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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.

Editorial policy

Thorax 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.

Thorax will not consider for publication any study partly or wholly funded by the tobacco industry, as explained here.

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 Thorax Author Licence for the applicable Creative Commons licences”.

More information on copyright and authors’ rights.

Reviewing for Thorax

Peer review may seem like a thankless task, but without it research would be unreliable. BMJ values reviewers and wants to encourage good standards of review. Information on how to review for any BMJ Journal, and guidance from some of our Editors is available here. If you have any other questions about reviewing, please contact our Editorial team at

Tobacco industry funded work

Thorax will not consider for publication papers reporting work funded, in whole or in part, by a tobacco company or tobacco industry organization. Nor will the journal consider papers by authors who accept tobacco industry funding, including funding for research costs, for all or part of any author’s salary, or other forms of personal remuneration. For further information, please read this editorial giving the reasoning behind the journal’s policy. Failure to declare competing interests at submission, or when an article is commissioned, can result in immediate rejection of the paper. If a competing interest comes to light after publication, Thorax will issue a formal correction to or retraction of the whole paper, as appropriate.

Article publishing charges

During submission, authors can choose to have their article published open access for 1,950 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors). Authors can also choose to publish their article in colour for the print edition – instead of the default option of black and white – for 250 GBP. There are no submission, page or online-only colour figure charges.

For more information on open access, funder compliance and institutional programmes please refer to the BMJ Author Hub open access page.

Data sharing

Thorax adheres to BMJ’s Tier 2 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. We also require data from clinical trials to be made available upon reasonable request. To adhere to ICMJE guidelines, we require that a data sharing plan must be included with trial registration for clinical trials that begin enrolling participants on or after 1st January 2019. Changes to the plan must be noted in the Data Availability Statement and updated in the registry record. All research articles must contain a Data Availability Statement. For more information and FAQs, please see BMJ’s full Data Sharing Policy page.


Thorax 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.

Cover letter

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.

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 paperYou may also wish to use the language editing and translation services provided by BMJ Author Services.

If your article is accepted you can take advantage of BMJ’s partnership with Kudos, a free service to help you maximise your article’s reach.

Statistics Guidelines

All manuscripts elected for full peer review will be assessed by a statistical editor and their comments must be addressed in full.  Please pay close attention to the following when including your statistical analyses:

  • p values should be described in full if they are p>0.0001
  • Any experimental replicate with an n < 6 should undergo non-parametric statistical evaluation
  • Technical replicates should not undergo statistical evaluation
  • All studies evaluating multiple endpoints from a single experiment must be controlled for multiplicity.

Original research

Original research includes articles reporting original data.

Word count: up to 3,500: 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 ‘Key Messages’ section 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. Please see our statistics guidelines for more information. 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 (e.g. 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 brief communication only. For observational research, priority will be given to large prospective studies. Authors are instructed to follow ‘Control of Confounding and Reporting of Results in Causal Inference Studies. Guidance for Authors from Editors of Respiratory, Sleep, and Critical Care Journals’ available here. Epidemiological studies must follow STROBE guidelines (or STREGA 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 must 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 must 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.

Protocol – 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

Brief communication

Brief Communications 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: 3
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. The author of the published article may be invited to reply to any responses received. The journal does not publish any other correspondence. eLetters are not subject to an article publishing charge and do not receive a DOI.


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


A commentary is a short editorial which is commissioned to accompany a brief communication. We solicit commentaries from early career researchers who are mentored by a more experienced colleague.

Word count: up to 750
Structured abstract: not required
Tables/illustrations: up to 1
References: up to 10

Guidelines in context

“Guidelines in context” articles aim to compare clinical practice guidelines where there is more than one guideline for a single condition. Authors should aim to guide clinicians by highlighting common themes between guidelines and discussing why guideline recommendations might be divergent (e.g. differing healthcare systems of absence of high quality evidence). Authors should include a ‘Key Messages’ section, as described under original research.

These articles are usually commissioned but Editors are open to suggestions around potential titles.

Word count: up to 2,000
Title: maximum of 20 words
Abstract: None
Tables/illustrations: 1 figure and 1 table
References: up to 20

Guideline highlights

Guideline Highlights are commissioned articles from the authors of BTS guidelines published in the journal. The should be up to 1000 words and will consist of a summary of the full guidelines published in Thorax.

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 Patrick Murphy at

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.


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