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Instructions for Authors

For guidelines on policy and submission across our journals, please click on the links below:
Manuscript preparation
Editorial policies
Patient consent forms
Licence forms
Peer review
Submission and production processes

Editorial Policy

Thorax seeks to publish significant advances in scientific understanding, which are likely to impact on clinical practice. Articles concerning clinical topics in respiratory medicine, sleep and critical care as well as those on basic and translational mechanisms with application to clinical material (e.g cell and molecular biology, genetics, epidemiology, and immunology), will be welcomed.

We aim to cover all areas of respiratory medicine from paediatric to adults through publishing original papers, systematic reviews and meta-analyses, trial protocols, state of the art reviews, invited editorials, case-based discussions and images. The priorities are originality, rigour and excellence.

Submissions to Thorax, if favourably peer reviewed, are discussed at the weekly editorial committee prior to decision. We aim to ensure a rapid, fair and independent peer review system and to publish articles which follow the highest ethical standards concerning research conduct.

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.

Randomised Controlled Trials

We have published some excellent clinical trials, and we want more. We expect all clinical trials submitted to have been pre-registered on or similar registration organisations. Investigators should submit their final protocol and we will peer review it (for details see 'Clinical Trial and Systematic Review Protocols' below). When you send us the final manuscript, we will fast track it - the only reviewing issue will be whether you have done what you said you would; and if you have, whether results are positive or negative, we will publish your manuscript. However, the manuscript will not be accepted if there has been deviation from the original protocol, without a clearly argued justifiable rationale.

Basic Science Research

We are keen to promote high quality basic science research. 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.

We will give priority to manuscripts that have submitted pre-analysis plans and clearly state where materials can be accessed.

Open Access

Authors can choose to have their article published Open Access for a fee of £1,950 (plus applicable VAT).

Colour Figure Charges

During submission you will be asked whether or not you agree to pay for the colour print publication of your colour images. This service is available to any author publishing within this journal for a fee of £250 per article. Authors can elect to publish online in colour and black and white in print, in which case the appropriate selection should be made upon submission.

Language Polishing Service

If you are not a native English speaker, we recommend that you have your manuscript edited by a native speaker prior to submission. Professional editing will improve the grammar, spelling and punctuation of your manuscript, providing clear language which will mean that reviewers and editors are better able to concentrate on the scientific content of the paper. Click here for more information.

Article Types and Word Counts

The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements and contributions and the references. For guidance on how to improve your graphs and tables please view these BMJ demonstration videos.

Information on our publication turnaround times and acceptance rates can be found here.

Original Research

Full papers should follow the basic structure of abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, references, and tables and figures as appropriate. There is an online data repository for extra information, tables, figures and appendices. However, we would encourage as much methodology and data to be contained in the manuscript as possible.

  1. Word count: up to 3500
  2. Structured abstract: up to 250 words
  3. Key questions: See below
  4. Tables/illustrations: Images submitted should be those which uniquely display the data and not repetition of information available either in the text or as a table. Figures are not limited, but must be thoroughly justified
  5. References: up to 40

Failure to follow the word count for the manuscript and structure abstract and reference limit will result in the manuscript being returned without peer review.

Please also include an initial one sentence response to each of the following questions in your main submission document; these will be published as a text box at the beginning of the article:

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

The answers to these questions will carry weight in the review process.

You also need to provide a 140 character conclusion from the manuscript for our Twitter feed.

Clinical Trial and Systematic Review Protocols

In order to encourage the submission of high quality clinical trial papers across the spectrum of respiratory medicine, Thorax has introduced a new service for authors. In brief, clinical trial protocols will be peer-reviewed – but not published – by Thorax. When the full trial paper 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. 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.

Relevant clinical trial protocols that are submitted will undergo peer-review by Thorax editors and reviewers. Authors will receive the reviews, and will then be invited to transfer the protocol for publication in one of two sister journals to Thorax:

  • BMJ Open – the world’s largest general medical journal, with an impact factor of 2.271
  • 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

Please note that it is the author’s decision whether to transfer their reviewed protocol to either journal; there is no obligation to do so. However, if the author does wish to take this option, the protocol will be transferred directly to the new journal by BMJ staff without the need for resubmission; the accompanying reviews will also be sent to the receiving journal. Authors should note that the receiving journals do not guarantee publication and reserve the right to conduct further review if necessary. Please also note that BMJ Open operates an open peer-review policy whereby the reviewer reports are published alongside the article. Both BMJ Open and BMJ Open Respiratory Research are open access journals and the costs of publication are met by author publishing charges.

When the full trial paper is ready for submission, authors should submit it to Thorax in the usual way. They should highlight in the cover letter that the paper is the outcome of the previously submitted and reviewed protocol. The editors will then ensure it is peer-reviewed rapidly and, if accepted, published as promptly as possible.

For further information about preparing your trial protocol for publication, please see here. If you have any questions about the process please contact the journal editorial office:

Case Based Discussions

We are interested in cases that raise interesting diagnostic or management issues. All readers will recall unusual cases that have made a deep impact on them or taught them an important lesson. Often they will not be our best cases - we learn most from our mistakes. Don't be afraid to share the message with others; these are just the sort of cases we are interested in.

More traditional case reports of cases that offer important insights into pathogenesis (i.e. adverse or unexpected beneficial effects of new treatments, new and unlikely associations) will be considered but only as a letter (see below). Authors must indicate that they have obtained patient consent.

  1. Word count: up to 1500
  2. Structured abstract: not required
  3. Tables/illustrations: up to 1
  4. References: no more than 5 (it might be easier to reference guideline statements rather than source papers in the reference list)

We prefer the following formats for case based discussions:

  1. 1. A dialogue between a junior doctor(s) and an experienced clinician. 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. 2. A response to a referral note (Dear Chest Clinic) which clearly sets 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. 3. Lesson of the month. A description of two or three cases from which an important lesson is learnt.

Ideally the key investigation could be included as an image. The quality of the image must be at least 600dpi and in TIFF, JPEG, GIF, Powerpoint or EPS format. 

Pulmonary Puzzles

This category is for 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.

  1. Word count: up to 500
  2. Tables/ilustrations: 1 image
  3. References: up to 5

Pulmonary Puzzles will appear in two parts and should be submitted via the website identified as such:

  1. 1. The first part should contain a very 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.
  2. 2. The second part (maximum 250 words) will appear later in the issue and should contain the answer. The answer should include a brief description of the key diagnostic features of the image, the outcome, and a teaching point.

The quality of the image must be at least 600dpi and in TIFF, JPEG, GIF, Powerpoint or EPS format. Authors must indicate that they have obtained patient consent.

Images in Thorax

Our Images in thorax section can be radiological, pathological or both. Authors must indicate that they have obtained patient consent.

  1. Word count: up to 100
  2. Structured abstract: up to 250
  3. Tables/illustrations: up to 2
  4. Author Limit: up to 5, any more at the Editors discretion
  5. References: up to 2

Journal Club

For information on being an author for Journal club please contact Dr Jennifer Quint (jennifer.quint{at}

Research and Guideline Updates

We are happy to consider descriptions of the protocol of forthcoming important research projects and brief updates to guideline documents. Summaries of important systematic reviews can be submitted as Cochrane's Corner manuscripts.

  1. Word count: up to 1500
  2. Unstructured abstract: up to 100
  3. Tables/illustrations: up to 1
  4. References: up to 5

State of the Art Reviews (invited)

These will be commissioned by the editorial board. Reviews will encompass important and topical subjects with a particular focus on recent advances and articles detailing the full translational nature of a disease will be particularly welcome. We ask authors to ensure that they include up-to-date and relevant references, including papers published by Thorax

  1. Word count: up to 4000
  2. Structured abstract: up to 500
  3. Tables/illustrations: no specific limit
  4. References: up to 100

We would be grateful if you could provide a 140 character conclusion of the manuscript for our Twitter feed.

Letter to the Editor (Original Research)

Research letters in Thorax are welcome and should be submitted via ScholarOne. Case reports should be in the Case-based discussion format (see above). We only publish very occasional case reports in the research letter format but these cases must be exceptional and illuminating on mechanisms of disease rather than rare or obscure.

  1. Word count: up to 1000
  2. Unstructured abstract: brief
  3. Tables/illustrations: 2
  4. References: up to 10

Additional submission information including methodology, data and tables can be placed in the on-line repository facility on the Thorax website.


Letters in response to articles published in Thorax should be submitted via ScholarOne. Correspondence must reach us by the end of the following calendar month (eg. by the end of July, for letters referring to articles in the June print issue). We are particularly keen to publish correspondence with original data as well as publish studies that replicate methods, or data from previously published work.

  1. Word count: up to 400
  2. Tables/illustrations: 2
  3. References: up to 10

Editorial (invited)

Editorials are commissioned and relate to original research papers. The aim is to critically discuss the paper, highlight important issues and put them into perspective and identify areas where more information is needed. 

  1. Word count: up to 1500
  2. Structured abstract: not required
  3. Tables/illustrations: up to 2
  4. References: up to 20

HOT off the Breath

The Editors welcome and will fast track articles on really hot topics. These must be discussed in advance with the Editors in Chief. They will be peer-reviewed, and clear justification as to why the article should not go through the normal processes should be given.


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

  1. 1.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.
  2. 2.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.
  3. 3. BMJ itself may have proposals for supplements where sponsorship may be necessary.
  4. 4. 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 (PDF).

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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