I have been working as an editor of immunology journals for many years now, making the transition from bench to publishing at Current Opinion in Immunology, then moving on to the British Society for Immunology to manage their journals Immunology and Clinical and Experimental Immunology, and, for the past six years, managing the European Journal of Immunology (EJI). Throughout this time, I have attended many conferences, read countless manuscripts and have had dealings with immunologists worldwide in their roles as authors, reviewers, general advisors – when I am faced with a particularly tricky editorial decision – and conference speakers – when I am trying to persuade them to write for/submit to EJI or asking what's up and coming in their field.
It is a job that I love as it is challenging and I am constantly learning new things, be it how to web edit – a part of my job since the launch of Wiley Online Library in August 2010 – or reading about the latest immunological findings. The highlight, however, is always conference attendance as it is then that I meet the people that contribute to and help with the Journal; I have met some of the brightest people around, which can be both intimidating and inspiring in equal measure, but always gives me a lift.
2011 was, therefore, a particularly sad year with the deaths of Jürg Tschopp and Ralph Steinman, both of whom I have worked with and both of whom who had recently contributed to EJI; Jürg Tschopp by way of further research into the NLRP3 inflammasome 1 and an excellent review on this topic as one of the 2010 Novartis Immunology Prize winners 2, and Ralph Steinman by way of the Viewpoint series on dendritic cells 3, and studies investigating the therapeutic potential of dendritic cells 4, 5. I had the most contact with Ralph. He attended an Editorial Board meeting when I was working on Immunology – he made some excellent suggestions at that meeting – and I also interviewed him for a Podcast (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1521-4141/homepage/2040_pod.html) which was prepared in conjunction with the Breakthroughs in Immunology series 6. Like the immunology community as a whole, I shall miss these pioneering immunologists.
2011 was not, however, only about sadness. Notably, immunology received a boost with the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The 2011 Prize recognized the field of immunology by awarding one half of the prize jointly to Bruce A. Beutler and Jules A. Hoffmann for work in innate immunity and the other half to Ralph M. Steinman for research into dendritic cells. The news of the Prize was, however, somewhat tempered as Ralph Steinman passed away shortly before the awards were announced. The Nobel Prizes are featured in the News & EFIS section in this issue of EJI 7.
Looking at the field of immunological research, it is pleasing to see that EJI continues to publish exciting novel research, sometimes ahead of the competition. For example, research in EJI by Ari Waisman and colleagues was the first to prove the plasticity of Th17 8, a finding confirmed and extended by others in 2011 9. We are also publishing on fast moving fields, as evidenced by recent reviews 10–13, such as innate lymphoid cells 14, gut homeostasis 15 and innate immunity 16 to name but a few, as well as established fields such as B cells 17, NK cells 18 and macrophages – the latter being the subject of an excellent Viewpoint series led by Siamon Gordon and Alberto Mantovani 19. By doing so, EJI continues to fulfill its remit as a broad immunology journal that not only publishes that which is currently considered “sexy”.
There are many challenges ahead for EJI with e.g. the emergence of journals that publish technically sound papers, regardless of perceived novelty/priority, and offering short processing/publishing times, and the move to open access; however, I believe that EJI's services address these issues and offer more. Our average time from submission to a first decision is 23 days, and we also offer a fast track service if the data are exceptionally novel/significant or we are aware of competing data under consideration at another journal; this can be requested when submitting your manuscript. Importantly, we publish articles online less than a week after acceptance, with the manuscript also appearing in PubMed in this timeframe so the article can be easily found by all. By way of the Frontline and Commentary sections, research published in EJI is highlighted to the community and gains greater visibility. This is evidenced by the fact that such selected papers, along with commissioned articles such as reviews, regularly feature in the most accessed EJI articles (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1521-4141/homepage/MostAccessed.html).
There will always be cases when the processing times are longer than the average e.g. it can difficult to find reviewers for a manuscript, particularly during a holiday season; referees often fail to return reports in a timely manner and, on occasions, fail to do so at all; and referees may have differing opinions on a manuscript meaning that further advice needs to be sought; however, the editorial team strives to offer a fair, thorough and fast review service. We welcome feedback if this is not the case.
Finally, we have, since 2008, uploaded all NIH-funded manuscripts to PubMed Central on behalf of the authors, ensuring that the articles are freely available in PubMed Central to all one year after publication, therefore fulfilling all NIH requirements. Similarly, via Online Open, we meet the needs of funding agencies including, but not limited to, the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, uploading the typeset version of the article to PubMed Central as required. Wiley-Blackwell also has agreements with HHMI, Telethon and FWF to ensure that papers funded by these bodies are published as open access papers.
Naturally, we will continue to monitor the competition, the changing face of publishing, and authors'/reviewers'/readers' needs and modify procedures as required. Importantly, we will continue to attend conferences to talk to authors and readers of the journal to get their feedback on EJI. In 2011, we were present not only at local European meetings, such as the Annual Meeting of the European Macrophage and Dendritic Cell Society, and the joint meeting of the German and Italian Immunology Societies, but also at more far-flung locations such as China, by attendance at the second Chinese-German Immunology Meeting and the CSH Asia conference on Infection and Immunity.
Looking forward to 2012, the ECI 2012 meeting (http://eci-glasgow2012.com/) is the next big event for EJI and we are busy planning for it already. This pan-European conference offers us the perfect opportunity for us to meet many immunologists, given that attendance at past meetings has topped five thousand. We should therefore achieve our aim of getting more feedback and understanding immunologists' needs; however, this will give us a predominantly European flavor and, to ensure that we hear from as broad an audience as possible, we are also planning an online survey for all to complete. I look forward to reading the responses and seeing how journal users' expectations and requirements have changed since our last survey in 2006. I also look forward to publishing more exciting research, which, if measured as the most downloaded research article, equates in 2011 to the mechanism of TLR signaling with regard to tolerizing DCs 20.