It is difficult to describe the enormous changes which have taken place in journal publishing over the 20 years Colorectal Disease has been a journal title.
Way back then the essential editors’ items of equipment were a tobacco pipe, a red pencil and very strong arms to carry reams of paper submissions for editing. Now of course there are sophisticated electronic systems for handling papers and the work of an editor can be carried out anywhere in the world and at any time. There are referee and editor metrics to objectively assess timeliness and quality so there is no hiding.
Some 850 submissions are made to the journal every year of which around 600 are original articles. The acceptance rate for these is only 15%. Now we publish systematic reviews rather than straight narratives and case reports have disappeared because of their adverse effect on citations.
When the journal first started out the submissions were largely from the UK but now Colorectal Disease is truly international. The development of colorectal surgery as a specialty and the success of the ESCP has created a rising demand for a peer reviewed journal for Europe to rival DCR. The further subspecialisation within colorectal surgery has meant that we now have a team of editors with a specialist interest to allow for the best choice of reviewers and a high quality review process.
There are already automated plagiarism checks on every article submitted, and it is likely that AI will play an increasing role in assessment including, for example, a statistics usage screen before they are sent to reviewers. In these ways we hope that editors will be able to better fulfil one of their prime responsibilities, namely to ensure that we publish the truth without fear or favour, as outlined in the Committee on Publishing Ethics guidance.
As medicine and surgery have become more complex and regulated, national and international societies have drawn up evidence based best practice and guidelines for both the publication of trials and surgical treatments. These have now become part of our publishing remit.
Social media are also having an increasing impact on our authors and readership. There is pressure to use it to drive citations and interest as the paper journal format gives way to digital only publishing, with electronic tables of content alerts reminding us that the journal is there. This digital world will be a very busy distracting space and Visual abstracts will be another way in which we will be trying to catch the reader’s attention.
Editors are under public scrutiny and the Impact factor is the measure by which success is judged, and twenty years on it is slowly rising. There is a healthy submission rate, we have a terrific editorial team, and a steadily improving quality of papers and their authors.
We hope you have downloaded your Colorectal Disease App to keep up.
Editor in Chief