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The year in Gut 2009
  1. Robin Spiller
  1. Division of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor R Spiller, Division of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK; robin.spiller{at}nottingham.ac.uk

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This will be the last Editorial I shall write as Editor, having completed my 7 year term at the end of this year, so it is perhaps appropriate to look back at what has been achieved and also to look forward. It gives me great pleasure to thank my many Associate Editors from all over the world who have contributed to Gut’s success. I am particularly grateful to the early members of my team including my deputy John Atherton (Nottingham, UK), Alistair Watson (Liverpool, UK), Juergen Schölmerich (Regensburg, Germany), Ray Playford (London, UK), David Adams (Birmingham, UK), Jan Tack (Leuven, Belgium) and Anna Mae Diehl (Baltimore, USA) who encouraged me to raise the standards by which we judged papers. This led to the rise in impact factor (figure) which has in turn attracted the many excellent manuscripts we are now receiving.

The Associate Editors have had a big impact on the journal, attracting papers from new areas and new authors, and have also expanded our pool of international reviewers, something which is vital for the journal's efficient working. We were soon joined by Markus Lerch (Greifswald, Germany) and Jean-Frederic Colombel (Lille, France), attracting more papers from the pancreatic and inflammatory bowel disease community, respectively. Their successors have been an outstandingly talented group with whom it has been a privilege to work. Kevin Moore (London, UK), Geoff Dusheiko (London, UK), Emad El-Omar (Aberdeen, UK), Subrata Ghosh (London, UK), Massimo Pinzani (Florence, Italy), Magnus Simren (Gothenberg, Sweden), Bill Grady (Seattle, USA), Alexander Gerbes (Munich, Germany), David Mutimer (Birmingham, UK), Severine Vermeire (Leuven, Belgium), Ernst Kuipers (Rotterdam, The Netherlands), Ramon Bataller (Barcelona, Spain), Laurence Egan (Galway, Ireland), Guy Boeckxstaens (Leuven, Belgium), Herbert Tilg (Innsbruck, Austria) and Thomas Gress (Marburg, Germany) have all maintained the momentum, working fairly and thoroughly through over 2000 manuscripts per year. I have deliberately expanded our Hepatology team to provide specialist expertise in this important area and I am pleased to see the increase in quantity and quality of the Hepatology manuscripts submitted. We have also supported our Associate Editors with Specialist Editors including, more recently, Willem de Vos (Helsinki, Finland) to cover microbiology and Kentaro Sugano (Tochigi, Japan) providing specialist expertise in endoscopy and gastric cancer.

We are constantly striving to speed up the review process which often seems lengthy to authors. However, it is gratifying to see our median time to first decision for all manuscripts is just under 2 weeks and just under 6 weeks for manuscripts which are reviewed. Obviously, there are occasional papers we find it extremely difficult to get referees for, and unfortunately this can cause long delays, but this is fortunately now a rare event.

Our achievement, in increasing the impact factor so that it is now close to that of our main rivals Gastroenterology and Hepatology (figure), means that authors do have a reasonable choice of top class journals to which to submit their work to. It remains our aim for Gut to be the first choice and, to achieve that, we have worked hard to speed up the process while still ensuring fairness. I am particularly happy to hand over to Emad El-Omar who I know will continue this process. By maintaining high standards and only accepting what we can publish we are in the happy position of being able to offer publication online within 1–2 weeks and in print between 4 and 5 months which is certainly attractive for authors.

We do of course have an audience with a very wide range of needs and we have introduced many new features to try and ensure that the journal has something for everyone each month. Our Recent Advances series and Guidelines are obviously meeting a need since the most popular are downloaded >1000 times per month. These are aimed at updating the general reader with important advances, in both science and clinical practice, which will alter our day to day clinical practice. We have also introduced many new educational features including the GI Snapshots which are designed to stimulate diagnostic skills and will soon be incorporated into our online learning. Our Gut tutorials, started by Alastair Forbes and now managed with great energy by Guru Aithal, are being seen as an exemplar for the new model of distance learning for the Royal College of Physicians to provide a systematic and auditable approach to continuous medical education. We recognise that busy clinicians will often only have time to skim the journal, and our Digests and Commentaries are aimed at them, to ensure they are at least aware of what is over the horizon which is relevant to their practice.

JournalScan is also designed to help those busy clinicians by drawing their attention to important articles published elsewhere. I would like to thank Richard Logan for editing this for its first 5 years and Paul Moayyedi and subsequently Guru Aithal, who is now the Editor.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the British Society of Gastroenterology and its Council who have supported me and given me complete editorial freedom to pursue my declared aim on taking up the editorship, which was to establish Gut as the number one European gastroenterology and hepatology journal with a very broad international appeal. I would especially like to thank the many people who have acted as reviewers for Gut. A full review of a complex article can take several hours and we realise the effort this involves. We have an explicit policy of bringing frequent reviewers into our Editorial Board and ultimately bringing our top reviewers into the more demanding position of Associate Editor. Our Editorial Board members are not ornamental but hardworking contributors to the team and have contributed substantially to the success the journal has enjoyed, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude.

The final polished product involves a great deal of effort so it has been fortunate that Gut has had an exceptional publisher. I would like especially to thank the Publishing Directors Alex Williamson and Peter Ashman, and the Editorial Team including Claire Castle, Alex Hodge, Andrea Horgan, Rachel Christopher, Julie Solomon, Melissa Dodd, Claire Folkes, Richard Sands, Kathryn Walsh, Craig Raybould, Gavin Stewart and Clare Spencer for their professionalism and hard work over the years.

Finally, I would like to thank the staff in Nottingham, particularly my secretary, Emma Bradley, for supporting me over the last 7 years, and also my wife Sue, for her support and understanding of the many hours that I have had to devote to the journal.

My final comment must be a forward looking one and it is with great pleasure that I hand over to Professor Emad El-Omar. Emad has already had 3 years as Associate Editor and was Deputy Editor for 2007 before stepping down in January 2008. He is therefore very familiar with the working of the journal but has had a 2 year break and so can approach the task afresh. He was appointed after competitive interviews from 65 talented individuals from all over the world who applied for the post, which speaks a lot for his qualities. He has an outstanding academic record with many original observations and so understands our authors’ needs well. He is also a practising clinician with a heavy clinical workload sympathetic to our average clinical reader. He has a very sound judgement and I know he is going to lead the journal to new heights. I would like to thank all those who have supported me and to ask them to give him the same unstinting support they gave me, confident that with this Gut can achieve its ambition and potential as a world leader in its field.

Footnotes

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.