The capability to provide timely peer-reviewed information about relevant events that require rapid public health action is one of the main assets of Eurosurveillance and remains high on our agenda. In 2012, when it became known that patients from Saudi Arabia and Quatar with severe respiratory symptoms had been infected with a novel coronavirus, we were among the first scientific journals to provide authoritative information. In total, we published eight peer-reviewed rapid communications related to the event within three months. Some of them were processed in record speed – 24–48 hours from submission.
This was possible with the support of our contributors and reviewers who agree to follow us on a route that is still unusual and sometimes even controversial in the world of scientific publishing. Our intention in providing timely, authoritative, quality-controlled preliminary information relevant for communicable disease control is not to go after headline stories, but to enable public health action.
We are well aware that publishing preliminary data needs to be handled with care. Rapid processing may raise questions of quality control and conclusions may change when more evidence becomes available. However, the overall positive experience, gained over 15 years, leads us to conclude that with careful selection and processing, the benefits for public health outweigh the concerns raised and that our approach is justified.
This is also confirmed by our authors and dedicated peer reviewers who support the concept actively, with important, good-quality contributions.
Having listed some of our achievements, what can our readers and contributors expect in the coming year? In order to increase transparency, speed up and ease our interaction with authors and reviewers, we will soon introduce an electronic submission system. Authors and reviewers will be asked to log on to the system and follow the instructions when submitting or reviewing for us.
Moreover, as a new editorial policy we will automatically share the reviews for specific papers between the respective referees. This change is in response to repeated requests from many who would like to see the comments from the other reviewer(s) for the paper they commented on, as a learning experience.
Another new feature is authors will be expected to outline the contribution of each author to the article – this information will be published at the end of the text.
We have also started preparing for a new improved website, taking into account the comments obtained from an earlier reader survey and hope to be able to launch it around the start of 2014.