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Reflections on 2004 and plans for 2005
  1. R C Spiller
  1. Editor

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The December issue is a good time to reflect on the past year’s achievements and to look forward to the New Year: 2004 was a bumper year for Gut with over 1900 manuscripts submitted for publication. Over the last two years we have seen submissions rise by nearly a third but in spite of this we have maintained and, more recently, reduced the all important median time to first decision which is now 13 days. Most manuscripts go out to review within nine days and the average time to receive two complete reviews is 22 days. A streamlined decision process allows a final decision, on average, nine days from receipt of review. Once a manuscript is accepted, the next important date is publication, and we have worked hard to reduce this delay, which is frustrating for authors. We set ourselves a goal of reducing the time from acceptance to publication to four months. A manuscript accepted in December can expect to go to print within 3–4 months and appear in the May or June issue. In 2005, we are planning to implement the web based “publication ahead of print”. Once accepted, a manuscript will appear on the website in a citable form with its unique identifier number. This will allow the article to be cited within a few weeks of being accepted which will be a big advantage to authors in making grant applications and other submissions based on previous work.

Selecting the top 10 articles of 2004 is always difficult and only time will tell which are the most influential, the following are currently the articles with the most interest, as show by hits and cites. Helicobacter pylori continues to be an active area and top of the list is David Graham’s article on a challenge model for H pylori1 followed closely by a study showing that H pylori eradication reduces the risk of progression of intestinal metaplasia.2 Endoscopic treatments for cancer is an exciting area, as shown by the interest in Hurlstone’s article on colonoscopic resection of lateral spreading tumours.3 Diagnosing early hepatocellular cancer is also a “hot topic” and as Caturelli showed, this can be reliably diagnosed by fine needle biopsy under ultrasound control.4 The General Practice Research Database continues to reveal important insights and was used by Solaymani and colleagues to show a 30-fold increased risk of adenocarcinoma in Barrett’s but an insignificant rise in those with reflux alone.5 Other important topics included gastric cancer,6 risks of Infliximab treatment for Crohn’s,7 dynamic imaging of pancreatic disease by novel ultrasound techniques,8 macrophage response to infection in patients with cirrhosis,9 and the role of platelet activating factor in experimental cirrhosis.10

Several new features have become established over the year. Recent Advances in Basic Science and Clinical Practice is now fully on stream and we hope you will find within this series a useful source of both basic science and clinically relevant practice points. Our aim is to cover the whole of gastroenterology and hepatology over a 4–5 year cycle, although obviously we will focus on areas where rapid changes are being made. GI snapshots are also appearing and we hope they provide stimulating and instructive light relief from the full manuscripts.

Another innovation which Alastair Forbes and I have been working hard on this year is the Gut tutorials series which will start in the New Year. These will be accessible via the Gut website (http://gut.bmjjournals.com/) and will be interactive with links to original articles, images, and videos. Our aim is to cover all areas of gastroenterology and hepatology. The tutorials will be case based and simulate normal clinical practice. As such we hope they will be useful in ensuring that our readers are up to date with the latest thoughts on clinical management. Once the reader has worked through the case, there will then be a series of questions. Correct answers to more than 70% of these questions will result in the awarding of a one hour CME credit. We hope to have completed negotiations soon with the Royal College of Physicians of London and the UEMS (European Union of Medical Specialists) to ensure that they meet their requirements.

We are very conscious of the enormous effort contributed to the journal by our unsung heroes the reviewers. We plan to expand our Editorial Board clearly linking membership to contribution. Those who regularly contribute high quality reviews will be appointed to the Board and we hope they can use this marker of esteem to justify to their institutions the time they spent on this activity. The Associate Editors and myself would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have contributed to the journal, both authors and reviewers, whose names are listed on the Gut website (www.gutjnl.com). With your help we have had an excellent 2004 and we look forward with eager anticipation to 2005 as we continue to develop the journal.

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