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Instructions for authors

Research articles

See 'About this journal' for descriptions of different article types and information about policies and the refereeing process.

Submission process

Manuscripts must be submitted by one of the authors of the manuscript, and should not be submitted by anyone on their behalf. The submitting author takes responsibility for the article during submission and peer review.

Please note that Arthritis Research & Therapy levies an article-processing charge on all accepted Research articles; if the submitting author's institution is a BioMed Central member the cost of the article-processing charge may be covered by the membership (see About page for detail). Please note that the membership is only automatically recognised on submission if the submitting author is based at the member institution.

To facilitate rapid publication and to minimize administrative costs, Arthritis Research & Therapy prefers online submission.

Files can be submitted as a batch, or one by one. The submission process can be interrupted at any time; when users return to the site, they can carry on where they left off.

See below for examples of word processor and graphics file formats that can be accepted for the main manuscript document by the online submission system. Additional files of any type, such as movies, animations, or original data files, can also be submitted as part of the manuscript.

During submission you will be asked to provide a cover letter. Use this to explain why your manuscript should be published in the journal, to elaborate on any issues relating to our editorial policies in the 'About Arthritis Research & Therapy' page, and to declare any potential competing interests. You will be also asked to provide the contact details (including email addresses) of potential peer reviewers for your manuscript. These should be experts in their field, who will be able to provide an objective assessment of the manuscript. Any suggested peer reviewers should not have published with any of the authors of the manuscript within the past five years, should not be current collaborators, and should not be members of the same research institution. Suggested reviewers will be considered alongside potential reviewers recommended by the Editor-in-Chief and/or Editorial Board members.

Assistance with the process of manuscript preparation and submission is available from BioMed Central customer support team.

We also provide a collection of links to useful tools and resources for scientific authors on our Useful Tools page.

File formats

The following word processor file formats are acceptable for the main manuscript document:

TeX/LaTeX users: Please use BioMed Central's TeX template and BibTeX stylefile if you use TeX format. During the TeX submission process, please submit your TeX file as the main manuscript file and your bib/bbl file as a dependent file. Please also convert your TeX file into a PDF and submit this PDF as an additional file with the name 'Reference PDF'. This PDF will be used by internal staff as a reference point to check the layout of the article as the author intended. Please also note that all figures must be coded at the end of the TeX file and not inline.

If you have used another template for your manuscript, or if you do not wish to use BibTeX, then please submit your manuscript as a DVI file. We do not recommend converting to RTF.

For all TeX submissions, all relevant editable source must be submitted during the submission process. Failing to submit these source files will cause unnecessary delays in the publication procedures.

Preparing main manuscript text

General guidelines of the journal's style and language are given below.

Overview of manuscript sections for Research articles

Manuscripts for Research articles submitted to Arthritis Research & Therapy should be divided into the following sections (in this order):

The Accession Numbers of any nucleic acid sequences, protein sequences or atomic coordinates cited in the manuscript should be provided, in square brackets and include the corresponding database name; for example, [EMBL:AB026295, EMBL:AC137000, DDBJ:AE000812, GenBank:U49845, PDB:1BFM, Swiss-Prot:Q96KQ7, PIR:S66116].

The databases for which we can provide direct links are: EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database (EMBL), DNA Data Bank of Japan (DDBJ), GenBank at the NCBI (GenBank), Protein Data Bank (PDB), Protein Information Resource (PIR) and the Swiss-Prot Protein Database (Swiss-Prot).

For reporting standards please see the information in the About section.

Title page

The title page should list

  • the title of the article
  • the full names
  • institutional addresses
  • email addresses for all authors

The corresponding author should also be indicated.

Please note that the title should include the study design, for example "A versus B in the treatment of C: a randomized controlled trial" or "X is a risk factor for Y: a case control study". Please see the policy section in 'About Arthritis Research & Therapy' for further details.

Abstract

The Abstract of the manuscript should not exceed 350 words and must be structured into separate sections: Introduction, the context and purpose of the study; Methods, how the study was performed and statistical tests used; Results, the main findings; Conclusions, brief summary and potential implications; Trial registration, if your research article reports the results of a controlled health care intervention, please list your trial registry, along with the unique identifying number (e.g. Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN73824458). Please note that there should be no space between the letters and numbers of your trial registration number. We recommend manuscripts that report randomized controlled trials follow the CONSORT extension for abstracts.

Please minimize the use of abbreviations and do not cite references in the abstract. Please see also our guide for writing an easily accessible abstract.

Keywords

Three to ten keywords representing the main content of the article.

Introduction

The Introduction section should be written in a way that is accessible to researchers without specialist knowledge in that area and must clearly state - and, if helpful, illustrate - the background to the research and its aims. Reports of clinical research should, where appropriate, include a summary of a search of the literature to indicate why this study was necessary and what it aimed to contribute to the field. The section should end with a brief statement of what is being reported in the article.

Methods

The methods section should include the design of the study, the setting, the type of participants or materials involved, a clear description of all interventions and comparisons, and the type of analysis used, including a power calculation if appropriate. Generic drug names should generally be used. When proprietary brands are used in research, include the brand names in parentheses in the methods section.

For further details of the journal's data-release policy, see the policy section in 'About this journal'.

Results and discussion

The Results and discussion may be combined into a single section or presented separately. Results of statistical analysis should include, where appropriate, relative and absolute risks or risk reductions, and confidence intervals. The Results and discussion sections may also be broken into subsections with short, informative headings.

Conclusions

This should state clearly the main conclusions of the research and give a clear explanation of their importance and relevance. Summary illustrations may be included.

List of abbreviations

If abbreviations are used in the text they should be defined in the text at first use, and a list of abbreviations can be provided, which should precede the competing interests and authors' contributions.

Competing interests

A competing interest exists when your interpretation of data or presentation of information may be influenced by your personal or financial relationship with other people or organizations. Authors must disclose any financial competing interests; they should also reveal any non-financial competing interests that may cause them embarrassment were they to become public after the publication of the manuscript.

Authors are required to complete a declaration of competing interests. All competing interests that are declared will be listed at the end of published articles. Where an author gives no competing interests, the listing will read 'The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests'.

When completing your declaration, please consider the following questions:

Financial competing interests

  • In the past five years have you received reimbursements, fees, funding, or salary from an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of this manuscript, either now or in the future? Is such an organization financing this manuscript (including the article-processing charge)? If so, please specify.
  • Do you hold any stocks or shares in an organization that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of this manuscript, either now or in the future? If so, please specify.
  • Do you hold or are you currently applying for any patents relating to the content of the manuscript? Have you received reimbursements, fees, funding, or salary from an organization that holds or has applied for patents relating to the content of the manuscript? If so, please specify.
  • Do you have any other financial competing interests? If so, please specify.

Non-financial competing interests

Are there any non-financial competing interests (political, personal, religious, ideological, academic, intellectual, commercial or any other) to declare in relation to this manuscript? If so, please specify.

If you are unsure as to whether you, or one your co-authors, has a competing interest please discuss it with the editorial office.

Authors' contributions

In order to give appropriate credit to each author of a paper, the individual contributions of authors to the manuscript should be specified in this section.

According to ICMJE guidelines, An 'author' is generally considered to be someone who has made substantive intellectual contributions to a published study. To qualify as an author one should 1) have made substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) have been involved in drafting the manuscript or revising it critically for important intellectual content; 3) have given final approval of the version to be published; and 4) agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content. Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group, alone, does not justify authorship.

We suggest the following kind of format (please use initials to refer to each author's contribution): AB carried out the molecular genetic studies, participated in the sequence alignment and drafted the manuscript. JY carried out the immunoassays. MT participated in the sequence alignment. ES participated in the design of the study and performed the statistical analysis. FG conceived of the study, and participated in its design and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an acknowledgements section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided purely technical help, writing assistance, or a department chair who provided only general support.

Authors' information

You may choose to use this section to include any relevant information about the author(s) that may aid the reader's interpretation of the article, and understand the standpoint of the author(s). This may include details about the authors' qualifications, current positions they hold at institutions or societies, or any other relevant background information. Please refer to authors using their initials. Note this section should not be used to describe any competing interests.

Acknowledgements

Please acknowledge anyone who contributed towards the article by making substantial contributions to conception, design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data, or who was involved in drafting the manuscript or revising it critically for important intellectual content, but who does not meet the criteria for authorship. Please also include the source(s) of funding for each author, and for the manuscript preparation. Authors must describe the role of the funding body, if any, in design, in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; and in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication. Please also acknowledge anyone who contributed materials essential for the study. If a language editor has made significant revision of the manuscript, we recommend that you acknowledge the editor by name, where possible.

The role of a scientific (medical) writer must be included in the acknowledgements section, including their source(s) of funding. We suggest wording such as 'We thank Jane Doe who provided medical writing services on behalf of XYZ Pharmaceuticals Ltd.'

Authors should obtain permission to acknowledge from all those mentioned in the Acknowledgements section.

Endnotes

Endnotes should be designated within the text using a superscript lowercase letter and all notes (along with their corresponding letter) should be included in the Endnotes section. Please format this section in a paragraph rather than a list.

References

All references, including URLs, must be numbered consecutively, in square brackets, in the order in which they are cited in the text, followed by any in tables or legends. Each reference must have an individual reference number. Please avoid excessive referencing. If automatic numbering systems are used, the reference numbers must be finalized and the bibliography must be fully formatted before submission.

Only articles, datasets, clinical trial registration records and abstracts that have been published or are in press, or are available through public e-print/preprint servers, may be cited; unpublished abstracts, unpublished data and personal communications should not be included in the reference list, but may be included in the text and referred to as "unpublished observations" or "personal communications" giving the names of the involved researchers. Obtaining permission to quote personal communications and unpublished data from the cited colleagues is the responsibility of the author. Footnotes are not allowed, but endnotes are permitted. Journal abbreviations follow Index Medicus/MEDLINE. Citations in the reference list should include all named authors, up to the first 30 before adding 'et al.'..

Any in press articles cited within the references and necessary for the reviewers' assessment of the manuscript should be made available if requested by the editorial office.

Style files are available for use with popular bibliographic management software:

Examples of the Arthritis Research & Therapy reference style are shown below. Please ensure that the reference style is followed precisely; if the references are not in the correct style they may have to be retyped and carefully proofread.

All web links and URLs, including links to the authors' own websites, should be given a reference number and included in the reference list rather than within the text of the manuscript. They should be provided in full, including both the title of the site and the URL, in the following format: The Mouse Tumor Biology Database [http://tumor.informatics.jax.org/mtbwi/index.do]. If an author or group of authors can clearly be associated with a web link, such as for weblogs, then they should be included in the reference.

Examples of the Arthritis Research & Therapy reference style


Article within a journal
Koonin EV, Altschul SF, Bork P: BRCA1 protein products: functional motifs. Nat Genet 1996, 13:266-267.

Article within a journal supplement
Orengo CA, Bray JE, Hubbard T, LoConte L, Sillitoe I: Analysis and assessment of ab initio three-dimensional prediction, secondary structure, and contacts prediction. Proteins 1999, 43(Suppl 3):149-170.

In press article
Kharitonov SA, Barnes PJ: Clinical aspects of exhaled nitric oxide. Eur Respir J, in press.

Published abstract
Zvaifler NJ, Burger JA, Marinova-Mutafchieva L, Taylor P, Maini RN: Mesenchymal cells, stromal derived factor-1 and rheumatoid arthritis [abstract]. Arthritis Rheum 1999, 42:s250.

Article within conference proceedings
Jones X: Zeolites and synthetic mechanisms. In Proceedings of the First National Conference on Porous Sieves: 27-30 June 1996; Baltimore. Edited by Smith Y. Stoneham: Butterworth-Heinemann; 1996:16-27.

Book chapter, or article within a book
Schnepf E: From prey via endosymbiont to plastids: comparative studies in dinoflagellates. In Origins of Plastids. Volume 2. 2nd edition. Edited by Lewin RA. New York: Chapman and Hall; 1993:53-76.

Whole issue of journal
Ponder B, Johnston S, Chodosh L (Eds): Innovative oncology. In Breast Cancer Res 1998, 10:1-72.

Whole conference proceedings
Smith Y (Ed): Proceedings of the First National Conference on Porous Sieves: 27-30 June 1996; Baltimore. Stoneham: Butterworth-Heinemann; 1996.

Complete book
Margulis L: Origin of Eukaryotic Cells. New Haven: Yale University Press; 1970.

Monograph or book in a series
Hunninghake GW, Gadek JE: The alveolar macrophage. In Cultured Human Cells and Tissues. Edited by Harris TJR. New York: Academic Press; 1995:54-56. [Stoner G (Series Editor): Methods and Perspectives in Cell Biology, vol 1.]

Book with institutional author
Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification: Annual Report. London; 1999.

PhD thesis
Kohavi R: Wrappers for performance enhancement and oblivious decision graphs. PhD thesis. Stanford University, Computer Science Department; 1995.

Link / URL
The Mouse Tumor Biology Database [http://tumor.informatics.jax.org/mtbwi/index.do]

Link / URL with author(s)
Corpas M: The Crowdfunding Genome Project: a personal genomics community with open source values [http://blogs.biomedcentral.com/bmcblog/2012/07/16/the-crowdfunding-genome-project-a-personal-genomics-community-with-open-source-values/]

Dataset with persistent identifier
Zheng, L-Y; Guo, X-S; He, B; Sun, L-J; Peng, Y; Dong, S-S; Liu, T-F; Jiang, S; Ramachandran, S; Liu, C-M; Jing, H-C (2011): Genome data from sweet and grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor). GigaScience. http://dx.doi.org/10.5524/100012.

Clinical trial registration record with persistent identifier
Mendelow, AD (2006): Surgical Trial in Lobar Intracerebral Haemorrhage. Current Controlled Trials. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/ISRCTN22153967

Preparing illustrations and figures

Illustrations should be provided as separate files, not embedded in the text file. Each figure should include a single illustration and should fit on a single page in portrait format. If a figure consists of separate parts, it is important that a single composite illustration file be submitted which contains all parts of the figure. There is no charge for the use of color figures.

Please read our figure preparation guidelines for detailed instructions on maximising the quality of your figures.

Formats

The following file formats can be accepted:

  • PDF (preferred format for diagrams)
  • DOCX/DOC (single page only)
  • PPTX/PPT (single slide only)
  • EPS
  • PNG (preferred format for photos or images)
  • TIFF
  • JPEG
  • BMP

Arthritis Research & Therapy will edit all figures supplied by the author. For this reason it is especially important that authors should supply figures in vector form, to facilitate such editing.

Figure legends

The legends should be included in the main manuscript text file at the end of the document, rather than being a part of the figure file. For each figure, the following information should be provided: Figure number (in sequence, using Arabic numerals - i.e. Figure 1, 2, 3 etc); short title of figure (maximum 15 words); detailed legend, up to 300 words.

Please note that it is the responsibility of the author(s) to obtain permission from the copyright holder to reproduce figures or tables that have previously been published elsewhere.

Display of Electrophoretic gels and blots

Each gel and blot included in a figure or additional data file should display appropriate positive and negative controls in addition to molecular size markers and loading controls. Gel or blot images must not be electronically enhanced or manipulated. Any adjustments have to ensure that the final image is still a true representation of the original data.

Linear adjustment of the color, contrast or brightness are permitted, but they must be applied to the entire image, not just parts of it.

If gel or blots images have been cropped in order to improve the clarity of a figure, the cropping must be explained in the figure legend; any important bands must be included in the cropped figure. The complete gels and blots should be provided as additional data files and referred to from the legend of the corresponding figure in the main text.

If lanes are displayed together in an image that were not adjacent in the original gel, the lanes must be separated clearly by lines and a note must be added to the figure legend.

If previously characterized antibodies were used, a reference must be included in the article. If less well known reagents were used, antibody specificity and its reactivity in the actual assay should be included in the article.

If quantitative comparisons between samples shown on different gels or blots have to be made, this must be made explicit in the figure legends.

Preparing tables

Each table should be numbered and cited in sequence using Arabic numerals (i.e. Table 1, 2, 3 etc.). Tables should also have a title (above the table) that summarizes the whole table; it should be no longer than 15 words. Detailed legends may then follow, but they should be concise. Tables should always be cited in text in consecutive numerical order.

Smaller tables considered to be integral to the manuscript can be pasted into the end of the document text file, in A4 portrait or landscape format. These will be typeset and displayed in the final published form of the article. Such tables should be formatted using the 'Table object' in a word processing program to ensure that columns of data are kept aligned when the file is sent electronically for review; this will not always be the case if columns are generated by simply using tabs to separate text. Columns and rows of data should be made visibly distinct by ensuring that the borders of each cell display as black lines. Commas should not be used to indicate numerical values. Color and shading may not be used; parts of the table can be highlighted using symbols or bold text, the meaning of which should be explained in a table legend. Tables should not be embedded as figures or spreadsheet files.

Larger datasets or tables too wide for a landscape page can be uploaded separately as additional files. Additional files will not be displayed in the final, laid-out PDF of the article, but a link will be provided to the files as supplied by the author.

Tabular data provided as additional files can be uploaded as an Excel spreadsheet (.xls ) or comma separated values (.csv). As with all files, please use the standard file extensions.

Preparing additional files

Although Arthritis Research & Therapy does not restrict the length and quantity of data included in an article, we encourage authors to provide datasets, tables, movies, or other information as additional files.

Please note: All Additional files will be published along with the article. Do not include files such as patient consent forms, certificates of language editing, or revised versions of the main manuscript document with tracked changes. Such files should be sent by email to editorial@arthritis-research.com, quoting the Manuscript ID number.

Results that would otherwise be indicated as "data not shown" can and should be included as additional files. Since many weblinks and URLs rapidly become broken, Arthritis Research & Therapy requires that supporting data are included as additional files, or deposited in a recognized repository. Please do not link to data on a personal/departmental website. The maximum file size for additional files is 20 MB each, and files will be virus-scanned on submission.

Additional files can be in any format, and will be downloadable from the final published article as supplied by the author.

Certain supported files formats are recognized and can be displayed to the user in the browser. These include most movie formats (for users with the Quicktime plugin), mini-websites prepared according to our guidelines, chemical structure files (MOL, PDB), geographic data files (KML).

If additional material is provided, please list the following information in a separate section of the manuscript text:

  • File name (e.g. Additional file 1)
  • File format including the correct file extension for example .pdf, .xls, .txt, .pptx (including name and a URL of an appropriate viewer if format is unusual)
  • Title of data
  • Description of data

Additional files should be named "Additional file 1" and so on and should be referenced explicitly by file name within the body of the article, e.g. 'An additional movie file shows this in more detail [see Additional file 1]'.

Additional file formats

Ideally, file formats for additional files should not be platform-specific, and should be viewable using free or widely available tools. The following are examples of suitable formats.

  • Additional documentation
    • PDF (Adode Acrobat)
  • Animations
    • SWF (Shockwave Flash)
  • Movies
    • MP4 (MPEG 4)
    • MOV (Quicktime)
  • Tabular data
    • XLS, XLSX (Excel Spreadsheet)
    • CSV (Comma separated values)

As with figure files, files should be given the standard file extensions.

Mini-websites

Small self-contained websites can be submitted as additional files, in such a way that they will be browsable from within the full text HTML version of the article. In order to do this, please follow these instructions:

  1. Create a folder containing a starting file called index.html (or index.htm) in the root.
  2. Put all files necessary for viewing the mini-website within the folder, or sub-folders.
  3. Ensure that all links are relative (ie "images/picture.jpg" rather than "/images/picture.jpg" or "http://yourdomain.net/images/picture.jpg" or "C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\mini-website\images\picture.jpg") and no link is longer than 255 characters.
  4. Access the index.html file and browse around the mini-website, to ensure that the most commonly used browsers (Internet Explorer and Firefox) are able to view all parts of the mini-website without problems, it is ideal to check this on a different machine.
  5. Compress the folder into a ZIP, check the file size is under 20 MB, ensure that index.html is in the root of the ZIP, and that the file has .zip extension, then submit as an additional file with your article.

Style and language

General

Currently, Arthritis Research & Therapy can only accept manuscripts written in English. Spelling should be US English or British English, but not a mixture.

There is no explicit limit on the length of articles submitted, but authors are encouraged to be concise.

Help and advice on scientific writing

The abstract is one of the most important parts of a manuscript. For guidance, please visit our page on Writing titles and abstracts for scientific articles.

Tim Albert has produced for BioMed Central a list of tips for writing a scientific manuscript. American Scientist also provides a list of resources for science writing. For more detailed guidance on preparing a manuscript and writing in English, please visit the BioMed Central author academy.

Abbreviations

Abbreviations should be used as sparingly as possible. They should be defined when first used and a list of abbreviations can be provided following the main manuscript text.

Typography

  • Please use double line spacing.
  • Type the text unjustified, without hyphenating words at line breaks.
  • Use hard returns only to end headings and paragraphs, not to rearrange lines.
  • Capitalize only the first word, and proper nouns, in the title.
  • All pages should be numbered.
  • Use the Arthritis Research & Therapy reference format.
  • Footnotes are not allowed, but endnotes are permitted.
  • Please do not format the text in multiple columns.
  • Greek and other special characters may be included. If you are unable to reproduce a particular special character, please type out the name of the symbol in full. Please ensure that all special characters used are embedded in the text, otherwise they will be lost during conversion to PDF.

Units

SI units should be used throughout (liter and molar are permitted, however).