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In January 2003 the Editorship of Thorax changed and it is with great privilege and considerable awe and trepidation that we took over as Editors.1 Under the editorship of John Britton and Alan Knox Thorax has achieved high standards and increased its impact factor, which now stands at 4.078 (fig 1). Thorax is currently the most successful European respiratory journal and the third among all respiratory journals (behind the two American Thoracic Society publications). The readership of Thorax, together with the whole respiratory community, owes an enormous debt of gratitude to John and Alan and the previous editorial team for their outstanding achievement.
With the advent of the new editorial team, Thorax changed to an online submission system using Bench>Press.5 Although there were some initial difficulties with the change over from a paper based system to complete online submission, this is now running very well and authors, reviewers, and all our editors seem to have adapted very well to the change. The number of submissions to Thorax has increased, particularly from March 2003, with a total of 1260 submissions for the 12 months from October 2002 to 30 September 2003, representing an overall increase of around 33% on the previous year (tables 1 and 2). The number of original research articles submitted to the journal has increased by a similar amount. We have also seen an increase in submissions from outside the UK, especially from North America and Canada (from 74 in 2001–2 to 126 for the past year) and a doubling in the number of submissions from Asia (table 3). The median time to the first decision on a paper is 38 days. However, the increased number of submissions means that our acceptance rate for original research papers now stands at only 12.4%.
This year we have published some important original papers and useful management guidelines for common conditions including the new BTS/SIGN (British Thoracic Society/Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network) guidelines for the management of asthma in February 2003,6,7 BTS guidelines for the management of pulmonary embolism,8,9 BTS guidelines for the management of pleural disease,10 and BTS guidelines on respiratory aspects of fitness for diving.11 We have also published the Year in Review 2002,12 and have completed the review series on the pulmonary physician in critical care,13–17 continued the series on important aspects of COPD,18–28 and started a series on lung cancer.29–37
A number of new features have started in Thorax, primarily aimed at increasing the educational value of the journal. Every month we now produce our Airwaves section at the front of the journal with short paragraphs highlighting the key messages of some of the papers in the journal. We have also started the “Lung Alerts” feature as, at a time of ever increasing numbers of medical publications and a vast range of journals publishing papers of interest to practitioners in respiratory medicine, we do not have the time to scan all the general and specialist journals for papers on respiratory topics.38 A number of very important papers are published in general medical or scientific journals or in specialist journals. We have therefore started to publish short reviews and alerts of papers that we have selected from these journals. We have had an excellent response to our call to younger Thorax readers for help with this feature, and we are very grateful to all the contributors who have made this series such a success this year. In November 2003 we launched a new educational series called “Images in Thorax” in which we will publish an image or a pathological section with a short explanatory and educational note.39 The Thorax website (www.thoraxjnl.com) has proved very popular and our 10 most frequently read articles on line between December 2001 to December 2002 had a total of nearly 65 000 accesses as either full text, PDF versions, or abstracts.40–49
We would like to thank all the authors who have sent us such high quality papers for review in the journal, and the many reviewers who have given up their valuable time to assess papers for Thorax and who have contributed to the success of the journal (a full bit of reviewers is available on the Thorax website at www.choraxjnl.com/supplemental). We would like to thank the Associate Editors for their invaluable help in selecting the best papers for publication and the International Advisory Board for their support of the journal. We thank Angshu Bhowmik and Terry Seemungal for organising Lung Alerts each month and Mark Fitzgerald for organising the new Images series. Ed Howard, our editorial assistant, has performed a superb job in running the journal and managing so expertly the change over to the online manuscript submission system and the office moves at the start of the year; thanks also to Julia Cresswell, our part time assistant. Finally, we would like to thank Sue King, the managing editor, for all her support in our first year and Liz Stockman, the technical editor, for ensuring that the monthly issues of Thorax are always produced to the highest standard.
This has been the first year that Thorax has operated from its permanent home in the British Thoracic Society offices in London. As our submission and peer review system is now entirely online, there is less need for the Thorax office to follow the Editors geographically and a permanent base will allow us to employ permanent editorial staff to ensure the future continuity of the journal.
Our first year as Editors of Thorax has been busy, challenging, and exciting. We are committed to ensuring that the journal continues its success and increases its impact internationally, while at the same time maintaining its educational value for the global respiratory community.