Word count: up to 600 words Abstract: not required Tables/illustrations: none References: maximum 10


The BMJ Publishing Group journals 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.
  • The BMJPG 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.
For further information on criteria that must be fulfilled, download the supplements guidelines. 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