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We have now completed three years of our editorship and this past year has been the busiest, but also very rewarding. We are pleased to let you know that, over the past year, Thorax has continued to flourish as a successful high quality respiratory journal.1–3
One of the highlights of the year has been that our impact factor has risen from 4.188 in 2003 to 5.040 for 2004 (table 1).4,5 The impact factor that was published in 2005 reflects the number of citations in 2004 divided by the number of original papers and reviews published in Thorax in 2002 and 2003. Thorax is the second highest ranked respiratory journal in terms of impact factor, behind the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The number of articles (excluding editorials and letters) published in Thorax has remained relatively constant, with 183 articles in 2001, 210 in 2002, 198 in 2003, and 195 in 2004. Thus, the improvement in the impact factor has reflected the increased number of citations in the medical literature to Thorax papers and this is a result of the high quality papers that you have sent to the journal and the rigour of our peer review process.
Over the past year the number of submissions to the journal was at 1503, of which 913 were full original papers and the remainder were editorials, reviews, case reports, Images in Thorax, and letters. Table 2 shows the geographical spread of submissions to Thorax over the past 6 years. The numbers of papers coming from the UK, Europe (excluding UK), Japan and Australasia have remained steady while, over the past year, we have observed a welcome increase in submissions from North America, Canada, and Asia. Our acceptance rate for original research papers now stands at 15% and, for case reports and “Images in Thorax”,6 our acceptance rate is only 6.25%.
We would like to thank all the many reviewers who have given up their valuable time to assess papers for Thorax and contributed to the success of the journal.7 A list of all the reviewers for the journal during the past 12 months is published after this editorial. During the year, 1402 reviews on Thorax papers were returned by 784 reviewers. Table 3 shows the origin of reviewers by country: 40.4% were from the UK, 23.3% from other areas of Europe excluding the UK, 23.9% from the USA and Canada, and 8.7% from Australasia. We would particularly like to encourage new reviewers to come forward from Asia, Japan, South America, and Africa where the number of Thorax reviewers at present is particularly low. Please register on the Thorax submission website or contact the editors directly. We would particularly like to thank our two statistical reviewers who, between them, have reviewed carefully every potentially acceptable manuscript with statistical data during the year, which amounts to about 350 papers and revisions. Rigorous statistical review in addition to peer review has considerably improved the quality of the final manuscript published in the journal.
This year we have also provided some guidance on the requirements for publication of genetic association studies in Thorax. We noticed that many studies submitted have been underpowered or poorly designed, and we have published an editorial containing guidance on some of the key issues that need to be addressed when assessing the validity of genetic association studies. Already the standard of genetics papers in the journal has improved, and we urge our authors to study these requirements.8,9
We have continued to develop our educational features, including Airwaves at the front of the journal, Lung Alerts (short summaries of papers published in general and non-respiratory journals and serviced by our younger readers),10 and “Images in Thorax”.6 This series has proved very popular and educational and we have received 111 high quality submissions for the Images series over the year. The series has been available free of charge since November 2003 in a collection on the Thorax website (http://thorax.bmjjournals.com/cgi/collection/images). We also published a report on the British Thoracic Society Winter meeting held in London in December 2004.11 This year we have completed review series on aspects of α1-antitrypsin deficiency12,13 and sleep disordered breathing,14–17 and published a number of interesting occasional reviews on topics such as home oxygen for children,18 asbestos and lung cancer,19 pulmonary hypertension in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),20 and epithelial growth factor.21 Finally, for our researchers we published a useful editorial about obtaining research grant funding.22
The Thorax website (www.thoraxjnl.com) has proved very popular and our 10 most frequently read articles online over the past year had a total of 129 004 accesses either as full text, PDF versions, or abstracts.23–32 This is a rise of 23% in the accesses to the 10 most frequently read papers online compared with the previous year at 104 602.
Another important innovation in the journal this year has been the Online First service where original articles are posted on the Thorax website soon after acceptance, before technical editing and before publishing in the print version. Although our publication lag for the print journal is still very short (3 months), authors of research papers want their articles cited as soon as possible after acceptance so that their results can influence further research and findings can be incorporated swiftly into clinical practice to the benefit of respiratory patients all over the world.33
Correspondence is an important part of Thorax and reflects the activity and interest in the journal. The number of letters to the editor submitted has increased from 99 last year to 109 this year; these consist of letters in response to published articles, research letters that are peer reviewed, and letters about specific clinical cases. There is also the facility to respond online to a published article by “e” letter, which is a useful tool for ensuring continued dialogue around papers published in Thorax. In view of the importance of letters in Thorax, we have recently appointed a specific letters editor whose remit is to coordinate all the correspondence in the journal and on the website.
Thorax editorials have been popular with our readers and the journal regards them as important educational content. Over the past year we published 52 editorials and we would particularly like to thank all the authors who have agreed to write these—often at short notice. Fortunately, very few of you have turned down a request to write an editorial for Thorax.
We would like to thank all the Associate Editors who have provided expert help in selecting the best papers for publication and to the Lung Alert, Letters, and “Images in Thorax” editors for their hard work in making sure these features are of high quality and keeping to our tight publication deadlines. We are also grateful to our International Advisory Board for their support of the journal. During the year we held two meetings: one in November 2004 in London with all the Editors and Associate Editors and another with the Thorax Advisory Board at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) meeting in San Diego, USA in May 2005. Above all, we would like to thank all our authors who have sent us such high quality papers for review in the journal—please continue to send us your very best papers.
There are a number of respiratory journals now available and, as editors, we have all faced various complex issues and often difficult decisions regarding papers and particularly issues around publication ethics. In Thorax we have felt for some time that joint meetings of the editors and journal staff of the various respiratory journals would be very beneficial and supportive to us all. Thus, we were delighted when the other editors were enthusiastic about this idea and the first meeting was held at the ATS in May 2005, with a follow up meeting at the ERS (European Respiratory Society) in September 2005. We covered much ground with lively discussion around issues of mutual interest, got to know each other, and are developing our terms of reference for further meetings.
Andrea Horgan, the Managing Editor of Thorax, Ed Howard, the Development Editor, and Julia Cresswell have performed a superb job in running the journal and we are very grateful to them for all the support and advice they have provided us over the year. We would like to thank Liz Stockman, our Technical Editor, for preparing the monthly issues always to the highest standard and for chasing us so keenly to meet all the publication deadlines. Finally, we would like to thank Ed Neville, Sheila Edwards, and the BTS for their support of Thorax over the year.
As you can see from this report, it has been an exceptionally full and very successful year for the journal with a number of interesting developments. The high submission rates over the years 2004 and 2005 will ensure that we will be able to publish high quality papers in the coming year and build on the success achieved with Thorax. We are also interested to hear directly from our readers about any suggestions for improving the journal or its website. To this end, we would like to wish all our Thorax readers a very Happy Christmas and a productive and successful New Year.