It was a great honour to accept the position as Editor-in-Chief for the Water and Environment Journal, as it is a journal title that I have had an enormous long-standing respect for. Having now been in the position for 3 months, I am able to reflect on the high standards that my predecessor, Professor John Bridgeman, instilled in the journal during his tenure. Through John's leadership, academic quality has been sustained, which is reflected in a high manuscript rejection rate of 63%, and a growth in impact factor of 13% (2-year IF 0.895, 2015). The manuscript review rate from submission to early view is now also running at an average of 52 days which is comparable to many of the leading Journal titles in this area. On behalf of myself, the Journal and the readership, I would therefore like to thank John for his service and wish him well for the future.
Since the launch of the journal, competition amongst peer reviewed titles within this subject area has increased, including many open access offerings. In light of this increased competition, it is important to reflect on the core aim and ambitions of the Water and Environment Journal in order for us to provide clarity on what differentiates this Journal for new authors. What is immediately striking is the duality of the journal. Specifically, distribution through one of the leading science and engineering publishing houses (Wiley) ensures that over 10 500 institutions worldwide have access to authors published manuscripts. Thanks to the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), a hard copy of each volume of the Journal is also distributed to around 10 000 industry based members, working throughout the value chain (e.g. water utilities, consulting engineers, second tier providers and technology suppliers). Importantly, this provides a channel through which authors can disseminate the impact of their research to the end-user. The combination of these two facets is genuinely unique, and are incredibly important credentials on which to build a successful platform. My experience of publishing in the journal is testament to this fact (Hepburn et al. 2015), as I was subsequently contacted by several industry based partners keen to engage in further collaborative research activity. The real strength of this journal for authors is therefore in communicating impactful applied research, and near to market innovations or solutions for which we have published some excellent recent examples in catchment science (Anderson et al. 2015), water management (Du et al. 2013), energy in the water sector (McNabola 2014) and engineered treatment systems (Patziger & Kiss 2015; Ramaswami et al. 2016). Our proposition is to refresh the ambition of the journal to re-emphasise this unique contribution, whilst also launching several new publication initiatives in support of this vision.
I am mindful that to sustain and grow this Journal requires the support of many stakeholder groups. In particular, I would like to thank Victoria West (Publications and Media Coordinator, CIWEM), who works so tirelessly to ensure that the peer-review and publication process runs seamlessly. I would also like to thank the Associate Editors (Mr. Robin Walls, Dr. Peter Jarvis, Dr. Elfrida Carstea) and Editorial Board for their diligent efforts to sustain and enforce good academic standards, whilst simultaneously supporting an expedient peer-review process. Finally, I would like to thank the peer review community, who willingly provide their time to such an important activity. In my short time at the Journal, I have been heartened by the number of prospective reviewers who have contacted me directly to offer support for this process. I would like to encourage anyone from the readership that feels they have appropriate expertise to get in touch.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the Water and Environment Journal.