Thorax is one of the world’s leading respiratory medicine journals, publishing clinical and experimental research articles on respiratory medicine, paediatrics, immunology, pharmacology, pathology, and surgery. Thorax seeks to publish significant advances in scientific understanding, which are likely to impact on clinical practice. This includes articles concerning basic and translational mechanisms with application to clinical material (cell and molecular biology, genetics, epidemiology, and immunology).

Thorax offers a fast track review service for high quality papers, authors should discuss this in advance with the Editors’ in Chief.

Authors can choose to have their article published Open Access for a fee of £1,950 (plus applicable VAT). No payment is required for colour figure production; please submit all figures in colour unless it is not possible to do so.

Submission to Thorax implies that the work described has not been accepted for publication elsewhere, that it is not under consideration for publication elsewhere and does not duplicate material already published.

Submission guidelines

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

Article types

Please review the below specifications of each article type and the required article lengths, illustrations and table limits, and reference counts. The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements and contributions, and references unless stated otherwise. Manuscripts should be as succinct as possible.

In the covering letter, please could authors highlight whether the work has been presented at a conference and include the reference. This will not affect the peer review process in any way but is helpful for the editorial team. In addition a brief statement detailing the results and placing the data in clinical context is required.

Original research

Original research includes articles reporting original data.

Word count: up to 3,500: Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion
Title: maximum of 20 words
Structured abstract: up to 250
Figures: are not limited, but must be thoroughly justified
References: up to 40

Authors should also complete a short summary ‘box’ after the abstract indicating the significance of this study by addressing each of the below headings with 1 sentence:

  • What is the key question?
  • What is the bottom line?
  • Why read on?

Thorax accepts various original research articles including:

  • Basic science – Statistical analyses must be carried out on all available data and not just on data from a representative experiment. Statistics and error bars should only be shown for independent experiments and not for replicates within a single experiment. A more detailed discussion of error bars in experimental biology is described by Cumming et al., J. Cell Biol. 177:7–11. ll animal studies must conform to the ARRIVE guidelines.
  • Observational clinical studies – Retrospective observational studies which derive a scoring system (eg prognostic or diagnostic score) or evaluate a biomarker should have both a training and a validation cohort. Where these studies do not have a validation cohort they will be considered for publication as a research letter only. For observational research, priority will be given to large prospective studies. Epidemiological studies must follow STROBE guidelines (or STEGA guidelines for genetic association studies).
  • Randomised controlled trials – The clinical trial protocol must have been publicly available before the trial commenced (eg on or ISRCTN). The trial mist have appropriate ethical approval and must be reported according to the CONSORT guidelines. See also instructions for clinical trial protocol review by Thorax.
  • Systematic Reviews – Systematic reviews should be reported according to the PRISMA guidelines and the protocol for the review must have been publicly available before the review commenced (eg on the Cochrane Library or on PROSPERO). Systematic reviews of epidemiological studies should be reported in accordance with the MOOSE guidelines (Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology). There should be no financial support for the review from manufacturers of the drugs considered in the review, or their competitors.
  • ‘Omic studies – In ‘omic studies, assessing large transcriptomic, proteomic or metabolomics datasets where multiple statistical comparisons have been made, correction for multiple hypothesis testing is an absolute requirement. For transcriptomic studies we would expect a threshold of twofold change in variables of interest in most circumstances. For mechanistic studies we require detailed validation experiments in cells or organisms that support the conclusions drawn from the ‘omic studies.

Protocols – clinical trials and systematic reviews

Protocols will be peer-reviewed – but not published – by Thorax. When the original research paper (clinical trial or systematic review) is subsequently submitted to Thorax, provided the study follows through the methodology of the already reviewed protocol, it will be fast-tracked through review and prioritised for publication; this should be noted in the cover letter. These papers will not be rejected on the outcomes of the study, but only if there are major flaws in either the conduct of the study (e.g. if it deviates from the reviewed protocol) or the writing of the paper. A more detailed description of the process follows.

Protocols that are favorable reviewed will be invited to transfer the protocol for publication in BMJ Open Respiratory Research (the online companion journal to Thorax, which publishes high quality respiratory and critical care research and offers rapid editorial and production times). Protocols and accompanying reviews are transferred directly without the need for resubmission. Authors should note that BMJ Open Respiratory Research does not guarantee publication and the editors reserve the right to conduct further review if necessary. BMJ Open Respiratory Research is an open access journal and the costs of publication are met by Article Processing Charge (APC). The APC for a protocol is GBP 1,000 / EUR 1,450 / USD 1,650 (+ VAT where applicable).

If you have any questions about the process please contact the journal editorial office:

State of the art review

State of the art reviews are commissioned only articles that encompass important and topical subjects with a particular focus on recent advances and can detail the full translational nature of a disease.

Word count: up to 4,000
Structured abstract: up to 500
Tables/illustrations: no specific limit
References: up to 100

Research letter

Research letters are suited for single observation mechanistic studies, observation studies that do not delineate a mechanism and observational clinical studies, such as biomarker studies, which do not have a validation cohort (see observational clinical studies above).

Word count: up to 1,000
Title: maximum of 20 words
Unstructured abstract: 100 words
Tables/illustrations: 2
References: up to 10


eLetters are electronic responses to published Thorax articles posted online. To submit an eLetter use the submit a response option in the content box menu seen in all abstract/extract, Full text and PDF views of a published article. All eLetters are subject to editorial approval.


Editorials are commissioned only articles that aim to critically discuss and highlight important issues in papers published by Thorax; they will also identify areas where more information is needed. Please ensure you cite the Thorax paper(s) which the editorial is designed to highlight using the below format:
“Author A.N. An excellent paper requiring an editorial. Thorax 2016 (epub ahead of print)”

Word count: up to 1,500
Structured abstract: not required
Tables/illustrations: up to 2
References: up to 20

Case based discussion

Case based discussions raise interesting diagnostic or management issues that teach an important lesson. Patient consent must be obtained.

Word count: up to 1,500
Structured abstract: not required
Tables/illustrations: up to 1
References: no more than 5

We prefer the following formats for case based discussions:

1. Junior doctor and experienced clinician dialogue – All participants should be authors. Pertinent aspects of the history, examination and investigations should be presented by the junior clinician in chronological order such that it mimics the actual clinical presentations. After every presentation the experienced clinician will discuss likely diagnosis and key missing information. This information will then be presented and the case should unravel naturally in much the same way it did in reality, ideally with one or two important take home messages.

2. A response to a referral note ‘Dear Chest Clinic’ – These will clearly set out the diagnostic and management approach. Most will be commissioned. We are interested in expert views on optimum management of that case. We would like you to outline what you regard as best management in a reasonably sized and equipped District General Hospital. Don’t be afraid to ask for tests or treatments that are not readily available but do be prepared to justify clearly why you regard this test or treatment as essential.

3. Lesson of the month – A description of two or three cases from which an important lesson is learnt.

The quality of the image must be at least 600dpi and in TIFF, JPEG, GIF, Powerpoint or EPS format.

Images in Thorax

Images in Thorax section can be radiological, pathological or both. Patient consent must be obtained.

Word count: up to 500
Tables/illustrations: up to 2
Author Limit: up to 5
References: up to 3

Journal club

For information on being an author for Journal Club please contact Dr Jennifer Quint:

Pulmonary puzzle

Pulmonary puzzles report unusual cases that make an educational point. 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.

Pulmonary puzzles have two parts:


a brief clinical introduction to a case (maximum 250 words) followed by an image and a question designed to stimulate the reader to think about what the image shows. The legend should not indicate the diagnosis but should simply describe the nature of the image .


appears later in the issue (maximum 250 words) outlines a brief description of the key diagnostic features of the image, the outcome, and a teaching point. Pulmonary puzzles will not include more than 5 references.
The quality of the image must be at least 300dpi and in TIFF, JPEG, GIF or EPS format. Videos are also welcome and should be in .mov, .avi, or .mpeg format.


Thorax is willing to consider publishing supplements to regular issues. For more information on supplement proposal please see the BMJ Author Hub.