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Instructions for Authors

For general guidelines on submissions and policies for journals from BMJ, please click on the links below:
Manuscript preparation
Editorial policies
Patient consent forms
Licence forms
Peer review
Submission and production processes

Editorial policy

Heart is an international peer review journal that keeps cardiologists up to date with advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Topics cover the breadth of cardiovascular disease with special emphasis on valve disease, congenital heart disease, and inherited cardiovascular conditions as well as coronary disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, imaging, epidemiology, global health, genomics and translational science. Each issue contains original scientific articles with accompanying editorials, reviews of recent advances in clinical and translational cardiovascular science; an extensive continuing professional education section (Education in Heart); the Image Challenge series of image-based cases with multiple choice questions; and Journal Scan summarizing important papers published in other journals

Reviewer guidelines

The Heart Editor-in-Chief has written some guidelines for reviewers for Heart. These will be of particular interest to those that are new to reviewing manuscripts. If you would like to register your interest in becoming a reviewer for Heart, please contact the info.heart{at}bmj.com.

How to review a paper for Heart >>

Manuscript transfer

BMJ and the British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) have a facility for transferring manuscripts among all three of their cardiology journals. Authors submitting to the flagship journal Heart will, where appropriate, be given the option for their manuscript to be considered by Open Heart and Heart Asia if Heart is unable to accept their manuscript for publication. Authors can choose either of these titles as an ‘alternate journal’ when submitting to Heart.

Once authors agree for their manuscript to be transferred to another BMJ journal, there will be no need for re-submission and any reviewer comments will also be shared, resulting in a reduced time to decision.

Open Access

Authors can choose to have their article published Open Access for a fee of £1950 (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.

Article types and word counts

The word count excludes the title page, abstract, tables, acknowledgements and contributions and the references. Supplementary material (e.g. additional tables, figures and text files) can be published online only and is not included in the word count. If you are not a native English speaker there is a professional editing service available.

Original research article

Authors submitting papers reporting original research data (for example, clinical research, meta-analyses, translational science) should not exceed a limit of 3000 words, eight figures and/or tables, and 30 references. Articles that significantly exceed this word limit may be returned for revision before peer review. 

General guidelines on manuscript preparation 
Pre-submission checklist

Title

Use a short title that describes the key elements of your paper. Use a subtitle to indicate the study type only for a randomized clinical trial, meta-analysis, or systematic review. Other subtitles are discouraged. Abbreviations, acronyms, and brand or device names are not allowed in titles. The total title length is limited to 100 characters. 

Abstract

Authors of original scientific papers must supply a structured abstract of no more than 250 words under the following sub-headings:

  • Objective - include the specific study aims or hypothesis
  • Methods – include study design, setting, patients, interventions and main outcome measures.
  • Results - give numerical data rather than vague statements that drug x produced a better response than drug y. Favour confidence intervals over p values, and give the numerical data on which any p value is based. Include absolute as well as relative risk numerical data.
  • Conclusions - do not make any claims that are not supported by data in the paper.

Section head

You will be asked to choose the most relevant topic area for your article from the list of sections published in Heart.

Keywords

Supply up to 5 keywords from the list provided.

Research checklist

Authors are encouraged to use the relevant research reporting guidelines for the study type provided by the EQUATOR Network

The key reporting guidelines are:

Research checklists should be uploaded during the submission process.

Key questions

Authors should also complete a summary explaining the significance of their study by providing a short statement answering each of the following key questions:

  • What is already known about this subject?
  • What does this study add?
  • How might this impact on clinical practice?

The above headings must be used. Please add this in the manuscript file following the abstract.

Introduction

Brief description of the background that led to the study (current results and conclusions should not be included). The study specific aims or hypothesis should be clearly stated.

Methods

Provide details of the study population as detailed in the key reporting guidelines on the Research Checklist.  In addition:

  • Describe statistical methods with enough detail to enable the reader to judge its appropriateness for the study and to verify the reported results.
  • When possible, quantify findings and present them with appropriate indicators of measurement error or uncertainty (such as confidence intervals). Avoid relying solely on statistical hypothesis testing, such as P values.
  • Distinguish prespecified from exploratory analyses, including subgroup analyses.

Results

Undue repetition in text and tables should be avoided. Comment on validity and significance of results is appropriate but broader discussion of their implication is restricted to the next section. Subheadings that aid clarity of presentation within this and the previous section are encouraged.

Tables

  • Use tables to summarize data when possible, rather than text.
  • 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.
  • Tables may be no longer than 2 pages in length.

Graphs

  • Use graphical displays of quantitative data if this is the best way to present the information.  
  • 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.
  • Avoid bar or column graphs; instead use boxplots or other graphical displays to show the data distribution, as well as mean values. Use solid greyscale or colour fills rather than patterned fills.
  • Avoid non-essential grids, background shading, or explanatory text  inside the graph. Avoid legends in the graph itself; instead put labels next to the data line or include this information in the text figure legend.
  • Keep axis titles and labels brief. Use clear labels for units of measure on each axis.
  • Aim to fill the frame to avoid large areas of white space.
  • On life-table graphs, include the number of subjects at risk in each group at several time points along the x-axis. 

Discussion

The nature and findings of the study are placed in context of other relevant published data. Caveats to the study should be discussed. Avoid undue extrapolation from the study topic. Ensure wording is appropriate to the study type. A cause-effect relationship can be inferred only from randomized controlled clinical trials. Studies showing an association should avoid wording that implies causality. 

Acknowledgments and affiliations

Individuals with direct involvement in the study but not included in authorship may be acknowledged. The source of financial support and industry affiliations of all those involved must be stated.

Measurements and abbreviations

Restrict the use of abbreviations (apart from conventional units of measurement) to two or three per paper. Spell out each abbreviation at first mention in the abstract and paper.
All acronyms of trials referred to in a paper should be listed alphabetically and explained in a separate glossary. Measurements must be given in SI units. Blood pressure should be given in mm Hg.

Video abstracts

We welcome video abstracts to accompany accepted research articles. These allow authors to personally talk through their work beyond the restrictions of a formal article to improve the user’s understanding.

Note that we will not ask you to consider submitting a video abstract until your paper has been accepted. Please do not try to upload a video abstract upon initial submission of your manuscript.

There are many tutorials online which can guide the production of a video abstract, using widely and often freely available software. Windows Movie Maker and Apple iMovie are the most common examples. Examples of video abstracts are available from The BMJ. Below are a few guidelines for making a video abstract. Authors may also want to ask their institution’s press/media office for assistance.

  • Video abstracts should not last longer than 4 minutes.
  • The content and focus of the video must relate directly to the study that has been accepted for publication, and should not stray beyond the data. We recommend that you follow the same structure as the paper itself i.e. briefly outline the background/context of the study, present your research objective, outline the methods used, present the key results and then discuss the implications of the outcomes.
  • The presentation and content of the video should be in a style and in terms that will be understandable and accessible to a general medical audience. The main language should be English, but we welcome subtitles in another language. Please avoid jargon that will not be familiar to a wide medical audience, and do not use abbreviations.
  • Authors usually talk directly into the camera and/or present a slideshow, but we encourage the use of other relevant visual and audio material (such as animations, video clips, still photographs, figures, infographics). If you wish to use material from previously published work or from other sources, please obtain the appropriate permissions from the relevant publisher or copyright owner.
  • If the video shows any identifiable living patients and/or identifiable personal details, authors need to demonstrate that consent has been obtained. If a patient consent form was provided for the related article, there is no need to provide this again for the video.
  • Please use the compression parameters that video sharing sites use. Often these are standard options from your editing software. A comprehensive guide is available from the vimeo website. 

Videos are too large to email so will need to be uploaded to BMJ’s account on the Hightail website. Please include the journal’s name and your manuscript ID number in the message field – this will enable us to match your video to your paper. Your video needs to be received by the time that you return the corrections for your article proof, at the very latest. Please note that if you do not correctly label your video or if you miss the deadline, this may cause delays in publication of both your article and the video.

All video abstracts will be assessed for suitability by the editorial team and publication is not guaranteed. In some cases editors may request edits to the video.

Video abstracts are embedded within the research article online and also published separately on the journal’s YouTube channel. They are published under the same copyright terms as the associated article.

Review

Reviews are balanced accounts of all aspects of a particular subject including the pros and cons of any contentious or uncertain aspect. Although these are usually commissioned, authors are invited to discuss possible topics directly with the Editor-in-Chief. Systematic reviews of topics of current interest are particularly encouraged.

Authors of systematic reviews should follow the PRISMA guidelines and upload their completed research checklist when submitting their manuscript.

Word count: up to 3000 words.
Abstract: up to 250 words.
Tables/illustrations: up to 8.
References: up to 30.

Education in Heart 

This section of the journal is commissioned by the Education in Heart Section Editors. If you have an idea for an article, please contact the sarah.clarke{at}papworth.nhs.uk?subject=Education%20in%20Heart%20-%20idea%20for%20article to discuss your proposal.

Editorial

These are commissioned only articles.  Original papers should not be submitted under this category.

Word count: up to 1500 words.
Tables/illustrations: up to 2
References: up to 8.

Image challenge

This section is for unusual images 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, e.g. "Atypical chest pain in a 48 year old woman".

Each image challenge will be presented in two parts. The first part should contain a very brief clinical introduction to a case (maximum 200 words), followed by an image and a board-review format multiple choice question designed to stimulate the reader to think about what the image shows. In addition to cardiovascular imaging, other images, such as an ECG or histology, are appropriate. The legend should not indicate the diagnosis but should simply describe the nature of the image e.g. “3D echocardiographic image of the mitral valve”.  The second part (maximum 200 words) will appear separately from the case 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 answer should explain why the correct answer is correct and why the incorrect answers are not.  

The quality of the image must be at least 300dpi and in .tif, .jpeg, .gif or .eps format. Videos for online presentation are also welcomed and should be in .mov, .avi, or .mpeg format.

Number of authors: 3 maximum.
Word count: up to 400 words.
References: up to 5

Correspondence

Letters in response to articles published in Heart are welcomed and should be submitted electronically as eLetters via the journal’s website. Contributors should go to the abstract or full text of the article in question. In the right hand column on the article webpage is a section entitled ‘Responses’. Click on ’Submit a response’ and complete the online form.

Letters relating to or responding to previously published items in the journal will be reviewed by the editor and shown to those authors of the original article, where appropriate. The authors will be invited to submit a response.

Heart will publish selected eLetters in the print journal alongside the authors' responses.

Word count: approximately 350 words.
References: up to 4, with reference 1 being the Heart paper to which the letter refers.

Supplementary data

Additional material (figures, video clips,tables, appendices etc.) can be published online as supplementary data for any article type. Supplementary data is published as supplied i.e. it is not professionally copyedited or typeset.

Supplements

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.

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 www.ithenticate.com.

Free sample
This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of Heart.
View free sample issue >>

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