ACG Case Reports Journal: Where It Started : ACG Case Reports Journal

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ACG Case Reports Journal: Where It Started

Yaghoobi, Mohammad MD, MSc, FRCPC, FACG1

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ACG Case Reports Journal 10(5):p e00951, May 2023. | DOI: 10.14309/crj.0000000000000951
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Reading through the latest issue of the ACG Case Reports Journal on a beautiful Sunday morning in sunny Toronto brought up memories from the journey that commenced more than a decade ago—a dream come true. The spark of a new open-access journal without a submission fee that would specifically target an in-training audience, who were enthusiastic to contribute to the expanding field of gastrointestinal (GI) literature, was tempting and unignorable while also risky and tentative. A group assigned by the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) Board of Trustees in 2012 started searching for volunteer GI trainees in North America to sit on the editorial board of the newly created journal. I submitted my application for a position, but never did I anticipate being asked to serve as the inaugural Editor-in-Chief. I well remember that I was in my academic half day, as part of my GI training at McGill University in Montreal, when I accepted the position with a great inclination.

After accepting, I went through the preliminary process and welcomed members of the editorial board to formally announce the birth of the Journal through various media platforms. Our goal was not to compete with the other ACG journals but to respond to unmet needs of the existing line of high-quality journals in the field. I welcomed and observed the determination in the eyes of my co-fellows who were on the first editorial board: Manish Singla (Executive Editor), Daniel Freedberg (Associate Editor, functional gastrointestinal disease), Nazia Hasan (Associate Editor, luminal diseases), Ryan Law (Associate Editor, pancreas and biliary disorders and advanced endoscopy), Kalyan Ray Parashette (Associate Editor, pediatric gastroenterology and liver diseases), and Andres J. Yarur (Associate Editor, inflammatory bowel disease).

Long before the editorial board formed, the Managing Editor, Lindsey Topp, Manish Singla, and I had several meetings to launch the journal website, create rules and policies, develop instructions for authors, format the publication's website and submission site, put out a call for manuscripts, and promote the journal. In fact, there were more meetings and communications before the launch of the journal than there were in the year after the first issue published.

ACG staff Lindsey Topp, Jenny Dunnington, and Theresa Bongorno assisted us with general oversight of journal operations, processing manuscript submissions, coordinating peer reviews copyediting, and managing production of accepted articles and their eventual publication. We were greatly appreciative of our volunteer trainee reviewers and the ACG publication committee in helping us along the journey. We held regular telephone conferences long before Zoom-based meetings were a popular means of communication. As members of the editorial board, we soon became close friends. The challenge of independently launching a medical journal from scratch without the help of a publisher was an once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we took full advantage of it.

Simultaneously, we also had to go through the same journey as any other GI trainees, and some were even expected to function better due to their position at the journal. To our surprise, the American Board of Internal Medicine or Royal College of Physicians of Canada did not exempt us from their qualifying board examinations! I personally had to go through both Canadian and US examinations in the same year when I was serving as the Editor-in-Chief. Despite these challenges, the editorial board held frequent meetings in addition to email and telephone communications and furthermore.

The first issue of the ACG Case Reports Journal was published in October 2013 and was well received by the GI community. Members of the editorial board or ACG staff in national and international meetings were frequently approached by individuals who wanted to talk about the Journal and provide feedback. Although this was encouraging, the road to success was long. We exceeded our own expectations and accepted 39 out of 245 submissions in the first 6 months with an acceptance rate of around 25%, but we had to move forward to reach new milestones. Although the Journal was indexed in DOAJ, EMBASE, and Google Scholar since its inception, it was still lacking PubMed indexing, a difficult objective due to the nature of the journal and an application process based on citation numbers, which was finally achieved in April 2015.

Initially, a representative of the publication committee was supervising (but not over-ruling) the final approval of accepted submissions, allowing the editors to retain editorial autonomy and responsibility for the Journal. In January 2014, the editorial board became completely autonomous in their decision-making process. Around this time, we opened applications for editorial positions to those interested in serving in the second year of the Journal and prepared to pass the torch. In July 2014, at the anniversary of the birth of the ACG Case Reports Journal, I moved back to Canada after finishing my advanced endoscopy fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina. I accepted a position in therapeutic endoscopy at McMaster University where I am still serving as an Associate Professor of Medicine and the Medical Director of Barrett's Clinic while being an editor of Cochrane GUT and Associate Editor of the Journal of Canadian Association of Gastroenterology. I've continued to work with ACG in different positions over the years. My experience as the Editor-in-Chief not only had a great impact during my GI training but has always played a role in my daily life in the positions I hold.

Since then, 10 groups of bright-minded GI trainees have served on editorial boards of the ACG Case Reports Journal and the Journal has continued to evolve to its current format. I am certain that GI fellows and gastroenterologists will continue to contribute and enjoy reading this incredible publication by the ACG.

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of The American College of Gastroenterology.