When I began work as Editor-in-Chief of Annals of Oncology at the start of 2014, with the strong support of a completely renewed team of Associate Editors, the primary aim was to reposition Annals of Oncology as the reference European oncology journal [1]. We identified a number of goals to achieve this aim. These included raising the Impact Factor to 10 over the next 3 years, achieving an acceptance rate of 10%–15% by the end of 2014, reducing our time to decision and time to publication, repositioning the journal with respect to supplements [2], and improving our branding and perception among readers through an improved internet profile.

Two years later, we can state that we are well on our way to meeting most of our goals. In 2016, we have seen the highest and strongest increase in the impact factor in the journal's history with a new value of 9.269. This is a remarkable achievement for which I must thank our Associate Editors, for their commitment to raising the quality of the articles published in the journal and for driving this improvement, our reviewers, for the expertise, insight and time, and, significantly, our authors, who have trusted us with their work. I believe that this increase will help win the trust of still more talented authors and so attract even more prospective trials, and high-profile guidelines and reviews, further raising the visibility of the journal and hopefully leading to an increase in the number and quality of submitted manuscripts.

We have raised the profile of the journal in a number of ways. From strengthening existing fields, to introducing new areas that encompass Onco-immunology, Precision Medicine, Biotechnologies, Bioinformatics, Early drug development, and Preclinical and Experimental Science. New features have also been introduced, such as the Statistical Controversies in Clinical Research series [3], and the Industry Corner: perspectives and controversies [4].

We have already reduced our acceptance rate and now reject 87% of all submitted manuscripts, ensuring that we maintain a high quality of published papers across all subject types. Our mean times to first and final decision are 15 and 28 days, respectively, and we now offer fast-track handling for selected manuscripts, taking them from submission to acceptance, with full peer review and time for revisions, in <28 days. All these factors have contributed to our success so far. Significantly, the number of submissions, which has been stable in the face of our increased stringency, has again started to increase.

As we move toward achieving our goal of becoming a modern, high-profile journal, we continue to raise the bar and aim higher. So what next for Annals of Oncology? We are still competing with many excellent journals. New oncology journals appear regularly, and we must recognize that there is still real room for improvement.

The next focus will be the digital face of the journal. In collaboration with Oxford University Press, developing a more advanced online presence remains a priority. We have taken a first step towards this by implementing an improved, more dynamic and advanced presence within the esmo.org website. Our next step is to focus on our website. In 2017, we hope to launch a new Annals of Oncology website. With improved graphics, enhanced free content and interactive features, we hope to produce a broader and more attractive internet profile for our readers. In addition, building on our success on Twitter (twitter.com/annals_oncology with over 11 600 followers), we will continue to expand our presence on social media platforms to inform readers and attract potential authors.

That said, we must acknowledge that, despite persistent suggestions to the contrary [5], the print journal is not dead, and we must act to make Annals of Oncology as readable on paper as it is on screen. To that end, we will be instituting a full benchmarking exercise of the graphics and layout of the journal and making use of all available expertise to design a journal that presents the best research in the best possible way. Suggestions on improving the layout of the journal are welcomed.

Consequently, we can now aim even higher for Annals of Oncology: we are now looking to reach an impact factor of 12 by 2018.

The Associate Editorial team will convene a new strategic meeting in early 2017 in order to define the key-steps that are fundamental to achieve an impact factor of 12 within 2 years. Beyond publishing randomized trials, related ancillary manuscripts (i.e. on biomarkers, or quality of life issues), as well as guidelines, consensus, and timely reviews, we need to define additional priorities.

In all this, I am grateful for the support, and indeed the trust of ESMO, and in particular that of its Executive Board. Like them, I am proud of our initial achievements with the journal. Along with the Associate Editorial team, I want to thank the Editorial Office staff members and Oxford University Press for helping us achieve the previous goals and mostly for accepting to help us attain our next ambitious targets.

I thank all those who continue to contribute and support us with their enthusiasm and hard work. I look forward to continuing our success in transforming Annals of Oncology into an easily accessible, dynamic, modern, and vivid top-level journal.

disclosure

The author has declared no conflicts of interest.

acknowledgements

I wish to thank Lewis Rowett and Vanessa Marchesi for lively interactions and multiple comments regarding this editorial.

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