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Well, now, here’s a thing. After 12.5 years and, I calculate, 75 of these Epistles, it’s time for me to go. The first of these I co-wrote with our then Editor in Chief, Howard Bauchner, with the intention of framing the edition to give people a sense of what they’d be getting. As time went by people were kind enough to say that they enjoyed reading them—and my chatty way of spilling out what the edition had told me—so I continued.
The journal has changed quite a bit. When I started as edition editor in 2010 we had between 5 and 8 articles in each 32 page issue. Now we have two or three times that many in each 80 page issue. The article types have proliferated, and the article lengths have got shorter—mostly, I hope, to make them punchier and more relevant to the day to day business of improving the care of children. Back in 2013 I wrote about Paul Glasziou’s idea of mummified evidence1 — this idea that if you wrote the perfect guideline which was destined to be shrink wrapped, stored in a room, and never read by anyone, then you were failing your readership, and, by extension, the people they treat. I hope that for the most part the articles we’ve carried have been easy to read, simple without being simplistic, understandable without being patronising.
Any achievements in the journal are due to the village (to small town) sized group of people involved in making it happen. Of course the professional team at BMJ Publishing have been brilliant, but then there is also the team of clinician editors who have given up their time to bring you such great papers. I’m not going to do the ‘awards ceremony’ bit of listing all their names, but have a look in the paper edition at the inside front cover, or online at the bottom of the screen, at all the folk who have worked really hard on the papers in this and the other issues. They’ve been a complete joy to work with—such enthusiasm and interesting ideas.
I’ve been really lucky to have great mentors and advisors who have done that great thing of leaving me alone when I need to be, and nudging me and advising me when I needed that too. They know who they are—but they do especially include all the editors in chief I’ve worked with—Howard Bauchner, Mark Beattie and Nick Brown. I’ve learnt so much from them all.
But most, I want to thank—and beg forgiveness from—the readers and the authors. I put you in the same category because I’m really proud that the journal is read by its authors, and written by its readers. For me, that fundamental understanding that “I’m writing this for someone like me” runs through each piece we’ve carried. In more recent years I’ve been at risk of drowning in the wonderful floods of ideas that readers and authors have shared with me. Part of my decision to step down has been based on what I’m begging forgiveness for—I’ve not been keeping up with these ideas as well as I should have. So, if I’ve been rude to you by not replying to your suggestion, I’m sorry. If you are still keen, you might like to approach my successor with your idea.
The journal is now entering the excellent edition editor hands of Neelam Gupta who, from my conversations with her, will bring fresh perspective and enthusiasm. She’s said to me that she’d be happy to start hearing from you with your thoughts—she’s on Neelam.Gupta@gstt.nhs.uk. If you share with her even a fraction of the positivity you’ve extended to me in this role then she’ll have the same brilliant challenge as me—how to fit everything in!
And this edition? An embarrassment of riches as ever. I’m running out of space to list everything, except to say that my last editor’s choice is Melissa Mulholland, Ben McNaughten, and Thomas Bourke’s paper “I'm a doctor, not a teacher” ( see page 223 ). Why? Because it’s a great paper, and because by describing the challenges and achievements of being better clinicians by being better teachers and better learners, it speaks to me of what you learn when you try to explain to someone else what you think you know. And on that excellent description of being an editor of a medical journal, I will bow out…
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Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.