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As my 5-year appointment as Editor-in-Chief of the Annals comes to an end in July, it is perhaps time for a period of reflection. I have found the experience pleasurable and regard it as an honour to have been Editor-in-Chief during this time. Nevertheless, as shown by the figures below, the post is onerous, albeit satisfying.
On taking up the post, I indicated my aim of promoting a quality technical, practical and clinical journal for all specialties designed to provide up-to-date information both for trainees as well as established consultants. My desire was to ensure that all surgeons are kept abreast of advances not only in their own field but also in other specialty branches of surgery. Only the readers can determine if this aim has been achieved. In this regard, all members and fellows will shortly be receiving a request to complete an online reader survey designed to obtain views on both the Annals and Bulletin and specifically what changes might be introduced to improve style and content.
A total of 3940 manuscripts have been submitted during my tenure of which 908 were accepted and published (23% acceptance rate). For those authors who have not made it into print, I hope you have received both clear and constructive reasons for this that have gone some way to assuage your disappointment. Although the number of issues of the Annals increased from six to eight per year to accommodate an ever-increasing number of manuscript submissions, the time from submission to publication can still be long for those accepted for publication.
During the last 5 years, there have been huge developments in electronic publishing and this will undoubtedly continue for many years to come. Our journal website was receiving approximately 3500 viewings per month in 2004 whereas in 2008 over 20,000 abstracts a month were viewed on average. We have also seen the introduction and growth of FastTrack which has resulted in the happy circumstance, as of the March issue, of there being no backlog of articles awaiting publication once they have been accepted. The online version of the journal is now firmly in place and all back issues are available for readers to refer to as necessary. It is often said that the print journal will become obsolete. I doubt this. The convenience and pleasure of handling a print version is still paramount.
During my tenure, I have been supported by an excellent team in the Annals office. Particular mention must go to past and present publishing team members David Atkins, Tara Nikovskis, Hannah Chinery, Matt Whitaker and Adam Brownsell, all of whom have contributed hugely and made my life much easier. Gill and Bruce Haddock as a production team have provided a high quality and efficient service.
I have relied upon the generosity of many hundreds of reviewers in providing views on individual papers, but the decision to accept, revise or reject has been my own. I am sure I have made mistakes in this decision-making process but I can assure readers that all decisions were based on peer review and my own unbiased and hopefully balanced opinion.
All editors have their pet hates and I am no exception. Readers may be interested in my personal top 12 pet hates as Editor-in-Chief. This is based not only on my experience as editor of the Annals but also as Editor-in-Chief for 9 years of the European Journal of Surgical Oncology.
I would like to thank all the Annals board members for their contributions during the last 5 years. I am particularly grateful to Colin Johnson as review editor, Tom Dehn as controversial topics editor, Bruce Campbell for technical tips and NICE news, Linda de Cossart for regional meetings and Richard Gibbs for internet reviews.
I am delighted that Colin Johnson will be taking over as Editor-in-Chief of the Annals. He is very familiar with workings of the journal and I have no doubt will make an exceptional editor. I wish him well.