RMD Open is an online-only open access journal dedicated to publishing research on musculoskeletal disorders, rheumatism and connective tissue diseases, including osteoporosis, spine and rehabilitation. The journal aims to provide rapid publication of research through a continuous publication model.

Editorial policy

RMD Open adheres to the highest standards concerning its editorial policies on publication ethics and scientific misconduct. consent and peer review criteria. The journal follows guidance produced by bodies that include the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), the Council of Science Editors and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). To view all BMJ Journal policies please refer to the BMJ Author Hub policies page, including information about our Editors’ roles and responsibilities. Authors are required to submit a statement that their study obtained ethics approval (or a statement that it was not required and why) and that participants gave informed consent. Our Editors will consider whether the work is morally acceptable as determined by the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki. In addition to this, in line with General Medical Council guidelines, an article that contains personal medical information about an identifiable living individual requires patients explicit consent (in the format of a signed BMJ patient consent form) before we will publish it. Please find further details on BMJ research ethics policies (human participants and animals) and consent for publication; including a link to the downloadable consent form.
To make the best decision on how to deal with a manuscript RMD Open needs to know about any competing interests authors may have; this includes any commercial, financial or non financial associations that may be relevant to the submitted article. Authors must download and complete a copy of the ICMJE Conflict of Interest disclosure form. In addition to this RMD Open ensures that all advertising and sponsorship associated with the journal does not influence editorial decisions, is immediately distinguishable from editorial content and meets all other BMJ guidelines. Please find more information about competing interests and a link to the form. We take seriously all possible misconduct. If an Editor, author or reader has concerns that a submitted article describes something that might be considered to constitute misconduct in research, publication or professional behaviour they should forward their concerns to the journal. The publisher will deal with allegations appropriately following ICMJE and COPE guidelines. Corrections and retractions are considered where an article has already been published; corrections, expressions of concern or a retraction notices will be published as soon as possible in line with the BMJ correction and retraction policy.

Copyright and authors’ rights

As an open access journal, RMD Open adheres to the Budapest Open Access Initiative definition of open access.. 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. Such 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 RMD Open Author Licence. More information on copyright and authors’ rights.
When publishing in RMD Open, authors choose between two licence types – 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.

Article processing charges

RMD Open is an open access journal and levies an Article Processing Charge (APC) of 2,163 GBP (exclusive of VAT for UK and EU authors). The APC for Letters is 1,082 GBP. There are no submission, colour or page charges. There is a 25% discount for articles where the corresponding author has reviewed for RMD Open within the previous 12 months. A 50% discount on the standard APC will apply to letters. As one of the founding members of the HINARI Access to Research in Health Programme, we provide free access to all of our journals, and journals archive to local, not-for-profit institutions in low income countries. In addition, we appreciate that some authors do not have access to funding to cover publication costs and we offer waivers through our Open Access Waiver Fund. We will accept part payment where only limited funds are available, and we offer waivers to authors in exceptional circumstances, on request.

Waivers and discounts

BMJ journals offer waivers for the full Article Processing Charge (100% discount of the APC) where all authors are based in low-income countries. See full waiver list*. Requests for waivers should be made before or during initial submission**. If an article reports funding from a funder with an open access mandate or policy that covers paying APCs, BMJ expects that the APC will be paid. Visit our author hub to learn more about our waivers policy and how to request one. You might be eligible for institutional funding. A number of institutions have open access agreements with BMJ which can either cover the whole cost of open access publishing for authors at participating institutions or can allow authors to receive a discount of the Article Processing Charge (APC). Visit BMJ’s open access agreements page to find out whether your institution is a member and what discounts you may be entitled to. *These lists are based on the HINARI Core Offer Groups A and B, and the World Bank Country and Lending Groups, downloaded in July 2021. They will be updated annually. **Please note that applications for waivers or discounts should be made during initial submission and not after an article has been accepted. Editors are not involved in this process and the ability to pay has no bearing on editorial decisions. Payment will not be required unless your article is accepted. Accepted articles will not be published until payment has been received. BMJ does not refund APCs once paid.

Provenance and peer review

Original research submissions to RMD Open are unsolicited, Editorials, Viewpoints and Review articles are predominantly commissioned. All articles submitted to RMD Open are subject to external peer review. The journal operates single anonymised peer review whereby the names of the reviewers are hidden from the author; usually two external reviewer reports are obtained before an Original research or Review article is accepted for publication. Articles 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 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. BMJ requests that all reviewers adhere to a set of basic principles and standards during the peer review process; these are based on the COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. Please refer to our peer review terms and conditions policy page.
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 Reader responses, questions and comments to published content is welcomed by RMD Open; these should be submitted electronically via the journals website. Please find further details on how to publish a response and the terms and requirements.

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.

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.
Please note that the article transfer service does not guarantee acceptance but you should receive a quicker initial decision on your manuscript. Contact the Transfer Editor at

Data sharing

RMD Open 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.


RMD Open 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.

Subject areas and keywords

When submitting your manuscript you will be asked to choose one subject area from the list provided that most closely relates to the topic of your article. Your paper will be published under this section heading on the journal’s table of contents.
You will also be asked to select up to five specific keywords to assist in the identification of suitable reviewers.

Rapid responses

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

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

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. We encourage authors to ensure that research articles are written in accordance with the relevant research reporting guideline. 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

Full original research articles should follow the basic structure of abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, references, and tables and figures as appropriate. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses should also be submitted as original articles. Research reviews that systematically synthesise evidence (e.g. Systematic reviews, Meta-analysis, Scoping reviews, Mixed methods reviews, etc) should be submitted as Original research. Please include the key messages of your article after your abstract using the following headings. This section should be no more than 3-5 sentences and should be distinct from the abstract; be succinct, specific and accurate.
  • What is already known on this topicsummarise the state of scientific knowledge on this subject before you did your study and why this study needed to be done
  • What this study addssummarise what we now know as a result of this study that we did not know before
  • How this study might affect research, practice or policysummarise the implications of this study
This will be published as a summary box after the abstract in the final published article. Supplementary and raw data can be placed online separately from the text, and we may request that you separate out some material into supplementary data files to make the main manuscript clearer for readers. 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: usually up to 5000 words (although this is negotiable and can be extended in specific circumstances) Abstract: up to 250 words Tables/illustrations: up to 8 tables and/or figures References: up to 50

Short report

Short clinical or laboratory investigations may be presented as a short report. They undergo the same review process as original articles and should be formatted in the same way: abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, references, tables and/or figures, and key messages.
Word count: up to 1500 words Abstract: up to 250 words Tables/illustrations: up to 3 tables and/or figures References: up to 20

Clinical case

Case series will be considered if the cases are original, rare, or of educational value. Individual case reports are not typically published unless they are of exceptional interest; authors of single cases are instead encouraged to submit to BMJ Case Reports. Clinical cases should be presented in the following sections: abstract/summary, introduction, case report, discussion and key messages.
Word count: up to 1500 words Abstract/summary: up to 250 words Tables/illustrations: up to 3 tables and/or figures References: up to 20


Although these are usually commissioned, authors are invited to discuss possible topics directly with the Editor. Research reviews that systematically synthesise evidence (e.g. Systematic reviews, Meta-analysis, Scoping reviews, Mixed methods reviews, etc) are classified by the journal as Original research and must be submitted as such. The structure of the article is at the author’s discretion, but please include a section entitled ‘Key messages’ consisting of 3-4 bullet points (of no more than one sentence each) summarising the key points of the article.
Word count: usually up to 5000 words (although this is negotiable and can be extended in specific circumstances) Abstract: up to 250 words Tables/illustrations: up to 8 tables and/or figures References: up to 50


Short clinical or laboratory observations (eg preliminary or confirmatory data) may be presented as a Letter. Letters are not divided into sections, while instructions for references, tables, and figures are the same as for full length articles. Letters may undergo the same review process as full length papers. A 50% discount on the standard APC will apply to letters.
Word count: up to 600 words Abstract: not required Tables/illustrations: maximum 1 table/figure References: maximum 6

Editorial and Viewpoint

Occasional editorials and viewpoints will be published, and will usually be commissioned by the Editor. Authors wishing to publish unsolicited articles are invited to contact the Editor prior to submission to discuss their manuscript. Their aim is to stimulate thought rather than review the subject exhaustively. Personal opinion and comment are welcomed and should be supported by evidence.
Word count: Usually 1500-2000 words (although this is negotiable and includes references) Tables/illustrations: 1 table and/or figure References: up to 30


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