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On the shoulders of (real) giants
  1. Ian D Pavord1,
  2. Andrew Bush2
  1. 1Glenfield Hospital, UK
  2. 2Imperial College & Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, UK
  1. Correspondence to Ian D Pavord, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Thoracic Surgery and Allergy, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Glenfield Hospital, Groby Road, Leicester LE3 9QP, UK; ian.pavord{at}

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It is a daunting task to take over the reins of Thorax, after the fantastically successful last years. Thorax is ranked second in the world among respiratory journals, with an impact factor of 7.069, and this is due mainly to the untiring efforts of the previous team, so ably headed by Wisia Wedzicha and Seb Johnston, building on the foundations laid by previous Editorial teams. It would be wrong not to acknowledge with respect and amazement the achievements to date. They have been the real giants on whose shoulders we stand (definitely not in the snide sense originally used by Newton). So we approach the next 5 years with some trepidation, but great excitement. Clearly we are not going to make radical changes; we want to continue to attract the best clinical work and basic science to the journal. We do believe there are areas on which we would like to focus to move the journal forward.

Randomised controlled trials

We want to facilitate the rapid publication of good clinical trials, the backbone of evidence-based medicine. We will offer peer review of the protocol when it has been registered on any approved site. If the protocol passes peer review, we will offer fast-track publication on completion of the trial, provided the protocol has been followed and, where appropriate, CONSORT requirements are met1—these will be the sole criteria for publication. We will aim to have the trial published online within 2 weeks, with fast-tracking into the paper version. Furthermore, we will invite groups doing large trials to submit a paper describing their protocol as ‘work in progress’, to keep our community informed about new developments.2


The British Thoracic Society (BTS) guidelines have been important reading for many of us, and these will continue to be published in Thorax. However, they can be (necessarily) very bulky. We will plan to publish an executive summary in the form of an editorial in the paper journal, with the full version published online, unless the expense of a supplement is felt to be justified.

Chest clinics

We are both active practising clinicians with a research interest nearer the bedside than the bench. We are conscious that many readers without a major research interest would like to see more material of immediate clinical relevance. We plan to develop a new section in Thorax called ‘Chest Clinics’ to cater for this. This section will incorporate the very successful ‘Images in Thorax’ and a more condensed version of ‘Lung Alerts’, and include a new case-based review series, clinical cases for discussion, short reviews dealing with the clinical impact of new basic research findings, a section spotlighting the views and career highlights of distinguished colleagues who are retiring or nearing retirement and lighter pieces addressing aspects of clinical practice of relevance to the practising respiratory physician. We are happy to consider uncommisioned articles and suggestions for colleagues who should feature in our retirement series. Our aim is to increase the readability of the journal. We also hope to address educational needs by linking articles to a limited number of MCQ questions.

Review articles

Many people need to rely on high quality reviews to keep up to date. We will commission in two other areas. First, we will be asking our editorial team to produce high-quality reviews of the important papers published in Thorax and elsewhere over the previous 2 years. These will be critical and focused, and set in the context of previous work. Secondly, we feel the BTS Winter meeting deserves more attention. We will be asking members of the BTS Speciality Advisory Group to write reviews of the important work presented both in invited lectures and in abstracts at the meeting. Finally, we would like to receive proposals (<500 words) for state of the art review articles; these will be carefully considered and peer reviewed before an invitation to submit a full article is issued. All reviews will be peer reviewed to ensure good quality.

Correspondence columns

We want to try to make this section more interactive. We will encourage short summary letters (200 words) arising from work published in the journal. The letter can have as long an online supplement as is needed (within reason). We will post all letters online (unless they are libellous or inaccurate) within 48 hours of receipt, and aim to publish the most significant comments in the paper version of the journal. There is the option just to submit a long version, but it is unlikely that we will publish long letters, unless of exceptional quality, in the paper version. The second area is case reports. We will no longer accept case reports as full papers, only as letters to the Editor. The maximum length for the paper copy will be 500 words; online supplements will be encouraged.

The review process

We know that all authors want their papers accepted by return e-mail, with warm congratulations and no changes requested. This is not going to happen! We are committed to speeding up the review process. We will be streamlining the website for ease of access, and asking for a review with 3 weeks. Reviewers will get count-down e-alerts of the impending deadlines at regular intervals. We will be publicly acknowledging those reviewers who have looked at the most papers, and those who have returned the best and fastest reviews (but not yet naming and shaming the malcontents!). We will be reviewing the individual performances of all the Editorial team, including our own, in terms of turnaround time. We acknowledge that we owe it to our authors to give a timely and constructive response to their manuscripts.


We aim to build on the excellent work of our forbears. We believe we have recruited a very talented Editorial team. We will depend totally on the good will of the reviewers, and on you to submit the best manuscripts to us. We aim to publish exciting and clinically relevant work; to raise the impact factor, and snap at the heels of the ‘Blue Journal’; and above all, to produce a journal that you all look forward to reading.


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  • Competing interests None.

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

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