It gives me great pleasure to welcome our readers to an exciting issue of Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology (UOG) to start the New Year. The Opinion and related articles on non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) represent a new dawn for those of us who, in practicing obstetric ultrasound, have been reliant on invasive procedures that carry a risk of miscarriage to make the diagnosis of fetal aneuploidy. Not only is NIPT a reality today, but the implications of this technology and of array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) for the clinical management of pregnancy and practice of fetal medicine are considerable and far-reaching. It is for this reason that UOG will make every effort to attract and publish work on NIPT and array CGH for the benefit of our readers.
The recent festive holiday period also afforded me the opportunity to reflect on output and plan for the future of UOG. This time last year we set ourselves the challenging task of both improving the academic quality of the Journal and reducing the 6-month backlog of manuscripts awaiting publication. I am pleased to confirm that, with the hard work, dedication and determination of our Reviewers, Editors and Editorial Staff, we have managed to reduce the waiting time to publication by a third without compromising the rapid manuscript turnaround times that we had achieved in the previous year. In light of the increased number of submissions, the acceptance rate for manuscripts in UOG fell slightly, to around 30%, a figure comparable to that of our competitor journals. The quality of UOG's peer review and editorial process was the subject of an internal audit of 250 rejected manuscripts; it was extremely reassuring to find that approximately 50% of these articles were not published in peer-reviewed journals in the subsequent year and that all but one of those that were published appeared in journals with lower Impact Factors. Incidentally, the article that was published in a higher impact journal concerned a topic judged not to be suitable for UOG.
In keeping with the objective of improving the clinical relevance and impact of UOG, the Editorial Team have made a concerted effort to fast-track high-priority manuscripts and to aid the dissemination of information by assigning them as the Journal Club article of the month. The measureable effect of this process has been to increase both article and Journal Club slide downloads. In 2012, papers designated as Journal Club articles were downloaded four to five times more often than were other articles, with some reaching almost 2000 downloads[3, 4]. The Journal has also followed through on the promise to deliver each month a systematic or narrative review as a lead article, given their clinical relevance and academic impact in terms of citations[5, 6]. However, despite these positive steps, I am cognisant of the fact that there is a significant obstetric bias in UOG. It is with this in mind that we have specifically encouraged gynecology submissions in the last year. This policy has resulted in a marked increase in the quality of work submitted and published, especially in the fields of gynecological oncology and urogynecology[7-9].
A number of new features that should be of interest to our readers have been introduced recently or are planned for the forthcoming year. We are now regularly inviting two reviewers each month to pen a Referee Commentary to add context and counterpoint to some of the material that we publish. For trainees and other readers who are at a relatively early stage in their careers, a series of didactic ‘How To’ articles are planned on fundamental imaging procedures, backed up with online supplementary PowerPoint slides, images and videos.
To keep the Journal focused on current topics of research and debate, and to remain responsive to authors and accessible to readers whilst maintaining a fast and effective editorial service, is a daunting task. Thankfully, this is made much easier by the efforts of my fellow Editors and the Journal office staff. I am confident that, with this continuing support, the Journal will remain an invaluable resource to researchers, readers and trainees alike. I would like to thank you for your continued loyalty to the Journal and, as always, would welcome your opinions and thoughts about UOG.