With friends like these…



Christoph Zielinski

Editor-in-Chief, ESMO Open

Harold Ross, the founding editor of The New Yorker, once said

“Editing is the same as quarreling with writers — same thing exactly.”

And while we may hope that ESMO Open achieves the success of that journal, I disagree.  I like to think that’s what he would have wanted.

I have already explained a little of the Why and the What of ESMO Open elsewhere (http://esmoopen.bmj.com/content/1/1/e000008 ), but now I’d like to consider the How.  My approach to such problems is always the same: The answer to How is Who, and the answer to Who is, naturally, my friends.

I am lucky in my friends.  For instance, I was invited to become Editor-in-Chief of ESMO Open by my friend Rolf Stahel, admittedly in his capacity as then ESMO President, but as he is also a journal editor of considerable experience and expertise I had to take him seriously.  Rolf assured me that ESMO Open enjoyed the full support of the ESMO Board, and I took him at his word and invited them all to become part of the editorial team of the journal (http://esmoopen.bmj.com/content/editorial-board).

Aber schoene Worte kann man nicht essen! 

(https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fine_words_butter_no_parsnips)  What have my friends done for me lately?  Well, seemingly quite a lot.  Among the many excellent articles I have been fortunate to accept for publication over the first few months of ESMO Open, I would draw your attention to

Neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (NLR) for prediction of distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) in early breast cancer: a propensity score-matched analysis, by Orditura et al. (http://esmoopen.bmj.com/content/1/2/e000038) – one of several contributions brought to us thanks, in part, to my friend, and ESMO President, Fortunato Ciardiello –

And to

Quality of life during first-line FOLFOX4±panitumumab in RAS wild-type metastatic colorectal carcinoma: results from a randomised controlled trial, by Siena et al. (http://esmoopen.bmj.com/content/1/2/e000041) – a fine study from many friends, among them former ESMO Education Committee Chair Jean-Yves Douillard, and current ESMO President-elect Josep Tabernero.

These are fine works that might have found a home in many more well established journals, and I thank all those – all of the many – authors for their trust and support.

Do not, however, conclude from all this that ESMO Open is a closed circle for the friends of Christoph Zielinski, nor despair that our friendship is not yet all it should be.  In keeping with ESMO’s latest vision – Across Oncology.  Worldwide (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7UVZ-voncs) – ESMO Open aims to make friends globally.

Already in the few brief months since the journal launched we have received submissions from four continents, and our audience is still more geographically diverse.  At the ESMO Asia conference last December I was privileged to meet with researchers from across that region and discuss my plans for ESMO Open.  The power of the Internet allows us to think and act globally while still developing genuinely strong relationships, but going and meeting people retains its own power.  To that end, I shall be making time in my schedule at the ASCO 2016 meeting in Chicago to hold another Meet the Editor session on the BMJ stand (no. 21124); follow ESMO Open on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ESMO_Open) for further details.

So I will contend again that Ross was wrong; editing is not quarreling with authors: it is working with friends and building friendships.  Of course there may be disappointments around the outcome of individual peer review, for however friendly we may be there can be no compromise on quality, but I believe that we can build trust in both the journal and its processes.

Look around you now, my friends, and I hope you will agree.

Christoph Zielinski

Editor-in-Chief, ESMO Open

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